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Review and Comparison of the $200 Open-Back Underdogs: The AKG K612 Pro and the Sony MDR-MA900 - Page 3

post #31 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by donunus View Post
 

I myself found the k612 just meh. The tonality isn't as offensive as the old k701 I had but that cheap sound is still there. A fake timbre glazing over everything. Bass/mids/treble balance is okay as a whole but I just can't get past that hollow sound. I would take a sennheiser hd555 over the k612 or k701 for that matter any day of the week. 

 

I haven't heard the ma900 yet but if it is closer in tonality to sennheisers plus add the open angled sound, I may prefer them more. Heck, I need to buy one already :D

I personally found the HD 555 grainy, artificial sounding, and lacking in definition, I did like it's soundstage, imaging, and bass response though. It could be a case of bad system synergy on them though, I do still have the HD 555 so I can experiment with amplification with them sometime. Did you try it on any other systems? The K612 is anything but hollow and unnatural sounding on my system, it's full and robust sounding without even a hint of hollowness, it could be bad system synergy you are experiencing.


Edited by kman1211 - 11/23/13 at 5:19pm
post #32 of 84

True on the synergy. I only used a jdslabs o2 on the k612. I imagine they would work better with tubes or the EF2 hybrid for that matter. So far as the hd555, as long as they are burned in they sound good out of most neutral-ish amps with low output impedance. They sound like junk out of any integrated amp/receiver headphone out with high  output impedances. The sound gets very bloated and undefined when connected to my old onkyo receiver for example. I feel it is due to the peak in the impedance curve around the upper bass region that causes the muddy sound out of high output impedance amps.

post #33 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by donunus View Post
 

True on the synergy. I only used a jdslabs o2 on the k612. I imagine they would work better with tubes or the EF2 hybrid for that matter. So far as the hd555, as long as they are burned in they sound good out of most neutral-ish amps with low output impedance. They sound like junk out of any integrated amp/receiver headphone out with high  output impedances. The sound gets very bloated and undefined when connected to my old onkyo receiver for example. I feel it is due to the peak in the impedance curve around the upper bass region that causes the muddy sound out of high output impedance amps.


Yeah, I think I would hold off on judging them or other AKGs fully until trying them on other systems, but for your system they are not ideal and I think it's best to try and buy headphones that would the best for whatever system you have unless you are planning on buying an amp and headphone at the same time. I used to for example dislike Senns until I tried them on more systems, now Sennheiser is one of my favorite brands of headphones. I realized I need to change amps or tubes on some headphones, sometimes even dacs. For example I felt my MA900 and K240 did the best with the stock tubes on my EF2A while the K612 did the best with my nos tubes and I did take into consideration different tubes and even amps when writing this review. I am going to try the HD 555 and see which amp it likes the best when I get it in my hands again, although I may replace them with the HD 558 in time. I found for example the stock tubes on my EF2A likes lower ohm headphones more, so it may go well with the HD 555.


Edited by kman1211 - 11/23/13 at 5:42pm
post #34 of 84
Thanks for the well written and informative review...the K612 is now on my radar!

I have owned the MA900 for about 6months and really like them. Very versatile and comfortable...with comfort and relaxed sound being one of the main reasons I find myself enjoying long listening sessions with them, spanning many genres.

The one surprise was how well the MA900 sounded on my Decware CSP2 otl tube headamp. My AKG 701's never see action on the Decware, just my SS amps. I expected the MA900 to follow suit...instead I really liked the match.

The MA900 on the Decware CSP2 really opens-up the midrange, and has accurate bass, and plenty of volume range. The sound never fatiguing, and really shining on listening material that has huge soundstage on the recording...really enjoy listening to audience recordings from the Archives with the MA900's.

thanks again for the great review and piquing my interest in a demo of the AKG 612 as a contrast to my 701's and the MA900
post #35 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pebpeb View Post

Thanks for the well written and informative review...the K612 is now on my radar!

I have owned the MA900 for about 6months and really like them. Very versatile and comfortable...with comfort and relaxed sound being one of the main reasons I find myself enjoying long listening sessions with them, spanning many genres.

The one surprise was how well the MA900 sounded on my Decware CSP2 otl tube headamp. My AKG 701's never see action on the Decware, just my SS amps. I expected the MA900 to follow suit...instead I really liked the match.

The MA900 on the Decware CSP2 really opens-up the midrange, and has accurate bass, and plenty of volume range. The sound never fatiguing, and really shining on listening material that has huge soundstage on the recording...really enjoy listening to audience recordings from the Archives with the MA900's.

thanks again for the great review and piquing my interest in a demo of the AKG 612 as a contrast to my 701's and the MA900

I have had my MA900 for a while as well. I think they are good headphones for their price while to me the K612 is a great headphone for it's price.

 

I like the MA900 on tubes. I can see why people prefer the MA900 to some more expensive headphones especially if their system is right for them. I personally never felt they were easy drive, they always sounded held back when they aren't amped, not to the K612s degree but held back nonetheless.

 

I think the K612 is a good alternative to the K7xx series if you are looking for more warmth, musicality, and linearity.

post #36 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

If that's the case, then it eliminates one of the advantages of dynamics from my point of view.

Once I have to start budgeting for an amp, especially tube amps, I might as well start pinching pennies and scouring eBay for another Stax SR-Lambda / SRM-T1 setup like I used to have. That still remains the best headphone setup I've heard by far, but had to go when money got tight. 'Stat amps are wallet killers, and if I'm to take spritzer's advice and not even bother with any dynamic amp lesser than the discontinued Gilmore Lite...argh, Head-Fi...

Also keep in mind DAC-wise that I'm generally running headphones with an X-Fi Titanium HD in mind, possibly X-Fi Prelude if it's one of my older computers. I'm pretty set there.

Well, the STAX need a special amp to work at all, from what I gather. From you. Meanwhile, you already hear what the MA900 sounds like straight from your more modest (amp wise) Ti HD, and if you enjoy the sonic character/balance NOW and it sounds even better with an amp you can (optionally) add later to hear it at it's best, then I think the budget flexibility is a great benefit when your finances are in flux.
post #37 of 84

Anyone here familiar with both the 545 and the 612?

post #38 of 84

In another thread I also brought up a new bargain find... a Denon DVD-5000 (circa 1999)....It has a variable headphone output, and it sounds fantastic with the MA900.

off topic sorry, just an surprising find

post #39 of 84
NICE write up! I have a pair of AKG Annie's and by how you describe the sound quality of the K612 Pro, reminds me a lot of my Annie's. Full bodied (if not, close), may lack soundstage for open headphone but the imaging is impressive! Bass goes deeper than most open headphones I tested but throughout the bass FR, I do find very very slight emphasis in the mid-bass. And I think if I am not mistaken, that is what exactly you said in your comparison! Which makes me curious on how the K612. Pro compared to Annie's... However, I do find the Annie's treble to sound slightly behind other FR with some tracks.

Again, nice write up!
Billson smily_headphones1.gif
post #40 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by kman1211 View Post
 

I've owned the Sony MDR-MA900 for about four months now, I got them because I wanted something with more relaxed treble and a bigger soundstage than my K240. My AKG K612 Pro's were a gift from a close friend and I have owned them for about a month now. I find both of these headphones a bit overlooked, although the K612 is the more overlooked of the two and less have seemed to of tried it. I am amping both with an Hifiman EF2A(nos tubes) and an ASUS Xonar DX as the DAC. When it comes to music and genres; I listen to everything and anything and I also game and watch movies, so the comparisons between the two will be taking in all these factors; thus I am comparing the headphones as all-rounders. This review is a bit of a work in progress, I will add more to the review as I compare them more in-depth later on.

 

image.jpg

 

Build Quality and Comfort:

 

K612: The K612 Pro is a well built headphone, doesn't feel cheap or poorly made, the plastic is of high quality and has a substantial feel to it while being quite light. Has a slightly floppy feel because of the headband, but it doesn't take away from the quality if anything makes them more durable. The cable is non-removable but seems flexible and sturdy, it's a well made cable in my opinion. My K612 Pro is made in Austria, it's possible they may make them in China later on but all current K612s are made in Austria as far as I can tell. Comfort wise I found these slightly clampy at first and the pads a tad too stiff and hard, with use the clamp and pads soften up and ends up very comfortable. I don't even notice the headband so headband comfort is great.

 

MA900: I find the MA900 overall a well-built headphone, it's thin and a bit flimsy feeling but overall they feel well-made and more durable than they initially appear. They seem to be made of a mixture of plastic and a magnesium alloy like some other Sony headphones have been made out of. They are made in Thailand as it says on the cable termination. The headband makes a slight creaking noise at times when you extend it to put on your head. The cable is a bit thin and is a little stiffer than the K612s cable, the terminating jack seems to be a bit cheaper made than other headphones. Comfort is one of the aspects where these headphones really stick out, the earcups are deep and very comfy and the headphone is insanely light-weight. Clamp is very light and non-existent. I did find the headband somewhat noticeable at first but it became more comfortable as I used it more.

 

Build Quality: K612

Comfort: MA900

 

Soundstage and Imaging:

 

K612: The K612 has an accurate and natural sounding soundstage, it's big, but it's nothing that sticks out as abnormal, rather it's well integrated in it's overall sound signature. The imaging is great on this headphone, very accurate and presents a nice feeling of where the sound is coming from, this makes it very good for music and games that take advantage of good imaging.

 

MA900: The MA900 has a huge soundstage and with that a big sound on top of that. This leaves a very cinematic experience few headphones can achieve, it can sound a tad too big at times. The imaging is good and accurate, but it's not quite as precise as the K612s.

 

Soundstage: MA900

Imaging: K612

 

Transparency and Detail:

 

K612: The K612 is the more detailed and revealing of the two headphones, you hear subtle textures and minute details you just can't hear on the MA900. There is also a greater dynamic range in the sound on the K612, this can be heard with vocals and various instruments, the MA900 sounds a bit more compressed and flat in terms of dynamics. You get a greater sense of clarity and transparency, the vocals and instruments sound more authentic and as if it's not coming from the headphone more often with the K612.

 

MA900: The MA900 is a bit less detailed but is still a detailed headphone for it's price range. It does seem to lack slightly in terms of transparency, there is a slight veil in the sound and sounds a tad ill-defined at times when compared to the K612.

 

Transparency and Detail: K612

 

Bass:

 

K612: The bass on the K612 is well textured, I found I get more information and texture out of the bass than the MA900. The bass is very linear from upper, mid, to sub bass, doesn't seem to emphasize any region of the bass over the other. It has a thick, present, and robust feel to it. There is also good extension in the sub bass, it extends further in the sub-bass than the MA900, you get the deep subbass rumble with these headphones if the track calls for it.

 

MA900: I find the bass on the MA900 quite textured and detailed, not quite to the K612s level but it isn't a slouch in this area. There is a slight mid-bass hump in the sound of these headphones, so when a song calls for mid-bass it's a bit more prominent than the K612s. The bass isn't quite as thick and solid sounding as the K612s bass though and it does lack some sub-bass extension.

 

Bass: K612

 

Midrange:

 

K612: This is where this headphone really shines, the midrange is very linear and natural sounding. It's simply beautiful and can give an eerie spine-shivering experience with certain vocal tracks, there is a texture and resolution in the midrange that just isn't found on the MA900. The midrange is neither forward or too laid-back, it's just right. It's clear and pristine.

 

MA900: This headphone has a pretty good midrange, but it does seem to lack a bit in texture, detail, and transparency when compared to the K612, but it's a good midrange nonetheless. It does seem to have an emphasis in the lower midrange to give it a warmer sound, but this takes away from it having a more pristine midrange.

 

Midrange: K612

 

Treble:

 

K612: The treble of this headphone is linear and pretty much grain-free, it doesn't seem to over emphasize anything, it's neither dark or bright, it's just right, there is a slight roll-off in upper treble though. I find the treble adds a certain beauty and air to the sound and the headphone isn't veiled in any way in the treble. The treble is more detailed and refined than the MA900s treble. It's a very unoffensive treble and isn't sibilant or anything, but it will reveal if a track is overly sibilant but won't thrash your ears.

 

MA900: The treble in this headphone is slightly dark and laid-back, but also has a little more grain than the K612s treble. It's more rolled-off in the treble than K612 as well and there is less sense of detail and refinement to the treble, but the headphone still has plenty of air to it's sound due to it's large soundstage. The treble isn't sibilant and is unoffensive.

 

Treble: K612

 

Conclusion:

The two headphones are both good headphones, but the K612 clearly wins sonically to my ears. In terms of amplification, the K612 is harder to amp and is also pickier about the dac and source than the MA900. Although I do find the MA900 performs best when amped, it sounds thin and a little harsh in the upper regions when not amped and without a decent dac behind it. I personally recommend both the headphones to be amped and have a decent dac behind them. The MA900 doesn't seem like it needs amplification but it does in my experience. Both headphones are great in the ~$200 range and sound different, but the K612 sounds like it's a league above in my ears. The resolution, texture, transparency, forgiving yet revealing sound, better dynamic range, better extension, etc. put the headphone in another class to my ears sonically. And currently the K612 is cheaper than the MA900.

 

In terms of overall sonic signature alone(not including transparency, refinement, detail, etc.) both are on the unoffensive side and both are headphones you can basically listen to all day. I find the MA900 a bit more laid-back sounding and more of a soundstage lovers headphones. The K612 is more of a neutrality lovers headphones and is more engaging sounding overall. I can see people swaying either way on which they like more and which you will like better will often come down to personal preference and system 

Good review! now i'm really interested in k612.i will get it for christmas.and this will be my 1st openback hps.i'm thinking of a [budget]amp.is it good with a darker sounding amp?

post #41 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lsamod View Post
 

Good review! now i'm really interested in k612.i will get it for christmas.and this will be my 1st openback hps.i'm thinking of a [budget]amp.is it good with a darker sounding amp?

Thank you. I would highly suggest them with an amp. They will do fine with a darker amp. What amps are you looking into?

post #42 of 84
...!
post #43 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by kman1211 View Post

Thank you. I would highly suggest them with an amp. They will do fine with a darker amp. What amps are you looking into?
Fiio e12,e07k,pa2v2,c&c bh.I'm looking for portable options. So i can use it with my other hp's when traveling. Any suggestions?
post #44 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lsamod View Post


Fiio e12,e07k,pa2v2,c&c bh.I'm looking for portable options. So i can use it with my other hp's when traveling. Any suggestions?


The K612 likes a lot of power, the E12 will be better than the E07K in terms of amping, I only have the E11 but I found it did decent with the K612, the E12 is much more powerful than the E11. I don't know about the other two amps.

post #45 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by kman1211 View Post


The K612 likes a lot of power, the E12 will be better than the E07K in terms of amping, I only have the E11 but I found it did decent with the K612, the E12 is much more powerful than the E11. I don't know about the other two amps.
thanks! how's the sound out of the box and burnin time?
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