AKG K701 Studio Headphones

Rating:
4.03061/5,
  1. PointyFox
    Expect and receive overpriced bathroom hardware
    Written by PointyFox
    Published Sep 12, 2010
    2.5/5,
    Pros - Detail, clarity, soundstage width
    Cons - Unnatural soundstage, unnatural lack of bass, supremely uncomfortable, looks like bathroom hardware
    Audio Quality:
    This is a very detailed and fast headphone.  Soundstage is very wide, but unnatural sounding.  Lack of bass makes the overall sound very plasticky and artificial.  My BOSE triports sound better overall.
     
    Comfort:
    The pads are about as comfortable as the Beyerdynamics', however, the bumps on the underside of the headband dig into your skull.  I couldn't wear them for more than 20 minutes without having to reposition them.
     
    Design:
    Other than looking like bathroom hardware strapped to your head, there are elastic bands which help adjust the earcups which will inevitably degrade over time.
     
    Value:
    I've heard better headphones for this price, namely the DT880, D2000, and HD600/650. 
     
    Overall:
    Largest soundstage I've heard from headphones. Very fast and detailed headphones. However uncomfortable with artificial sound.
      gevorg likes this.
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    2. audiohead22
      Agreed "szoze". Seriously "PointyFox" Bose? You do know that it's an acronym for Buy Other Sound Equipment.
      audiohead22, May 21, 2016
    3. TCW Leung
      K701s need 100+ hours for break-in before the sound quality starts. Haven't you?
      Your description seems to be the first few minutes right out of box. 
      For classical music, my K701 has the whole concert hall, with right amount of bass, on my working desk! 
      TCW Leung, Nov 22, 2016
    4. TCW Leung
      K701s need 100+ hours for break-in before the sound quality starts. Haven't you?
      Your description seems to be the first few minutes right out of box. 
      For classical music, my K701 has the whole concert hall, with right amount of bass, on my working desk! 
      TCW Leung, Nov 22, 2016
  2. FritzS
    one of the best dyn. HeadPhones
    Written by FritzS
    Published Sep 12, 2010
    4.5/5,
    Pros - very good sound and comfortable on head
    Cons - no 4 wire connection cable
  3. Happy Camper
    They have their place.
    Written by Happy Camper
    Published Sep 4, 2010
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Wide but balanced presentation, details without loudness,
    Cons - finicky to amp
    When I first got the K701, I had been using the Ety 4s so the bass was actually better on the 701s. They did sound tinny and shallow. I read that they needed about 400 hours of play to settle into the final character they will provide so I left them on along with a new tube amp for three weeks non stop. If they were going to fail, I wanted them to do it early in the warranty.
     
    They did indeed respond both to moderate volume material and a more powerful amp. As I became more knowledgeable of the nuances of the sound, I started tweaking the cables, tubes and power cords.
     
    I can say that while other headphones in the $250 range may have looks or a "wow"sound initially, I have always come back to the 701 for most of my listening. At this price range, I don't think you can find a better potential headphone to build a system around.
     
    The audio quality of the headphone is based on balance. No one area of the sound is dominant. Some prefer a strong bass presentation and others prefer more highs be dominant. This headphone will earsmack you if the material presents it and your amp can deliver it. Otherwise the sound is distilled and smoothed. For acoustic and vocals, they do an admirable job. I enjoy early era progressive rock and acoustic rock with them. Anything more energetic and I have to change to the RS-1.
     
    I am not a bass head but the 701s are bass lite. While the note is presented down to 35-40~, there is little weight unless the material highlights it. So listening to a bass groove will not stand out with the other music unless they are solo. But when listening solo, you can hear the pluck of the string by the finger, the leading edge of the note is solid and decay believable. The highs are a bit prominent. If your ears are young and treble sensitive, these could get fatiguing.
     
    In deciding the value of these, keep in mind that you will need quality source material and amp to hear them at their best. Poor gear/material will be exposed. A solid state or hybrid amp is best suited for these because of their balanced presentation. I like tubes better but will cost more to get the same performance. AKG recommends 200 mv max. I'd recommend an amp with at least 500mw.
  4. Uncle Erik
    The only headphone I regretted buying and was happy to sell.
    Written by Uncle Erik
    Published Jul 29, 2010
    0.5/5,
    Pros - Comfortable, attractive, priced reasonably.
    Cons - Godawful mids that sound artificial and plastic.
    This is the only pair of headphones I bought that I was never able to warm up to.  The reason for this is that the mids - especially vocals - take on an unnatural, artificial and plasticky sound.  They never sounded true to life and began to grate on me after short listening periods.  They were OK for instrumental music, but even then, the tonality was off in the mids.
     
    What's disappointing is that AKG dropped the K-501 and K-1000, and gave us this.  The K-701/2 is nothing like AKG's previous efforts.  I have the K-1000, K-340 and K-240DF, and used to have the K-501.  All of those got the midrange right.  I was expecting to love the K-701 as well, but like I said, the artificial tonality in the mids completely ruined them for me.
     
    Strangely, the K-601 sounds halfway decent the times I've listened to it and I remain hopeful that AKG will introduce a model that gets the mids right.  They used to have some of the best mids of any manufacturer.
      funkforfood and Electrosapiens like this.
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    2. koax
      I also strongly prefer the K501's, and for the same reason. The K701 seems more articulate, at the expense of balance on the top and bottom. The K501's lay the sound out before you. Not recessed, and not forward. When focussing on any particular instrument, nothing gets in your way. The ranges play nicely with each other. With the K701, everything feels closer and more forward. The K701 's are more assertive. Not dramatically, but definitely significantly. The balance on the K501's is just comfy and dreamy.
      koax, Sep 15, 2012
    3. Electrosapiens
      I registered only in order give my finger down for these poor headphones.
      Does not matter what amplifier you are going to use this with, how long you are going to burn in for or what choice of music you are going to listen they are going to sound awful, plasticky, unnatural, shallow, uninspiring. I’ve listened AKG’s on 800€ valve amp, desktop amp, straight from PC, listen brand new 50 and 5000 hours run in headphones, death metal and classic and all their sound is not acceptable. Good look thought it that’s matter to you.
      Electrosapiens, Apr 9, 2013
    4. jdlm
      I think they sound just fine,but sometimes i eq up the bass +3 dB
      jdlm, Oct 27, 2014
  5. Lunatique
    Detailed but missing mid-bass impact
    Written by Lunatique
    Published May 30, 2010
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Articulate, detailed, comfortable, and open-sounding
    Cons - Lacks mid-bass weight
    I have been recommended the K701/702 many times before and I finally got to hear one in person. I actually liked it a lot, as it sounded smooth, detailed, open, and articulate, but the caveat was the anemic mid-bass presence. Although the K701's sub-bass is well extended, its lighter mid-bass turns the overall presentation into something less than ideal. It's really a shame because that's the only real weakness it has, and if it had more mid-bass presence, it could very well be one of the best headphones out there.
     
    The K701 is very comfortable, and visually it's one of the best looking headphones out there.
  6. slowpogo
    Fantastic - with proper break-in
    Written by slowpogo
    Published May 13, 2010
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Detail, soundstage, looks
    Cons - Comfort, extended break-in needed
    I'll first say that when I initially got these headphones and plugged them in, I was pretty disappointed.  The sound was thin, plasticy and terribly rough on my ears.  BUT I had read enough about the K701's to know that people recommend an extended break-in period of at least 100-200 hours.
     
    I made a temporary setup in the laundry room: old iPod plugged into old Onkyo receiver, K701's plugged into receiver's headphone output.  I put a varied playlist on repeat, and kept the volume quite low at first.  I let it run 24/7, each day raising the volume some until it was at a decently loud listening level.  After about 11-12 days I had a listen - WONDERFUL!  There was now a deep liquid bass where there was almost nothing before; tons of detail, crystalline highs, thick timbral textures on acoustic instruments, excellent vocals (especially female).
     
    Be prepared to do something similar if you get these.  If you're not willing to delay gratification by a week or two, you might want to get something else, but stick with it and you'll be glad you did.  I suspect the people who hate K701/702 just didn't do their research.  It takes a few hundred hours to hear the baseline potential of these headphones - it's a night and day difference - but after that they seemed to gradually improve in more subtle ways, at least for a few months.
     
    I would describe the sound of the K701 as very neutral - they really reflect what you put into them.  If you want heavy bass, you need to play music with heavy bass, etc.  They are revealing enough to reveal poor recordings, but make good recordings sound wondrous.  For this reason some people describe their sound as 'clinical' - I see why they say this, but these are also quite musical headphones in my opinion.  As I mentioned above, acoustic instruments sound very lifelike.  John Coltrane's saxophone is palpable.  I'm quite able to lose myself in my favorite recordings, which says to me the headphones are not overly 'clinical.'  I only deduct half a star from the Audio Quality rating because they are probably not quite as mind-blowing as something like the HD800 or other exotic boutique headphones.
     
    Only big con to me is the headband.  The middle pad, after more than half an hour or so, sometimes begins to feel like a half-inch-thick bolt being slowly threaded through your skull.  I'm not sure why; it's thick and feels pretty soft to the fingers.  It must just hit some kind of pressure point on some people.  It doesn't always hurt but when it does I just stuff a wad of gauze under that spot - a minor nuisance that I accept.  Otherwise, the comfort is great - lightweight, and the earpads are luxurious, though after a few years mine have lost their velour-like feel and are kind of faded in spots.  Not everyone likes what could be described as the 'trendy ipod white' looks, but I think they're tasteful and pleasantly high-tech looking.
     
    For a long time I listened with Emu 1212m -> Millett Hybrid Max.  Recently I replaced the Emu with the Gamma2, which is even better.
      ChardonnayLogic likes this.
  7. JeckyllAndHyde
    Truly audiophile
    Written by JeckyllAndHyde
    Published May 10, 2010
    5.0/5,
    Pros - SQ!, build quality, design, comfort*
    Cons - comfort* and sometimes bass
    Lets start with:
     
    Design, build quality & comfort:
     
    They are white - thats what people notice on the first look. I must say I really like the design and the "feel" - The leather headband is a nice addition to the white and gray colors.
    IMG_5510.jpg
    Build quality is very very good - they are very sturdy and don't feel like breaking apart after a month. I dropped them incidentally few times, rolled with my chair over the cable and they are still in prefect condition. 4 Stars
     
    *Comfort - before I bought them I read alot about the comfort (haedband) issue and when I put them first time on my head I was sure that the rumors were true - the bumps were digging a hole in my skull.
    BUT: I got them about 2-3 months now and the comfort is no longer a problem for me. About a month ago I tried to soften the bumps by squeezing and pressing them. I'm not sure if it helped, but now I think that they are one of the most comfy headphones I tried! The best are the pads - very thick and deep:) 4 Stars
    The K701 leaks alot to the outside - they could be very annoying to other people. They also don't block much of the outside noises.
     
     
    Audio quality:
     
    When I put them first time on my head I was simply out of my breath - the amount of details I've never heard was amazing! Vocals also sounds great.
    They shows their best when listening jazz, ambient, chillout and classical. Sadly they DO NOT rock. They sound very thin when listening SOAD, Korn or Sepultura:/
     
    The BASS issue: the bass is tight, controlled, very deep, the only thing lacking in K701 is bass IMPACT in bass-heavy music and rock/metal.
    They've got huuuge soundspace (some say: too big). This is a feature, which makes them great for movies (at least for me).
     
    Amping - is another big thema with K701, but DON'T EXPECT NIGHT/DAY DIFFRENCE! - if You don't like them unamped, you'll probably won't like them with powerful amp. When properly amped their sound becomes more smooth and less fatiguing - the bass is also a bit better in all aspects.
     
    Burning in - beat me, I'm not noticing any spectacular diffrence over the time.
    Overall: 4 and half Stars
     
     
    Conclusion:
     
    If youre looking for high details, great with jazz, classical (!) and vocals headphones you can't do better at 250$!
      ChardonnayLogic and inji like this.
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    2. Flisker
      First off, great review :)
      I just wanted to add that I turned these into Rock Machine if I can says so as "audio newbie" , paired them with FiiO E11 - Gain: High , Bass EQ - 2
      Now music like Dope,In Flames or Slipknot came to life, guitars and bass are so much better and there is definitely much much better bass impact while everything else stays clear. In music like Madonna - Hollywood I even have to turn Bass EQ back to 1 because it's already too much.
      Flisker, Nov 14, 2012
    3. RamblinE
      Great review, really enjoyed it. In regards to your comments about the bass I feel that the K701 is a little more nuanced then people give it credit for. It conveys bass impact when there's meant to be bass impact but not all of the time like other 'phones do. Just wanted to add that bit in. Thanks for the read!
      RamblinE, Nov 18, 2012
    4. miceblue
      I know this is probably going to sound stupid, but with all of the posts of how picky the K 701 is with amps, I really was expecting a night and day difference. People are always like "oh without a good amp the K 701's sound like garbage" or things of the sort. I hardly find that to be the case. Straight out of an iPhone 4S yes the bass seems leaner than with a good amp and yes the treble is a bit grainy and fatiguing, but amping doesn't make a HUGE difference in sound quality like what I was expecting from people's posts.
      miceblue, Jan 13, 2013
  8. The Monkey
    Yuck
    Written by The Monkey
    Published May 9, 2010
    2.0/5,
    Pros - Detail
    Cons - Flat and boring with one exception
    LISTENED AT MANY MEETS
     
    I never did get it about these phones.  I think they sound tinny and boring.  The only time I have ever heard them sound somewhat decent has been out of the big HeadRoom amps.  There's something to that combo.  Otherwise a real snore.
  9. MadJackalIto
    AKG 701 very nice headphone
    Written by MadJackalIto
    Published May 6, 2010
    4.5/5,
    Pros - very detailed, good bass (not bassy ) very nice sound
    Cons - a bit unconfortable the headband, problem with bigheads, need a Home/desktop amp not the best choice for portables amps
    Greetings
     
    well... how to describe this headphones?...  VERY NICE pair of headphones, very detailed, analitical, good response and bass enough. Very nice on classical and jazz music. Ideal for CDs or Vinyls of symphonic music.
     
    Looks very well and need a good amp and DAC, but still unamped sound very nice.
    [​IMG]
    Cheers.
      ChardonnayLogic likes this.