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Guitar Sound - AKG K701

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 

Hi head-fier's,

 

I wanted to ask someone experienced, if it's ok that guitars doesn't sound "that" good and clean as everything else on AKG K701.

 

I mean, for example Celine Dion - Titanic or music from Enya, Beatles etc sound really great, every instrument is separated, but when it comes to guitars i'ts just not clean sound. It's not separated sound like others it becomes kind of one sound if I can say subjectively. Guitars somehow sound to me much worse than anything else on these headphones.

 

Audio Equipment : HD Audio on Asus Maximus IV Extreme-Z (PC Mobo) -> FiiO E11 (Amp) -> K701.

 

Would some better amp or better external DAC make this noticably better ? Or is it just best sound K701 can produce and I should get myself something like HD650 for guitar oriented music.

 

Past experience : tried using Asus Xonar D2X as "sound source" if I am correct with this term and sound was same ... I couldn't tell difference at all.

 

Thank you in advance smily_headphones1.gif

post #2 of 23

From my experience the K701 benefits from two things : a really good musical source, and tubes somewhere in the system. First, it's a very transparent headphone - any coloration or detail before it will really be audible on these. As for tubes, get a hybrid amp, or get a tubed DAC or CDP and match that with a good solid state amp. Basically a good source will sort out and give a healthy channel separation to simulate the left and right channels, plus the tone of an electric guitar especially when you're missing the sound of a really good guitar amp (Marshall, for example); tubes in the amp acan do that too but my personal preference is a tubed source with a solid state amp.

 

My favorites for the K701, from the few I've listened to, are:

1) Meier Corda Cantate : USB DAC may be basic but it's very smooth and reasonably detailed - with an entry-level dedicated CDP like a NAD C515 and cheap cables (as in the ones that are bundled with DVDPlayers) the built-in DAC sounds better. I swapped custom high-purity copper cables and you can really tell they're much louder than the USB DAC, which most likely wasn't producing a 2v signal for the amp and takes some power away from the single PSU. That's just the DAC - the amp is a clean, detailed, and reasonably powerful amp that scales well with other sources. My favorite so far is a Shanling SCD-T200 and the Cayin CDT-23, but I don't have that much money for either.

 

This is discontinued but you can look up any feedback on the xMove series; the DAC is similar and the sound signature, clean and (relatively) powerful output of the amp might get results similar to this.

 

2) Non-oversampling TDA154x-based DAC (ex Lite DAC-AH) and the Little Dot 1+ or MkII : Really smooth, fantastic imaging, 1+ has a bit more grunt, MkII a bit more rounded and laid back but it's no slouch. DAC-AH now has USB versions, as well as similar designs like the TeraDak.

 

3) Ibasso PB1 : lots of power and current even on single-ended output, used an iPod 5g and Cowon S9 though.

post #3 of 23
Quote:

Originally Posted by Flisker View Post

 

Would some better amp or better external DAC make this noticably better ? Or is it just best sound K701 can produce and I should get myself something like HD650 for guitar oriented music.

 

Past experience : tried using Asus Xonar D2X as "sound source" if I am correct with this term and sound was same ... I couldn't tell difference at all.

 

It is most likely the frequency response of the K701, which in some measurements and for some people has peaks in the upper mids and lower treble. The ear is most sensitive to the 1-5 kHz range, and errors here will affect the perceived timbre of sounds. If you can, try different headphones, and choose whichever sounds the most natural to you. It is also possible (but not necessarily easy) to correct the frequency response problems with equalization.


Edited by stv014 - 11/20/12 at 6:56am
post #4 of 23

I wouldn't recommend tube or non-oversampling DACs. They usually only add distortion, which is the last thing you want since you're looking for cleaner sound.

 

Maybe your onboard audio is the weak link? But then again you said you tried the D2X as DAC and it didn't change anything.

 

Maybe link to a 30 sec audio sample and tell us what you don't like or how it should sound?

post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

From my experience the K701 benefits from two things : a really good musical source, and tubes somewhere in the system. First, it's a very transparent headphone - any coloration or detail before it will really be audible on these. As for tubes, get a hybrid amp, or get a tubed DAC or CDP and match that with a good solid state amp. Basically a good source will sort out and give a healthy channel separation to simulate the left and right channels, plus the tone of an electric guitar especially when you're missing the sound of a really good guitar amp (Marshall, for example); tubes in the amp acan do that too but my personal preference is a tubed source with a solid state amp.

 

My favorites for the K701, from the few I've listened to, are:

1) Meier Corda Cantate : USB DAC may be basic but it's very smooth and reasonably detailed - with an entry-level dedicated CDP like a NAD C515 and cheap cables (as in the ones that are bundled with DVDPlayers) the built-in DAC sounds better. I swapped custom high-purity copper cables and you can really tell they're much louder than the USB DAC, which most likely wasn't producing a 2v signal for the amp and takes some power away from the single PSU. That's just the DAC - the amp is a clean, detailed, and reasonably powerful amp that scales well with other sources. My favorite so far is a Shanling SCD-T200 and the Cayin CDT-23, but I don't have that much money for either.

 

This is discontinued but you can look up any feedback on the xMove series; the DAC is similar and the sound signature, clean and (relatively) powerful output of the amp might get results similar to this.

 

2) Non-oversampling TDA154x-based DAC (ex Lite DAC-AH) and the Little Dot 1+ or MkII : Really smooth, fantastic imaging, 1+ has a bit more grunt, MkII a bit more rounded and laid back but it's no slouch. DAC-AH now has USB versions, as well as similar designs like the TeraDak.

 

3) Ibasso PB1 : lots of power and current even on single-ended output, used an iPod 5g and Cowon S9 though.

 

First of all thank you for so much information. Second ... this is nearly like chinese to me triportsad.gif . K701 are my first "decent" headphones so I don't know much about all this and I don't have any "listening center" where I could try these things out.

 

If I try to make it short, I have don't know much about amplifiers and have no idea whats the difference between "normal" and tube one. I Also don't understand this sentence well : "any coloration or detail before it will really be audible on these".

 

As for good source, you mean soundcard in case of pc ? Or DAC/AMP ?

 

Do I really need to spend sums like 500$ for one thing in system to get good sound ? Isn't there anything cheaper with better bang/buck ratio ?

 

Main questions I am thinking about are : What's the problem with my setup now ? Bad DAC on onboard audio ? FiiO E11 isn't good amp ? Or both ? Will investing 500-1000$ make big difference or it will be same nearly same story as with Xonar D2X which should be decent soundcard?

 

Truth to be told I am very confused about this audio world, guess I'll have to start reading more about all these things.

post #6 of 23
Quote:

Originally Posted by Flisker View Post
 

Main questions I am thinking about are : What's the problem with my setup now ?

 

Probably nothing significant if your onboard audio does not sound worse than the Xonar D2X. If your headphones are new, you may want to use them for a while first before deciding that you do not like them, since the sound of new headphones/speakers may often seem unnatural first, but one gets used to the different sound over time.

post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stv014 View Post

 

Probably nothing significant if your onboard audio does not sound worse than the Xonar D2X. If your headphones are new, you may want to use them for a while first before deciding that you do not like them, since the sound of new headphones/speakers may often seem unnatural first, but one gets used to the different sound over time.

 

Maybe I just expecteed too much. I can definitely say K701 are better than CAL's because with CAL's I miss the large soundstage, or CM Storm Sirus 5.1 (Which I used to like ... now I'am thinking - how could I listen to this)

 

I just tried using iPhone -> FiiO E11 -> K701 and it still sounds good I would same nearly same or same as from PC. But I read in some reviews that these suck with portable players so I'am still thinking is there anything more in these headphones or is this all ? They are definitely good but it's not absolutely awesome skin shaking thing.

 

About the song, I liked : Linkin Park - Meteora - Somewhere I Belong, but when I listen to this now, it starts fine till 23rd second when guitars,basses etc. comes in. This part is just terrible to listen to. It's all kind of "mixed together" just don't like it at all now :( . Maybe it should be like this, I don't know, didn't hear them live.

 

ps: They are not new, so they should be already burned in.

post #8 of 23

Linkin Park is horrible recording and mixing.  I wouldn't use them to reference instrument separation or audio clarity.

post #9 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by TMRaven View Post

Linkin Park is horrible recording and mixing.  I wouldn't use them to reference instrument separation or audio clarity.

 

I was thinking that Linking Park should be good quality also have FLACs .... this probably solves the whole thing. Because for example Five Finger Death Punch - White Knucles sounds great and it's only mp3 320k. (As for hard music)

post #10 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flisker View Post

I was thinking that Linking Park should be good quality also have FLACs .... this probably solves the whole thing. Because for example Five Finger Death Punch - White Knucles sounds great and it's only mp3 320k. (As for hard music)

 

Better recording and mixing makes more difference than FLAC vs. 320 kbps MP3.

post #11 of 23
I've listened to the K601 and the K702 (can't recall if it was the 701 or the 702 actually) and I too thought the upper mids sounded completely off. From what I've read on Head-Fi and other forums, I'm not the only one who's noticed this.

The measurements seem to find the issue as well. The perceived FR graphs on Golden Ears show a nasty bump around 2kHz for both models.

http://en.goldenears.net/GR_Headphones/8449

http://en.goldenears.net/index.php?mid=GR_Headphones&document_srl=8281

On InnerFidelity, the THD+N plot shows a similar bump around 2kHz on what otherwise looks like a reasonably well behaved graph.

http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AKGK701.pdf

I'm not sure where exactly where acoustic or electric guitars show up, but I'm guessing that it's close to that 2kHz mark. Last time I checked too, the human hearing is most sensitive around that upper mid region, so it's surprising that AKG would goof up on something like this. And like I said, I thought it was quite audible with most good recordings. You don't see (or hear) any of the Sennheiser or Beyer models with that sort of nasty upper mid peak.

Any ideas on why that 2kHz spike is present? Did AKG just plain voice it wrong?
post #12 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by OJNeg View Post

I've listened to the K601 and the K702 (can't recall if it was the 701 or the 702 actually) and I too thought the upper mids sounded completely off. From what I've read on Head-Fi and other forums, I'm not the only one who's noticed this.
The measurements seem to find the issue as well. The perceived FR graphs on Golden Ears show a nasty bump around 2kHz for both models.
http://en.goldenears.net/GR_Headphones/8449
http://en.goldenears.net/index.php?mid=GR_Headphones&document_srl=8281
On InnerFidelity, the THD+N plot shows a similar bump around 2kHz on what otherwise looks like a reasonably well behaved graph.
http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AKGK701.pdf
I'm not sure where exactly where acoustic or electric guitars show up, but I'm guessing that it's close to that 2kHz mark. Last time I checked too, the human hearing is most sensitive around that upper mid region, so it's surprising that AKG would goof up on something like this. And like I said, I thought it was quite audible with most good recordings. You don't see (or hear) any of the Sennheiser or Beyer models with that sort of nasty upper mid peak.
Any ideas on why that 2kHz spike is present? Did AKG just plain voice it wrong?

 

Well guitar doesn't really get up that high in frequency, but there are certainly harmonics one has to consider, especially with distorted guitar.

 

The headphone.com measurements do not show a large peak at 2kHz. The Grado's are known to be very good for guitar/rock and have a much peakier treble:

1000

 

So I don't know... I guess it wouldn't hurt to try taking down the treble with EQ to see if it improves anything.

post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 

Actually now when I am thinking about it, I am using EQ with slightly raised 2Khz, exactly 1Khz +1point, 2Khz +2points , 4Khz +2points , 8Khz +1point . After some experimenting I liked this most because it usually brings out voice of singer.

 

So I guess 2Khz spike is fine.

post #14 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisenhower View Post

Well guitar doesn't really get up that high in frequency, but there are certainly harmonics one has to consider, especially with distorted guitar.

The headphone.com measurements do not show a large peak at 2kHz. The Grado's are known to be very good for guitar/rock and have a much peakier treble:


So I don't know... I guess it wouldn't hurt to try taking down the treble with EQ to see if it improves anything.

Headphone.com shows the raw graph. The one on Golden Ears is compensated to be what is "perceived" by the listener. I like Golden ears perceived graphs because they tell you much more about the actual sound than the ones that are uncompensated for how the ear affects the FR.
post #15 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by OJNeg View Post


Headphone.com shows the raw graph. The one on Golden Ears is compensated to be what is "perceived" by the listener. I like Golden ears perceived graphs because they tell you much more about the actual sound than the ones that are uncompensated for how the ear affects the FR.

 

hmm I see.. they don't give exact details on what they are doing, but based on my understanding, they assume that because speakers in a "normal" room typically show a decreasing volume with frequency that studios are mixing with recessed treble, resulting in boosted treble. So to compensate for this, they boost the treble on the FR plots... I don't think they are modelling how we perceive sound. I'm not sure I agree with this.

 

but in any case, the Grado's have a spikier treble and yet are credited as being good for guitar and rock.

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