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Grado SR80 to AKG K701 (an upgrade?) - Page 2

post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 

Thanks. They seem to be a little more expensive in the UK, at £16 and £25 respectively.

 

I'll probably only need a pair if I get the 225's off my friend, butotherwise I'll probable buy the my 225i's new.

post #17 of 32

Hi,

 

Thanks for sharing your views!

 

I think you should try Yamaha HPH-200.

 

Greetings!

 

 

post #18 of 32
Thread Starter 

Hi.

 

Thanks for the suggestion of the Yamaha's. At times I feel I've pretty much made up my mind about going for the SR225s, and at other times I'm wondering whether I should keep my options open a bit longer.

 

A dealer not too far from home might letr me compare 225s and SR325is. If the 325's dont sound as harsh as some people say they do, and if I think that in time I could justify the extra spend, I might just do that.

 

They sure look a lot prettier than the 225s, but as we all know, it's all about enjoying what comes out of 'em!

post #19 of 32

Why did you go for the K701 and not the Q701?  I have both the Q701 and the SR80 (non-i too, with senn yellow pads mod, RIP grado pads), it's kinda hard to compare these two headphones imho because they're quite a bit in a different league...  I'd be hard pressed to name one thing the Grados do better.  Sure, they're definitely not bad, but the gap is fairly wide between them...  I don't think the material or musical style really matters, classic, rock, electric guitar, vocals, drums, orchestral, to me the Q701 are just a plain better headphone? 

:confused:

 

At first I was thinking maybe it's an amp issue, but Musical Fidelity headphone amp seems plenty...  About MP3...   I don't know reading your posts made me do a few A/B comparison with the Q and the 80s, and again, no offense to the 80s, but they definitely sound...  Erm... low-fi compared to the Qs...  lack of bass extension, much less detailed/refined, just wow, different league...  So much that now I'm wondering if there could be something wrong with mine?  lol  

 

Do they degrade over time?  My Grados must be at least 15-20 years old...  They were my first 'real' pair of headphones and blew me away...   I remember trying them out at the store listening to Roger Waters Amused To Death and being absolutely blown away!   And typing that, just put on the flac, damn ok they're fine, still sounds awesome!  :D  But I mean the Q701s are a significant step above...  Yeah, definitely... BUT, yeah I think I understand a bit better... Disregarding the K vs Q701 differences, even vs the Q701 the SR80s, while being significantly more 'low-fi', have something to them...  Maybe being the 'worse' headphone of the two doesn't make them sound worse in the end...   Weird.  Like the Grado SR80 'low-fi' doesn't actual detract from the 'quality' of the music...

 

I don't know, reminds me a bit about dynamic vs magnaplanar speakers, Grados being dynamic and AKGs the planars.  The planars/AKGs are definitely more transparent, but compared to dynamic, can seem like they're missing the meat of the music...  No slam/thud, it's like dynamic = 'solid' sound, and AKG/planar is almost semi-transparent sound.  Anyhow, took a while but I think I get what you've been saying now ;)   The Grados sound 'rounder' and less detailed, but sounds seem 'bigger'.  AKGs, sounds more detailed, more transparent, but almost to a point where it can sound etheral/too transparent and not 'meaty' enough vs Grados...

 

Yeah actually I don't know now...  On most material seems the Q701s just sound plain better, for some reason on that old classic Roger Waters album, yeah, when you compare the two, somewhat hate to say it but I can see some prefer the Grados, really weird because as I said I think the AKGs are clearly better headphones...  lol   So, I'm confused now, somewhat baffled I have to contradict myself and have to acknowledge my old Grados SR80s can still somewhat stand up to the AKGs...  So weird!

 

Interesting!  Too bad I don't have my AKG 550s here, they probably sit about halfway between both, well probably bit closer to the Qs but anyway, they're definitely not as transparent, if you get the chance try a listen!   :)   So yeah I guess it could definitely depend on the source material...  For some reason, the 'better' headphone might not sound better than the worse headphone...


Edited by GirgleMirt - 1/14/14 at 6:56pm
post #20 of 32
Thread Starter 

Hi, and thanks for taking time out to write

 

My desire to upgrade was hampered by budget, and while I would have originally liked to stay with Grados  (from everything I had read about them, the 225's would definitely have been a strong contented), this point about build quality and appearance of something costing twice the price of the 80's really bugged me. It felt like a case of you're paying more for what you get out of them, rather than what you have physically purchased.

 

But as I had read good things about the AKG K701's and also the Beyer DT880's, and also that the Q701's didn't offer much over the K701's to justify the additional cost, I found myself with bids placed on some DT880's and the K701's. By good fortune I got a great price as a winning bid on the 701's, and found myself in a possession of a near-mint pair about a week later (just after Christmas)

 

I can certainly relate to what you're saying about the comparisons between dynamic and planars. I have experienced the same with speakers, and found... as we all have... that the characteristics of the room you're in pace a big part in the sound which reaches your ears, and therefore what people wrote about their experiences with different equipment. So with the headphone reviews, I felt that there were fewer external factors to affect the sound, and therefore the reviews could arguably be considered more accurate. All of my previous hi-fi purchases (Linns, Arcams, Naims, Monitor Audios, etc., etc) have been the result of auditioning in sound rooms in the shops I have used (most sadly no longer exist), but purchasing headphones online based on reading countless reviews and comparisons seemed a reasonably safe thing to do.

 

Having read your contribution, I started to think... considering I still have them in my possession... that if I burn the K701's in further over the next couple of weeks, they might start to sound a little more lively. I'm not about to start making immediate changes, as I'm happy to continue with my SR80's for a while longer. So I'll read more on the Q701's, and while I accumulate a little more each week towards my budget, I'll hopefully be better informed in a few weeks from now to go for something which I know is going to be closer to my goal.

 

I'll keep writing to this post, and thanks again for writing!

post #21 of 32
Thread Starter 

I meant to ask about the Q701s how long you broke them in for, or did you not find it made much difference?

post #22 of 32

haha well thanks to you too then!   :beerchug:

 

I didn't really break them in per se just regular usage, so I couldn't tell you really if there's been any change as it probably happened over a rather long time.  I'm not even sure they're totally broken in to tell you the truth, I've not listened that much recently nor even since I got them, they maybe have 50h on them or so... 

 

I think yeah that headphone reviews are somewhat better than speakers because indeed you're taking the room and setup out of the equation, but even then it's so subjective it's really not uncommon to get contradicting opinions.  I think the Q and K aren't that dissimilar in sound, but the Q is supposed to have more bass, and even then many say the Q downright lack bass...  I'm hesitant to agree, their bass to me sounds more like it's quite neutral and true, it's true that they might sound a tiny bit lean & they could extend lower, but I don't know, rather more neutral to me than bass light.  But yeah, one man's good bass is another's emphasized and bloated bass, etc etc.  But I'm rambling... K701, I don't think they'll ever be bass monsters, and a general complain I've seen is that indeed they're light on bass.  Same goes with Q701 but to a slightly lesser extent as they're supposed to have more bass, but still, while the K550 have a warm (bass) emphasis, the Q701 are viciously neutral and so are the Ks from what I've read.

 

VS SR80, what surprised me is how the SR80 might sound 'better' than the Q701 because they are indeed less detailed, a lot more "blunt" if you will..   I think it's similar to vision, if you've got poor vision and look at an object, it will be blurry and will seem actually bigger and 'rounder' than it might be...  And if you put glasses on, then wham, object 'shrinks' and you can see the details.  I think it's similar to what we get with AKG vs Grados:  http://www.elmoudjahid.com/temp/fr/actualite2%5B3363%5D.jpg

 

With Grado vs AKG, on the Q701s everything seems smaller, more detailed, more transparent...  I don't even think it's something the Grados do well, I think it might just be what they do wrong.  But, maybe with some recordings and albums, the end results is better.  I don't know I'm really stumped with this lol   No question IMHO that technically, the AKGs are better headphones.  More resolving, better imaging, better bass extension, name it, it's most likely better.  Now that said, maybe it's almost to an extreme... And maybe sometimes, that plays against them...   I don't know, maybe that's what some meant by "too resolving".  To me that always seemed puzzling as that seems like a self defeating argument;  "I don't like X because it tastes too good, or looks too nice...", but yeah, maybe there is something 'we' like in distortion or whatever it is that could for instance make the SR80's sounds seem 'bigger'...  Maybe it's as simple as our volume matching and having the SR80s play certain frequencies louder than the AKGs!


Edited by GirgleMirt - 1/15/14 at 2:21pm
post #23 of 32
Thread Starter 
Erm... for me I think it comes down to this...

I like a full rounded sound which I could find either exciting or just very satisfying depending on what I'm listening to (rock, blues, jazz, classical, etc), but I also like detail. What my 50 year old ears tell me, which may be different to what they might have told me 20-30 years ago, is that while the K701s display more detail than the SR80s, the difference between the two models in that respect is far smaller than the difference between the two when it comes to a full bodied sound. In that respect I feel the Grados give me more of what I'm looking for.

Here's something I'll throw in before I turn in for the night... On my way home from work I cranked up the volume of my fairly ordinary car stereo, which was playing a full orchestral piece by William Walton (the Coronation piece). I was buzzin' ... I loved it, and the bass or more accurately the dynamics of the sound overall (including the volume!) reminded me of the rare occasions when I went to see full blown orchestras at our local cathedral many years ago. I'm not saying it was life-like, as this is my car stereo and I'm hardly being analyical when I'm driving in the dark and its raining heavily... but it was so damn enjoyable.

I then put on some Guns N Roses, and then some Jeff Beck. Again it was a full sound with plenty of kick and bite, and it gave me a buzz. No, I couldn't hear the attack or subtle slurs in the bass guitar, or the occassional string scratching on the guitar, but that wasnt on my mind at all.... I was simply enjoying the music.

When I reached home I headed straight for the headphones to see if my juices were going to be sustained. AKGs went on first, and they seemed... in a sense which I hope you'll be able to understand... very 'polite' in their presentaion. A case of "We may as well do this thing properly if we're going to do it at all!"

The Grados, however, were more along the lines of "Take that, and there is plenty more where that came from!"

Seriously though, if I get rid of the AKGs right now, I might never know what they could do for me over time. So will give them a chance to grow on me. If they dont, at least I'll have a more experienced view when it comes to replacing them.
post #24 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by daronharvey View Post

Erm... for me I think it comes down to this...

I like a full rounded sound which I could find either exciting or just very satisfying depending on what I'm listening to (rock, blues, jazz, classical, etc), but I also like detail. What my 50 year old ears tell me, which may be different to what they might have told me 20-30 years ago, is that while the K701s display more detail than the SR80s, the difference between the two models in that respect is far smaller than the difference between the two when it comes to a full bodied sound. In that respect I feel the Grados give me more of what I'm looking for.

Here's something I'll throw in before I turn in for the night... On my way home from work I cranked up the volume of my fairly ordinary car stereo, which was playing a full orchestral piece by William Walton (the Coronation piece). I was buzzin' ... I loved it, and the bass or more accurately the dynamics of the sound overall (including the volume!) reminded me of the rare occasions when I went to see full blown orchestras at our local cathedral many years ago. I'm not saying it was life-like, as this is my car stereo and I'm hardly being analyical when I'm driving in the dark and its raining heavily... but it was so damn enjoyable.

I then put on some Guns N Roses, and then some Jeff Beck. Again it was a full sound with plenty of kick and bite, and it gave me a buzz. No, I couldn't hear the attack or subtle slurs in the bass guitar, or the occassional string scratching on the guitar, but that wasnt on my mind at all.... I was simply enjoying the music.

When I reached home I headed straight for the headphones to see if my juices were going to be sustained. AKGs went on first, and they seemed... in a sense which I hope you'll be able to understand... very 'polite' in their presentaion. A case of "We may as well do this thing properly if we're going to do it at all!"

The Grados, however, were more along the lines of "Take that, and there is plenty more where that came from!"

Seriously though, if I get rid of the AKGs right now, I might never know what they could do for me over time. So will give them a chance to grow on me. If they dont, at least I'll have a more experienced view when it comes to replacing them.

Thats a great post and promotes a very valid point that is often forgot about with audiophiles. 

 

I've always liked Grado's because I like what they do. Measurements and technical jargon aside - If a headphone doesn't occasionally give you goosebumps with your fave music then it can't be doing its job properly. Also, the K701's are a studio hp. That is, they were designed to be flat and as transparent as poss for mixing and producing. So unless the recording is warm and inviting they can sound flat and boring. I've owned many pairs of the K701 and the latest (or last couple of year or so) sound different. They do have more bass and are slightly more full sounding.  Still, I prefer to pair them with a warm source. 

post #25 of 32
Quote:
 I like a full rounded sound which I could find either exciting or just very satisfying depending on what I'm listening to (rock, blues, jazz, classical, etc), but I also like detail.

What I'm curious, what is exactly this "full rounded" sound you're talking about?  I mean is it bass?   Some frequency emphasis?  Distortion?  I'm not asking with any hidden insinuation or anything... I'm just genuinely wondering what makes this "full rounded" sound...  My guess; as I said, probably something the Grados do worse than the AKGs.  I say that strictly because I consider the AKG Q701s better headphones than say, Sony V6, AKG 550s, Grados SR80, and those 3 headphones all sound more "full rounded" than the AKG Q701s.  Is it something that the AKG 701s do incorrectly, or is it a result of a headphone which is less detailed (more distortion) or ... What?

 

As I said, I think it's that the AKGs are better transducers, and the effect of this is effectively that sounds sound.. Smaller...!   Either that, or it's a case where the AKGs in particular do inherently bad.  And in that case, what would it be?  Could it be a problem in it's frequency response?  Possibly dips  in certain frequencies?  What I'd really like to know, is it an effect of the cheaper/worse headphones which don't reproduce the recording correctly, or is it the AKGs which are at fault and are not reproducing the music correctly?

 

As I said, it might just be more of a preferring a less revealing headphone...  If a regular car stereo is preferable to AKGs, it might be that there's something about cheaper transducers which is more enjoyable than higher fidelity headphones.  In that case, even something like the Sony V6 might be considered 'better' than the AKGs, and so a 100$ headphone might be a better upgrade path than a 200$ or 400$ headphone?

 

I think yeah, here it's maybe resolution/analytical vs 'fun' headphones?  Anyhow, I'm still bugged about the Q701 vs SR80  lol   I've always yerned for maximal resolution, which was why I got the Q701 in the first place, and indeed, it could be said that they lack something vs the SR80s...  Which seems very strange because they should just be better!  I still think they are, in every technical way possible, but the result of this is that they do sound different and this difference makes them sound less "fuller sound" than say Grado...  Anyhow, I'd really like to know what it is this full rounded sound is!

 

I think actually it's how quick the transducer is;  what's shown in waterfall plots.  Like that lingering of sound...  I think that's EXACTLY what gives the cheaper headphones a "fuller sound" than better transducer.  And as such, I really wouldn't be surprised if the best Grado offerings were less fuller sounding than the SR80, and more akin to the AKGs in that fashion.  Thoughts?

post #26 of 32
Thread Starter 

Maybe it's just a choice of words I used which others might use in a different context. My use of "full rounded" was meant to describe a sound with more depth, and which conveys more excitement and energy, but still detailed. I am of course describing my own experiences with the headphones I have to use, and for three days I also had the benefit of a borrowed pair of SR225s to use.

 

The 225s were, in my view, better than the 80s, but not massively so. Their characteristics of depth, drive and energy, etc., were in many ways what I like about the SR80s, but better. They were certainly more detailed but I still find the 80's to be (for my tastes), sufficiently detailed to be really enjoyable to use.

 

I know it looks from what I wrote, that I was suggesting my car stereo was better than the AKGs. I'll attempt to clarify by saying that when I've listened to live music from rock concerts to blues or jazz bands playing pub gigs, or full orchestras to Jacques Loussier's 3-piece playing in our local cathedral, there has been a depth to the music which is anything but clinical. Sometimes it’s power or impact which does it, and sometimes it’s is subtlety and beauty. Although my car stereo is really no comparison to 'being there' (anyone reading this could would agree to that), it still gave me a real buzz, and was getting really involved. Popping on the AKGs at home certainly showed the contrast in clarity and detail, but some of the excitement was missing for me. Switching over to the SR80's added that element back. I just like them more, but maybe my listening objectives (if I can call them that), are different to others reading this thread.

 

I don’t know how, given the chance, you would weigh up the strengths and weaknesses of the 701s and the Grado 225s. While I had the three sets of cans there in front of me to listen to whatever I wanted to over a wide range of music, AKGs repeatedly found themselves being unplugged whilst I reached for the Grados. I was keen to spend as much time on the 225s as I could, because I needed to hand them back after the weekend, but I did keep going back to the 80s for comparison purposes to see if I felt it would be worth me spending the extra money on upgrading further up the Grado line.

 

It was clear that, certainly between the 225s and 80s, they shared some of the characterisics which gave me the most enjoyment (which I perhaps incorrectly described as a "full rounded"). Since I parted company with the 225s, I have continued to switch between the 80s and 701s, and found myself going back to the 80s for more enjoyment.

 

I don’t know if a different amp (I use the Musical Fidelity XCan Mk2) would make any difference to how I view each of these headphones, but I do also need to factor in that whatever headphones I end up keeping, they need to work well with my portable devices (MP3 player or portable CD player), as I work away from home quite a lot. The AKGs make these devices work real hard, leaving little to no headroom for some of the dynamics in the music, whereas the Grados are far more comfortable in that respect, and more portable than the AKGs too... although I’m digressing from the original point by saying that.

 

So overall, the Grado's suit me better in many respects. If I had the luxury of keeping two sets of headphones... one for portable use, and the other for 'best' on my Arcam and MF headphone amp at home... it would most likely be a case of keeping my SR80s and buying a pair of 225s for home use.  I’m also keen to listen to the Grado 325is cans, as maybe they’ll be something I would want to stretch towards if budget allows. But as I said in one of my previous postings, I still have the AKGs, and I'll continue to make use of them for the foreseeable future. It is clear from what I read before and after I bought them, that they do have qualities I have yet to appreciate, and they might grow on me. Maybe one day I'll get it!

post #27 of 32
Quote:
 My use of "full rounded" was meant to describe a sound with more depth, and which conveys more excitement and energy, but still detailed.
Quote:
 there has been a depth to the music which is anything but clinical. Sometimes it’s power or impact which does it, and sometimes it’s is subtlety and beauty.
Quote:
 Popping on the AKGs at home certainly showed the contrast in clarity and detail, but some of the excitement was missing for me. Switching over to the SR80's added that element back.

 

Ok, so instead of asking what is depth in context of headphones, excitement, energy, subtlety, beauty, etc., could you precisely enumerate what exactly is it that the SR80s do better than the AKG 701s?

 

My take on the issue is as I've stated, it's not that the SR80s do anything particularly better than the AKG701s, but that their flaws might make them sound subjectively better than a technically better headphone.  For instance, excitement and energy might refer to boosted highs & mid bass (the V shaped EQ curve), and as I said earlier "I think that's EXACTLY what gives the cheaper headphones a "fuller sound" than better transducer.  I think actually it's how quick the transducer is;  what's shown in waterfall plots.  Like that lingering of sound..."  How fast it can start/stop producing sound  Well or maybe it's in the frequency response...  Or both.

 

But I've noticed the same effect with speakers too, as speakers get better quality, often sounds become 'smaller' and better defined, where as lower quality and lower definition transducers appear to sound 'fatter' and rounder.  Hell, tubes vs SS can get you that 'roundness' of sound too.  I think it's actually distortion and actually time domain, how fast the transducer can stop and start playing a sound.  Seems to make sense, and thinking about it, would seem to be what I hear when comparing the SR80 to the Q701.  To me, the Q701 is technically superior in this respect (more detailed, better resolution), but the SR80 might still potentially sound subjectively better (sounds 'bigger').  As I also stated, the 100$ Sony V6s are less detailed, lesser resolution than the AKG Q701s, but they also would fall in the same mold as the SR80s; being more 'fun' and 'bigger' sounding, less transparent than the Q701...  So I don't think it's something the Q701 do inherently bad, just that we might prefer worse transducers in some case!

 

Or, going back to my question; a better way to phrase it, if you were to compare the K701 to the SR80 objectively, without using any subjectivity, what is it that they do better in terms of sound reproduction?  I'm really curious now as to know whether the AKGs are lacking in a key component of being a good transducer; this key component being better reproduced by the Grados SR80, of if it's simply an entirely subjective element which might make one prefer the Grados over the AKGs. 

 

Hell, thinking about it, imaging has a lot to do with this...  Take just a voice in the center.  Worse speakers will have sounds seem 'wider', where better speakers will have sounds that snap into place, and become more precise and less 'wide' at the same time.  Which again, will make a worse speaker's sound seem 'bigger'.  I attributed this to the term "full rounded" and clearly noticed it with SR80 vs Q701.  On the Q701, everything is tight, detailed, precise...  On the SR80, everything seems more 'loose', blurred, 'wide'; bigger.  On Q701, it's like you hear how it's supposed to be, while on SR80, it sounds different, bigger, less detailed in many ways, which might very well explain why they sound different...  Objectively, it's clear which is better, IMHO, but subjectively, it's an entirely different matter. 

 

Ok I think I'm done on this matter lol   think I managed to solve this puzzle  ;)   I think yeah it's simply what some refer to as clinical or analytical... In fact, it's technically superior, which might not be what many consider to be (subjectively) better & more enjoyable.  All this rambling for this simple conclusion! haha


Edited by GirgleMirt - 1/18/14 at 7:21am
post #28 of 32

Sounds like someone is going to get a new Grado   :smile:

post #29 of 32
Thread Starter 

You're right, Mr Whirlwind.... they're on their way to me as I write!

 

I went for the SR225i's and may consider moving upwards to 325is or even RS2 later in the year. For the time being I'll sit back and enjoy.

 

Thanks for everyone who contributed to this thread. I hope it has been of some use, although clearly we all see things from slightly or vastly different perspectives. I'm happy with where I ended up.

post #30 of 32

Congrats, I think you are really going to enjoy them.

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