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AKG K702 - how to get the best out of them

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

 

Hello fellow head-fiers,

 

Another newbe here with a few practical questions regarding AKG K702. I've purchased these phones as a starter kit just about a week ago and also joined this forum a couple of days later with the main goal to get the best out of them. I've done my research on this forum but still have a few rather specific questions. Before I ask them, here is what I've learned so far:

 

  • K70x are particularly great for classical music, live jazz, and vocals (well this is exactly what I listen)

  • K70x require few hundred hours of burning to reach their maximum potential (and I am vigorously working on that)

  • The headband could cause some serious discomfort during long listening (I never listen more than 1 hour without a long break and don't mind shifting the headphones couple of times on my head)

  • They also require good amplification for the best sound

 

That last point leads to my fist specific question (and it's not about which amplifier is the best). All I have as a music source right now is a micro-system Yamaha MRC E810 and I would like to keep using it as a main source for K702 for another year or two. The system has a few good features which are sufficient for my current needs (such as pure direct option to bypass equalizer circuit, CD upsampling x2 and x4, DVD playback with progressive scan for occasional viewing of music video discs, nice-sound speakers and compact size for the bedroom). Initially I thought that the amplifier component from the system would be a good match since K702 are low ohms. Indeed, it drives K702 loud and clear and I never increase the volume above 10:00 (that's right, appx 25%). However, as I am reading this forum I am getting more and more concerned about what you call the synergy. So I want to know if using a dedicated headphone amplifier would bring significant difference versus using Yamaha. The phone output level/impedance in Yamaha is 0.23V/120 omegas. From the impedance threads I've learned that connecting low impedance phones to the higher output impedance may introduce certain distortions, particularly weaker lows (please correct me if I've got it wrong). And it looks like the more appropriate output impedance for my phones would be around 10 omegas or even lower. There are a lot of options out there even among tube amplifiers with such low impedance but they are rather pricy. So my specific question is – will I hear significant difference from a dedicated phone amplifier comparing to a hi-fi stereo amplifier like Yamaha? If the difference is rather insignificant then I would stay with Yamaha for a while. At least I can boost the lows by using BASS knob. If it is more than just the lows and the sound would be significantly different, then I would buy a dedicated amplifier right away. Please share your opinions (preferably from personal experience with similar systems).

 

And my second question is about the sound. Many times it was said that one of the strongest sides of K70x is vocals, especially female. My current problem is that I can hear a lot of noise (grain, static, metalic, coarse, not sure how to describe it) when the singer takes high note or simply pronounces letter “s” for example. Some instruments, like sax or violins also could produce this grainy noise at high notes. I am not sure how properly to describe it but it is sure not sound natural. So my question is – do you think it's normal for a new headphone to hear distortions like this and will the vocals become smoother after proper burning? Could it be related to the poor amplifier match from my first question? Highly appreciate your feedback.

 

I hope my questions are specific enough to my personal situation to avoid such responses as get a better phones or go search the forum first. I believe I've done my research and my questions are just another step on my way to getting best sound possible out of the phones of my choice. All I am looking for is a few specific suggestions from someone with practical experience with K701/702 to help me with my particular concerns.

 

Thank you in advance,

Andy

post #2 of 34
Thread Starter 

Well, I realize that replying to my own post looks rather pathetic but I'm guessing there are not that many K702 users in this community. I noticed there was another similar question regarding using stereo amplifier with K702 without any response either.

 

Anyways, I know that people who are looking for information about K70x still may read my post; thus, I decided to give an update to my further experience. First, about the sound and metallic noise at certain high notes. By a simple test of listening to the same tracks through Yamaha speakers (which are quite different in sound) I came to a conclusion that in many cases the noise is still there. Therefore, it's not the headphone problems but rather a recording problem, I guess. I can understand that given that most of my CD's are rather old (from the 90th) and the technology there especially in digital conversion could be less perfect than today. And secondly, yesterday I finally begin to hear real softening in the sound of K702 after reaching 100 hours of burning. Now the sound is just perfect for my type of music. I listen exclusively acoustic jazz and classical music and the best way to describe the sound that comes to my mind is like listening a live jazz band or orchestra in a quiet park after rain. There is no boominess from electric amplifiers, subwoofers, or from surrounding walls. But every instrument is clear, distinct, and very natural when it sounds without any external "help". Probably for some people this analogy about the park would sound rather negative, but if you are into this kind of sound (like me), K702 is a real pleasure. And the bass is totally there just like I want it - natural without any artificial boost. I prefer pure direct mode bypassing the EQ and so far had no desire to boost lows.    

 

In terms of comfort, so far I have not experienced any problems with the headband despite my total boldness. I was thinking that the solution could be easily solved by finding a non-working pair of phones with nice padding and re-attaching this padding to my headband. But so far I don't see it's necessary. One thing I really enjoy is the size of the caps. For my rather oversized ears it's a pleasure. I remember my first pair of over-ear headphones caused real pain at the tips of my ears even from a gentle touch after 30-40 minutes. There is no such problem with K702. And I noticed somebody mentioned they are heavy. This is BS. They are extremely light, 340g or 12oz to be excact. Now you can compare to your gear. And also, I have no problem using them in bed. My pillows are not bulky and the phones sit nicely without any discomfort.

 

And finally, regarding the amplifier. I am staring to believe that Yamaha stereo is just fine for my listening. Using other threads, I made a wish list of dedicated amplifiers that work particularly well with K70x and will be looking for some deals. Once I get a good price, I will go for it and see the difference by myself. If the difference is negligible, I will have no problem selling. But so far, I am quite happy with K702.

 

 

post #3 of 34

Sounds like you got your system off and running well.  Welcome to the world of high-class audio!smily_headphones1.gif

post #4 of 34

Great read. I'm an exclusive IEM user who is looking at getting into headphones, and for various reasons am looking at the K701 (which I gather is exactly the same as the 702) so I'm fairly interested. Proper amplification for K70x might just be the most asked question on this site, yet after doing a gargantuan amount of research I'm still fairly clueless on what I really want. Sigh.

post #5 of 34

I'm powering my K 702's off my little Fiio E9, works great, sounds great. And I'm using a lowly creative X-fi titanium as my DAC.

 

Sounds great, enjoy your setup!  k701smile.gif

post #6 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Omnirai View Post

Great read. I'm an exclusive IEM user who is looking at getting into headphones, and for various reasons am looking at the K701 (which I gather is exactly the same as the 702) so I'm fairly interested. Proper amplification for K70x might just be the most asked question on this site, yet after doing a gargantuan amount of research I'm still fairly clueless on what I really want. Sigh.


Yeah, I wish I had a place to go and try K702 with dedicated amplifier to hear the difference. So far, I envision two possible scenarios:

1) The notion of a dedicated amplifier is totally overrated, particularly for low-ohms phones like K70x. It might be mostly coming from people who transition from a no-amp setup (i.e listening from a low quality source) directly to a dedicated amp. For them, the difference, of course, is like day and night. However, if you have a nice hi-fi stereo components, they will drive low-ohms headphones with no problem and no significant difference in sound. Or

2) There is a huge difference in headphone sound between high-quality hi-fi stereo amplifiers and a similar quality dedicated headphone amp. I suspect this is not the case but to know for sure we need to wait for some expert opinion. But like I mentioned, I am getting more and more happy with my current setup after giving my K702 time to break-in properly.
 

 

post #7 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by AndyV View Post

And finally, regarding the amplifier. I am staring to believe that Yamaha stereo is just fine for my listening. Using other threads, I made a wish list of dedicated amplifiers that work particularly well with K70x and will be looking for some deals. Once I get a good price, I will go for it and see the difference by myself. If the difference is negligible, I will have no problem selling. But so far, I am quite happy with K702.

 


Because you have a mini receiver you're already happy with, (and because of synergy) I wouldn't bother buying anything solid state.  To hear the difference you're looking for, and for your musical preferences, tube amps are the way to go.  Of course, only some tube amps work well with the K70xs.  The Woo Audio 6 is an excellent amp sonically w/ the K70xs (and otherwise) but is expensive (>$500) and is slightly underpowered for these phones.  I really liked this pairing when I had it.  

 

I've heard good things about the Ming Da MC84C07 but it's difficult to find used (if you were thinking of that route), I can't vouch for it personally as I haven't heard it or owned it, but some others around head-fi have liked (loved) the pairing.  

 

The most worthwhile purchase amplification wise for the K70xs under $500 is the Schiit Lyr.  It's marketed for orthodynamics but the K701s are almost as hard to drive.  It provides all the power the phones ask for and more.  Has enough warmth to smooth the sound some, correct the midrange, and maybe even add some bass weight and impact w/ the right tubes.

post #8 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

Quote:


Because you have a mini receiver you're already happy with, (and because of synergy) I wouldn't bother buying anything solid state.  To hear the difference you're looking for, and for your musical preferences, tube amps are the way to go.  Of course, only some tube amps work well with the K70xs.  The Woo Audio 6 is an excellent amp sonically w/ the K70xs (and otherwise) but is expensive (>$500) and is slightly underpowered for these phones.  I really liked this pairing when I had it.  

 

I've heard good things about the Ming Da MC84C07 but it's difficult to find used (if you were thinking of that route), I can't vouch for it personally as I haven't heard it or owned it, but some others around head-fi have liked (loved) the pairing.  

 

The most worthwhile purchase amplification wise for the K70xs under $500 is the Schiit Lyr.  It's marketed for orthodynamics but the K701s are almost as hard to drive.  It provides all the power the phones ask for and more.  Has enough warmth to smooth the sound some, correct the midrange, and maybe even add some bass weight and impact w/ the right tubes.


That's what I thought either. Definitely a tube amplifier is at the top of my list which I will update based on your recommendations. Many thanks.

 

And it's nice to hear confirmation that there is no much difference between a good receiver and SS phone amplifier. I think many users who already invested in some hi-fi stereo equipment will be glad to hear that. Those who don't have anything, you will definitely need an amp to get the best sound. But if you already have some hi-fi gear (i.e. high quality amplifier, receiver, micro-, mini-, or maxi- components) don't be afraid to give them a try first.
 

 

post #9 of 34

Quote:

Originally Posted by AndyV View Post

That's what I thought either. Definitely a tube amplifier is at the top of my list which I will update based on your recommendations. Many thanks.

 

And it's nice to hear confirmation that there is no much difference between a good receiver and SS phone amplifier. I think many users who already invested in some hi-fi stereo equipment will be glad to hear that. Those who don't have anything, you will definitely need an amp to get the best sound. But if you already have some hi-fi gear (i.e. high quality amplifier, receiver, micro-, mini-, or maxi- components) don't be afraid to give them a try first.
 

 

I think the main difference you'll find between a modern receiver (like yours) and a dedicated SS phone amplifier is power output.  Most modern receivers have op-amp based headphone outs which are usually underpowered (especially for phones like the K70x).  Still, being underpowered doesn't mean that they'll sound bad or can't reach unbearably loud volumes, it just means that you're probably not getting the most out of your drivers.  Dynamics suffer, etc.  The general sound signature you'll achieve with either route is too close to justify purchasing an SS amp, in my opinion.  If you do find yourself hungry to upgrade after spending some more time on head-fi the Schiit Lyr is probably your best bet.  Either that or a basic DAC.  

post #10 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sphinxvc View Post

If you do find yourself hungry to upgrade after spending some more time on head-fi the Schiit Lyr is probably your best bet.  Either that or a basic DAC.  


Yes, I know these kind of forums could become quite addictive. Luckily, my family and my wallet will always sound louder than any amplifier to my ears wink.gif.
 

 

post #11 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyV View Post




Yes, I know these kind of forums could become quite addictive. Luckily, my family and my wallet will always sound louder than any amplifier to my ears wink.gif.
 

 

Unless one of the two, or a combination of both deafen you. ;)
 

 

post #12 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rsgladwin85 View Post



Unless one of the two, or a combination of both deafen you. ;)
 

 


Ha-ha, that is true. I try to keep my hands on the volume knob though. So far, so good.

 

Jokes aside, I have grown to be rather pragmatic in my purchsing decisions and always try to enjoy what I have first. Spending $500 on an amp is not going to make any dent in my budget but if what I have is good enough, why bother? I am new to the high-class music and don't know whether I will have the same interests in it 6-12 months down the road. So I want to slow down and see how I like it. But if my current setup is comepletely inappropriate for K70x, I would be missing the whole point of having them. Hense was my question to the more experienced users to help me evaluate my setup in terms of quality of sound. It looks I've got my answer - the setup is most likely quite appropriate, especially if I find the sound pleasant for my ears. So now I have time to focus on music and building up my collection. As I mentioned, I consider K702 as a good starter kit in terms of quality/price combination (specifically for my type of music). Few months later, if I am still into it, I will start looking for a good dedicated amplifier. Sounds like a good plan to me; and to my family and wallet (win-win)cool.gif.
 

 

post #13 of 34

The K-702 are truly unique hps that can easy compete with most of the dynamic hps on the market. If you like the sound signature and you want to get the best out of them you'll need to build a system around them DAC and hps amp that will fit your wallet and your needs. As a start I'll highly recommend to check out the SPL Phonitor as a pro 2K hps amp, and compare it to a used $160 Corda headfive.

post #14 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acix View Post

The K-702 are truly unique hps that can easy compete with most of the dynamic hps on the market. If you like the sound signature and you want to get the best out of them you'll need to build a system around them DAC and hps amp that will fit your wallet and your needs. As a start I'll highly recommend to check out the SPL Phonitor as a pro 2K hps amp, and compare it to a used $160 Corda headfive.


Just googled SPL Phonitor and I would definitely not consider it as a 'start" for my budget. I am sure neither Bill Gates, although for a totally opposite reason. biggrin.gif

It looks more like a 'finish' to me. But are you trying to say that $160 Corda headfive may sound as good?blink.gif


 

 

post #15 of 34

I would suggest you get yourself to a meet and really see what is on offer. Easier said than done I know, and having recently been to one I can say it was definitely worth finding the time! I heard some incredibly overpriced and ridiculous looking kit, but what I was most interested in were the AKG K70x's. Forget Stax, LCD-2's, etc, AKG K702's stole the show for me....

 

I heard them from a uDac and some portable headphone amps. From reading these forums, this should terrible right? Lacking in power, lacking in current, what?! Wrong! They were AMAZING, sounded phenomenal, no issues at all! I am relatively new to all of this, and I will probably be argued out of this thread soon by someone claiming that the combination of AKG K70x and a 'cheap solution' amp will NOT sound good all ALL. I am not that far down the rabbit hole to agree with them. Yet.

 

I heard the Q702's through a Schiit amp and an insane CD player. Didn't like them. Heard HE-6's through some specialised £500 tube amp. Didn't like them. Same with HD800's. Not knowing what the HD800's should sound like, I just knew they didn't sound right. However, I heard them from another DIY-type setup and I was amazed by them. Sounded like the AKG's, only 'clearer'. Off topic a bit.....

 

If your setup works, you are getting incredible vocals and hearding incredible instruments, and the bass is really hitting, who is anyone to say you need to spend $160 on a random amp you have never heard of before? Honestly, enjoy the headphone. I feel in love with them, their looks, their price! Not so sure on build quality yet, we will see about that one.

 

Referring to your questions: The headband is something you will have to deal with. Some users cut the bumps off, wrap stuff around it, whatever. Don't ruin yours, I find them fine. I believe in burn in, makes sense to me (NOT cable burn in, suckers). I imagine they will improve somewhat over time, but very insignificant, so don't expect things to change drastically, especially if you listen right through the burn in process. The sibilance (right?) is probably a combination of poor recording and poor playback. I don't hear it with every track or every pair of headphones, only a very small chance a track on a particularly high volume, etc, and there is very little I can do about it! 'Proper' amplification might fix it, another recording might fix it, turning the volume down a fraction might fix it, it is impossible to say. Deal with it how you can!

 

Hope my ramblings help somewhat....

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