Grados are my favorite phones, but this ^. There's simply nothing in its price range that can compete with the 701's. The HD598 may look beautiful, but it's absolutely the same headphone as the old HD595 and is not even in the same class as the 701's. Same for Grados - you really have to step up to the RS1 or PS500 to get comparable performance, and those are several hundred dollars more.
I would go for the black Q701 if you can, though. My understanding is that the white Q701 is now made in China. I bought the black Q701 over Black Friday from Amazon and it has "Made in Austria" plastered all over it. I have a very early serial number original K701, too (for years) and the Q701 seems a bit more rounded with better bass.
The only downside to the AKG's is that they really need an amp at some point. You can try them without, but plan on one eventually - if you can.
Absolutely. My cousin actually just purchased a white Q701, and it is no longer made in Austria.
My initial thoughts before I compared the Q701 and the K701 was that they utilized the same driver, just with different dampening materials or whatnot.
Little did I realize just how different they really were. It seems some sort of tuning has been done, not just slapping Quincy Jones on the Box.
While I preferred removing the foam donuts from the K701, I thought it wasn't a good idea on the Q701. Sibilance and an unnatural tone becomes quite a bother.
In the end, see if you can find an used pair of the AKG K701.
Don't forget they were a flagship reference can from the Austrian Giant. That speaks volumes over mid-tier cans.
The Q701 isn't bad, at least they seem to do better without an amp.
While the K701 just sound anemic without one.