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So far, disappointed with AKG Q701.

post #1 of 86
Thread Starter 

I will, right off the bat, say that I have not given these the appropriate burn in period. They've been used for about 8 hours so far. I'm not a huge believer in significant burn in effects, but if someone thinks my issues will be solved by burn in, that would be great, because I am in love with the design of these cans.

 

OK, first of all, my primary headphones before these were the HD 598. I LOVED the sound of them, but I hated the looks. I'm 22 and in college. Sound is most important to me or I'd have Beats like everyone else at the school. But the first thing that happened when I took the 598s out of the box was my girlfriend saying "yuck." 

 

So, I decided to try to find a good looking pair of headphones that was on par with or exceeded the 598s, with a budget topping out at ~$250. Q701s fit the bill and arrived today.

 

Hooked up to my iMac using USB to my VDAC MK II and FiiO E9, I can't help but be upset with these cans. First of all, they sound a bit muffled. Vocals seem distant and recessed. Things don't pop like they do with the Sennheisers. There even seems to be some distortion with highs for some bizarre reason, albeit very minor, even though they're supposed to have great range. 

 

On the bright side, I think they're a little more detailed than the 598s, which I would normally love. 

 

The distant vocals are my biggest complaint. Is this something that will be resolved with burn in? Will they ever be as fun to listen to as the 598s? Or do these cans just have a different presentation than the Sennheisers? 

 

If these are problems that WONT be resolved by burn in, is there another set of phones you could recommend?

post #2 of 86

It could be the affect of having big sound stage. The Q701 is known for having one of the biggest sound stages in headphones. It may take a bit time to get used to. Another thing is your amp. The AKG K/701 ideally would need some amp with good power to drive them, the E9 is decent but I say you can do better.

Without knowing more about what you listen to, I can't recommend other headphones.

post #3 of 86

Try it a little more, and if it does not work sell it. Burn in will not change AKGs presentation. Do not get carried away with new amplifier ether, AKG amp story is little overblown. (but I must admit, "muffled" seams a bit unusual description)

 

I would recommend a new headphone, maybe shr 1440, FWIR their mids are upfront, and vdac relaxed character will go well with such presentation. 


Edited by loopfreak - 8/18/12 at 4:07am
post #4 of 86

"Or do these cans just have a different presentation than the Sennheisers?" 

Yeah, I think that's the problem in a nutshell. If you want something that sounds more like the 598 try to return the 702. I know what you mean by 'distant' vocals. To me it's more like vocals(and the mids in general) don't have the weight and 'solidity' that they have with the hd580 and other phones. I can't think of anything off hand that would suit you in the 'looks' department other than the k601 which is supposed to have significantly better mids than the 70X, FWIR. They seem hard to find much below $300 though. And yes, your amp should drive them just fine, according to a couple of sources who's opinions I trust.


Edited by lejaz - 8/18/12 at 7:34am
post #5 of 86
Thread Starter 
Amp power almost certainly isn't a problem. Even with the gain switch on low, I don't go past 11 o'clock on the E9 dial without getting uncomfortably loud volume. Hell, I get enough volume on my iPod classic if I turn it all the way up.

I'll give them another couple days I suppose. If I still don't like them perhaps I'll sell a kidney and try to get my hands on the HD 650. I really want to like them though.
post #6 of 86
There is a whole school of thought out there that they respond very well to a higher quality amp.
A lot of guys out there like the Q701 with the Matrix M Stage headphone amp, it sounds like you don't actually need more power (I have no problem listening to my Q's thrup my iPad), but prehaps a higher quality amp than the FiiO.
post #7 of 86
I have the same issue with my K702s running unamped, and but through the M1 HPA they sound lovely to me. I feel like you bought them on looks and you like the bass-featured, and closer and warmer sound of the sennheisers, so you may just not like them.

Having said that, I listened to a pair of 702s with an extra hundred and fifty hours on them compared to mine, and they sounded completely different... Didn't expect it, and wouldn't have believed it... it was bizarre. alex699 can confirm.
post #8 of 86
Thread Starter 
I actually ATH M50s for my bass needs. I have very indiscriminate musical tastes, so one minute I'll be listening to an orchestral score, the next minutes it'll be Rage Against the Machine. What I love about the HD 598 is that they handle any genre capably. I was hoping for similar performance from the Q but so far haven't found anything that it performs exceptionally well on.
post #9 of 86

The K/Q 701 just has quite some flaws while the HD 598 is an actual "good" headphone...

The K701 and it's decendent are to head-fi what the beats are for the masses.

 

I owned both (K/Q701) and sold both, kept my K400, K240 Sextetts. While both are not as "detailed" they have way less flaws, no 2k nor 7-10k spike, and just sound right.

 

For your burn-in concerns... read the article on http://www.innerfidelity.com/ about burn-in where Tyll burned and measured a Q701 before and after burn-in.

Sadly burn-in will not help you with your issues. (spoilers... there is no magic in burn-in)

 

If it really is a design issue (I don't like the colors of the HD 598 either) I wouldn't care, you're only wearing them at home... if you don't, get additional portable headphones to complement the HD 598. The HD 598 isn't designed to be mobile. They are open, so you bother othes and others bother you while hearing music outside.

post #10 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by roBernd View Post

The K/Q 701 just has quite some flaws while the HD 598 is an actual "good" headphone...

The K701 and it's decendent are to head-fi what the beats are for the masses.

 

I owned both (K/Q701) and sold both, kept my K400, K240 Sextetts. While both are not as "detailed" they have way less flaws, no 2k nor 7-10k spike, and just sound right.

 

For your burn-in concerns... read the article on http://www.innerfidelity.com/ about burn-in where Tyll burned and measured a Q701 before and after burn-in.

Sadly burn-in will not help you with your issues. (spoilers... there is no magic in burn-in)

 

If it really is a design issue (I don't like the colors of the HD 598 either) I wouldn't care, you're only wearing them at home... if you don't, get additional portable headphones to complement the HD 598. The HD 598 isn't designed to be mobile. They are open, so you bother othes and others bother you while hearing music outside.

 

Gotta love it when people claim a headphone has flaws because they don't like it's signature. Some people prefer the Q701's forward upper mids and extra treble.

Maybe the HD-650 is flawed too because it's too dark and has so much mid-bass? I don't like a headphone then it's flawed!  What sounds "right" for you, isn't right for me.

 

I'm not flaming, but saying a headphone is flawed due to signature preference makes no sense. You've said this more than once. It's ok if you don't like their signature.

 

BTW any flaw that was there in the K702 was fixed on my Q701. If you can't hear the difference, then that's OK. I'm not a huge fan of the K702, but the Q701 was a huge improvement for me.

I liked it so much that it made owning the K501 kind of pointless since the Q701 was better in every way.

 

Nobody has every found out for sure if the newer K702s sound the same as the latest Q701s. To know this you'd have to get a dozen of them I'd imagine.

 

And please don't say the differences are only due to foam. This has already been confirmed to not be the case. Has to be something else. The drivers DO have the same part #, but this means nothing at all.

 

I do agree that the K702 (not Q701) has a few flaws to my ears. That'd take me a few paragraphs to describe. I think with the Q701 they really listened to the few complaints people had about the K702. I don't expect people to agree with me.

I don't believe it was just all marketing, but people will believe this anyway.

post #11 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by shinndigg View Post

I will, right off the bat, say that I have not given these the appropriate burn in period. They've been used for about 8 hours so far. I'm not a huge believer in significant burn in effects, but if someone thinks my issues will be solved by burn in, that would be great, because I am in love with the design of these cans.

 

OK, first of all, my primary headphones before these were the HD 598. I LOVED the sound of them, but I hated the looks. I'm 22 and in college. Sound is most important to me or I'd have Beats like everyone else at the school. But the first thing that happened when I took the 598s out of the box was my girlfriend saying "yuck." 

 

So, I decided to try to find a good looking pair of headphones that was on par with or exceeded the 598s, with a budget topping out at ~$250. Q701s fit the bill and arrived today.

 

Hooked up to my iMac using USB to my VDAC MK II and FiiO E9, I can't help but be upset with these cans. First of all, they sound a bit muffled. Vocals seem distant and recessed. Things don't pop like they do with the Sennheisers. There even seems to be some distortion with highs for some bizarre reason, albeit very minor, even though they're supposed to have great range. 

 

On the bright side, I think they're a little more detailed than the 598s, which I would normally love. 

 

The distant vocals are my biggest complaint. Is this something that will be resolved with burn in? Will they ever be as fun to listen to as the 598s? Or do these cans just have a different presentation than the Sennheisers? 

 

If these are problems that WONT be resolved by burn in, is there another set of phones you could recommend?

 

I don't know why, but my E9 makes all my headphones have this almost artifically huge soundstage. It's quite massive on the E9 with the Q701. The E9 is a good match for the Q701, but maybe not for everyone. The Q701 for me has MUCH more up-front vocals than the old K702. Vocals that are VERY up-front in the recording are upfront on the Q701, but not as much as on some of my other headphones. Spaced back just a tad, so not 100% accurate, but very close. The Q701 doesn't give vocals a VERY upfront sound, but pretty close. If you have recordings where the vocals sound distant or cave like, the Q701 isn't going to shove them in your face. Maybe the Q701 is just true to the actual recordings and that's the way the vocals are supposed to be?

 

I have some Pearl Jam songs where it sounds like Eddie Vedder's singing in a cave. Sounds like it's recoded in a bowling alley or something. No headphone I have will really change this much. Very distant sounding.

 

What I would suggest is to try them with another DAC or source to see if you get results. Even a blu-ray or full sized CD player! Just as a reference. There could always be some bad synergy going on. Maybe try a weaker source that's dead neutral such as the Sansa Clip+ or even a CD player. You'd be amazed at how sources i've tried that made the Q701 sound a bit off. My HRT MSII seems to make vocals too forward at times. I think it has a small soundstage too despite what everyone else says.

 

The E9 is nice, but with more expensive amps the mids are much fuller sounding and it's not due to the amp being more colored. My Q701 sounds almost as warm and full sounding as my HD-598 right now. Mostly being helped out by the HRT and not my amp.

 

What's interesting is that i've found it's easy to NOT like the Q701 with the wrong setup. That's been my case. The K702 has been awful with the Asgard, but it wasn't until I got the E9 that I liked it. I was pretty shocked at how much better it sounded when I upgraded my amp even further.

 

I don't know if burn in works with the Q701. Never felt the need, but I believe in burn in for maybe a few rare headphones such as the DJ100 and the KRKs.

 

One more thing..I once had this weird issue with my laptop where my USB ports were not powering my HRT DAC well enough. I'd often get this screeching sound. Took me forever to figure this out, but it was due to a slight lack of power.

Do you ever get random pops and clicks or this screeching sound? If so, try a POWERED usb hub.

 

Believe it or not my HRT is unusable just with my laptops crappy USB ports. It's a recent computer too. I imagine your Imac has good USB ports, but it doesn't hurt to try.

I was shocked how much better my HRT sounded with a powered usb hub or a desktop computer with GOOD usb ports.


Edited by tdockweiler - 8/18/12 at 3:37pm
post #12 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

 

Gotta love it when people claim a headphone has flaws because they don't like it's signature. Some people prefer the Q701's forward upper mids and extra treble.

Maybe the HD-650 is flawed too because it's too dark and has so much mid-bass? I don't like a headphone then it's flawed!  What sounds "right" for you, isn't right for me.

 

I'm not flaming, but saying a headphone is flawed due to signature preference makes no sense. You've said this more than once. It's ok if you don't like their signature.

 

BTW any flaw that was there in the K702 was fixed on my Q701. If you can't hear the difference, then that's OK. I'm not a huge fan of the K702, but the Q701 was a huge improvement for me.

I liked it so much that it made owning the K501 kind of pointless since the Q701 was better in every way.

 

Nobody has every found out for sure if the newer K702s sound the same as the latest Q701s. To know this you'd have to get a dozen of them I'd imagine.

 

And please don't say the differences are only due to foam. This has already been confirmed to not be the case. Has to be something else. The drivers DO have the same part #, but this means nothing at all.

 

I do agree that the K702 (not Q701) has a few flaws to my ears. That'd take me a few paragraphs to describe. I think with the Q701 they really listened to the few complaints people had about the K702. I don't expect people to agree with me.

I don't believe it was just all marketing, but people will believe this anyway.

I suppose an "imo" might have helped in the post that you're responding to. I think there's some forum members who can't differentiate between a totally subjective evaluation and some kind of objective criteria for evaluating sound signature. When someone says a headphone sounds flawed it might be good to mention what's the criteria for making that judgment. When I'm judging a headphone's sound signature, I'm normally comparing to the sound of live acoustic instruments in a large jazz orchestra. I played in a few throughout high school, so I know what brass and woodwinds and percussion are supposed to sound like. In that light, the k70X sounds quite 'flawed' in the midrange. In a live jazz band the mids have real weight and fullness. They hit hard. I also never noticed a lot of treble when listening to live jazz instruments, but that may have been due to listening in big open rehearsal halls and auditoriums which dissipated the highs. the headphone that comes closest to what I heard playing in orchestras throughout high school is the dt48. The k240DF and the hd580 come close too, but the dt48 has the truest mid's imo. But, if a headphone sounds good to the person listening, than it IS good. We have only ourselves to please in this hobby.

post #13 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by shinndigg View Post

Vocals seem distant and recessed. Things don't pop like they do with the Sennheisers. There even seems to be some distortion with highs for some bizarre reason, albeit very minor, even though they're supposed to have great range.

 

The main problem is more that you're expecting a Senn sound signature from an... AKG. The 701s have really clear and pure vocals (it's one of the reasons I chose them)

 

Distortion is never an issue, perhaps you are not able to describe what you're hearing accurately?

 

In the end the 701s are like any other headphone, they have their strengths and minuses. Most of the minuses are well known (weak but more foward mids, lethargic bass), but other than that, the other characteristics of the 701s are the reason people buy them in the first place ;)

 

And like mentioned by others in the thread, the quality of one's specific amp, independent of the actual power output, has a factor for them... moreso than for most headphones. It's just how they are.

post #14 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by menchi View Post

 

The main problem is more that you're expecting a Senn sound signature from an... AKG. The 701s have really clear and pure vocals (it's one of the reasons I chose them)

 

Distortion is never an issue, perhaps yo There even seems to be some distortion with highs for some bizarre reason, albeit very minor, even though they're supposed to have great range.u are not able to describe what you're hearing accurately?

 

In the end the 701s are like any other hea

dphone, they have their strengths and minuses. Most of the minuses are well known (weak but more foward mids, lethargic bass), but other than that, the other characteristics of the 701s are the reason people buy them in the first place ;)

 

And like mentioned by others in the thread, the quality of one's specific amp, independent of the actual power output, has a factor for them... moreso than for most headphones. It's just how they are.

From the OP:  "There even seems to be some distortion with highs for some bizarre reason, albeit very minor, even though they're supposed to have great range." 

The OP isn't the only one to notice that. There's a weird resonance in the upper mids/lower treble area that you only hear on some material, but I've noticed it as well, and another forum member commented on it extensively.  'Pure vocals' is a very subjective judgement unless you've heard the particular singer in question live. A vocalist will sound very different out of the k70X than they do out of the hd580. Which one is more 'pure' is anyone's guess.  Preference in this hobby is very subjective.

post #15 of 86

I did notice  the first overnight burn in helped out a lot. I think the lower highs  harshness smoothed out a lot pretty quickly and after that the difference has been more subtle. One thing to check out, and I mean no insult by this is the orientation of the pads since they do have a thick and thin side to them. I've never heard the 701's described as muffled but I think having the earpads or even one earpad  wrong could do it. Someone in the Inner Fidelity forum talked about doing it. In the 701 appreciation thread folks have used the Fiio E9 amp and liked the combo. My favorite so far is my old Kenwood CD player circa 1980's and my Headroom Total Bithead amp. I know the TBH amp isn't popular here but I enjoy them together. I second tdockweiler suggestion that you try a few other sources to see if the 701 sound is more agreeable to you.

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