AKG K712 Pro Headphones - Live First Impressions!
Setting up gear and thread, warming up the tubes...
First listening will be with my standard (but maybe now outdated) "Quality Test" playlist:
Knights of Cydonia
The Only Hand to Hold (feat Shara Worden)
Fake Plastic Trees
I Know It's Over
Tiger, My Friend
Fugue for Solo Guitar, BWV 1000 in A Minor
The Planets, Suite for Large Orchestra, Op. 32: IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jolity,
Adagio in G Minor for Strings and Organ
Some low-fi pictures:
K712 unpacked, with Q701 alongside to compare and contrast.
Physically: K712 earpads feel like the same velour as the Q701, though the pads are now less stiff (easier to compress). The inner part of the pad ring seems less rounded. Though the Q701 distinctly has a taller pad along the "back" side of the pad that goes behind your ears, these K712 pads appear virtually even (perhaps the rear side is stiffer? Doubtful, doesn't feel different). The headband bumps of the Q701 are not on these K712, immediately noticeable because I always tilted the headband in front of the "point" of my head (behind feels like it would slip off with either). The headband width that sits along your head (front to back) is thinner on the K712.
Current music setup: 2005 iPod Video > FiiO L11 Line-Out Dock connector > monster 3.5mm to RCA cable > Zigis' "Rock 'n Glass" class A tube amp with an Amperex 6DJ8 "Bugle Boy" (white letters) > AKG coil cable > AKG K712
Angel - Massive Attack
Fades in smoothly.... Bass is a little looser than the Q, but still on the side of controlled. Nice energy, pleasurable. Texture, not just a boom but a buzz. Now mid musical accents come in, sounding liquid. In and out pressure feeling on some of the bass. VOCALS Ahhhh Andy Horace... Velvety almost feminine voice sounds nice, though bass is more forward (Horace doesn't sound recessed, just bass forward). You can hear the liquid on his tongue/lips. Guitar has a nice buzz. Cymbals maybe less sparkle than I'm used to, but the beat cymbals are distorted by the song engineer, the normal cymbals used for accents have a bit of sheen but are smoother yet perhaps less sparkly than the Q701 I'm used to. Dang! Good threat to the bass! Tempo just slowed a bit... The little nuances like hit power are well represented. Finishing bass sounds awesome, like two big marbles hitting eachother and vibrating rapidly, nice texture in the reproduction of many little hits, have a larger boom to them.
Undisclosed Desires - Muse
Rhythm seems almost slow. Bass still hitting with nice texture, but I turned down the volume a tad, seem a little loud (not used to them yet of course). Violin plucks in background sound like they are plucked in a small room, but with a little delay (echo) added to the processing. The background buzz buzz has nice power and solidity, tho I'm still not sure if it's a bit much for my taste, slightly fatigued or will be? It's just strong for me. Vocals are good by the way, not usually the first thing I pay attention to just to be honest. Easy to hear the whisper accompanying the lead singing and all the effects. The cello vrmm answered by the sub-bass woooom @ the end is interesting still, but not new compared to Q701.
Knights of Cydonia - Muse
Panning effect is interesting, moved around to my left ear with a bit of out front along the way. Another effect seemed to go behind just now, this is just a stereo recording right? Still lemon/oval shaped, but gives me high hopes for surround processing. Vocals seem pretty up front, backing voices sound like they're trying to be more distant but not so far. @ 3:20 reveals the part you play in Guitar Hero 3 pretty well, though vocals are more prevalent. Jamming out @ 4:12 (paused and rewound to that point, impact of pressing play YE-OW! Bam! Here's the music!) doesn't sound slow tempo because you can feel the speed of the drumming. Dump-pa-da-bump! While cymbals go Ching — Ching — Ching, in this song if you can't hear the drums well you end up just hearing the cymbal hits which slows the pace.
Gold Digger - Kanye West
Still hate this song, still a good test to see if drivers can control the bass enough. Wow, actually this does a keep them controlled... It's actually listenable. This track was terribly mixed, I'm confused because the bass doesn't seem stronger, seems right. I guess the last time I listened to these was with the M-100, too much with those for me, hah. I basically only listen to this song when I'm testing headphones, and stop after the first drum things start. But I'm actually listening pretty far in this time (think I let it play with the Q701 too), and the kazoo-trumpet thingie that starts 2:40 actually sounds pretty nifty. Chico, I need your "Not Bad" pic inserted here, LOL!
Journeyman - Amon Tobin
A weird collection of recorded sound samples with bass beats. This is a 256k file, but it some things sound plasticy or held back... Not sure how to pinpoint it. I think I'm going to have to get used to the sound signature of these headphones before I can turn them up, but the reason I have this song in the list is because some of the sounds feel holographic or really "present" in the room with me, not happening now with these headphones. Some interesting bits, but I haven't listened to this song much lately anyway because it's not really musical.
The Only Hand to Hold - Prefuse 73
Love this song, let's pause and focus on the start... Watery, dreamy, floating... Not getting shivers but enjoying myself for sure. Vocals are a little dark and haunting, but nice. Static bursts have nice texture, like touching (except auditory) satin cloth and feeling it while occasionally getting shocks from static. Sounds like cloth with static rather than plastic with crinkles, very smooth presentation (no lack of detail, just different timbre). And I do like the timbre of this song on these headphones. Floating on water feel, though not the floating away on air feel you get with the Q701.
Blow Out - Radiohead
Wow, sounds laid back, I guess I really turned down the volume earlier. Smooth smooth smooth, almost relaxing, relaxed concentration not sleepy. Touched the volume knob up a bit. Bit more. First jammin bit sounds flatter than I'm used to, little more wall-of-sound-y. Second jamming section seems a little better, almost lifting to the sky... As the guitar rises, seems to have a little sparkle
I think I'd usually call this very end part almost screechy, no problem here
Fake Plastic Trees - Radiohead
First thought was "Thom's voice sounds nice." Maybe these headphones traded a little treble extremeness for smoother treble and a little more glaring bass? Or maybe... dare I say... the headphones need a little burned in? I mean, I need to get used to the bass, but some of the mids seem like they're holding back from vibrating freely, even though they are forward enough and loud enough. Almost like when you bang a drum with your hand or a chime with a stick, if you don't bounce your hand away just right you don't dampen the instrument from vibrating freely, the K712 show amazing detail but seem too often like you're not getting a good hit and playing freely. Could also be a compression thing though, I'm talking here about impressions from a few songs (while I'm playing this song for a 2nd time over) and a most of them are 256 Kbps. Plastic Trees was nice overall.
Dreamer - Elizaveta
Free iTunes single, I liked her vocals before, once I got the Q701 I noticed how much the sound engineers played with her voice and do weird tremulo things. Her timbre sounds nice, little hint of cello in the back is nice with the more audible piano and synth buzz. Piano timbre lower register sounds a little held back. LOL @ her "serendipitous en-count-uhs." So the K712 passes my female vocals, though not soaring sparkle.
Patience - Guns and Roses
Acoustic guitar, enjoying the timbre. Bit of a center image void apparent here. Vocals sound good/nice. These are really good and refined, got just enough buzz and stuff. Venue space seems too small though, kinda miss that about the Q701.
Interjection, I paused my music to think about this. My feelings at this point (remember, first listen), not sure if I want to spend more improving my Audio chain to improve it, or go back to Q701. Doesn't seem majorly "wow," nor much changed from the Q701 except headband comfort, I kinda want to see if a DAC would push it into that WOW which then makes me reflect "I had WOW with this setup and the Q701 the first time I heard it. My ears have changed now, but am I throwing more money at trying to recapture the magic of first listen?" I have heard these songs many times, some of them are favourites but I have listened to them many times over the years so there's little discovery left in them, and IIRC the first time I heard my Q701 (which was unamped) I heard the range improved a bit over the AD700 but I wasn't hugely impressed. When I went back to the AD700 though, it was enough of a difference that I preferred the Q701 more and enjoyed it more. Right now, I'm also enjoying the K712, but I'm again not hugely impressed with the difference. First time I heard the tube amp though, with the second tube (Sylvania JAN 6DJ8), I WAS very impressed and listening to these test tracks got my feet unconsciously jangling to the music. I think I'll switch back to that tube tomorrow, and keep listening to these K712, because I like what I'm hearing and I'm pretty confident it will grow on me.
I had a pretty long day at work, gonna take a dinner break
Edited by Evshrug - 9/14/13 at 8:43pm