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Got Q701's and comparison to DT 880 pro

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

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
post #2 of 8

Audio GD NFB 12?

post #3 of 8
I am aware these are both popular headphones and I wanna know your guys takes are and if you have heard both. 



I bought my K 702s and DT 880 pros at the same time (same day actually) so I spent 2 weeks listening to both.


I liked the K 702s more in every way. I bought them for the same reason as you: Tried the K 240 S, was somewhat shocked by how colored and "vintage" they sounded given their reputation for use in studios, but fell in love with the open AKG mid range.


The 2i2 has a pretty bad headphone amp from what I recall. I have an 8i6 and Pro 24 and I don't particularly like their headphone outputs either even though they seem to have more gain.


To compare my experience with yours:


Bass: The DT 880 sounded like a DT 770 (very bassy headphone) with some sound damping material installed when it came to bass, which is from my understanding, exactly what it is. I felt that even though it had "smoother" bass than the AKGs, it leaked into the mid range and made them less detailed than the AKGs and Shures next to them (the SRH 840s actually have about the same amount of bass but with lower distortion, deeper extension, and more punch). The K 702 bass (the Q 701 has slightly more from what I understand) is indeed lightfooted but I found it dead accurate when recording single instruments where as the DT 880 created an artificial sense of fullness that wasn't really there.


Mids: No contest. The 702's midrange is way better than the DT 880 midrange. One word people on head-fi use in two different ways is "transparency", which they often contrast with grain. The trouble is that while a total absence of grain may be ideal for leather chair audiophile listening, I actually want to hear grain in a pair of mixing headphones. The DT 880s were a noodle smothered in olive oil that slid  past your tongue and teeth before you could really tell if it was al dente. The K 702s allow you to hear grain and add or reduce compression quite accurately.


Treble: Surprise! K 702 wins again. Extremely open, airy treble with a huge soundstage, very forward in the lower treble but no piercing spike. The DT 880s on the other hand show a little bit of their DT 990/DT 770 driver lineage here with a recessed upper midrange leading to a high "sparkle" which works on electronica but sounds bothersomely fake on acoustic instrumental recordings.




K 702 has a detachable cable, DT 880 does not, despite being the "pro" version. I think anything intended for pro audio applications should assume at some point someone is going to trip on a mic stand and stomp on the headphone cable. Even during the brief period I was comparing the two I accidentally slammed drawers on the cables, yanked them bending over behind a mixer, etc.


The ear pads on the DT 880 are probably the highest quality/most comfortable you can get on headphones under $300, but these were the first headphones that made me fear clamping force. Before these, I always had a more-the-merrier disposition towards clamping force, but I could literally feel the veins around my ears pounding after 45 minutes (and I often track/mix for 12+ hours on the weekend).


The K 702's biggest flaw to me is that they are 100% brittle plastic and do not feel like they would still be in one piece 5 years from now unless you really babied them. The DT 880s on the other hand are built around a metal structure (earcups, headband) and feel nearunbreakable.

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

I pretty much agree with everything you said and the more a listen to them the more aware I am of it.  Which is why I said I think I have a new favorite headphone =).  The 2i2 unfortunately is the only interface I have but it was a step up from a low end m audio I had and it really does lack power for these power hungry headphones.  I feel the upper bass does bleed slightly into the mids on the 880's which I noticed when I got them(the k240 was terrible here).  The same friend with the k701 also uses DT770's which I am aware are quite bass heavy and extends deeper(seems more than the 880).  And yes the mids are much more detailed on the akg's for sure I love hearing vocals out of these.  Treble is airy and spacious yes indeed.  A tad hot but that may lessen as time goes on.  Still I love both and my akg's are just another welcome addition.  I was a little disappointed in the build of the akgs but I plan to be pretty careful.

post #5 of 8

Nice comparison and your sentiments are very similar to mine.  In fact, your description of the K240S is exactly how I hear them. I had been debating between the DT880's and Q701's after brief auditions with both (well K701).  I eventually settled on the Q701's and have around 15-20 hrs on them.


Thus far, I also notice a rather hot and occasionally sibilant treble on certain songs.  I'm hoping this tapers with burn-in, which seems to be the case for most people.  In addition, it is likely compounded by the fact that I'm running these out of a cheap, really high output impedance amp that I think tends to make treble harsher.  I plan on getting an E10 to remedy that shortly. As a point of reference, I tend to like brighter headphones, having owned two Grados and I find the treble on the Superlux HD668B to be just right, if not a tad dull.


Can't really comment too much on the DT880's unfortunately, so machoboy's impressions are probably more valuable there.  I also wasn't able to A/B the two, but from what I recall, I think the DT880's had slightly better tonal balance with fuller bass.


I actually find the imaging and focus on the Q701 a tad lacking, tbh, but it's a small issue and I guess it's mainly in comparison to Ety's so kind of unfair there.

Edited by wippo808 - 11/8/12 at 11:58pm
post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Yea the k240s was just meh.  Apparently the older versions are better or so I hear.  At the moment I am still getting some sibilance but it is tolerable and not unwelcome but once again I need more time with these.  It seems to me that the soundstage is better than the 880's as I can pick stuff apart easier.  I just took a listen to my friends k701 and my god with the width of the soundstage is nuts, quite a bit more than the q701.  It sounds really enveloping and just awesome however I still don't think its entirely accurate.  The bass on those also seems to be pushed out really wide while on my monitors bass is mostly centered and monitors are clearly the more accurate source.

post #7 of 8

Strangely enough the first K240 Studio I had sounded awful. My first pair had this really awful plasticy muffled sound. Must have been a defect because I sent it back immediately. A year later after reading reviews, I tried again. This K240 Studio I still own and like. Actually, I haven't used it in months though and don't know where it is!


The mid-bass is kind of bloated out of the box, but now I can't even say it has that much of a mid-bass hump. It's certainly not that bass heavy at all right now. The K240 Studio does need some amping for the best results. It definitely has less treble than my Q701 and even K601. Did you know the Headroom graphs of the SRH-840 and K240 Studio are almost identical?


I remember having the DT-880 (all versions ugh) and used it as an alternative to the K702. The K702 I had twice had this weird peak somewhere that drove my ears crazy. The DT-880 seemed to sound so different with each recording (that's not a complaint). I mean with my HD-600 and other headphones, everything sounded good. The DT-880 is possibly the ONLY headphone i've owned that made me weed out all my garbage tracks. Some tracks would sound amazing and then others would sound awful and completely lifeless. I think the DT-880 is just so revealing of garbage tracks. It really felt a microscope was being used on all my tracks.


The pair I had was quite balanced, but was my definition of cold and analytical. It wasn't even remotely warm to me and it's mids were even leaner than those of the K702. I find the K702 to have a touch of warmth, but I didn't seem to get any on my DT-880 frown.gif Despite liking the DT-880, it wasn't very fun to listen to. Sure, it's usually up to the recording, but still...


BTW what's funny is that I once had a DT-770 600 ohm that was ruler flat to my ears. Wow and heard that was always bass and treble happy.


DT-880 is good but I just want a little more warmth in my headphone. The Q701 has the perfect amount. The HD-600/650 has too much (for my preferences). The HD-580 is kind of my limit (I think).


The Q701 can often be "shouty" with some rare recordings. I have some that are so awful that I have to automatically skip them. They're songs from a Japanese singer named Hitomi. It's basically just noise to me. I can listen to them on my KRKs and they're just as bad. On my HD-580 they're bad too, but I think that headphone takes off some of the rough edges slightly. I think the people at the studio crank the mids/treble to MAX!!


I never had this experience until I got my ODAC, but with some tracks with my Q701 there is a huge variation in how they sound. All due to the recording. I swear that one Cantopop song sounded as if I had an AD700 on my head! I then switched to something off the Buena Vista Social Club and it sounded like I had switched to an HD-650 or something. So bizarre. I guess the Q701 is just that accurate or something confused_face_2.gif I guess the ODAC is playing a small role too. I experienced this same thing often on the DT-880.


Honestly though even my really bad tracks rarely fatigue my ears on the Q701. I would say in total there's only maybe a dozen tracks. There's a few U2 songs that are unlistenable to me.


I think the imaging on the Q701 is pefectly fine, but not as good as the K601. I really think the angled pads play a role in why it's so different. Maybe not. I do feel that overall the soundstage of my Q701 is very accurate and never massive. I always have felt the K702 had a larger (and less accurate) soundstage.


I know this may be impossible, but I felt almost as if the imaging of the Q701 improved when I got my ODAC. Weird.


BTW it's hard to believe I once used the K701 for 3 years straight from an Ipod Video and Total Airhead. Sounded fine! This was along with a DT-990. I didn't know that much about audio back then. I actually didn't even know the 990 was considered bass heavy. When I had to pick between the two I ended up keeping the K701. I think this was in 2006 or 2007.

post #8 of 8
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post


I think the imaging on the Q701 is pefectly fine, but not as good as the K601. I really think the angled pads play a role in why it's so different. Maybe not. I do feel that overall the soundstage of my Q701 is very accurate and never massive. I always have felt the K702 had a larger (and less accurate) soundstage.


I know this may be impossible, but I felt almost as if the imaging of the Q701 improved when I got my ODAC. Weird.


I definitely love the soundstage thus far.  It's just right IMO - good separation and space yet intimate enough to maintain a touch of warmth.  Simply perfect for jazz or ambient.  Oddly enough though, I think I might prefer the SR225is for classical by a hair.  


I guess I should specify that in regards to imaging, I just find that some instruments seem to lack a "center," but I'm being really picky here.  And this is while using an amp with an output impedance of 51ohms and a laptop as a source, so go figure... I'd venture a guess that I'll see some improvement with better components.


Oh and I should clarify, I actually like the K240S somewhat.  There is indeed mid-bass bloat, lack of high-end extension, etc but it's a very, very laid-back headphone that compliments a lot of other phones well IMO.  Might not be the absolute best value out there, and might not be my go-to pair, but I enjoy it for what it offers.

Edited by wippo808 - 11/9/12 at 12:51am
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