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Headphone Upgrade from Akg K702

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 

Over the last few months I've tried Beyer DT880s 32ohms, AKG K702s, and now Hifiman HE-400s.  The Beyers sounded unimpressive, the Hifimans too dark and bassy for me, but I loved the AKGs.  I currently have the Hifimans and keep find myself comparing their soundstage and ability to reproduce vocals to the AKGs.  I've also decided that I do prefer brighter headphones to darker headphones with a fair, but not overpowering treble emphasis.  Anyone have any ideas for an "AKG K702 upgrade" in the 400$ range?  I can swing up to 650$ if need be, but anything up through $450 is well within budget.  On the other hand I could go back to the K702s or wait for their special edition to come out and hope that its price drops.  Currently running Ibasso D12 > Bellari HA540.  Thanks for suggestions.

post #2 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by scott5526 View Post

Over the last few months I've tried Beyer DT880s 32ohms, AKG K702s, and now Hifiman HE-400s.  The Beyers sounded unimpressive, the Hifimans too dark and bassy for me, but I loved the AKGs.  I currently have the Hifimans and keep find myself comparing their soundstage and ability to reproduce vocals to the AKGs.  I've also decided that I do prefer brighter headphones to darker headphones with a fair, but not overpowering treble emphasis.  Anyone have any ideas for an "AKG K702 upgrade" in the 400$ range?  I can swing up to 650$ if need be, but anything up through $450 is well within budget.  On the other hand I could go back to the K702s or wait for their special edition to come out and hope that its price drops.  Currently running Ibasso D12 > Bellari HA540.  Thanks for suggestions.


Hard to say if there will be any significant changes in sonic  performance with the anniversary edition. Historically, special editions include cosmetic and options like removable cables - or bundled with cases. Going from the K702 - it's harder to define 'upgrade' because price alone won't reflect a better headphone for you. For example, the Grado SR325is is around $300, but the sound might be something you'll consider as your new favorite. Did you have any specific make/model in mind?

post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 

I was looking at the anniversary edition since it removes the bumps on the top of the headband which was the only major drawback I found to the K702s.  I've had some grado SR225is for a few years, sorry for not mentioning, so I am familiar with the grado sound.  I don't have any models in mind at the moment so I'm open to all suggestions.  Also, preferably nothing too heavy.  I didn't realize some headphones could be so heavy until I got these HE-400s lol.  (although they are made better than any of the headphones I've tried so far)

post #4 of 29
Thread Starter 

Would the Audio Technica W300ANV be any good for what I'm looking for?  I could always just hold off until I have enough to buy them at around 1100$.  From what I've read the HD800 is what I'm looking for too although at 1500$ it would take a while longer to afford.  The Audio Technicas would be more time pressing since they are limited edition so if those would fit the bill I'd need to go for those first.
 

post #5 of 29

I would recommend you audition Senn HD 650s and V Moda LP Crossfades (the LP 2s have come out and you can get these $249 cans for about $100).  If you want a clear brightish presentation also try the Senn HD 25-1 ii.  All three excellent choices.

post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captfantastic View Post

I would recommend you audition Senn HD 650s and V Moda LP Crossfades (the LP 2s have come out and you can get these $249 cans for about $100).  If you want a clear brightish presentation also try the Senn HD 25-1 ii.  All three excellent choices.


I was always under the impression that the Senn 25-1ii were dark/bassy? 

 

The Senn HD600/HD650 might be worth looking into. I don't have experience with either, but I'm sure they sound awesome. You can get deals on used/refurbs, but since these headphones have been available for so many years, hard to say much variation there is from one to another. But with the AKG Q701 being regularly under $250, it's hard to pass up. I wonder when the K702 Anniversary editions will be available?

post #7 of 29

I haven't actually heard a K702, so I can't say with total certainty this would be a K702 upgrade for you...

 

...but the K701/K702 gets compared a lot to the AD700, basically being "AD700 on steroids" in some people's eyes. That's certainly how I'd describe my Stax SR-Lambda, anyway.

 

Also, you mention soundstage and reproduction of vocals, which are also the main reasons I love that Normal bias Lambda. The latter point is actually what caused it to beat out the SR-202 for me, whose vocals sounded recessed by comparison. Raising the midrange on an EQ wasn't quite enough to get it in line.

 

The only issues are that it's a discontinued 1979 model (meaning you have to buy it used, and availability varies), and you'll have to use that whole $450 to have a good shot at getting one with the usual SRD-7 variant included. Even then, you'd better have a speaker amp/receiver/etc. handy if you want to be able to use it with those SRD-series transformer boxes.

post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
I've heard that the Senn hd650 is more of a compliment to the k702 than an upgrade and the hd600 to be more a sidestep, although that's just what I've heard. I also heard that he k702 anniversary edition is available now but for approx. 700$ USD which is far more than I'm willing to pay for an upgraded headbands. I'd love to get my hands on an stax estat system but with just my d12 and he540 and a 650$ budget tops I'm not sure if I could make a decent estat system with the incredibly expensive amps usually associated with them. On top of that I'm completely unfamiliar with what all is needed to drive estats as opposed to dynamics and orthos.
Edited by scott5526 - 9/19/12 at 3:52am
post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Captfantastic View Post

I would recommend you audition Senn HD 650s and V Moda LP Crossfades (the LP 2s have come out and you can get these $249 cans for about $100).  If you want a clear brightish presentation also try the Senn HD 25-1 ii.  All three excellent choices.

uh..no that would be a downgrade.

 

As for the HD 650s, if you found the HE400's dark the HD 650 will not be suitable. IMO the only worthwhile upgrade is the HD800, or perhaps something neutral like the HE500. The HD 650's compliment the K701 well, but are not an upgrade.

 

An entry level electrostatic system will cost well under $1000, although I don't have much experience with electrostats.

post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by scott5526 View Post

Over the last few months I've tried Beyer DT880s 32ohms, AKG K702s, and now Hifiman HE-400s.  The Beyers sounded unimpressive, the Hifimans too dark and bassy for me, but I loved the AKGs.  I currently have the Hifimans and keep find myself comparing their soundstage and ability to reproduce vocals to the AKGs.  I've also decided that I do prefer brighter headphones to darker headphones with a fair, but not overpowering treble emphasis.  Anyone have any ideas for an "AKG K702 upgrade" in the 400$ range?  I can swing up to 650$ if need be, but anything up through $450 is well within budget.  On the other hand I could go back to the K702s or wait for their special edition to come out and hope that its price drops.  Currently running Ibasso D12 > Bellari HA540.  Thanks for suggestions.

 

K702 is the $450 upgrade to K702.  When they first came out that's the price they sold for, along with HD650.  HD650 retains its original pricing, but K702 is now far cheaper than it once was.  If you're looking for "a better K702" you're probably looking for HD800. That's the closest FR to K702 out there.

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthem View Post

uh..no that would be a downgrade.

 

As for the HD 650s, if you found the HE400's dark the HD 650 will not be suitable. IMO the only worthwhile upgrade is the HD800, or perhaps something neutral like the HE500. The HD 650's compliment the K701 well, but are not an upgrade.

 

An entry level electrostatic system will cost well under $1000, although I don't have much experience with electrostats.

 

HD650 is brigher than HE-400, but agreed, it's a sidegrade, not an upgrade.  It's a better compliment than an upgrade.  HD800 is the K702 upgrade, or Q701 if you want a K702 that's a little warmer (or so many owners believe it to be), and HE-500 may be "different but better" in a lot of ways.  HE-6 or stats would maybe do, but either way you're in a whole different price class. Beyer T1...maybe.  Again very different price class. 

 

In the mean-time, K70x has a big fan-base, and keep in mind, it was a $500 headphone.  Just because AKG's are the best price-performance value on the market now, don't go spending more to get the same level of product if it's the signature you prefer anyway! biggrin.gif

post #11 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by scott5526 View Post
I'd love to get my hands on an stax estat system but with just my d12 and he540 and a 650$ budget tops I'm not sure if I could make a decent estat system with the incredibly expensive amps usually associated with them. On top of that I'm completely unfamiliar with what all is needed to drive estats as opposed to dynamics and orthos.

 

$650 might do it if you want a dedicated amp (I think I saw a Stax set with a respectable amp sell for that much on these forums within the last few months), but you'll have to hold out for another good second-hand deal.

 

To power electrostatic headphones, you have two options:

 

-Transformer box/"energizer" + speaker amp. Easily the cheaper of the two since most of the more affordable 'stat systems come with transformer boxes, and it's easy to find used integrated receivers in working order for a relatively low price. Bonus points if it's one of those 1970s Sansui, Marantz, or Pioneer receivers that people rave about all the time.

 

-Dedicated electrostatic amp. More ideal, but definitely more expensive to the point of being a barrier to entry. I've seen SRM-1/Mk2 Pros sell for $300-400, and it just keeps going up from there, all the way to $5,000 Blue Hawaii SEs. You might be able to get something small like an SRM-212 or SRM-252 for much less, but don't count on it.

post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by IEMCrazy View Post

 

 

In the mean-time, K70x has a big fan-base, and keep in mind, it was a $500 headphone.  Just because AKG's are the best price-performance value on the market now, don't go spending more to get the same level of product if it's the signature you prefer anyway! biggrin.gif

I'd agree with that too, and also with the HD800 being the only really suitable upgrade if you love the K702 signature. Having said that, I went from the K702 to the HE500 and I've never looked back. It's got a different flavor, but its much clearer, balanced and natural in tone, with a smaller but more realistic soundstage.

 

I wouldn't be looking at the HD650/600's if you really like the K702's as they will only be a warmer sounding side grade. Haven't heard the D5000/7000's but they might also be an option, Denons do tend to have peaky treble like the AKG's but also with big bass.. very popular in the price range. I used to have the D2000's.

post #13 of 29
Thread Starter 

Speaker amp?  So something like my Bellari couldn't work with an energizer then?  If thats the case it might just be easier to wait until I'm out of school before buying one.  I'd prefer to buy a new set so that I can return it if it turns out that I don't like the sound.  The HE-500/5LEs sound like they might be cool, but I'm going to take a break from the Hifiman lineup for now, maybe I'll try them somewhere down the road.  I'm still curious about the W3000ANV though, has anybody heard it?  From the reviews I've seen people tend to enjoy its vocals quite a bit.
 

post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by scott5526 View Post

Speaker amp?  So something like my Bellari couldn't work with an energizer then? 

 

No  a Stax Energizer or HiFiMan "adapter" despite technical differences are, for the most part, adapters that will allow you to

1) Easily connect their harder-to-dive headphones to a speaker amp's speaker outputs
2) And the Stax for the most part may have some circuits in it to really "adapt" the 4ohm or 8ohm designed output for whatever impedance their headphones are

Reasons being that some amps' headphone outputs might not be powerful enough (a separate circuit from the power amp section, impedance is at 120ohm which was a standard, etc), or some amps - particularly power amps more than integrated amps - might not have a 6.3mm headphone output to begin with.

post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 

Ended up buying my AKG K702s back and I'm not looking back so far.  Contemplating keeping the Hifiman HE-400s though, but I'm still on the fence about them.  They're good for bassy/treble centric music and sound great with the Black Eyed Peas, but it's their only genre that I feel they truly dominate.  Seems like good complementary cans to the K702s or would the denon d5000 maybe be better?  If the d5000 could do bass/treble + rock or alternative they would probably be ideal as those are the genres that the K702s are weakest in to my ears. Thoughts?

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