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AKG K701 listening fatigue trouble

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

Hello all, I'm new to posting on Head-fi. I recently bought the K701, serial # 84k range, and they are mostly broken in, as the metallic highs have faded almost completely. I am running them through an O2 and ODAC playing ALAC files from my macbook pro and I am very happy with the way they sound.

 

However, I have been struggling with listening fatigue with the K701 for quite a while now. I assumed it was originally something to do with the metallic sound up top, but the problems continue to persist after that has faded (they have about 250-300 hours on them now so they are pretty far from "new out of the box"). I am a bit reluctant to EQ them on my macbook as it seems like I can occasionally hear a tiny bit of detail being sucked out of the sound when I call the computer's preamp into the mix, which the EQ cannot be used without. I am having fatigue listening at volumes as low as or lower than 65dB in as little as 40 minutes, so I doubt this is related to listening to loud music for prolonged periods of time. To be precise, most of the fatigue seems to be associated with drums, mainly a full-bodied bass drum sound. I have Grado Sr225i's and experience fatigue with them only after much longer listening sessions and at higher volumes. However, I prefer the K701 over them in literally every other way.

 

Should I try using the macbook's EQ at least to see if I can identify a "trouble spot" in the frequency response for me? I'm open to trying some different equipment, but I want it to 1. produce as uncolored of a sound as possible and 2. cannot cost more than my current setup as it is already at the top end of my budget. Any ideas? Has anyone else looking for this type of sound with this problem found a way to achieve a nearly identical sound while ridding the fatigue issues? And additionally, is the "lack of detail" just something I am perceiving but isn't really there? I'm sure the macbook's preamp does not have SNRs nearly as good as the o2 and odac, but will that make a difference? 


Edited by clarinet5000 - 3/13/13 at 6:27pm
post #2 of 36

Simplest solution is to just turn the volume down.  I find it shocking just how LOUD headfiers listen to music, that continues to surprise me at meets.  I listen to my tunes just over the ambient sound of the PC cooling fan, or the air conditioning vents in the house.  My amps serve more as attenuators than amplifiers, and you just kind of get used to it... er at least I do.

 

Yeah an EQ can be used to try and isolate trouble spots.  Give it a try.

 

Yes frequency attenuation can be perceived as a reduction in detail.  Conversely boosted frequencies can present greater detail.  The two go hand in hand.

 

Thats a great setup too BTW.


Edited by kramer5150 - 3/13/13 at 7:44pm
post #3 of 36

I listen to classical music 99% of the time. When I do listen to music from the rock/pop genres I find I get fatigue with headphones very quickly. rock/pop music is all mixed in such a way that there is very little space around the instruments and the whole sound stage is just completely filled up. At least that is what is sounds like to me.

 

Something to consider perhaps to decrease fatigue is a system of crossfeed on your computer. I use a crossfeed system built into my Meier-Audio StageDAC and I find this to be excellent. The crossfeed combines the instruments into a more coherent soundstage, it can decrease a bit the experience of having instruments playing absolutely right in your ear.

 

Right now I am experimenting with alternatives to iTunes on my Mac Pro. The system I'm using now is Audinirvana Plus. I have this on trial and when the trial runs out I am going to try Amarra. Then after that one of the other ones. The reason I mention this is that I think that there is a possibility that you may find these alternative sound processors may reduce fatigue. However I can't be sure of that at all, it is just something to try out.

 

I haven't tried Amarra yet but I think it has quite a sophisticated equaliser component which may be of interest.

 

I'm actually now investigating using my Macs for playing music in preference to my CD Player. That's why I'm trying out these alternative sound processors.

post #4 of 36

K701 is a bright headphone. You will be like under a sunny day with this headphone. Pair it with another bright amp, K701 will even be brighter. You must have a dark headphone amp to find balance. As as my reading goes, hybrid amp like Schiit Lyr is one of the amp headfiers seems to pair with K701. Cheap amp like my Fiio E9 still makes K701 a bright and thin headphone as far my experience goes. 

post #5 of 36
Order some K702 Anniversary pads. They'll cost like $70, but it will give the K701 a warmer, smoother, and more balanced sound signature, with bass previously never heard on any of the models. The K702 Anniversary (or the pads on the older models) is the fix people like you have wanted for years.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 3/14/13 at 6:29am
post #6 of 36

i would try rolling some higher value output resistors in the O2, provided that the resistors are socketed - say 100 to 120R.  i have the K701, K702, K601, and K271mkii lying around here.  the added amplifier output impedance will mellow the upper-mids/treble and add a little bass warmth.  with my BM DAC1, i have to use 100-120R impedance adapters to make the AKGs tolerable.   


Edited by fishski13 - 3/14/13 at 9:01am
post #7 of 36

Best advice: get a different headphone. 

 

K701 is notorious for listening fatigue. An amp/ dac upgrade isn't going to miraculously tame those peaks in the treble region. 

post #8 of 36
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the replies! Some EQ stuff might make a difference or perhaps they still have some more breaking in to do? I'm not going to nix the K701 yet, but in terms of alternatives I tend to prefer a sound without "wool" in it. Bright doesn't tend to bother me, all I want is something that will play what's on the track, nothing more, nothing less.

 

If I do end up shopping around again I don't have the money for an upgrade and I certainly don't NEED one either, so the DT880 is probably the first one I'd look to, probably the 250ohm version. I know that Beyer's sound signature often has a little bit of a lifted treble in the 4-8KHz range, does this tend to bother people? And how do you think they differ from the K701/2 played through some non warm-sounding gear? 

 

I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to electrics and stuff, so unless it's ludicrously easy I'd rather not mess around with that.


Edited by clarinet5000 - 3/16/13 at 7:20am
post #9 of 36

I have always found the 701 to be a very neutral and revealing can.  It will sound like whatever you plug it into.  Mine is most definitely NOT bass-shy plugged into an OT coupled darkvoice 337, conversely with my PPA it sounds cold, sterile and a bit distant by comparison.  I plugged a 701 into a sennheiser rig once with an M^3 DIY built around the HD650 and I found it to be a very shouty/edgy synergy.  Might want to find out from your amps builder what cans he used to tune it and / or what parts were used... Theres some DIY opportunity there if you want to go that route.  The 701 also has a history of changing its sonic character over time, burn in or whatever you want to call it.  I bought mine used with 1000s of hours on it.  Anyhow good luck!!

post #10 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by clarinet5000 View Post

Thanks for the replies! Some EQ stuff might make a difference or perhaps they still have some more breaking in to do? I'm not going to nix the K701 yet, but in terms of alternatives I tend to prefer a sound without "wool" in it. Bright doesn't tend to bother me, all I want is something that will play what's on the track, nothing more, nothing less.

 

If I do end up shopping around again I don't have the money for an upgrade and I certainly don't NEED one either, so the DT880 is probably the first one I'd look to, probably the 250ohm version. I know that Beyer's sound signature often has a little bit of a lifted treble in the 4-8KHz range, does this tend to bother people? And how do you think they differ from the K701/2 played through some non warm-sounding gear? 

 

I really have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to electrics and stuff, so unless it's ludicrously easy I'd rather not mess around with that.

 

All the 880 models I have demo'd have a treble boost that I don't find appealing.  I still want to give the 600 ohm model a try in my rig though... it might work well in my setup.  The GS1000 is another treble beast, that I have tried to like over the years... but no dice.

post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by clarinet5000 View Post

Thanks for the replies! Some EQ stuff might make a difference or perhaps they still have some more breaking in to do? I'm not going to nix the K701 yet, but in terms of alternatives I tend to prefer a sound without "wool" in it. Bright doesn't tend to bother me, all I want is something that will play what's on the track, nothing more, nothing less.

 

I think that the AKG K701s are the right headphone for you. Your requirements are mine exactly. If you want something that will play what is on the track, nothing more, nothing less, these are the best headphones in the easily achievable price range.

 

I think you need to identify what is the cause of the listening fatigue.

 

I'm interested in this comment in your original post:

 

To be precise, most of the fatigue seems to be associated with drums, mainly a full-bodied bass drum sound.

 

It's why I think that maybe a cross-feed system might benefit you. Headphones fed an "normal" stereo signal recorded for playing through speakers do a strange thing which is that they separate out the stereo image placing sounds right close to your ears, then also there is the original image in the middle.

 

Cross-feed goes a long way to solving this. It will take those drums and create a coherent image in the middle, if it is working properly.

 

I have not used a software cross-feed, but they are available.

 

There is a music player for the Mac called Fidelia which has it. I have not tried this. As an aside I use cross-feed built into my DAC, I almost never listen to music without it.

 

Read about Fidelia here:

 

http://www.audiofile-engineering.com/fidelia/

 

They call their cross-feed "FHX". You'll see a link for this on that page.

 

 

 

Edited by p a t r i c k - 3/16/13 at 9:47am
post #12 of 36

I find it strange you're fatigued by the low range - as the 701's are pretty bass shy. Are you EQ'ing for bass boost at all?

post #13 of 36
Thread Starter 

I'm not sure exactly what part of the frequency range is responsible for the fatigue I often experience. It could be the lows but more than likely it's somewhere higher than that. I haven't figured out how high though. Also, in terms of bass levels I'm referring mainly to the sub bass. I have heard stronger midbass on most other audio equipment, but at least for my hearing the sub bass is noticeably stronger than what I'm used to, although I do hear a bit of a rolloff starting around 26-28Hz, basically anything below what the piano can play.

 

Also, I rarely listen to loud music and clearly I'm not a basshead, I get the sense that maybe I just haven't lost enough hearing in the low range for it to sound bass light? Or perhaps it's just me? My father always complains that I don't have the bass up high enough. I didn't hear him say that once trying my K701. I heard they went through a bunch of iterations of the headphone, starting with a notoriously bass-light version up until around 13-14K serial number. I am using no EQ for bass boost, and if I did it would be only the lowest of the audible lows. 

 

The crossfeed idea does sound pretty good. I actually think just a smidge of crossfeed could make the sound perception a bit more natural, rather than the 95-5 feel I get when certain sounds are dominated by a single channel, I'd want more of an 80-20 feel. But then again I might be sucking out the accuracy, who knows. HOWEVER, upon reading the reviews for Fidelia, apparently it can be a bit buggy which could be tolerable, but the FHX feature is a $50 add on. REALLY?!?

post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by clarinet5000 View Post

The crossfeed idea does sound pretty good. I actually think just a smidge of crossfeed could make the sound perception a bit more natural, rather than the 95-5 feel I get when certain sounds are dominated by a single channel, I'd want more of an 80-20 feel. But then again I might be sucking out the accuracy, who knows. HOWEVER, upon reading the reviews for Fidelia, apparently it can be a bit buggy which could be tolerable, but the FHX feature is a $50 add on. REALLY?!?

 

I haven't tried the Fidelia software, however personally I think the $50 for their FHX is probably quite reasonable. I do think there are free software cross-feeds for the Mac, by you would need to search for them here.

 

I think the Fidelia software probably has a trial, so you might be able to just try it out.

 

I understand why you might think cross-feed systems might suck out accuracy, but personally I don't think that is necessarily the case. The "problem" caused by listening to music mixed originally for stereo speakers on headphones is itself a pretty big inaccuracy of the original intention, so the remedy is bringing greater faithfulness to the original intention for the stereo image.

 

Hungarian composer György Ligeti has a piece called 100 Metronomes. When you listen to this you will get what the title suggests, 100 metronomes. The metronomes are in a neat rectangle in the middle of the room. I am a big fan of György Ligeti and when I listen to 100 Metronomes without cross-feed it sounds like there are 60 metronomes in the middle of the room and 20 metronomes placed on each side of the listener. With cross-feed it does sound like 100 metronomes in the middle of the room. So, which is more accurate, the version with cross-feed or the one without?

post #15 of 36

Curious... do you have any particular songs or tracks you can name that cause the fatigue?  You mention drums and that perked me up a bit.  Drum tracks are the deal breaker for me, I  have found cans that replicate drum tones accurately (both tonally and ambiently on attack and through the decay) can easily do the rest of the spectrum accurately.  Conversely if theres a headphone I like... I'll throw some well recorded drums at it 

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