Originally Posted by Kouzelna
chicolom, you've brought up several interesting points which I'd love to ask you about:
How is the illusion of soundstage created in a headphone? Like, how does the human ear perceive it? I guess knowing that would answer how the bass port mod affects it one way or another. For me, bigger IS better, when it comes to soundstage. I chose the K702 over several other high-end headphones not only for the sound signature, but the soundstage was something I just couldn't give up. I couldn't "go back" in a sense to lesser soundstages.
I don't know what elements all factor into creating soundstage. I know that the best soundstage headphones are usually full-sized circumaural with large spacious earcups (and sometimes angled-drivers). There are some other various factors that go into it, but I don't know the science behind it.
I guess it could be too big, but I can't see how. What was it you didn't like about the massive presentation of the K501?
I've never tried the K501, but I've yet to hear a headphone with a soundstage too-big for me.
I'm a little worried about your other notes, though, that the you feel the mod may push the mids and vocals more into the background. To me, the K702 barely presents the vocals forward enough to be acceptable. The K701 didn't, for example, which is why I don't use one. I'm worried the bass port mod could make the Q701 sound more like the K701, and thus ruin the whole sound for me. (Though yes, I know it's reversible so I'll try it anyway).
I don't think the mids and vocals are that affected. I certainly didn't hear the mids as being any fuller though, so I wanted to comment on it. Like you said, you can always reverse the mod if you don't like it.
Also, I'm super intrigued by your comparisons to the K712.
The big reason I love this AKG K/Q7xx series so much is the dry, airy sound of all three models. All the instruments are well separated, without muddying, and it's like watching them alone in a theater on a massive stage, all spread out with lots of room to express themselves. I often picture myself in the Hollywood Bowl or something, by myself, with a 5-person band just spread way out across the stage, each musician in their own little quadrant with a minimal setup. Or, like when I saw Rush with their minimal Roll the Bones setup at Irvine Meadows. I loved playing that way when I was in a band, and the freedom it made you feel just to play at the top of your game. In no headphone does Trance sound as immersive and clean - you can really hear every single detail, without the instruments smacking into each other like a freeway traffic pileup, as Trance sounds in so, so many other headphones.
Anyway... my point: when you say the K712 have a warmer, thicker, darker sound, does this in any way sacrifice all that I just said above? For example, I felt the M-Stage was a perfectly capable amp for the K702 I ran them with last year, but the darkness and warmth of the sound stole too much from the strong points of the K702, so I dumped the amp. It took away it's expressiveness in too many ways, made them darker, warmer, cloudier, but without the detail and clarity of a great tube amp (which also honeys them up a bit, of course).
From my experience, anytime a headphone sounds darker and warmer it usually also gives a perception of sounding more intimate. A lighter signature usually sounds less grounded and the sounds will float more which can make the soundstage sound more open. The same is true for the Q701 and K712. If you listen to the K712 and adjust to it and then go back to the Q701, the soundstage doesn't sound as different. It's coming from the other direction (Q701 to K712) that it will strike you as being more intimate.
Keep in mind you can always stick angled pads onto the K712 and it will then sound lighter and airier again, although not quite to the same extent as the Q701. I consider that a good thing though, as I find the Q701 to be just slightly too dry.
Finally, with all the other issues you mentioned separating the Q701 from the flagship nature of the K712: do you really, honestly feel the differences are enough to warrant paying twice as much (or more) for the K712? I can get the Q701 for $200, used on Amazon, in new condition with a warranty through Amazon who backs those warranties up flawlessly. I'd hate to spend double that price for a headphone that's basically the same, with only marginal improvements.
When I said "flagships" I meant things like the HD800 and other ~$1000 headphones. I was comparing how the Q701 is deficient next to them.
The K712 may technically be a "flagship" (until the K812 is released, at least), but it's still what most would consider a "mid-fi" headphone. It's more of a variation on the Q701s sound, so it will still share some of same the issues that I mentioned the Q701 as having. I can't say whether the K712 would be worth it to you, but I like it over the Q701. It improves a couple issues I had such as overly dry and peaky upper mids, and it has a smoother signature with more body. The K712 can be considered AKG's attempt to further refine that model given the existing design and drivers they have to work with. Some people are still going to prefer the Q701 to the K712 though and others vice a versa. I can't say which camp you'd fall in. You said you like a dry and airy sound, so that's probably more the Q701.
I'd say you can go the route I went and try the Q701 first, and then later get the K712. That way you will know for yourself which you prefer. Or you can get the K712, and then get angled pads for it. Either way, it's just a part of the head-fi journey.