AKG Q701 Premium Class Reference Headphones, Quincy Jones Signature Line

Average User Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. demontux
    5.0/5,
    "AMAZING Headphones!!"
    Pros - detailed, very musical!, fun, great bass (punchy and accurate) amazing feel and sound signature, very good sound stage
    Cons - big, the adjustment tends to "stuck", dust magnet.
    amazing headphones, with amazing sound!
    not cheap but this is as good as it gets! can work great on the iphone, AMP tends to make the bass more full and rich, but you can run then unamp (not reaching the full potential)

    overall really amazing headphones, makes you cry when you listen to tunes. really really details and make the listening and music experience something you have never felt before
    in my country it was expenssive, but in US its very cheap over amazon ! you cant go wrong 1!!
  2. biggbenn74
    5.0/5,
    "Simply Amazing. At a Loss For Words."
    Pros - Near Perfect Sound, Stylish, Comfortable, Excellent Soundstage, You Can Hear Everything, Tremendous Value For Money.
    Cons - Lacks Bass, Not Portable At All, Big Amp is Always Required, Sound Leaks EVERYWHERE.,
    I bought these headphones as my first step up into the "Audiophile" territory. From the first minute I put these on, my eyes were opened. Sounds I had never heard before in songs just came alive. Clear, crisp sound all throughout these headphones just makes music a joy to listen to. Here is my full review.
     
    Value: 9 out of 10. The sound that the Q701's produce can easily compete against headphones 2, even 3 times their price. The fact that I snagged myself a pair for under $250 US is incredible. AKG definitely priced these headphones perfectly.
     
    Audio Quality: A perfect 10 out of 10. The lows, mids and highs all come together in an orchestra of perfection. Good music is meant to sound like what these headphones make it sound like. Just. Perfect.  You WILL need a good amp though. Also, these are not basshead type headphones. The bass might be lacking, but for the person that likes classical and jazz, you don't need a booming bass to fully appreciate the music. These headphones provide the perfect balance for such kinds of music. Well done, Quincy and AKG.
     
    Design: 9 out of 10. I got mine in Lime Green, and it definitely looks sharp. The black rings really make the green pop. The green stitching on the headband accents the black leather and black metal bands. And the green cable brings all that color into your music player or amp. They are big and bold, and I like that. 
     
    Comfort: A perfect 10 out of 10. The velour earpads form right to the side of your head, the headband automatically adjusts to your head without you having to fiddle with anything, and there is nearly no clamping pressure at all. Sometimes, I even forget I'm wearing them. They make the Sony XB500's earpads feel like spring mattresses. Sweaty spring mattresses at that. Even wearing the Q701's for 4 hours, I didn't feel any discomfort at all.
     
    Overall: A perfect 10 out of 10. If you are looking for your first big step into the headphone world, go here first. It's not even a step, it's more like a leap. But it's a leap that is so worth it. I am 100% satisfied with these headphones. AKG struck musical gold when they hopped on Q's bandwagon. This pair of headphones is really one of the all time greats. Thank you for reading.
  3. Quadpatch
    4.5/5,
    "AKG Q701 - Nice sound, just not directly from... well anything!"
    Pros - Great Detail & Clarity, Expansive Sound Stage, Neutral, Light but Strong build, Generally Comfortable (with lots of hair or a hat)
    Cons - Uncomfortable headband, Poor Without High Quality Equipment, Annoying Creaking Noises, Lack of Bass, Treble not well controlled
    Just wrote a review for these here: http://noblehifi.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/akg-q701-review.html
     
       PRESENTATION
    The Q701 is AKGs top circumaural headphone model - an open back, reference headphone endorsed by Quincy Jones. The box design and materials are rather uninspiring for a flagship model, there's not much more I can say about that so lets get it open..
     
    [​IMG]
     ​
       DESIGN
    Once passed the flimsy container things get more interesting. The coloured parts are plastic (white in this case) but they look pretty solid and nicely designed. The headband is metal, covered in leather with an embossed "Quincy Jones" logo in the middle. The easy fit comes down to some thin bits of elastic connected to the ear-cups, my main worry for this is that time would naturally destroy these as I have had things like this go on previous headphones but I don't know how strong they areThe metal arches (which carry the signal to the right diver) are described as "unbreakable", looking at all that plastic I really don't want to test that but hopefully there is some truth to it. The large black ear pads look very comfy and visually contrast nicely on the brighter coloured models.
     
    The looks in general are certainly not for everyone but I quite like them. Nothing much has changed since the K601 model design wise. By AKG's own words: The difference between the Q701 and the previous model are limited to exterior aesthetics chosen by Quincy Jones. The colour choices, name and logo branding are the only things that have been modified since the K702. Actually the K702 only adds a removable cable from the K701. The driver and general construction remain unchanged throughout the three x70x models. This could make some people feel rather bitter if they find this out after shelling out for the significantly pricier Q701. The only silver lining to this is that (unlike the K702) the actual price of the Q701 seems to fluctuate substantially - at least on the Amazon website anyway. On rare occasions it can be found even cheaper than the K702.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    The box contains two detachable cables, the headphone connection of which is proprietary which is a shame as it means replacements will need to be ordered directly from AKG. The lengths of these cables are 3m and 6m. When I first read that Iassumed they had mixed up feet with meters but no - they're humongously long ! The longer of which means you could walk around a large room whilst plugged in to a Hi-Fi. They are both 4n (99.99% pure) copper terminated in a gold plated connector. This 3.5mm connector suggests the Q701s can and should be used with various average devices and this gives off the wrong impression because they really shouldn't.

     


       COMFORT

    The comfort of the Q701 is mostly great. They are very light, they don't touch your ears, the ear cups are nice and soft, they don't make your ears hot, they don't clamp your head too hard and the headband doesn't need adjusting... 
     
    The main thing that lets it all down is the the headband's cushioning. There are small ridges on the underside of the band that contact with your head and they are pretty hard (don't cushion well at all). If you don't have a decent amount of hair to help cushion these ridges you'll probably experience some discomfort (like me). This marred an otherwise great feel to these headphones. To say it completely ruins the experience would be unfair but if there is one design aspect that should have have been improved from the previous model it was this.
     
    One other slight negative point: They tend to make creaking noises if you wear glasses and this feels like it's amplified to your ears if you move the cups slightly. I can't completely blame the headphone for this but it's something that other large headphones do not do.
     
    [​IMG]
     ​
       SONIC SIGNATURE
    Being "reference" headphones they provide a very well balanced and neutral sound - crisp, clean and revealing, the sound stage is wonderfully airy too. Although the bass it tight and detailed here for some people it can seem to lack power. I like, possibly even love, the Q701 sound signature but I also enjoy powerful low frequencies that other headphones offer which these just cannot match. I would not want to live with only these headphones for my music collection but this, probably more so than most, is a very subjective issue. What it may or may not lack in bass it certainly makes up for with a wide sound-stage and plenty articulate of detail (compared to the competition). They demand lossless or uncompressed audio and high quality equipment to drive this detail - if you plan on plugging them directly in to an unmodified portable you will get a fraction of what they excel at. One final word of warning regarding the lack of isolation: The open back design is guilty of leaking sound, both in & out, a lot. If any of these characteristics concern you and you're tempted to buy them I strongly advise you to avoid them or find a way to test them before buying.

     

       DRIVING: AMPLIFIED

    I tested these headphones almost exclusively plugged into a computer via the ​
    Yulong D100 mkII - a decent desktop USB DAC from China with a very respectable built in headphone amplifier
    . This is quite​
     capable of playing back my losslessly compressed CD quality files. The USB connection supports asynchronous transfer and I run the WASAPI driver on the Foobar software for a bit-perfect audio stream to the DAC.
     


    [​IMG]

     

       DRIVING: DIRECT (UN-AMPLIFIED)

    The small headphone plug (3.5mm) is convenient if you want to plug it into a portable device, directly in to a computer or tablet but you would be doing them a huge disservice if you do. You will be lucky to get much volume out of them and almost certainly wont get any of the detail that they are capable of. 

     

       Portables

    The iPhone 4 was probably the best experience I had, it went to acceptable volumes and could squeeze out a little detail, the DAC it has is obviously not too bad. The Samsung Galaxy S got to similar volume levels as the iPhone 4 but was starting to feel lacking. The sound quality however was very soft and muddy, in other words it destroyed most of what is good about the Q701s. Then I tried it on my favourite portable player - a Cowon S9: The volume just wouldn't reach any kind of enjoyable level at all, this is kind of odd because it hasn't been the weakest of the 3 portables for other headphone's volume (previously it was the Galaxy S that suffered most). It was so low in fact that I simply couldn't tell if it had any nice detail, knowing Cowon output it probably had some but was totally unusable at these volumes. 

     

       Computers

    My laptop (Dell Vostro V131) showed more than anything else that these headphones are a high maintenance creature where sources are concerned. Volume wise it had plenty of power but resolving detail was just nowhere to be seen. I'm sure this will vary from laptop to laptop but mine made the Q701s feel like they could have been trampled by a cheap mp3 player, some low quality MP3s and headphones 1/10th of this price. 
     

       BENCHMARK MUSIC


    A chance to show off some of my favourite tracks and help me pick up subtle differences in equipment due to me being familiar with their sounds. I have also tried to pick tracks that emphasize different types of sound, thus covering the widest possible range of these headphones abilities.
     

    • Butch Clancy: TinieTempah, Passout
    • The Crystal Method - The Grid (Remix of Daft Punk's Tron Legacy song)
    • Henry Mancini: The Ultimate Pink Panther - The Pink Panther Theme
    • Bear McReary: Battlestar Galactica: Season 2 - Prelude to War
    • Hans Zimmer: Sherlock Holmes - Is It Poison. Nanny?
    • Yoko Kano: Cowboy Bebop (disc 1) - Spokey Dorkey
    • Tony Bennett / Lady Gaga: The Lady Is A Tramp
    • Rodrigo Y Gabriela: [self title] - Juan Loco
    • Skunk Anansie: Hedonism
    • Metallica: Of Wolf And Man
    • Holly Cole: Train Song
    • Queen: One Vision
     


    1. Butch Clancy's Dubstep is my go to music for heavy bass. I'm sorry to say that all the detail and sound stage do nothing for this kind music and there is no other trick up the Q701's sleeve to make this kind of music enjoyable in my opinion. They present a pleasing and detailed midrange but if you try to turn the volume up to get some bass you will get attacked by harsh treble.
    2. The Crystal Method's mix has enough dynamic elements to make this a much more pleasant experience than the one trick pony Dubstep. Although I feel like the track could benefit from a more weighty low end it's mostly because I am used to something that has it. If the Q701's are your only headphones and you settled in to their sonic character it's likely that you wont be displeased with them here. The sharp and speedy detail with great sound-stage do wonders for most electronic music.
    3. Henry Mancini's classic sounds crisp, textured and wonderfully detailed. The Stereo imagining and instrument separation sounds wonderful. Although this is not a live track it makes me want to hunt one down.
    4. Bear McReary's track, with it's long build up is beautifully rendered and starts up sounding more like a piece of classical instrumental than a film score here. All the instruments seem to pop out that bit more than I'm used to and the heavy drums (3 minutes in) still sound deep enough to carry the immense impact they were shooting for. 
    5. Hans Zimmer's subtle orchestra piece comes out brilliantly detailed. Every tiny sound feels very well rendered even at low volumes. It's so clear I don't feel like I could be missing anything in this presentation. Each note can be easily isolated in your mind with the slightest concentration, it's possibly more revealing than engaging but still thoroughly enjoyable.
    6. Yoko Kano's harmonica can be real assault on the ears with the high frequencies but it makes a great benchmark piece. It's difficult for headphones to keep the treble under control at normal volumes here and the AKGs don't quite manage it. Turned down a bit the issues quickly go away however and what you are left with is extremely enjoyable. This could easily be as much of a problem with the amp considering how awkward these headphones are to drive so if I were to take too many points of it here for such a minor infraction it would be unfair.
    7. Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga's vocals sound sublimely smooth and dynamic. This rendition felt nicely in between the typical emphasized upper midrange presentation from Grado and the rather lacklustre one from the Beyerdynamic DT770 pro. The AKG seems to manage a more exciting compromise while keeping all the finely crafted detail from the neutral signature.
    8. Rodrigo Y Gabriela's guitar duo is stunningly presented here. The texture to the guitar and the clarity of every little beat and pluck were fully brought to life, I just can't get enough of this music with these headphones. Even the deep beats from Rodrigo drumming the acoustic guitars sound surprisingly weighty. The live performances of this music are even better too!
    9. Skunk Anansie's mellow song is another female vocal that seems to shine on these headphones. To me it's just about right, not too forward and not recessed. As crisply detailed as all the instruments are they never overpower any of the vocals. On the rest of the album when the music gets loud it can get a bit overpowering and messy but the less aggressive tracks like this are wonderfully well presented.
    10. Metallica's heavy song is really quite enjoyable here. The lack of low end punch could have been an issue but the fast attack of the different guitars just sound great. I actually found the deeper low frequencies of other headphones destroyed heavy metal like this for me because of the warmer signature. 
    11. Holly Cole's song doesn't punch with the same weighty percussion as it does with decent floorstanders (or even some headphones) but the clarity and priority of the vocals come out really well balanced with the acoustics. 
    12. Queen's upbeat classic sounds great on these phones. Dynamic, engaging and very fun! 

     

       SUMMING UP

    OK lets get the bad stuff out of the way first: A bit uncomfortable, a premium price for the name, searching for bass reveals harsh treble and a very decent DAC / amplifier is needed but... is all of that forgiveable because of the detail and sound-stage? yes I would say it is! I have probably put too much emphasis on negatives in this review because all the good points just seem so close to greatness it feels a bit frustrating. The truth is I really enjoy putting these headphones on a lot of the time. My search for perfection is ongoing but they really are very good.

     

    Pros:

    1. Great Detail & Clarity
    2. Expansive Sound Stage
    3. Neutral response
    4. Light but Strong build
    5. Generally Comfortable (with lots of hair or a hat)

    Cons:

    1. Uncomfortable headband ridges (if you don't have much/any hair)
    2. Sound Poor Without High Quality Equipment
    3. Glasses Wearer's Will Get Creaking Noises
    4. Lack of Bass Not Everyone's Taste
    5. Treble not controlled as well as some of the competition
     

    [​IMG]

     
    The normal street price of the Q701 puts it squarely against the venerable Sennheiser HD600/650. Like the the AKG this benchmark open headphone is equally awkward to drive / scales massively with a good source. The AKG is arguably less genre versatile and comfortable but I found them to be more revealing with a wider sound-stage which for me made them more exciting. The HD600/650 is getting quite long in the tooth now, there are a lot of interesting headphones beginning to emerge so I wonder how long AKG can lean on such a rehashed design with the Q701 at the top of it's catalogue - both visually and sonically.

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  4. psjdy88
    5.0/5,
    "fantastic headphone Akg k701"
    Pros - Comfortable , Crisp Trebble ,Outstanding Female Vocal , Stylish
    Cons - lacked bass impact
     
    `I really love this headphone.
    both design and sound are so great!!!!!! 
    q701 is best sound that i have been heard but you will need a good amp and dac
    I used md11 dac + Grahamslee solo amp and i satisfied with my system 
  5. FritzS
    4.5/5,
    "Q701 - a new AKG flagship "
    Pros - other colors, detachable cable
    Cons - connector only 3 pins
     
    20. October 2010
    I can not wait and all notes and "warnings" to spite, I made a sound check with no burning-in.
    After about 1 hour a very detailed sound, more detail than the K701 - but I've known from the test of the K702 and has no significance - it will show whether the stops.
    Music:
    Marianne Faithfull - Blazing Away
    Pink Floyd - Final Cut
    Phil sings Maria Ola Magnell - Malvina
     
    Short cross-check for K501 (which I bought used) - very musical and relaxed - but a bit less detailed.
    Appendix: Philips CD650 modified / amplifier WNA MKII
     
    01. Nov. 2010
    The Q701 is currently in the "Burning-in" - let running continuously unattended not my thing - after 25 hours it sounds great - with some songs, even the D7000 left with nothing - for the K701 it sounds different and fresh, clear, more details, but as I said this can and will change even more - as will be seen.
     
    06. Nov. 2010
    After 70 hours, "Burning-in"
    Very detailed, almost analytical sound reproduction, bass very far down but not as dominant as the Denon AH-D7000
    Stage widespread, space between the instruments and artists.
     
    Compared to the K701, both are on the system (modified Philips CD650 / WNA MKII amplifier) is very similar and sometimes lightly different, although it seems to me to show the Q701 sometimes a touch more subtlety. I still have to recheck with the Marantz SA7001 KI / amplifier GSP Audio Solo. What surprises me very dedicated to the "old" K501 behaves so well! Almost sounds a bit more "musical" as K701/Q701 also appear if the highs a little more restrained - I noticed only the background noise of "Esther Ofarim, Esther first Album record".
     
    Music:
    Esther Ofarim, Esther first Album
    Max Lässer & das Überländerorchester, Überländer - above all, track 10 jaw harp, 11 jaw harp and harp, vocals track 14
    Laureena McKennitt, An Ancient Music
     
    Appendix: Philips CD650 modified / amplifier WNA MKII
     
    07. November in 2010 over 75 hours, "Burning-In"
     
    EMI - Paganini, 24 Caprices, Itzhak Perlman
    Track 9
    Q701 a trace silkier than K701
    K701 a bit harder than Q701
    K501 silky
     
    Sony, Johannes Brahms, Concerto for Violin, 0p. 77, Isaac Stern, NY Phil, Zubin Metha
    Track 3
    similar to above, but hardly noticeable differences
     
    WB, Quincy Jones, Back on the Block
    Track 2, Back on the Block
    Here the differences between Q701 and K701 are hardly easily identified, said the trend seemed to exist more softness in Q701.
    The K501 sounded restrained, not because I wanted to adjust my level settings.
     
    Appendix: Philips CD650 modified / amplifier WNA MKII
     
    08. & 09 Nov. 2010 (to 80 hours behind in Burning-In)
    Just relax listening to music
    Esther Ofarim, Ether first Album
    Loreena McKennitt, An Ancient Muse
    Neil Diamond, Jonathan Seagull Livinston
    Kari Bremnes, Erindring
    Dire Straits, Brother in Arms
    All the songs sounded very detailed, balanced, deep but not over emphasized bass, silky, non-sharp highs.
    Stage-wide, air between instruments, singers.
     
    Appendix: Philips CD650 modified / amplifier WNA MKII
     
    --------
    10. to 14 Nov. 2010 (at the 80 hours, "Burning-In" behind her)
    Just relax listening to music
    Ariel Ramirez - Misa Criola (two recordings)
    José Carreras - Philips
    Mercedes Sosa - Decca
    Q701 bass very let down but not over-emphasized; drums punchy, clear string instruments and details; deep pipes very faithfully with significant blowing sounds; singers are well displayed (especially the deep voice of Mercedes Sosa); stage widespread, plenty of room (where you would on a headphone playback can say at all), positions definite, choir spacial.
    Both versions very dynamic response.
     
    Cyminologiy - per se & Bemun (Jazz, 2CD's)
    The Klematics, Live - Brother Moses Smote the Water
    All three live CD's kept their character. Very detailed, assessment as above.
     
    One of the next steps I will return to the comparisons with the K701 and also address the Denon AH-D7000.
    The AKG Q701 (K701, K702) is in my opinion the best in its price range (up to 500 EUR / USD) and can certainly compete with higher-priced headphones.
     
    System: Marantz SA 7001 KI / amplifier WNA MKII
    --------
    10. to 14 Nov. 2010 (more than 80 hours, "Burning-In" behind her)
    Magic of Himalayas, Mystical Scent, www.windmusic.com.tw - XRCD
    This music cannot describe with words.
    With the AKG Q701 - powerful, deep bass, more neutrally, if one can say with this music at all.
    With the Denon AH-D7000 - such a profound and powerful bass I have never heard with headphones before. Despite this, the mids and highs not too short. The Q701 is missing something here the pressure at the very low notes. An ideal headphones in my opinion should be exactly in between.
     
    System: Marantz SA 7001 KI / amplifier WNA MKII
    --------
     
    The differences are such as in the test's not worth to be blind subjective.
    For more objective results would have to use at least the verdict of several people.
    The sound impression of the Q701 can still change, speak thus in some Internet forums, some owners suggest of more than 100 hours for the K701.
    Comparing the K701 with the K702 (last year) was noticeably after 100 hours no clear difference.
     
    =================
    January 2011
    Malvina, Maria sings Phil Ola Magnell, Meyer Records
    <http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/poprock/detail/-/art/Maria-Pihl-Malvina/hnum/4095433>
    D7000 cymbals hisses more / Q701 the hissing seems a little more contour (details)
     
    More volume difference between a singer and the hissing of the cymbals
    During Q701, the hiss seems to be quieter than the D7000
     
    Upper bass
    The D7000 seems a touch over-emphasized
     
    Bass
    The D7000 deeper and punchier than the Q701
     
    Stage
    D7000 closer / Q701 spacious, open, airy
    ----
    Audio Great Music V - Recordings 2000
    Track 1, 3, 9
    <http://www.audio.de/ratgeber/audio-titel-cd-01-09-great-music-die-2000er-372569.html>
    <http://www.audio.de/ratgeber/3/5/0/7/3/8/aud_01_09_Booklet.pdf>
    Q701 more difference in loudness between loud and soft passages
    D7000  more low-end power
    ----
    This is one of the images with the deepest and most impressive bass
    Yun-Tian He - Mystical Scent
    <http://www.jpc.de/jpcng/poprock/detail/-/art/Yun-Tian-He-Mystical-Scent/hnum/4281185>
    D7000 with short blows air between the ear pads and ear
     
    Even with the Q701 - The Q701 a little bass less pressure, but very detailed too.
    --------
    A complete list of my songs which I will use the test I put together this week as well.
    A part of the list, I also published here:
    http://www.stockhammer.eu/hifi/mymusic-main.php
     
    I hear my well-known pieces of music to the smallest details that are often in the background, clatter of the valves of instruments, creak of chairs, (eg) with Pink Floyd "The Final Cut" jingle of coins, shuffling walk on pavement, etc.
     
    Change Requests:
    The current packaging may look good from outside but from unsuitable for permanent storage of the headphones. As is the case of K701 significantly more appropriate. My request to the board of K701 with the images printed by the Q701.
    Since with high quality headphones, for headphones a lot of freaks want to control symmetrical - this means, the connections of the two capsules must completely separate from the plugs out to be - it would be good to prepare the headphones have that effect. In plain text instead of the 3-pin mini-XLR connector it should be a 5-pin mini-XLR connector looks like similar the AKG-K1000.
    =================
     
    PS: Some mistake could be in this translation from German, please let me know about!
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