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Over-Ear item created by sluker, May 6, 2010
Pros - Clarity, dynamics and response are terrific
Cons - The adjustable headband construction is poor and comfort level can be better
I know these cans get a bad rap in certain areas but that's dependent on the listener and gear they use with it. When burned in and driven properly they are a great set of reference headphones. Emphasis on reference. They are exactly what they are meant to be and deliver great presence. I'm not a fan of over-driven bass which was I huge reason I bought these. They aren't lacking at all in this area as many reviewers claim, yet most likely under-driven and hence the reason some feel this way. When pair with a good amp, especially a tube headphone amp that can match the impedance they a deliver strong responsive bass that's not over produced. I'm a big jazz fan and Jaco comes through clean and rich, same goes for Entwistle, Jack Bruce, et al. My taste in music covers several genres including jazz, classic rock, bluegrass, folk, etc... and these cans perform well across the board. There is no artificial sound in the mids at all as some feel, they are true and direct. For those wanting a clean, flat, true reference sound that can't afford top tier, these are the cans for you.
Pros - soundstage, flat response, comfortable
Cons - hard to drive, not portable
Why do I like these? They are comfortable (compared to M50s IMO), they have really big sounstage and they really flat frequency response which I really like. They also come with nice stand that will keep your headphones "stored" nicely. Build quality is pretty good, but these aren't really ment to be travelled with. They are really big and can't fold at all + they also don't come with any kind of box/pouch, so these are really ment to be used at home. Another reason for that is power; they need quite some juice to sound good. They will reach some volume even with phone, but it won't sound very good. They work with Focusrite scarlett 2i4's amp pretty good, but I'm sure they will sound even better with nice amplifier. They are also open, so you don't want to take them to a train or something.
I would recomend these for home use with some kind of amp for music listening and mixing (why I like them), but wouldn't use them in public since they obviously don't isolate very well. Iverall, really nice headphones I would recommend to a friend (unless he wants to use them on a go).
Pros - Detail, Soundstage.
Cons - thin, bumps on leather headband.
The AKG K 701 Studio Reference is one of AKG's, or Akustische und Kino-Geräte's many succesfull headphones. This model in particular, is a full size studio headphone, with an open ended design. These headphones, aside from their physical appeal in design and comfort, have clean and flat sound that is appreciated by most listeners.
The overal tonality of the headphone, besides its noted detail and depth, is flat and balanced. A flat frequency response is great for the average audiophile, but for the more average consumer, a little boring. They are also notoriously difficult to drive, and are very detailed. The sound is slightly warm, compared to the average headphone as well.
The highs on the AKG K 701's are very detailed. The highs are very percise and clear without being harsh or grating on the ears. The highs are only augmented by the soundstage.
The mids on the 701's are slightly off. They sound thin compared to most other headphones of their level, despite the amazing detail that they contain. The thinness may be attributed to the slight bump that is shown on the frequency response chart of the 701's.
The bass on the 701's is very tight. It is controled, precise and have deep extention. The only thing lacking on the bass is it's impact. The bass also has great soundstage, which makes it great for movies.
As expected out of a headphone in the $300 class, the comfort is decent. The replacable earpads are soft and comfortable, and the suspention design of the headband makes them customizable to every head. The headband is leather however, and has been noted to be uncomfortable at first.
At around $350, the AKG K 701 is a decent buy for the money. Its wide soundstage and astounting detail at its price make it a contender for as a great headphone. However, the thinness of the mids brings it down.
Pros - They are great for some genres of music
Cons - They are not great for some genres of music
AKG k701 Headphones A Ten Year Review Retrospective
Review by Redcarmoose 01-14-16
A revolutionary flat wire voice coil optimizes the "coil fill factor," improving efficiency and enhancing HF accuracy
A two-layer diaphragm with AKG's patented Varimotion design virtually eliminates distortion and delivers exceptional imaging.
The diaphragm's thickness varies from 80 µm in the center zone to provide virtually pistonic motion for well-balanced HF response to 40 µm at the perimeter for high elasticity to accommodate the increased excursion required for accurate mid-range and LF reproduction.
A high-performance neodymium magnet structure complements the flat wire voice coil for frequency response of 10 Hz to 39.8 kHz
A 10 ft bi-wired oxygen-free (99.99% OFC) captive copper cable optimizes channel separation and reproduction quality
Manufactured in the past in Austria, now in China.
* Packaged Quantity
* Headphones Form Factor
* Headphones Technology
* Sound Output Mode
* Frequency Response
to 39.8 kHz
* Magnet Material
* Included Accessories
6.3 mm (1/4") stereo adapter
This is here so you can read a paragraph and move on to another review.
AKG k701 headphones are both loved and hated at Head-Fi. They offer a super big head-stage and do acoustic guitar and vocals in a sublime fashion. They are enjoyed by folks into Classical Music and Opera. They seem to be missing some of the bass energy needed for Pop or Rock. At any extent they are notoriously hard to drive, in consequence many noobs not getting a clue as to what the k701s truly are and what they are not. One key is using amplifier volume to change and control the personality of the individual listening experience. There is no other headphone whose personality can be changed more or altered by select use of specific volume levels in regard to the target mood of the music.
In brief, the personality of this particular headphone is very dependent on chosen volume levels.
A Review AKG k701 Headphones
A Little History:
AKG sold their flagship K1000 headphones starting in 1989. Truly revolutionary, they were actually ear speakers which had movable or (angle adjustable) transducers angled towards the listeners ears at an area a couple inches in front. They offered the complete opposite of headphone cup-color or resonance as you can see by the picture they were just drivers hanging in the air. Their claim to fame is that they just don't have a cup chamber to hold standing sound waves to reverberate and tone the sound response. No solid material to gain and hold sonic resonance or echo. No worry about air port flow or even end weight issues. The K1000s could fully fold which meant that they could be perfectly parallel to your ears or folded out in front. So your speakers (virtual) were in front or at both sides of your ears. The whole idea was to get the sound to become more laid back. The AKG designers were actually trying to get away from the intense aggressive sound of headphones and tried to get relaxed speaker in a room vibe. Still at high volumes our k701s do become aggressive and intense for headphones but mostly due to the treble personality. At lower volumes they can actually start to replicate that laid back feeling of their older brother the K1000s. Funny though most don't really think about how much volume level adjustment effects the personal character of the k701s. They are always providing the same response at different volumes to a point, but the over all effect is completely different. You have an almost ambient room response style at lower volumes and a bright intense listening experience at high volume.
My experience with the K1000s was that they were lightning fast and are able to handle music changes in milliseconds. Another wild thing was for the first time (that I can recall) headphones were now authentically presenting a musical experience as you were in a room facing two forward toed-in loudspeakers. The difference was when you moved your head the speakers moved along too, always keeping you in the sweet spot.
The Novelty Factor:
Hearing the K1000s driven by a powerful amp allows the headphone listener to achieve a unique, almost home speaker headphone experience. The other novelty factor was they were $1200, a bold new price level for non-electrostatic headphones in 1989. Also many buyers found that they needed a new amp too.
I heard them out of a big overpowered tube amp and thought they were interesting but thought they didn't have enough bass for my liking. Still I wish I could have spent a day with them as to spend an hour was not enough time to get a grip on really what they were about.
If folks say the k701s are revealing of source and amp, then the K1000s are revealing to a fault. In fact they are. Every small sonic detail in the recording could be heard along with the complete character of your amp. The drivers were on hinges so you could tilt them different slight directions which would change sound-stage and tone a little. The clue as to why I'm bringing up the AKG K1000s is they are the flagship older brother before our beloved k701s introduced in 2006, exactly 10 years ago. There is an understanding that we would not have the character of the k701s without the first introduction and technology developed for the 1989 K1000s.
If the K1000s were cold, the k701s were warmer, which they actually laughably are to some extent. If the K1000s had very little bass, the k701s had more. Still the k701s are more easy to drive and were introduced with a second generation dual layer driver technology. In short the driver has two materials which allows it to move one way in the center and another way towards the edge area.
Neither headphone keeps the music in as they are both open back with the K1000s being the worlds first fully open front dynamic driver ear-speaker (that I know of).The idea is there is also no cup area between your ears and the driver. Sony has also done some play with this technology as seen in the openness of both some past and current flagship designs.
I was able to spend a solid year with the k701s before finally getting a chance to hear the legendary K1000s . On another level the flagship k701s were much more affordable and remain today as one of the few flagship headphones you can buy for $250. The AKG K1000 retailed for $1200 and they made 12,000 by most estimates here.
I find I like the character of the k701s better. Drums are not so tizzy, and there seems to be a slight generation of cohesiveness obtained by the k701s. Still if your not used to such large sound-stage the k701s can be a bewildering experience on first listen. Due to the open-back design the cymbal splashes and drums end up being way, way outside in the mix. The difference is maybe comparable to seeing a landscape painting on the wall in a home, then seeing a real edge of the mountain landscape. The musical information can be so spread out that it takes a while to get used to understanding it. Remember too, your going to have basically three styles of listeners, one likes closed small sound-stage, one likes middle size, and one loves big sound stages, myself being number three. The entertaining aspect here is that folks who like narrow sound stages will say the open ones are unnatural. The open-folks call the closed sound stage boring and congested. If anything these conceptualizations just go on to show how this headphone business is personal to a fault. Normally the listener and his audio history are the factors which give him or her the clues as to what audio replay is right or wrong. There are rules here, but you know what they say about rules?
Build Quality-Fit And Finish:
So let's start with our construction here. We have small elastic threads or strings which spring load the headband onto our head. Amazingly as the headphones age the springs get worn but for many end up being better when weaker, my experience too. Many have had issues with the bumps on the downward facing area of the headband. Again though with short hair they never bothered me. New models of this style of AKG build have removed the bumps all-together! The headphones only weight 8oz so they are more low-weight than they look. One plus-factor is that we have the cups completely surround the ears with-out touching. For a full-size around ear design I have also found ear comfort to be supreme and one of my most easy to wear headphones.
Do They Last?
They really last as I purchased a pair in 2007 and another backup pair in 2009, both which have held-up without issue. The pads which are a light gray cloth can discolor to a slight yellow with time and extended wear. The ear pads can be removed but I have never tried to wash them with soap and water. If removed there are some models with two pieces of thin foam between the driver and the thin ear cup cloth and another design with only one piece. Taking the foam out and attempting to listen really shows how delicate these elements go to change the overall sound signature, being way too treble like and thin with the foam removed. Overall the cups are made with a hard plastic held together buy large hoop rings which go over your head. The outside area of the cups are completely coated with air-hole panels. There is a solid 16th of an inch thick real leather headband with small "bumps" across the top facing down. I assume the ring wire holds the right signal cord wire as our cord enters the left cup only. There is truly a simplicity of design at work here. Nothing to scratch or bend, nothing to flake-off or change over time.
The cords are non-removable and enter the headphones at the driver side of the left cup. The plug end is a full size gold-plated plug but comes with a mini-jack adapter. Because I use the headphones 100% of the time at home, a full size plug-end is a joy. There have been tales of the newer Harmon made China k701s having a slight squeaky or creaky sound when moving slightly on your head? Both my pairs are early Austria made and don't have that issue. Many members have taken the plunge and gone to take apart their k701s and remove a small piece of tape from inside the driver units which results in a dramatic bass improvement. More on the bass in the sound quality section below. Check out the bass-port modification threads here if interested.
Many have an issue with the white color. I think at the time they did look vary different due to the color and headphone size. They are fairly large headphones despite the great low weight. Much of this cup and transducer size is imperative to getting the sound they achieve. The old saying "They look different because they are different" could not be more true than right here.
A surprise for many is how much small adjustments (up-down or forward and back) of the drivers in relation to your center ear hole can change the sound. I say this because most people never give it a second thought. Most just let the headphones center when put on and fail to experiment with any adjustments after. In whole, the headphones do reach a perfect place with very little fuss, moments after putting them on. The design here is revolutionary in allowing a device to almost fit itself to anyone's head, without the use of an uncomfortable clamping force.
Many believe due to our physical ear and head-shape characteristic, members hear every model of headphone in a different way with a slightly different sound quality response. The headphones really self-adjust every time you put them on with a slight angle of the divers facing slightly back-facing due to a thicker pad in back of your ear. You could also reverse the pads to have the drivers face slightly away and forward, also many members have further covered the front of the driver with felt or more foam, in an attempt to boost the lower mids and bass. Others switch the right and left cables and flip the headphone around to have the thick part of the pads angle the driver away from your ear. All this I guess is an attempt at recoiling from the direct treble response as you find many are not satisfied using EQ as a daily tool to change a headphones sonic signature. Due to the headphones being an open-air style, you never read of anyone attempting to change the non air-tight pad to ear junction with the cloth pads. It seems here that no effect is reached by attempting to change ear pad material. Though it is a good point to note that I have read about slightly different foam used for the ear pads, after studying the k701 history here at Head-Fi. Every variation of the foam is of a harder and non-moving style which also does not seem to compress to a different shape over prolonged time and use. What I'm saying here is the pads just don't wear out or need replacing like you have with many headphones today. The cloth also stays in great shape despite a slight color change.
My review here is fully based on stock units. One pair, an early pair and one pair a latter pair with one less headband bump and the AKG silver button on top rather on bottom. Even though both my two pairs of headphones were made at different times, both pairs sound exactly the same.
If you get a new pair of k701s you may want to burn them in? I seemed to notice a slight increase in bass and bass detail after 200 hours. Some folks think they need 400-700 hours of burn in. When they first came out, you had a lot of reviews calling them pure and flat responding. Now the attitude is they do have a color. This is a character which I feel is just as much from the missing lower bass and lower mid-range.
For many though there is not a headphone in history which sounds like the k701. Some say you have to get used to it, some say the prior is complete nonsense? One thing for sure, they are a different animal than most roaming the fields of Head-Fi.
Maybe the single stand-out AKG trait is the slight mid peak notable on the graph here?
If anything this is maybe what gives our headphones here their unique character?
Viewing a graph of the frequency response is actually a really easy way to understand and confirm what your hearing. They are definitely on the thin side, but at times the speed they react at and the detail combined with the staggering head-stage transcends all of it taking you to an audio nirvana of sorts. Your maybe the most happy by simply choosing your music. Any Vangelis is sublime, any movie soundtrack, Classical and a good portion of Jazz is rendered perfect. On a song like "Come Together" by The Beatles on Abby Road you have a heavy pronounced bass emphasis, and the AKGs actually do the song well. Your never going to think you need more bass for that song, but most other pop or rock songs are going to get to a place where they may sound too thin. Highly thin mastered and brick-walled modern day remasters are going to be shown for what they are. The k701s are an audio microscope revealing the character of each of your pieces of equipment as well as the source material. Still their perfect transparency is going to allow you to hear the vocals in rare form. Giant vocals with effects like you have from Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance are going to be amazing. String instruments like violin washes in soundtracks are both extended far out in the stage as well as detailed and fast to change with no lingering harmonics to get in the way. You have the best of an open back headphone experience. Remember too, other folks in your listening space can also experience the music with open back headphones. They really fail to keep the music in.
Still even with these lists of accolades there is a ball of confusion surrounding the k701s. Many think they sound fake, unreal or plasticky? Many don't enjoy the lack of bass listening to rock music or metal genres. Combine that fact with the realization that few amps can really drive the k701s right. In my humble opinion that seems to be the key to everything here. The sound in relation to amping. Much of this is also dependent on the level of volume desired. So let's start with a sonic artifact of the k701s being amped wrong. They emit a bass response which is surprising to noobs. The bass is there but becomes almost crumbly in texture. The best example of this sound recorded is in the very first part of "Good Times Roll" off The Cars first record released June 6th, 1978. In the first couple of seconds you hear a synth drum introduction but just as the song really begins you hear where they maxed the volume level of the synth drums and they become thin and break apart with distortion. This single recorded tone of the bass seems to be the best recorded sound to try and explain when the k701s are not responding right due to amping. Most of course think their amps are powerful enough and have always had enough power, so it just could not be the amps falt, they wrongly guess? These are just bad headphones they think.
So with the correct signal they scale. They will scale to a point where each instrument has it's own place in the mix. Bells have texture, cymbals have size and decay. Orchestra because it is recorded on large sound stages shows the reality of the recording arena which is giant. ( Maybe the reason Classical lovers like them?) Getting a ton of endless power like from the W5 LE 300b tube amp takes them almost to a perfect place. Folks who recommend solid state like the Schiit Asgard 2 are only getting to 50% of the headphones true potential as a sound transducer and have maybe never heard the k701s out of a powerful tube amp. Hence maybe one of our biggest problems here. Tubes can warm up a little of the sterility here, but most tube amps just don't have the dampening factors or balls to wake the k701s up from their sleep. Best of all though a powerful amp gets rid of all of our bass problems. Gone is any of the crumbly bass with a powerful correct amp. How power hungry are they? Let me put it this way. In truth even a Schiit Asgard 2 is not up to powering them fully. At loud volumes you can get to 80% of full volume before the AKG strut their stuff and start to fail even a Schiit Asgard 2! Yep! They are some of the most power hungry headphones you can buy, period.
We have actually had members who purchased the k701s just for movies. When you contemplate what demands movies make for headphones the conclusions become obvious. Movies are dialog and sound effects at times. The k701s do vocals perfect and the ambiance recording is placed in an almost surround sound style. Amazingly the bass in movies gets registered in it's own private area in the mix, complete with detail, texture and color. The speed at which they react to sonic changes and U turns doesn't hurt matters either. The fact that they are nice to wear for long periods helps too. The best part of the movie experience is that our sounds are taking place outside our heads. Place your fingers four inches away from your ears, that is where the action is going on. Some headphones actually place the head-stage inside between your ears, almost like a mono recording. Here we are at the limits of stereo, so movie listeners love them.
I would say the k701s can and do respond well to the slight warm-up a vinyl turntable can affect onto sound signature. We are actually looking to exploit any harmonic complexity found. The vinyl warmth is accentuated in the best of form.
Digital With Tubes:
They also seem to like over-sampling in the DAC department. Again any thing we can feed them with some warm harmonic complexity they are game for. Solid-state is a simple and inexpensive way to power the k701s, though I think something like the Eddie Current Zana Deux S or Woo Audio 5 tube amps really take the AKG k701s to a much better place, overcoming the sterility and warming up the cold they often exude. I would love to find out how they would respond to something like the solid-state Eddie Current Black Widow? There is a chance something like the Black Widow could change the k701s character for the better?
Still, amazingly there are small less powerful portable amps which can just get to the level needed to enjoy the k701s. Listening to Led Zeppelin 24/96 remaster of Stairway To Heaven with the JDS Labs c420 running in non-high-output mode with bass turned to flat. An amp like the c420 can be placed at full volume and with it's output on the cleaner low-level and reach an area of volume at max just enough to work. So getting an uber-powerful amp is not always mandatory but seems to fix much of the trouble areas which come into play trying to get the most out of the k701 headphone.
To sum-up our small review here:
The k701s still offer a value and unique sound ten years later. AKG was purchased by Harman International and had moved manufacturing to China but kept the quality and sound signature the same. AKG has also released many new models of the same basic design improving on bass and middle lower bass response which could possibly make the k701s obsolete in today's market place. The sound signature still offers world class vocals and orchestra renditions and ends up being many a members favorite headphone due to it's abilities and sonic style. At times I feel they are best singing both male and female vocals. Other times their ability to create a convincing orchestra with both tone and spatial clues, is what they are best at?
Getting the amping right is critical to finding this beast's true character and value?
Experimenting with volume is one of the key factors with understanding this special headphone. There is a different musical mood at low volume, just think of the AKG K1000 looking for that laid back sound. Attempting high volumes does work with the right music and amplifier but risks walking that thin narrow line between success and failure in musical emotion.
Cheapest Past Flagship Headphone For Sale Ever
Any money you save may as well get spent on amplification
The Signature Excels At Some Genres
The Headphones Do Movies Perfect With The Right Amplification
First off this is not a normal review where I have only played a couple of albums. In the last nine years I have played 1000s of albums with the k701s. Listed below are just a suggestion of a couple albums which seem to bring out the best in these headphones. They should not be a members single headphone unless they strictly listen to New Age, Classical and Opera music genres.
As with all you ever read at Head-Fi, this is just some stranger's personal results and findings. Your results may vary, you may find you want another sound signature. Headphones are a very personal experience and depend on music genre taste and upstream equipment requirements. Finally your listening volume levels may determine if you like these headphones or not.
Pros - Akg k701 mod bass - definition, dynamics, timbre, bass, soundstage
Cons - Akg k 701 mod bass - still does not forgive the bad recordings
I bought these headphones love / hate with the taste of the challenge.
I learned that in Germany have discovered a reversible change to free the low and I started the monkey.
I got them used to not having to worry about the warranty and I removed the lock reflex back and added the balanced connector.
In this configuration they are simply delicious, adding but not distorting the bottom.
The midrange is high have not suffered in the least.
Later, having noticed the ridiculous amount of copper used for wiring the I also rewired and K701 have taken flight!
A capacity of resolution of detail that I remembered only by the Stax Lambda Pro, but with a low that you could not just ask.
They have become hypnotic, when I get home I can not wait to rediscover some records have not heard for a while.
ho comprato queste Cuffie amate/odiate con il sapore della sfida.
Ho saputo che in Germania hanno scoperto una modifica reversibile per liberare il basso e mi è partita la scimmia.
Le ho prese usate per non dovermi preoccupare della garanzia e ho asportato il blocco del reflex posteriore e aggiunto il connettore bilanciato.
In questa configurazione sono semplicemente deliziose, aggiungendo ma non stravolgendo il basso.
La gamma media è alta non ne hanno sofferto minimamente.
In seguito, avendo notato la ridicola quantità di rame utilizzato per il cablaggio le ho anche ricablate e le k701 hanno preso il volo!
Una capacità di risoluzione del dettaglio che mi ricordavo solo dalle Stax Lambda Pro, ma con un basso che proprio non gli si poteva chiedere.
Sono diventate ipnotiche, quando torno a casa non vedo l'ora di riscoprire qualche disco che non sentivo da un pò.
Pros - clear, flat, nice stereo imaging, sits well on the head
Cons - not sure
The best phones I've tried so far. I tried some well-burnt-in beyerdynamic and others in similar price range in a store, and I have owned the 601 before.
I also own closed cans, e.g. the K271, and before that, several others further down the price range.
The previously owned 601 was my first open system pair, it took some getting used to coming from cans - but I quicky noticed the advantages especially for certain types of music, e.g. the actually open sound vs. canned.
Sits well on the head due to clever adjustment mechanism.
I use these mostly for classical music, jazz, blues, some rock - but only stuff done in good studios by people who know their stuff.
Music with a lot of acoustic instruments (guitar, A-bass, percussion). Some electronic music in the vein of Vangelis or more modern but without boom boom boom can also sound very nice.
This is where these phones shine: Recordings with a lot of details to be heard, especially stereo-wise.
These are the clearest sounding, non-adulterating phones I have had so far. And none have sit so well on my somewhat big head as the K701/2 and 601.
Since I've read some funny reviews I can't resist to comment on some things...
Those are *not* phones for:
- badly mixed metal / punk albums by half deaf studio "engineers" or / and mixed with low-end gear. Seriously, on some CDs you hear "high" frequency noise that should not be there indicating deaf personnel... yeah, even Dream Theater, not quite a garage band, but it's worse with lesser known bands.
I.e., these phones enable you to hear "everything", and the truth may not be pleasant.
This is not genre snobbery, I own several dozens of metal albums from 80's to prog to death.
- some "loads of digital synth & effetcs" music - can be quite harsh at the high end, but this is probably not these phones' fault, but because it's mixed that way
- people who are used to bass-exaggerating phones and albums mixed with low-end gear of the average target audience in mind
- mp3 files: may give you ear fatigue quickly, even ones with acceptable bitrate (>=256 fixed) where you can't quite detect artifacts' presence, still quicker fatiguing than original wav. (yah yah, this is an impression, not scientifically tested)
- Internet radio: not only is this often rather low bit rate, but I sometimes have the impression that they send stuff that was converted between different lossy formats, ugh (it's 5 years since I tried to listen to internet radio with the K601 IIRC, though)
So, the ear fatigue mentioned by some may well be a problem of their source material.
Of course, these phones, as they are open system and thus not shielding you from external sound sources like closed type on low volume, and the nice sound stage, may tempt you to crank up the volume while not really noticing it is too loud - which will certainly increase the chance of ear fatigue.
There are also people who get that from any headphones (try whether a crossfeed amp helps)
And now the obligatory: excuse my clumsy English
Pros - Depth, clarity, wide stereo image
Cons - None that I can think of
I just thought I'd write up a review on these headphones. They did a bit getting used to, because the reproduction of sound is so clear and even. Like getting used to a pair of studio monitors after listening to hifi speakers. These are excellent for mixing, and mastering, and use these to check what I've done with my main Genelec monitors in my studio. I can virtually hear each, even slight turn of a knob, let's say an EQ, or changing the ratio and threshold of a compressor. AKG doesn't offer us hyped up sound, it's all up to the source. I plug these straight into my studio interface. I also don't get the lack of bass, for me, the bass response is flat as it is supposed to be. And I've played bass through zillions of gigs for 15 years!
Pros - Comfort
Cons - Everything else especially the sound
This is stylish headphone ever made, elegant and comfort. Thousands of reviews are are out there and it could not be wrong but...every time I put them over my ears, I had to tolerate the sound. It is very comfortable to wear. The sound is terrible. There is this echo from everywhere which jammed not only the bass and middle band but also diminishes upper end. The only explanation will be my ears are too small for them.
Pros - Comfortable, detailed, cool-looking, superb imaging and sense of openess
Cons - Big bulky cord that does not detach. Limited bass response, oddly boring despite some good qualities.
The K701 causes mental conflict. On one hand, I want to rate it one-star for disappointing me so much. I've had two pairs of 701s for some time, and in the process they have survived many other headphones that I grew bored of—notably, a few Sennheiser and Grado models. The problem is that as of 2013, the competition is just too stiff. I'm genuinely interested in any headphone that can do a good job hooked directly to my phone, because in the end it's just frikkin' awesome to have amazing fidelity pumping through the noggin while standing in line at the bank.
Here's the thing about the K701, a few days ago I wore them to a party. The plug was connected to pocket lint—the AKGs were just a fashion accessory. Well, I got four separate compliments, and thats four more compliments than I usually get on my attire, at any party. So, they've got that goin' for 'em. Back at home, on a good amp, the K701s can do their thing much more effectively. But, right next to them on my desk is a pair of Monster Inspire, and a pair of Denon AH-D600. Both sets of cans spank the poor K701s, I hate to say it but they are now relegated to the role of "fashion accessory."
I paid a very low price for my K701s, back in 2009. The current price for a used pair of 701 cans is higher than what I paid new. At the current price, I'd be a bit upset if I bought them, not knowing what to expect. If I was specifically looking for hyper-detailed open-air headphones with restrained bass response, then I'd probably buy the K701s again.
Update - I just had and "experience" while comparing the K701, the Monster Inspire and the Denon AH-D600. I put on the K701s and cued up some Com Truise. I forgot which headphones I was wearing rather quickly. Then a bass sequence came on, and I was taken aback. I wondered what was wrong. Oops, I forgot I was wearing the K701s, but not in a good sense. Basically, I thought I was listening to the D600s, until the bass came in. Pragmatically speaking, the K701 just got its butt kicked.
Update two - I picked up a pair of Pioneer SE-A1000 for $46. AKG should be ashamed of themselves, the K701 is really overpriced for what it offers.
Pros - Wide soundstage, slightly forward midrange, decent bass extension, fairly detailed, airy presentation, clear sound, comfortable
Cons - Lacks bass impact, slight metallic sound, soundstage lacks depth, center imaging is a bit devoid
First and foremost, this is a review for the newer K 701 with 8 bumps on the headband (see photo below). The serial number is: 84XXX. Reviewers often disregard this statement, but from what I've learned about the K 701, it has gone through a few revisions and those revisions do affect the sound somewhat.
I ordered my pair from Headphones.com, which is an authorised retailer for AKG products.
I did a video review on YouTube if you are interested in a visual/audio review. The content of this written review is much more in-depth on the other hand and it contains information not mentioned in the video review.
What's in the Package?
I did an unboxing video on YouTube if you are interested in a complete unboxing.
Otherwise, the K 701's package comes with:
AKG K 701
6.3 mm to 3.5 mm gold-plated adaptor
Plastic/foam headphone display stand
Overall, there's not much in the package, but the headphone stand is a nice addition for those of you who don't own a stand (photos below). It's not significant, but I thought it was neat that the K 701's cardboard box is actually well-presented.
Of course the usual "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" statement is true, but I really like the overall look and design of the K 701. The brown/grey leather headband combined with the silver, white, and grey colour scheme looks quite attractive and unique to me (see photos below).
The lack of a removable cable might be a bummer to some since the cable can get damaged over time and it won't be easy to fix.
The elastic material used for the suspension headband is also a concern to me since I feel that it can become loose over time.
The whole headphone has a kind of plastic feel to it, so I don't expect these to "wow" anyone in terms of raw build quality.
There is no adjustable headband, so the auto-adjusting headband is a one-size-fits-al.
The earcups can barely swivel so there is little wiggle room for adjustment.
The connector at the end of the cable is huge, and much larger with the 3.5 mm adaptor used (see photos below).
It does feel sturdy in my hands despite the all-plastic build quality.
Supposedly the headband arcs are indestructible, but I do have to admit that they are very sturdy-feeling.
The pads are very large and fairly deep, so they will likely accomodate all ear sizes.
The pads are contoured such that they are thicker towards the back of the head and thinner towards the front.
The earpads are removable and simple to install
The cable is pretty substantially thick and it is long (3 m or 9 ft)
Despite all the cons, the K 701 feels pretty sturdy and solid as a whole. They definitely aren't the kind of headphones I would just throw in a backpack, but they feel fine for leaving around in the house. None of the cons are a major deal-breaker for me.
With the 8-bump headband, I don't find the headband to be a problem on my head. On the other hand, I do find the clamping force to be a bit too much so I placed a tissue box between the K 701's earcups to decrease the clamping force. It took me a while to get that fixed since the indestructible headband arcs are very stiff and non-compliant. Once I got it to work though, I can wear the K 701s for hours on-end without a problem. One thing that bugs me about the earpads is that they are velour, and when your ears/head get hot and sweaty, the velour gladly absorbs it. Consequently the pads have a smell to them just like any other velour pad I've tried. On a whole though, I find velour earpads to be more breathable and thus more comfortable to wear on hot summer days like it has been the past few days.
The K 701 has an interesting sound that isn't for everyone. I did let them break-in for ~200 hours while playing video games (Assassin's Creed III in particular), and probably triple that amount while listening to them over the last few months. At first the treble was really bright and grating to my ears, but after all this time, they seem to have calmed down. Whether it's driver break-in, earpad break-in, cable break-in, or my brain getting used to the sound, something did change.
The bass is tight with decent, but not great, extension and It lacks punch. Drum pedals lack the gut-hitting thump for example.
The midrange is slightly warm and they have a slightly forward presence that makes them engaging. I think the midrange is the strongest aspect of the K 701 despite having a slight metallic tone. By metallic I mean the upper-midrange's timbre sounds off to me. The upper-midrange doesn't quite sound realistic, but it still sound good to me. It's hard for me to describe, honestly, hahaha. Most music genres that feature real instruments, and especially female vocals, will sound pretty good with the K 701. Despite the bass response of the K 701, I actually enjoy listening to some electronic music because the midrange has an engaging quality to it.
The treble has good extension but there does seem to be a slight emphasis on the frequency regions corresponding to where snare drums and hi-hat cymbals are, so the K 701 might be fatiguing to some. The K 701 is not sibilant though. Perhaps this area of emphasis is responsible for the slight metallic timbre of the midrange.
The soundstage of the K 701 is very wide, but not very deep.
Unfortunately because of this fairly linear soundstage, instruments don't quite sound very well-placed in my head even with binaural recordings. Relating to this imaging, the sounds seem to very stereo-like; as in the left and right channels have an emphasis and consequently leave the center imaging a bit lacking.
Overall I would say the K 701's sound is very good, but it does have its downfalls. The odd imaging, soundstage, and slight metallic sound are my only real complaints about the K 701, but they are quite tolerable if you're just sitting back and listening to the music. Apart from the metallic sound, the K 701 does has a very clear sound without any veiling and it does has an airy presentation that provides great instrument separation allowing instruments to be clearly identified.
I did most of my testing with my main desktop rig:
MacBook Pro Retina Display
CD-quality EAC-ripped albums and HD tracks
Audirvana Plus music player
I do have an iPhone 4S and despite numerous people claiming you NEED to have an external amplifier, the K 701 actually sounded pretty good straight out of it. The treble seems to get messier and grainy, and the bass does sound a bit wooly, but that is the nature of the iPhone itself since I heard similar results with my V-MODA Crossfade M-100.
I also have a JDS Labs C5 and since its sound quality is similar to that of the O2, but with a narrower soundstage, it actually pairs pretty well with the K 701 despite it being a tad bit brighter in comparison to the O2. The center imaging becomes a bit more natural-sounding to me as if a crossfeed feature has been turned on, and switching on the C5's bass boost makes the K 701 a really great-sounding headphone for movie watching. The bass boost also makes the K 701 more suitable for bassier music genres and I really do like the pairing since it sounds a bit more balanced bass-wise compared to having the bass boost off.
With the FiiO E12 the bass seems to lose a bit of extension, the upper-midrange becomes even brighter/more aggressive compared to the C5, the treble becomes a bit grainier, and the soundstage seems more closed-in compared to the C5 making the center imaging a bit better at the cost of losing instrument separation (the soundstage becomes deeper than wide, which still sounds unnatural to me). The bass boost does work, but it does bleed into the midrange a bit as well. I wouldn't say the E12 is the best amp for the K 701.
For $300 I really do think the K 701 is a great headphone if you prefer to have an open and airy-sounding headphone. Just like other headphones from this era of time (Beyerdynamic DT880 and Sennheiser HD600), there is a bass roll-off. The midrange of the K 701 is its strongest aspect of the sound, despite its slight metallic colouring, because it does have some warmth, it is engaging, all while maintaining a clear, well-defined sound. The treble as a whole is fairly detailed and the emphasis on the hi-hats/snare drum area does seem a bit unnatural to me and might be fatiguing to some. I definitely think the K 701 sounds fantastic with music genres that feature real instruments, and it is acceptable with some electronic and genres that feature synthesised sounds as well.
Thank you for taking the time to read or glance over my review. I hope this review helps you in some way or another. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
Cheers, and happy listening!