Recently got some akg q701 and loving them so far. I am an amateur producer mostly using beyerdynamic dt880 pros as headphones and sometimes my krk kns 8400. However I use my monitors as much as I can which is the preferred way. Still I wanted some new headphones so I picked up some K240S and I was not impressed. Very bloated midbass, lacked detail, sounded colored and something was missing. Didnt have good high end extension but sounded harsh on some material like there was a very narrow lower treble peak. So I returned those and looked at the higher end akgs. My friend had some K701's which I though lacked bass, had a really wide soundstage and was a bit sibilant but had good detail. I then researched the q701 which is similar it seems except with more full midbass, more realistic soundstage and smoother highs which made me interested.
Out of the box I thought it was pretty good despite hearing the need to break these in for awhile. It sounded very analytical and detailed just like my DT 880's both seem slightly hard to drive out of my scarlett 2i2 interface. The bass which was slightly missing in the k701 was now more reasonable but it still could use more sub bass. The dt880's bass quantity is definitely more and extends a tad deeper possibly. I could definitely see my mixes be too bass heavy using the q701's. Bass on both sound good though very defined and tight. I feel the bass on the 880 is more forward though not speaking just quantity wise.
The mids on the q701 seemed quite nice to me. There was a few instances where it was a tad "shouty" not a word lol(friends k701 had more of these instances it seemed although have not compared back to back yet). But other than that it is very pleasant. I feel the mids are more forward and have more detail on the q701 which is a plus. The 880 in comparison might be lacking ever so slightly. Although my kns 8400 seem to have more emphasis here almost a nasal quality from the midrange bump. There is an evident mid hump on my grado sr 60 as well.
Surprisingly I find these to have more treble energy than the 880's! what a surprise. To be honest I was expecting the treble to be a little more tamed and I am a person who likes a brighter signature hence why I found my brothers HD-650 to sound a little dull (Still an incredibly accurate studio headphone with good depth). Maybe it needs to be broken in who knows. However I think it has an advantage in detail because of it and has more "air" than the 880's. It is also relatively smooth(smoother than the dt880 actually) just a tad hot overall on some material and sibilant on some. My friends k701 seemed to have similar characteristic although I need to compare them back to back to make sure. The reviews of the Q701 having smoother treble could be true I feel however.
Despite the q701 having a wider soundstage than the 880's. Most centered forward vocals in recordings sound more direct on the q701's. However panned and widened effects, instruments etc have more width on the q701. My friends k701 almost seems artificially large but still pleasing. I feel I can pick apart a mix better on the q701's as instruments have more air and layering to them. The 880's I think may be just a smidge congested in comparison. The Q701 wins in this aspect.
So far I am really happy with these and will make a great addition to my little studio. I think I may have a new favorite headphone =). I still love both however and plan to enjoy them as much as I can. I do feel the 880's are better built and more solid though.
I am aware these are both popular headphones and I wanna know your guys takes are and if you have heard both. Also I would appreciate it if someone would recommend me an inexpensive standalone amp to use at home. I was looking at the E9 and know I can do better but I really dont wanna spend too much. Just wondering if you can do better than the E9 in that price range.
Edited by jaja - 11/7/12 at 2:44pm