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AKG K3003 — Impressions, Reviews & Discussion - Page 7  

post #91 of 211

I have had my testing unit for two weeks now and I really enjoyed it. I know that you strive to avoid comparison K3003 to custom IEMs on the price/quality level. But as a owner of similarly constructed hybrid UM Merlin I can't help but compare those two.

 

Firstly, I got perfect fit with standard M tips, so I didn't have to use some aftermarket tips. That said isolation is good but of course customs does better.

 

As for sound, well... having owned UM Merlin for few months K3003 didn't wow me at first. But that doesn't mean AKG sounds bad or anything. Actually given the fact that these sound on par with UM Merlin makes K3003 the best universals I've heard.

 

Reference sound filters really suited my taste as for all-rounder. I listen to wide range of genre music from electronica, pop and fems to hardcore and metal. Within all genre K3003 did outstanding job placing each instrument right into its place. I was amazed by the separation. Each sound came from different driver yet the sound's coherency is among the best.

Bass is quite tight, fast but doesn't lack rumble or dynamics. The lowest bass notes lack some extension next to Merlin, but overall they are very good for universals nonetheless. I liked that K3003's bass is always controlled. There's no midrange bleed. Double bass stings performed top notch.

Mids are very detailed, yet airy, soft and light in weight. I found mids to be in perfect spot between being colored or sweet and bight or lifeless. Bottom line the mids were exactly as I like my mids to be. As for universals it's also amazing how AKG manages to change its presentation with song. It's close and intimate when called for and spacious when given some heavy rock tracks.

With some players like HM-601 or Studio-V vocals could turn sibilant at times, however with clip+ or iriver imp-550 cd player sibilance wasn't an issue at all. In fact those two players were able to push the AKG to its finest. I particularly consider AKG K3003 and IMP-550 to be my new (quasi?) portable reference.

Highs are really good with slightly warm sources and a bit metalic with HifiMan od HSA players. I really liked the extension of the highs. It's extremely good and was giving my Merlin good run for its money. When switched back to Merlin I felt like I lost some sparkle to my music. High hats and crashes are always present on K3003 and it makes listening to jazz pleasing experience.

 

Soundstage is really good. It's spacious, airy and detailed. I feel like there're only few earphones that could match that spaciousness. Holography and imaging is also top notch. There's enough depth to the sound, and some of sounds can be placed way beyond ear and head either vertically or horizontally.

 

I actually liked all filters. Each has something to it. Bass filters add some more rumble and extension to bass and midbass, making it more present in every track. Vocals indeed went a little bit back and recessed. Mids felt a bit darker. Though I still heard good clarity and separation within mid range. I won't call those inferior to the reference filters - just different. Highs got tamed and I liked it for bright players to give nice synergy with black filters. The earlier almost-sibilant notes were gone for good.

As for high boost filters - I liked the way the mids stood up (more concert alike type of presentation) and the fact that treble filters don't sacrifice highs' quality. White filters make highs a little more extended at the very high end, without adding to hot vocal notes. As for bass and lose of its dynamics, well the bass is for sure lacking punch and wight with highs boost next to the other, however I found listening to Pendulum or some dubstep heavy bass tracks still enjoyable. Bass felt just tighter and less forward.

 

As for UM Merlin vs. AKG K3003, to me Merlin sounds like combination of different AKG's filters in different ranges. That said it would be like bass taken from reference filters, mids from highs boost and highs from bass boost. Basically Merlin offers quite similar signature as K3003 with slightly different presentation but with matching quality, quantity and so one.

 

Taking all into account IMHO the AKGs are well worth the price. They are the first earphones I had in my hands (ok I didn't had a chance to use FADs) that offer more than just a sound. It's more like using a quality brand watch or supersports car. The packaging, the leather, brushed stainless steel is quite an experience that engage all the senses not only hearing. K3003 are also the first universals that made me truly listen to music not to my gear. The same thing does Merlin, but then again, AKG are universals.

 

 

PS: there's also full review coming in polish, I'll update you soon


Edited by piotrus-g - 7/31/12 at 12:29pm
post #92 of 211
Thread Starter 

^  Excellent review / impressions, piotrus-g!  I've added a link to your post to the first post on this thread.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by piotrus-g View Post

I know that you strive to avoid comparison K3003 to custom IEMs on the price/quality level. But as a owner of similarly constructed hybrid UM Merlin I can't help but compare those two.

 

Quite the contrary, I personally encourage and value comparisons of the K3003s to other IEMs, particularly higher-end customs or universals, though of course if someone feels that a (much) cheaper custom / universal is worth mentioning, that's absolutely fine, too.

 


 

Now, when will we get those more in-depth impressions by MuppetFace?

post #93 of 211

I agree they are comparable to Custom IEMs and I can see them being better as well. I kinda wish I had an opportunity to hear them with the revised filters...
 

post #94 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

^  Excellent review / impressions, piotrus-g!  I've added a link to your post to the first post on this thread.

 

 

Quite the contrary, I personally encourage and value comparisons of the K3003s to other IEMs, particularly higher-end customs or universals, though of course if someone feels that a (much) cheaper custom / universal is worth mentioning, that's absolutely fine, too.

 


 

Now, when will we get those more in-depth impressions by MuppetFace?

Thank you! I've tried my bests.

 

Well as far as I remember it was Anaxilus (correct me if I'm wrong) who got annoyed by all the comparison people have been making, that for less money you can get custom and the will play at least on the same level. So I didn't want to upset anyone with my opinion/comparison. And well, actually IMO UM Merlin and K3003 shares like 95% of the same signature and quality, both are fantastic at simply playing music. Though If I only was able to pull $1,5k without noticing straight out of my wallet I'd really considering K3003. Those are extremely good earphones.

post #95 of 211
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by piotrus-g View Post

Thank you! I've tried my bests.

 

Well as far as I remember it was Anaxilus (correct me if I'm wrong) who got annoyed by all the comparison people have been making, that for less money you can get custom and the will play at least on the same level. So I didn't want to upset anyone with my opinion/comparison. And well, actually IMO UM Merlin and K3003 shares like 95% of the same signature and quality, both are fantastic at simply playing music. Though If I only was able to pull $1,5k without noticing straight out of my wallet I'd really considering K3003. Those are extremely good earphones.

 

I'm not sure --and I really don't think, to be honest-- that Anaxilus actually "got annoyed by all the comparison people have been making, that for less money you can get custom and the will play at least on the same level".

Some of us K3003 owners, however, were indeed getting a little sick and tired of the frequent claims by several people --even before the K3003 was released, and for a few months after its release-- that for that kind of money ($1,300 / €1,000 / £1,000) everyone should get a pair of customs instead, because in theory customs are (much) better-sounding than all universals, offer better isolation, and so on.

 

Not only are the K3003s able to compete with some of the best customs, apparently, but several people did not seem to understand that there are several people, including myself, who actually prefer a universal IEM over a set of customs. Several of those claims I mentioned came from people who had never even heard a custom IEM (!), let alone the K3003s. But, as it often happens in these forum threads, many people talk about gear they themselves have never tried, or simply repeat the words / views of others ("parroting" & "regurgitation" are words I sometimes use to describe this).

Unfortunately, there is still quite a bit of hype, exaggeration, misinformation AND misleading information when it comes to custom IEMs. I'm not suggesting people should get the K3003s instead of a set of (expensive) customs, but simply saying that many people still don't know enough --or the whole truth-- behind the world of custom IEMs. Customs can indeed be great, but in many instances they are not, they are not the best choice for all, or the most sensible option.

Like I said in my previous post, comparisons of the K3003s to other IEMs (custom or universal) are very welcome, and something I'm sure many people will appreciate. In many of the links on the first post people mention several customs or other universals.

That said, it'll be interesting to see to what extent shotgunshane shares your impressions of the K3003s & Merlins.


Edited by music_4321 - 7/31/12 at 1:34pm
post #96 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

Some of us K3003 owners, however, were indeed getting a little sick and tired of the frequent claims by several people --even before the K3003 was released...

 

eek.gif (sorry, couldn't resist! ;-)

post #97 of 211
Thread Starter 

^  Let me rephrase that for you, then: Some of those who were considering getting the K3003 were getting a little sick and tired of some of the comments posted before the AKGs were even released. Once the K3003s were released, and for a few months afterwards, things did not seem to improve on the you'd-better-get-a-pair-of-customs-instead comments front.

I could have resisted but decided not to!  ;)

post #98 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by music_4321 View Post

 

Some of us K3003 owners, however, were indeed getting a little sick and tired of the frequent claims by several people --even before the K3003 was released, and for a few months after its release-- that for that kind of money ($1,300 / €1,000 / £1,000) everyone should get a pair of customs instead, because in theory customs are (much) better-sounding than all universals, offer better isolation, and so on.

 

Not only are the K3003s able to compete with some of the best customs, apparently, but several people did not seem to understand that there are several people, including myself, who actually prefer a universal IEM over a set of customs. Several of those claims I mentioned came from people who had never even heard a custom IEM (!), let alone the K3003s. But, as it often happens in these forum threads, many people talk about gear they themselves have never tried, or simply repeat the words / views of others ("parroting" & "regurgitation" are words I sometimes use to describe this).
 

Yes that's exactly what I had in mind in my previous post. I also didn't mean to accuse anyone about being fed up with those talks. I just remember that there were some issues about k3003 vs the rest.

 

But let's drop that topic and enjoy discussion on K3003. :)

post #99 of 211

AKG K3003

 

1000

 

 

Before jumping into the sound, I want to make a few comments on build and accessories, which I feel are important to discuss, due to how they may affect the sound and/or durability of the product.

 

Accessories include 3 pair of stock single flange tips that are very comfortable and well made with a good combination of thickness and flexibility.  My only issue with them is that I require a bit deeper insertion due to the shape of the housings and tip length; I can’t quite reach optimal positioning.  I had some extra Meelec triple flange (trips) tips lying around and these solved the fit issue.  Achieving optimum fit smoothed the treble out, improving its tone and realism, while tightening up the low end a fair amount.  Another benefit was the expansion of soundstage from left to right and improving imaging.  I would like to see AKG offer some dual and triple flange tips of the same quality of their single flanges as the changes I heard in sound were significant for me.

 

Other accessories include screw on swappable filters (bass, treble and reference).  The bass filter is basically useless.  It really muddies up the sound, wrecks clarity and timbre and just plain sounds bad.  The treble filter offers a very nice analytical sound that is very reminiscent of the Audio Technica CK10 and is overall more neutral.  The reference filter, which is my preference, slightly pulls back on the treble presence, while adding a very satisfying bass presence.  The build quality of the housings and filters are excellent and beautifully crafted.  I love the smart screw-in mechanism of the filters.  The housings are surprisingly small and tastefully minimalistic in overall design.

 

If there is anything to fault or complain about, it is the cable; in particularly the section of the cable above the Y split.  On the microphone version, there are no strain reliefs around it and I find where the cable enters the strain reliefs on the housings concerning as well.  Perhaps it is unfounded concern but these do appear to be weak points in an otherwise well built and very expensive, top of the line earphone.  I think I would have preferred the upper portion of the cable to be covered in the same nylon feeling material of the bottom portion, allowing for more flexibility without kinking at strain points.

 

Also suspect is the winding case.  While very attractive looking, I find winding the earphone in a large square shape to be impractical and creates odd memory to the cable;  but more importantly the method for storing the housings in the case seems overly complicated and could lead to kinking or damaging the cable, if one is not very carful.  An aftermarket case, like a Pelican, Otterbox or UE hard case is recommended.

 

Enough with the cosmetic and on with the sound.

 

 

700

 

 

Being that the K3003 is a hybrid design, coherency between the differing driver technologies seems to be one of the biggest concerns; so let me start by saying, to me, it is a non-issue.  I think the driver technologies are blended very well and I did not find anything distracting or disjointed during my listening sessions.  Instruments sounded smooth and cohesive from the bottom of the scale and up, contributing to excellent timbre.  Coherency Schmoeherency.  Just enjoy the music because it sounds damn good from the K3003.

 

 

400

Coherency Schmoeherency as performed by Van Halen.

 

The treble of the K3003 is simply fantastic, nicely weighted and has a very nice brassiness about it.  It is highly reminiscent of the CK10 treble, albeit a slightly tamed down version of that treble.  With the Meelec trips, I’ve had no issue with undo sibilance or issues with peaks or harshness.  Just airy, brassy and extended goodness.

 

In comparison the Merlin and UM3X treble are much more subdued and laid back.  The UM3X treble is not only more laid back but also sounds less realistic, with less detail retrieval than the K3003.  Upon switching back to the UM3X, it’s takes a moment to readjust, making the UM3X seem a little too dark and smoothed over.  The Merlin treble is also more laid back than the K3003 but is certainly crisper and more present than the UM3X.  Both the Merlin and K3003 high end come across as highly detailed and resolving, especially when amplified with the cleaner signal of the Leckerton UHA-6s mk2, but over all I enjoy the treble presentation of the K3003 more.  It’s the CK10 like brassiness and realism that won me over.

 

The midrange of the K3003 is slightly forward and aggressive with a flavor I would term as sweet. Vocals are very engaging; strings sound lifelike and distortion guitars have excellent bite.  This energetic midrange presentation is right in my wheelhouse of preferences and is one of the most likeable traits of the K3003; in fact I think I’d call the K3003 mildly mid-centric.

 

In comparison to the UM3X, the K3003 displays much greater upper mid presence, which is what gives it the aggressive and sweet sound.  The upper mid of the UM3X is actually scooped out, with more emphasis on the lower mid, giving it a more lush, euphonic or analogue sound.  Both presentations are great but I’d say the balance of upper and lower mid presence gives the K3003 more versatility for a better all rounder and certainly gives it greater clarity.

 

On the other hand, the Merlin seems to split the difference between the mid presentation of the UM3X and K3003.  In my Merlin thread, I compared the similarities between the RE262 mids and the Merlin.  The K3003 mids are more aggressive and sweet sounding than the Merlin still, due to more upper mid presence.  The Merlin gives a more emotional, intimate vocal by being more laid back than the K3003.  I also find the midrange of the Merlin to be more resolving of micro-detail, especially with the Leckerton or Arrow 4g amps.

 

The bass of the K3003 can be summed up a number of ways - fun, satisfying, impactful, deep, textured and musical.  If ultimate neutrality is your goal, you won’t find it with the dynamic bass of the K3003 and the reference filter, although its boost isn’t as large as the overwhelming majority of consumer oriented earphones.  The amount of boost the K3003 offers is quite possibly the perfect amount for my preferences.  It adds realistic and believable weight to strings and keys and I could not detect any issues with bleeding into the midrange.  While certainly not as fast and as accurate as say, the CK10 bass, it is fast for dynamic driver bass and is tastefully colored and very lifelike.

 

In comparison to the UM3X and Merlin, the K3003 has less bass quantity, coming across as the most neutral of the three.  The K3003 beats the UM3X in lower end extension and resolution, while the Merlin has more of its bass focused on deep/sub bass, so it gives the feeling of greater extension and rumble.  With the Meelec trips, the tightness of the K3003 bass competes very well with the Merlin bass, both being some of the tighter dynamic driver bass I’ve heard. 

 

 

700

 

 

With the stock tips, I thought the K3003 soundstage width was just average to perhaps slightly above average but with a spacious and airy presentation within that soundstage, displaying much better than average depth.  With the Meelec trips, the soundstage is increased from left to right by a substantial margin to my ears.  Comparatively the Merlin soundstage is still wider and deeper but a fair amount taller as well.  The Merlin soundstage is the tallest I’ve heard to date, although with the Meelec trips, the K3003 soundstage is very satisfying.

 

Imaging and separation are as good as the best, or better than I’ve heard in most universals.  Dynamics are also excellent and the K3003 makes a superb low volume listening experience, and is in fact the best I’ve heard yet for low volume.  As mentioned earlier, timbre is very good - strings and keys sound lifelike and believable, with proper note weight; toms and snares snap to life; cymbals and rides have a natural brassiness.  The K3003 is one of better phones for portraying instruments as you would hear them in person.  I would love to be able to compare these to my previous timbre champs, the EX1000 and FX700.  It seems to balance nicely between earphones that come across as too thick or too thin in note.

 

Value

 

While I absolutely love the sound of the K3003, I do find the price point impractical for myself; but I am hoping AKG prices the K3003 more competitively in near future, as other companies release new hybrids and new flagships this winter.  If so, I would definitely be very interested in obtaining my own set.

 

Conclusion

 

If I had to sum up my listening experience with the K3003, I would call it a CK10 with dynamic driver bass.  It takes the same great, brassy treble of the CK10, tones it down just a bit; sweetens up the midrange and lifts it slightly; then adds a more subdued taste of the Merlin bass.  The majority of the music I listen to is distortion guitar driven rock with a healthy does of acoustic/indie/singer-songwriter selections - and it is without reservation that I can say the AKG K3003 rocks; but it does so much more and truly sounds excellent with everything I send its way.

 

Big thanks to Bizkit!

 

Review re-posted here.

post #100 of 211
Thread Starter 

Very nice review, shotgunshane!

I've already added a link to it to the first post on this thread.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post

 

400

Coherency Schmoeherency as performed by Van Halen.

 

   :)

post #101 of 211
Quote:

Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post

 

K3003 review

 

Congrats @shotgunshane, excellent writeup, I agree on pretty much everything. smile_phones.gif

 

Points worth extra mentioning:

- I share your concern about the upper cable (especially for over-ear use) and wished they'd used the same material as below the splitter.

- Also concur with you that the case is good looking but not very useful. I use the round Radius DDM leather case (without the winder).

- Last not least, Coherency Schmoeherency. Of course, anyone who has experience with DDs and BAs will be able to detect that the K3003 are hybrids. But for actual music listening, coherency is a non-issue to my ears as well.

 

EDIT: Oh, and big thanks to piotrus-g for his earlier impressions. Credit where credit is due.


Edited by james444 - 8/4/12 at 6:44am
post #102 of 211
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

 

Congrats @shotgunshane, excellent writeup, I agree on pretty much everything. smile_phones.gif

 

I take it, then, you also enjoy the Merlins quite a bit, and also share shotgunshanes's comments regarding the UM3Xs.

 

(As Mr james444 would sometimes say: "Sorry, couldn't resist!")  ;)

post #103 of 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

 

Congrats @shotgunshane, excellent writeup, I agree on pretty much everything. smile_phones.gif

 

Points worth extra mentioning:

- I share your concern about the upper cable (especially for over-ear use) and wished they'd used the same material as below the splitter.

- Also concur with you that the case is good looking but not very useful. I use the round Radius DDM leather case (without the winder).

- Last not least, Coherency Schmoeherency. Of course, anyone who has experience with DDs and BAs will be able to detect that the K3003 are hybrids. But for actual music listening, coherency is a non-issue to my ears as well.

 

Thanks James.  

 

I just think the coherency discussion is overblown.  Yes, I think you can tell there is dynamic driver bass and armature mid/treble, due to the softer nature of the dynamic driver and the harder edge of the armatures but I don't hear any gap between them; the transition is smooth and as a result timbre is fantastic to me.  Like you said, for actual music listening, it's a non-issue.

 

Something I didn't mention in the review that I really like about the K3003 is it's unbridled energy.  Every note seems electrically charged, just waiting for a crescendo in the music, so it can release and explode with pent-up rage and excitement! 

post #104 of 211
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by shotgunshane View Post
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by james444 View Post

- Last not least, Coherency Schmoeherency. Of course, anyone who has experience with DDs and BAs will be able to detect that the K3003 are hybrids. But for actual music listening, coherency is a non-issue to my ears as well.

 

 

Thanks James.  

 

I just think the coherency discussion is overblown.  Yes, I think you can tell there is dynamic driver bass and armature mid/treble, due to the softer nature of the dynamic driver and the harder edge of the armatures but I don't hear any gap between them; the transition is smooth and as a result timbre is fantastic to me.  Like you said, for actual music listening, it's a non-issue.

 

That's exactly how I hear the K3003s (bolded text). I think transitions between all frequencies are quite smooth, an area where, in my view, AKG did extremely well in the implementation of both driver technologies. Such transitions is an area I've not been entirely convinced by some multi-BA driver IEMs.

post #105 of 211

are they really worth their quadruple digit price-tag?

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