"Precisely tailored response and cutting-edge design: a must for all audiophiles. These...

AKG K 601 Headphones

Average User Rating:
4/5,
  • "Precisely tailored response and cutting-edge design: a must for all audiophiles. These future-oriented, open-back dynamic headphones do not only offer good wearing comfort but also deliver an incredibly detailed, full, yet crisp sound. This is the result of a new AKG Varimotion two-layer diaphragm that ensures optimum diaphragm motion for extremely accurate highfrequency response and a powerful low end. The overall sound is uncommonly natural and open. In short, the K 601 are premium reference headphones for anyone who appreciates true high-end equipment."

Recent User Reviews

  1. asymcon
    4.5/5,
    "One step to perfection"
    Pros - Balanced sounding, flat, fast transients, higher impedance, zero ER, almost like the Perfect Headphone!
    Cons - Can't think of any...
    I was looking for something to fill in the gap between K240DF and K240 Monitor. Severely disappointed by alleged "successor", K701, I postponed purchase of K601 for many months, until I finally gave in.
    And boy I was wrong.
    In short K601 are the real successor of K701. Backwards as usual, AKG, but they did it.
    There's literally nothing in the sound that could be improved upon...not to my ears at least. That however doesn't mean it's good for every usage.
     
    Sound-wise, it's as flat as it can get. Non-saturated bass, balanced trebles and mids, just right. Perfecto.
    If you examine the frequency graph on headphone.com, you'll see there are only very few dips from 20 to 10000Hz, otherwise it's clean, almost straight line.
     
    Some reviewer hinted at "hard to like the sound". Let me explain what he/she probably meant by that.
    K601 have almost no early reflections, just as open-back headphone should, but in fact even less than average. Therefore the "meat" of the sound is missing from some recordings as headphone shell doesn't contribute to the sound at all. Tracks are usually mixed on studio monitors in well treated room, so the engineer counts on some ER to be present in playback conditions.
    That's not true for K601. Correct term to describe this effect would be using this sentence - K601 are dry sounding headphones.
     
    As for comfort, it's comparable to K240, only the ears don't sweat as much. In other words, very comfortable.
     
    Volume-wise, K601 are not the most efficient, but higher impedance helps to achieve lower currents and usually leads to lower distortion on amplifier level. Generally speaking, as long as your source is 1V RMS or above, with 15Ohm output impedance or lower, you're fine. At 1V you should be able to achieve 101dB, which is waay more than enough.
  2. caol ila
    5.0/5,
    "Monkey Bone Reference Can"
    Pros - seems custom made for the HEARO 999 headamp, a classic AKG sound in an open design, brings beat based music to life, performance beyond price
    Cons - needs more amp than price suggests, very loud music listening is likely if properly amped, you might miss some sleep at the least
    These were considered the second rate headphones just below the K701 when they first came out, and were priced considerably lower. I considered my pair almost a gift back in 2007. But the K701 got all the attention in the audiophile reviews. Well, little sister has grown up and she is strutting her stuff. Lately, I have noticed that many shops are selling the K601 at the same or higher price relative to the K701. Maybe raw emotion is selling better than analytical talent these days. Maybe the K701 has the unsurpassed musical skills of an Ella Fitzgerald, but if Xena Warrior Princess walks up on stage, you know who I will be paying attention to, even if the musical skills come in second rate. Maybe Xena would make you forget about musical skills altogether. One thing is for sure, once you get the K601 properly amped and feed it some beat based music, you will forget about analytical audiophile nitpicking minutiae and just get body slammed into the musical performance. The K601 may sit on your head, but it connects to your heart. 
     
    You will need to give these cans at least 100 hours of rather loud music to loosen up and deliver up the bass and smooth out the treble. Also, they are 120 ohms, so a low voltage device can't deliver enough current into these fairly inefficient cans. The K701 is an easier drive, but even they are considered rather demanding of an amp in order to sound their best. However, the K601 can tolerate quite a bit of power so lack of efficiency is of no concern if your amp has the drive capability.
     
    Sound from my Sony CD player headphone output is just mediocre. I own the AKG HEARO 999 Audiosphere II, and it has a very strong hardwired headphone amp. The best part is that it sounds best with classic AKG pro type headphones, and the K601 is in that camp. The midrange is glorious, but it is a bit forward of the bass and treble. The HEARO 999 seems to boost bass and treble, especially the bass, of every headphone I have driven with it. In fact, 32 ohm headphones may be overdriven before the volume pot is turned halfway to max. I typically listen to the K601 below halfway up, unless I have a very low volume recording playing, and it is the most inefficient set of cans I have ever had. Even my 600 ohm Sennheiser pro cans needed less rotation of the volume pot relative to these cans. When driven by the HEARO 999, the K601 cans are pure sonic nirvana for hard driving beat based music. These are PRaT cans for sure. However, vocal music is especially well served due to the glorious midrange. Live recording such as Fleetwood Mac's "The Dance" has all the life, edge and rawness of a live performance intact. What is surprising is that the K601 is almost a liquid and smooth set of cans when the music is that type. 
     
    For those of you who remember using Kodachrome 35mm film, the K601 would be likened to Kodachrome 64. The slower Kodachrome 25 may have been the most neutral and balanced on a sunny day when everything was perfect, but on an overcast day when everything wasn't just right, the faster 64 ASA film would give you a better look and as Paul Simon wrote in his song, "Make you think all the world's a sunny day". Well, few of my recordings are audiophile perfect and therefore I don't need a headphone made for perfect recordings. If the recording is good or bad, the K601 will let you know it, but it tries much harder than my DT880 cans to make you forget about the bad and just start grooving to what is good. It could be ABBA or Jimi Hendrix or Michael Jackson or Rammstein. If you really liked it before the K601 came along, you will LOVE it afterwards. It's sort of like a stuffed animal coming to life suddenly in front of you.
     
    I have owned at least a dozen cans in my day, Grado SR200, Sennheiser Pro, Beyer dynamic DT880, AKG 999 are some of the models. I don't care too much about absolute quality after a certain level of audiophile quality is attained. It's about how it integrates with the rest of your gear and taste in music that counts. It's about how many times you find yourself up out of your chair and moving with the music that counts, and these cans have done it more than any others. It's best not to microanalyze it and maybe just find another pair and stash them away in case the price climbs any higher. Life is too short to collect a bunch of second rate gear just for comparisons.
     
    Beware the tendency to play these cans very loud. Could you drive a Ferrari and not thrash it around a bit? These cans seem designed to listen to modern music at live concert levels. Since live concerts are a small part of our lives, that's not too much of a danger. Hopefully you will only lose a few hours of sleep after falling in love with these cans, but I find myself listening too loud too long at times.
     
    Look at all the latest audiophile gear that gets good reviews and then is forgotten about or hits the used market at bargain prices. An old Conrad-Johnson Premier One tube amp from the 80's will get sold almost as soon as it hits the used market and there will be no haggling with the seller over the price, which may be more than he paid for it years ago. It may not be the audio reviewers' latest darling amp, but insider music lovers have tagged it as a real Monkey Bone Reference, and the late Bascom King of Audio magazine, an amp designer himself, said it laid out the emotions in music like no other, in spite of what the mediocre lab tests might say. The K601 is a Monkey Bone Reference if you treat it right. The K601 walks all over higher priced cans like a Denon phono cartridge does to its higher priced competition.
     
    FWIW, I have owned a stack of C-J amps for 10 years with no intention of ever selling them. The K601 has the musical involvement of C-J gear, so if you are a C-J lover, give the K601 a try.
    paulb09 likes this.
  3. dxps26
    4.5/5,
    "AKG 601"
    Paid a small fortune to get these. went shopping for a Squeezebox, and ended up buying both. My Point Of Reference is the HD600 - post 20 hours, here are my impressions>
     
     
    Frequency Response - on par with the HD600 - the only caveat being the presentation of the bass. It seems to DOES go lower, but not as much in Quantity as the HD600 - Listening to Eric Clapton Unplugged, the Presentation is warmer on the Sennheiser, but Warmth and Extension are two Different Concepts - Some music requires Warmth, Some Music Asks for Extension. As for me, I like both flavours.
    Treble is Close to Grado levels, but far smoother and enjoyable for longer periods - Guitars are well-voiced, as are other instruments, but I now realize how special the Grados are for Rock-nothing else gets that texture out. Still, Pink Floyd and Diana Krall sound wonderful. Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (live) shows the Cans' real Chops - on the Track "Great Gig in the Sky" the spoken bits in the beginning are much more coherent, the wailing is also more...human. 
     
    The Cans are very Revealing, and will not magically add tone to recordings with lean bass and midrange. Poor records will sound bad, and nothing short of an Equalizer (or a Very Good Preamp) will do.
     
    Imaging - Beats the HD600 - the soundstage does indeed extend beyond the headphone in a smooth, sweeping arc across your ears. There is a natural depth to the Soundstage, and it is easier to place individual instruments. The HD600 does exhibit the 3-blob effect in comparison. Live Acoustic sets are a joy on this headphone - if the lack of thump does not bother you.
     
    Driving - these buggers demand power. I thought the HD600 was hard to drive - guess againPowering them with a Lovely Cube with OPA627 biased into Class A by 3.7dB, and 20dB Gain set on the switches. The HD600 is easily wrangled by this amp, But the AKG is more challenging. I do believe it is the lean Mid-bass that causes me to crank the volume up-but to its credit, the K601 never, ever shows any inclination to distort-except when severely underpowered, such as when I directly plugged it into my D2 - maximum volume was translated to a polite volume in the K601, and the bass fell apart.
     
    Bottom Line - No Power, No Go.
     
    Comfort and Build  - No sign of the Sennheiser Clamp of Death here. The automatic band is a pleasure to use, and the roomy earpads are very comfortable. A point to note -The Roomy Earpads require you to be a little careful in placing the unit over your head carefully-following Dr. Jan Meier's Advice of Low-And-Forward does enhance the Soundstage to a spacious 3D space, and affects tonality positively. On another note, the slimmer cups of the K601 (vis-a-vis the HD600) make it easier to wear in bed.
    The Phones are as light as a German Sponge Cake, and unfortunately also feel just about as delicate. The HD600 feels far more Robust, well-thought out in terms of Modular Design, best of all, built to last.
     


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