K702 65th Anniversary Edition
Sells for $400-$500Review (Click to show)
The K702 65th Anniversary Edition. Limited to 3000 units worldwide, sold at a premium, with a new headband, memory foam pads, gunmetal-like color scheme, and supposed retuning of the hand-picked drivers. I found the name to be a mouthful, so I decided to call it the K702 Annie, or just Annie. Thankfully, the name stuck on Head-fi. So from here on out, I'll be calling it the Annie.
Bass: Sound-wise, this is the most significant change coming off the older models. The Annie presents bass quite well. You can consider it slightly above neutral. Natural if the source doesn't have a need for bass, and quite full and involving when the need for bass is there. There were times where I found them to have more bass than even the HE-400. Overall, it certainly does not, but make no mistake, the bass can be quite full, layered, textured, and infectious.
What it improves over the Q701 is that the bass is no longer situational. It doesn't just hit with really bass heavy songs. It hits at all times, in a very natural way. Put on a bassy track, movie, game, etc, and the Annie WILL impress bass-wise. Make no mistake. I always found the Q701 and especially the old K701 to be slightly below neutral, bass-wise. The bass would decay too quickly, and wouldn't hit with enough energy to give a sense of naturality. No longer an issue with the Annie. Unless you're a basshead, I don't think there will be much to complain about here. If you like accurate, yet full bass, the Annie will impress. They are also absolutely stellar for movies in Dolby Headphone.
Mids: The mids on the K701/K702/Q701 have always been forward. However, due to the very large soundstage, they didn't come across as intimate. That large sense of space made the mids seem pushed back, even though they were actually forward in the mix compared to the bass and treble. The Q701's extra push in bass over the old K701 filled out the sound more, making the mids more natural than before. The Annie further improves on the mids by integrating them even more with the bass and treble. Due to the fuller, warmer sound signature, the mids are still forward, but not as distant due to a thicker sound. The mids are an absolute strength on the Annies. They remind me mostly of the HD650's mids, albeit with less intimacy due to the bigger soundstage. The HD650's strength is in the intimate mids due to a smaller, more closed in soundstage, placing the mids quite near you. The Annie's mids aren't HD650 special, but still fantastic.
The older models had some form of upper mid peak that caused some fatigue with certain music and the like. I personally have not heard any upper mid peak on the Annie, leading me to believe that the stronger bass, and warmer tone fleshed out and softened that peak to non-fatiguing levels. In this instance, the Annie shows what the Q701 would be like when perfected.
Treble: The treble to me, has been a strength for both the Q701 and Annie. Both are detailed, yet smooth, still packing energy without being fatiguing. As mentioned before, the fatiguing area of the older AKGs was in the upper mids, and not the treble.
Soundstage: Oh, that soundstage. The K and Q models have all been known to have some truly immense soundstage width, and good depth. The Annie follows suit with equally large soundstage, despite the overall sound being thicker which further integrates sound cues with the soundstage, making it not as apparently airy. Notice that I said 'not as airy', and not 'smaller'. This is both a pro and con. The thinner sounding K701 (old) had an incredible sense of air due to the thinner notes, which were't full sounding in comparison. This made notes easier to pick up, despite not sounding as natural as the Q701 and especially the Annie. What all this means, is that sound effects on the Annie occupy more of the space around you in comparison to the older models, for an overall meatier/weightier sound.
Positioning: Though I discussed the thicker body of sound making the soundstage not as airy as the old K701 and to a lesser extent, the Q701, positional cues were not hampered in any way. This means that you can expect god tier performance with Dolby Headphone. Lots of space for positional cues to do their magic, and I mean MAGIC. Surely among the best that I have reviewed.
Clarity: The Annie's warmer, less immediately detail oriented sound signature compared to the older models does not mean they lack clarity. The Annie is a very revealing headphone, just as the Q701 is, though it shifts the focus a bit more towards musicality. The Annie is in a place that reaps the benefits of both warmth and detail focus, though if you put it next to the old K701, then yes, it will come off as less detailed, as you're not assaulted with a mostly dry, and analytical sound signature.
Amping: As with the older models, the Annie is very sneaky in terms of amping requirements. It needs minimal amping to play loudly, but the AKGs are notorious for craving as much power as 600ohm headphones. The Q701 was the most amp reliant headphone I had ever heard, and changed the most out of any Dynamic headphone I ever heard and reviewed here. You will get away with moderate amping, but believe me, you will be doing a disservice to all the Ks and Qs by skimping out on amping. If you're gonna spend this much money on these headphones, you shouldn't feed it weak power, IMHO. They will reward you. The Annie is definitely the easiest of the models to power in terms of sounding good, but they still want power. Still, if you absolutely can't do with much amping, the Annie sounds quite full and refined off lesser equipment compared to the other models.
Build Quality: Made of a durable plastic, and well thought out design, I find the build quality to be quite good. I wouldn't toss them around haphazardly, but they'd definitely survive some abuse. The detachable cable is like the non-Anniversary models, which isn't the thickest I've seen, but certainly very malleable, flexible, and light. It certainly does it's job, though I would have expected a more rugged, or fancier cable for this very limited edition variant.
Compared to the non-Anniversary models of the K701/K702/Q701, the headband is thinner in width when viewed from the top/bottom, with a widening of the area where the AKG branding is located. The biggest difference (and it's incredibly significant), is that the underside of the headband no longer has the notorious (7-8) bumps, and is instead completely smooth. This basically turns the Annie from a torture device to a godsend in headband comfort. There is no padding, but it is absolutely unnecessary as the headband perfectly molds to your head, distributing pressure evenly across where it rests. The bumped headbands were notorious for digging into the scalp, especially on the center one or two bumps. Why it took AKG this long to rectify this issue the vast majority of people had is beyond me, but it's finally done.
The headband also has the added benefit of allowing bigger heads to fit due to less stiffness, and more space. Prior to the Annie, I basically needed the other models to be fully extended for them to fit my head. This caused a lot of tight, downwards pressure, which in addition to the hard bumps, didn't lead to the most comfortable headband design. It took me a few days to adjust to the older models, but I didn't find them as problematic as most people still do.
The pads are the second most significant change from the older models. They are made of memory foam inside velour. Very dense and molds to your head shape MUCH more than the older model pads. This causes a better seal, which is more than likely the main reason why the sound signature is warmer, and more bassy (though no consensus or proof that it either is or isn't what causes all the sonic difference between the older models). Other than those two main differences, the Annie is physically a rebadged K702.
Comfort: As previously mentioned, due to the new headband and new pads, the Annie has made a substantial boost in comfort over the older models. I would say that from what I've read, the K701/K702/Q701's comfort is hypothetically a 5/10 (for everyone else). The Annie, however would more than likely jump up to a 9/10 in comfort. Yes, the headband change is that significant. The removal of the dreaded bumps would basically satisfy ANYONE who had issues with them on the older models, and even those that don't have issues with the bumps.
The pads are arguable, as the older pads, while more firm, breathed a little easier than the new memory foam velours. In either case, neither are sweat inducing or uncomfortable, personally. I find the older models to be not as uncomfortable as most people would lead to believe, but the Annie provides a noticeable boost in comfort either way.
Accessories: Nothing but a 6.3mm adapter. Just the goods.
Isolation/Leakage: I don't know if it's just me, but even for a fully open headphone, I found these to not leak out as much as most open cans. I'm pretty sure it's due to the pads. The sound does not escape from the pads, but from the grills, and I find them to be pretty good at keeping sound in despite it's openness. I found the older models to leak out quite a bit more, more than likely due to the velour pads being a bit more breathable.
Value: At over $400, the Annie is a very tough sell, especially for those who own the later K702/Q701s (not sure on the newer K701). The non-Annies consistently sell for around $250. If you're fine with their sound signature and comfort, it's quite hard to recommend the Annie, despite the very obvious improvement in bass, comfort, and tonality. The Annie brings out what was lacking in the older models, for sure, but the jump in price may not be worth it to some. If you haven't owned any and can afford the Annie, I highly recommend jumping straight to the Annie, as they are clearly the best offering in the AKG lineup.
Final Impressions: In the Annie you have: very balanced, warm, detailed, spacious, god tier in positional cues, fun, engaging, and extreme comfort. If it sounds like I'm gushing about them, that's because I am. There is VERY little to complain about here. This is my idea of a perfected well balanced headphone. The only headphone I would prefer over the Annie is the D7000, which loses out on balance, in place of some truly awe-inspiring fun and musicality. Yes. The Annie is my 2nd favorite headphone ever, and due to it's comfort, musicality, and gaming prowess, the Annie would be my very first pick if I could only own one headphone.
Fun: 8. Great. The bass is mildly above neutral to my ears, while still maintaining good accuracy, giving it the injection of fun that the other models lacked without being too emphasized to hamper it's overall well balanced signature. The soundstage paired with it's tonality, give it a great sense of immersion for ALL manners of gaming and movies, etc. I base this value on overall package, and not just bass emphasis. The Annie is one of the most impressive and fun headphones all around.
Competitive: 9.5. Amazing. Like the Q701, these are basically god tier, with a slight trade off of pure analytical detail-whoring, for an overall better balance between fun and competitive. Positional cues are just as good. There will not be any missed important sound effects or directional cues here.
Comfort: 9.5. Amazing. A significant leap in comfort compared to the older models due to the flat/smooth headband which allows for more extension. The memory foam velours contour to head shape incredibly well, and aren't sweat inducing like pleather/leather. The Annie is a light headphone as well. The only problem I foresee others having is that due to the size of the pads (like the older models), the pads may rest on the jaw which may cause some discomfort.