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A headphone shoot-out from a speaker listener - Testing eleven headphones from £ 80 to £ 1,200 - Page 6

post #76 of 119
Thread Starter 

Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by davidsh View Post

Quality could be better, but the sound is great biggrin.gif


I completely agree on the sound. It is great.

Which makes the glaring failing in build quality (and ergonomics) all the more frustrating, a bit like my old Alfa Spider.

It was a lovely looking car, great to drive, great for pulling birds, but it spend more time in the garage than on the road, leaked when it rained and broke down in the middle of nowhere, it was just awful. So I got rid of it and had a long legal suit to get me lolly back...


I have the same feeling about the HiFiman headphones... Love one, but don't care to litigate to get me wedge back when it turns out to be lemon.

Cheerio Rich

post #77 of 119
Thread Starter 

Hi,

Quote:

Originally Posted by davidsh View Post
 

I seriously don't know if you need a +1watt amp, but I think there is a reason both Hifiman and Audeze recommends using a +1watt amp, just saying.


Seems I'm not the only one that uses the iCAN with HiFiman Headphones that are supposed to need much more power, came across a post on the stereodesk website (well, Gazza pointed me there) about the iCAN and HiFiman HE-6:


http://stereodesk.com/collections/ifi-hifiman-listening-notes

 

Stereodesk is an iFi dealer, so one needs to read over the sales pitch, still...
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stereodesk
 
The HE-6 is a dragon to slay in terms of amplification.  At least that's the educated word in and around the audio water cooler.  I'm listening to Cool Blues on them now, powered by the iFi-Micro iCAN.  I suppose it's the little amp that Can Can, because I'm enjoying the presentation between my ears in a way that I'm mildly embarrassed to admit.  The volume knob is right around 6.5 to 7 on a scale from 1-10.  Using sound shaping and bass switches has more effect than on any can's yet...the differences, as one might expect, are simply more there on Cans so discerning as the HE-6's.    The presentation is one of, all the music.  The presentation is one of a whole but wherein every element of the tapestry can be seen in all of its color.
 
Anyway, I just meant to be breaking them in and copping a listen.  Frankly, I didn't expect to write anything until I hooked the HE-6 up to the EF-6.  In any event, unless you are one who needs merciless volume, I can't imagine you'd need more juice.  Are there other amps more suited to drive the HE-6, without a doubt...several of which we carry at StereoDesk, but that the iCan can do it and leave you not feeling short changed, or anything but grinning says a lot about their design and engineering.  There you have it...$250 for an amp that moves air on planars.  Who'd a thunk it.  Even as I turn the volume knob to 9, things don't get ugly, rather just more volume.

 

Cheerio Rich

post #78 of 119

From those pictures it does not look very high end or classy with the screws etc...

 

But I think 1/5 or 0/5 whatever it was you gave them is a bit harsh....

 

I will have to just buy some myself and try them I guess because personally I am more worried about sound and as long as they last and don't break I can live with those issues you mentioned.

 

You have every right to be picky considering the prices but at the end of the day sound is most important and as long as they do not break then they should be ok...

post #79 of 119
Thread Starter 

Hi, 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

From those pictures it does not look very high end or classy with the screws etc...

 

But I think 1/5 or 0/5 whatever it was you gave them is a bit harsh....


Well, maybe. Maybe not. Just like sound it is a subjective thing. To me this level of fit & finish is totally unacceptable for ANY manufactured goods, regardless of price. But that just good old Rich, who did a spot mechanical engineering at the old north london poly and thinks he could do better with the current set of tools in his garage and refuses to splurge out on other people's badly done DIY projects masquerading as "product"...

Anyway, I gave then 2/5 now, though I still think -10 out of 5 would be more on.

Do note, I appreciate the sound is dogs bollocks, just the "manufacturing" is more like dogs dinner.

Cheerio Rich

post #80 of 119
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedlam inside View Post

AKG K701 (£ 200) – Quincy’s signature missing?



So, AKG decided to rebrand the K701 as Q701 (after Music Producer Quincy Jones – who has produced more grammy winning albums than most people own CD’s) and change the colours, but otherwise they still are the K701 and let me tell you, that is a good thing, given my experience with the K701 here.

These headphones share some of the looks and ergonomics with the Audio Technica W-1000 and are also essentially self adjusting. Lacking the solid wood of the AT’s drivers they substitute shiny white plastic (shades of Apple here?). Ear pads are velvety and there is a more or less self adjusting padded head comfort strap made from real (apparently) leather in addition to the wire frame. Weight is neither Durex (I mean featherlight) so you don’t feel cheated, nor so heavy that you fear for yer noggin.

There is a lot of attention to detail, fit and finish is first rate, as you would expect from a Teutonic manufacturer. Despite having clearly been boshed around a bit, there are no obvious signs of wear on them. The cable is fixed and while seeming not bad, appears a bit generic, I wonder how much an upgrade is going to raise the game, I should have liked to see something more upmarket or replaceable. The looks overall are more “Princess Leia” with a 70’s DJ look, with very large drivers covering all around even large ears, maybe not a set of ‘can’s to wear out for a coffee in Soho.

Putting them on reminds me strongly of the Sennheiser HD-800, they feel light and free, yet sit securely enough to not fall off should you feel like a spot of headbanging (which you will). L3000.gif These ‘can’s prove to me again that headphones can be engineered to have good ergonomics if attention is paid, even on a modest budget. I feel incredibly comfy with them and adjusting them is easy peasy, put them on and slightly push against the head strap.

Initially, the sound is clean, balanced and resolved, quite natural, in many ways these ‘can’s sound like how they feel on your head. They do not have the sound staging of the HD-800, nor the rockin bass or ultra light touch with music as the HiFiman HE-500 planar drivers. After I kicked the bass boot (aka XBass) on the iCAN headamp up one notch and put 3D Sound on 3 much of these limitations are remedied. These Phones clearly sound more open and natural than my own Audio Technica’s and the bass, once brought up in level to match the mid’s has more impact than my AT’s. The treble is a touch brighter, not in a way that I ‘can’t get outta my head’ though.

All told, these are great dynamic headphones. To these ears what they miss is that absurdly non-mechanical, natural presentation that both electrostatic and planar headphones (and speakers with ribbon tweeters like my own) do so well. These are 60 Ohm headphones and are pretty efficient, needing settings of around  12 - 1 o’Clock for my preferred listening levels. Actually for me at least these ‘can’s invite me to turn up the wick and give it some extra welly, on some tracks I was up to around 2 o’Clock, like one track I added to the main audition list, namely “Rocket” from Allison Goldfrapp’s 2010 Album, which gave this Hi-NRG track extra push and energy – as if it needs it… k701smile.gif

In theory I think you could run them quite successfully with portable gear, if it was not for the 70’s looks, that makes you look like a BBC Radio 2 DJ and the 6.3mm only plug, which would need a bulky adapter. Not having one, I left things on the iCAN Headamp only, remember, this amp sounds comparably warm and smooth, with a touch of dark swiss chocolaty goodness that makes Thorntons seem like supermarket sweets.
 

One sonic highlight is the way the bass punches (with XBass on to 1st position) and puts especially electronic and classical music on a foundation that seems to elude many open back headphones. Where the Sennheiser HD-800 convinces with space, the AKG K701 convince with scale, a neat trick for a headphone, considering that many speakers are totally sheeeite when it comes to “scale”. The organ notes on Saint Säens #3 have a degree of wallop and the kettle drums have bang that is not easy with headphones. On Light my Fire the picked guitar strings and slaps on the guitar body are rendered really well, focusing on the Vocals they are probably not quite as breathy and open as on the HD-800, but they are smooth and realistic. Overall, I would class the HD-800 as more of a “Noggin decision” headphone, while the K701 targets yer nether regions, with more a “ballsy” presentation, projecting emotion in the music really well. They make listening real good fun, the longer I kept listening, the less critical I was of the sound and the more I was just getting ‘jiggy with it’ with the music. Can’t say fairer than that.

Putting on another addition to the main audition track list, Hugh Masekela’s “Coaltrain (Stimela)” specifically for the live recording and the audience shows the limitations of even these headphones and iFi’s 3D Sound. There is no way to render the scale of this recording it has via speakers on headphones, even the HD-800 with 3D sound fails miserably, as do most speaker based HiFi systems. But, the sound is involving, the handling of scale makes me turn up the volume a bit more, the Sax is as creamy and luscious as Vanilla Häagen Dazs, so who really cares? Well at least up to the end of the song, where the coal train does not pull up and come to rest between the speakers almost real-sized as it does on a good speaker based HiFi System… BTW, the K701 do leak a lot of sound, being open back, and given their balance which makes me turn it up more did catch me some furrowed brows at the office…when you end up looking a twit to people around you, it seems you have passed the test of getting into the music.


Sonically well above average, decent build quality and excellent ergonomics AND a real world price that is not mad price, these ‘can’s are ‘bad’, but in a good way. In absolute terms they are no match for the best Headphones I have come across, but they do so much right for relative sane money and are so much fun to listen to, these go for now to the top of my shopping list. Jack Wolfskin coat or these headphones? I’m gonna say sorry Jack, hello Quincy. I’d still like a pair of ‘can’s with ergonomics like these but with planar drivers and for less than a monkey, (<£500) please, but that failing, these I can live with on all fronts… Let me see if I can keep the loaner pair for a bit while longer, here’s to hoping John forgets I have them. normal_smile%20.gif


added 21/02

The Headroom site gives the frequency response of the K701 as follows:


We can see that the bass is attenuated but above maybe 70Hz these headphones are impressively flat for headphones, high treble is a bit AWOL, but overall I think these Phones are most like Speakers in the whole lineup. Correct the missing bass using XBass and no wonder I liked these so much.


Ergonomics:      4.5 out of 5

Build Quality:    4 out of 5

Sound Quality:  4 out of 5

Practicability:   4 out of 5

  Interesting stuff! I'm kind of a speaker guy too and tried out some AKG k550's after LCD 2's, He 500's, HD 700's and found at least in a brief listen that the AKG's sounded most like my speakers. The store owner suggested I come back and try out the K702 65th anniversary which is supposed to be an "improved" 701/702. If that can sounds like I think it might, my HD 600 might be going away

post #81 of 119
Thread Starter 

Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by defguy View Post

Interesting stuff! I'm kind of a speaker guy too and tried out some AKG k550's after LCD 2's, He 500's, HD 700's and found at least in a brief listen that the AKG's sounded most like my speakers. The store owner suggested I come back and try out the K702 65th anniversary which is supposed to be an "improved" 701/702. If that can sounds like I think it might, my HD 600 might be going away


Well, the K701 is the mutts nuts.

Smashing 'cans, for me: good sound (especially with the Amp I use),  good ergonomics, comfy to wear, good build quality, real fun factor for listening too and fairly affordable too. 

What more could you want? Perfection? Many more expensive 'cans are worse. 

The choice between HD-600 and K701? No brainer to me...


Cheers Rich

post #82 of 119
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedlam inside View Post

Hi,


Well, the K701 is the mutts nuts.

Smashing 'cans, for me: good sound (especially with the Amp I use),  good ergonomics, comfy to wear, good build quality, real fun factor for listening too and fairly affordable too. 

What more could you want? Perfection? Many more expensive 'cans are worse. 

The choice between HD-600 and K701? No brainer to me...


Cheers Rich

   Thanks, Rich. I went back to the store and tried out the K702 65th anniversaries, Beyer Dt 880's, Shure 1840's and Senn HD 800's. It looks like I have some 702's in my future :), just need to get some cash together. I did really like the HD 800's but they didn't sound that much better than the AKG's to me for the difference in price. The Shure's were pretty decent as well. Liked the fit and finish of the DT 880's but there was something in the midrange I didn't gel with.

post #83 of 119

How do the K702 65th compare to HD650 for example? Are they bright and sharp sounding?

post #84 of 119
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

How do the K702 65th compare to HD650 for example? Are they bright and sharp sounding?

702's are brighter or more accurately less dark. I have the HD 600's and the 702's have a more realistic top end, at least to me

post #85 of 119

Do the K702 have good bass? I mean proper sub bass and more / better than the HD650 for example?

post #86 of 119
Thread Starter 

Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

Do the K702 have good bass? I mean proper sub bass and more / better than the HD650 for example?


No idea on the HD650 (only HD600) or the 702 Annie's for that, but the K701 has rolled off bass. It does need bass boost to sound balanced. Without that their bass is about the same more less as HD600, that is a bit weak and pants.

Once that (X-Bass in my case) is applied correctly it beats to me the HE-500's I heard, best bass from 'cans before the K701's. The 701's have more impact, more balls, after X-Bass boost. Just me sixpence, if you don't mind. For all i read the K702 should be very similar.

Cheerio Rich

 

post #87 of 119

I didn't have a really long listen to the 702 annies or the HD 650's but to me the bass was maybe flatter but more extended, but as Rich says a little eq can go a long way. I would say the 702 annie extends quite a bit deeper than my HD 600's and has fewer colorations in the low end, ie fewer obvious peaks and valleys in the response

post #88 of 119
Quote:
Originally Posted by bedlam inside View Post

Hi,


No idea on the HD650 (only HD600) or the 702 Annie's for that, but the K701 has rolled off bass. It does need bass boost to sound balanced. Without that their bass is about the same more less as HD600, that is a bit weak and pants.

Once that (X-Bass in my case) is applied correctly it beats to me the HE-500's I heard, best bass from 'cans before the K701's. The 701's have more impact, more balls, after X-Bass boost. Just me sixpence, if you don't mind. For all i read the K702 should be very similar.

Cheerio Rich

 

 

I know that the K701 don'thave a lot of bass but I thought a big part of the K702 65th was that they had significantly better bass?

 

I am interested in the K702 65th as a pair of all rounders if they sound similar to HD650 but a bit brighter / faster and with better bass...


Edited by nicholars - 3/3/13 at 1:28pm
post #89 of 119
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

I know that the K701 don'thave a lot of bass but I thought a big part of the K702 65th was that they had significantly better bass?

I am interested in the K702 65th as a pair of all rounders if they sound similar to HD650 but a bit brighter / faster and with better bass...
Truth be told, the general consensus has shifted that the only difference between the Annie and the other k70x series headphones is the pads. And the pad difference isn't huge. I would save some money and buy the Q701. You could always later buy the Annie pads if you really want them. That is my opinion on it.
post #90 of 119
Quote:
Originally Posted by nicholars View Post

 

I know that the K701 don'thave a lot of bass but I thought a big part of the K702 65th was that they had significantly better bass?

 

I am interested in the K702 65th as a pair of all rounders if they sound similar to HD650 but a bit brighter / faster and with better bass...


Well if you want, you can buy the iCAN amp, as it can make almost any headphone brighter with better bass....even the HD650.

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