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AKG Q701 Premium Class Reference Headphones, Quincy Jones Signature Line

Rating:
4.5/5,
  1. bosiemoncrieff
    great value for bass-light classical/acoustic dragon slayer
    Written by bosiemoncrieff
    Published Sep 5, 2016
    5.0/5,
    Pros - good soundstage and tone, punches above weight, fairly light
    Cons - rattle in right driver, schiit headband
    Q701 is not really a headphone that merits a long review. It was my entree into the high-fi world, and a good entree at that. If you listen primarily to classical/jazz/acoustic music and/or are using the headphone for mixing purposes, it is a stupendous value for ~$200. Piano especially is airy and wonderful, but all orchestral stuff is ably done. Other than that, probably just recommended for clinical things like mastering. It can be driven by an iPhone, though amplification is worth considering for a better sound. 
     
    Headband has bumps. I think they feel like schiit. (K1000 on temples is far worse, however). Worse than this though is the rattle in the right driver. Not dissimilar to the rattle in my K1000, it comes and goes, but affects certain piano tracks in particular at unpredictable frequencies (I should do a lab test of this).
     
    All in all, at anything under $200 a great value. Amazon fluctuates a lot, and they're only over $200 right now, so I'd say don't buy over a cheaper K701/02/12. For ~$100, which it's regularly listed at used on HF, an utter steal. Even if you're not a fan of the sound signature, it would be a good neutral (though on the brighter side of neutral) can for critical listening, and a small investment next to the HD800. AKG's 700 series is incredible, and as used cans continue to plummet in resale value, the community collectively reaps that reward. Get one!
  2. kwirky88
    Grown to love the sound
    Written by kwirky88
    Published Aug 16, 2016
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Linear audio, can reach down to 10hz, amazing spatialization
    Cons - Headband can be uncomfortable, requires good amplification
    Bought from Memory Express in Canada for about $220 CAD.  Don't overpay, these can be found for around $250 if you search around.
     
    Sound impressions:
    Measured with a UMIK1 and the response is very linear with a smooth increase up to 1khz then a smooth decrease back down to 20khz.  Can reach as low as 10hz with a tone generator (can't hear it but can definitely feel it on the skull!).  The sound is incredibly spatial!  Live music (concerts, orchestra) sounds amazing!  Songs with reverb sound awesome.  Can hear a lot of detail.  Very linear audio and if you're into equalization (or tube rolling) these things have a lot of diversity available due to the linear response.  Can make them sound like anything.
     
    I've grown to love the sound.  I listened to an assortment of grado & beyerdynamics headphones at a local shop on various amps and preferred these to headphones over $2000.
     
    Amplifier Requirements:
    These are not efficient headphones.  Needs 150mw at 64 ohms and headphone/phone jacks can't do that.  Don't buy these headphones unless you plan on getting a half decent headphone amp.  Not even my fiio X1 can drive these things.  I get good amplification from the following items I own:
    1. NAD 326BEE integrated receiver headphone jack
    2. Audioquest Dragonfly 1.4 Black (connecting this to android makes it my most portable amplification solution)
    3. Little Dot I+ Hybrid Tube/SS headphone amp (amazing combination!)
     
    I highly recommend the Little Dot I+ Hybrid tube amp if you're looking for a headphone amp and don't want to spend a lot.  Get it with the 6CQ6 tubes which pair well with the headphone's audio signature.
     
    Comfort:
    Large ear cups are comfortable even with glasses.  Headband feels "hard" and tight and can become painful after an hour of use.  Spring is a little too tight.
     
    Upgradeability:
    I haven't done it yet but supposedly these can be easily modified to have a balanced audio jack for balanced outputs.  The 3 conductor mini-xlr jack is replaced with a 4 conductor, soldering separate negative/ground terminals on two separate conductors.  Then order a 4 conductor balanced cord with mini-xlr for the headphones and whichever balanced connector on your headphone amp.  That's a nice feature in case I move to a very high end headphone amplifier.
     
    Supposedly can open up the side covers & slip in some cloth for a little more bass and a little less spatialization.  Haven't tried that yet.
    1. Sonic Defender
      AKG is one of the few brands I haven't tried yet. Thanks for the review, it sounds like the Q701 is interesting and the price seems right. Cheers.
      Sonic Defender, Aug 16, 2016
    2. GearMe
      Nice review. Great headphones for the $$$.

      Side note...if you're thinking about getting a new smartphone, these work very well with the LG V10. The have a high enough impedance to trigger the high-gain setting on the phone's amp. The sound is very good straight out of the headphone jack.
      GearMe, Aug 16, 2016
  3. Peanut Jin
    Detailed and amazing soundstage
    Written by Peanut Jin
    Published Apr 19, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - good sounstage, nice clean bass and very engaging mids
    Cons - headband bump, sometimes upper mid might be too bright for some songs
    overall this is a good headphone, and i love it very much.lucky for me i got the Austria version, as i happen to know they are now manufactured at china 
     
    the sound is just what i am looking for in most of the headphones, where i prefer a more emphasized mids and trebles. a lot of people complained about the lack of bass but for me the bass is just a clean bass, not bassy type that u can find in other headphones. bass are punchy and u can feel every "thump" of it instead of muddy bass, which is very nice as this does not affect the mids and vocal.
     
    soundstage are amazing, music and songs played by it feels like being played by a speaker instead (not literally but you get what i mean). i dont feel like the song is being pressured into my ear, like forcing me to listen, instead it were presented at a very comfortable level. although some claimed to be able to differentiate which instrument is played at which row in an orchestra, i personally cant really differentiate that, maybe its because the lack of really high quality files (the highest quality i had is just lossless 24-bit files).
     
    vocals are very nice, although sometimes might be too bright for long listening sessions, but tone the volume down a little bit on my Centrance hifi m8 DAC amp and its just nice. Amber Rubarth's sessions from the 17th ward sounds amazing with this cans. it gets better with every listen.
     
    love the detachable mini xlr, as it gives option to change to a balanced cable or other brand instead of modding. And green cable looks just fine after awhile.
     
    the headbump sure can cause some pain though on my head after some time, but a slight adjustment to the front or back of my head can solve this problem
     
    overall very happy with this headphone, and its my first AKG, the other cans are Grado SR325is and Audio Technica M50
    1. Sonic Defender
      Nice review, not sure this could go balanced, it would depend on whether or not the headphone inside is wired for balanced. That I believe is just a standard 3 pin mini XLR, but I haven't seen one in a while. Suppose I could go to the AKG site, but I'm lazy. I would like to hear this headphone again as I don't really remember it well. Stuff made in China is as good and often better than stuff made in the West. The quality gap used to be big, but not anymore, for so much of the audio gear there really is no gap at all that is why so much top-tier gear is made in the Far East now. Top of line factories, skilled labour force so China made gear is just fine IMO.
      Sonic Defender, Apr 19, 2016
    2. Wokei
      nice review and alos agree with Sonic Defender statement .

      cheers
      Wokei, Apr 19, 2016
  4. dagothur
    Fast, cold and detailed
    Written by dagothur
    Published Feb 21, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Very fast, beautifully textured, respond well to a variety of amplification, elegant design, smooth mids, great price:performance ratio
    Cons - Weak bass, cold, can be fatiguing very quickly, not very suitable for poor recordings, 'impersonal' sound, comfort
    Introduction:
      I purchased the Q701s in September of 2012 after thoroughly enjoying an audition with a friend of mine's about a year earlier.  I had heard a lot about AKGs beforehand: polite, analytical, cold and detailed.  I wasn't prepared for how exciting and energetic they could be even through my relatively weak Nuforce Icon HDP.  After a little more than two years of owning them (and purchasing a pair of V-Moda M100s for mobile use), they had become my main headphone after the left driver of my beloved LCD-2s went kaput.  
    Design and Comfort
     I thought the green Q701s were a little silly looking so I chose black.  They are elegant, high-tech looking cans with clean lines and excellent symmetry.  Not quite as high-tech as the HD800s, but they're definitely more space-age than my robust M100s or my luxurious LCD-2s.  The headphones are otherwise very light, both on the head and in the hands.  I've always thought suspension headbands were the way to go both for stylistic reasons and ergonomic considerations, but AKG did well in removing the bumps in future offerings.  As well, the cushions are still firm and slightly uncomfortable after years of frequent use.
    Equipment: Audio-GD NFB-10SE, Foobar 2000, pain-in-the-rear 20ft cable
    Highs
     Being a cold headphone, the highs can be very sibilant on some progressive and electronic albums.  Even on upper mids listening can become fatiguing for albums that aren't well recorded.  Bright recordings are headache inducing and electronic music can be painful.  That being said, orchestral music is always a pleasure.  Despite being polite relative to the M100s or LCD-2s, the highs can make the Q701s seem very aggressive.
    Mids
     If you like mids, you will love the Q701s.  Vocals are intimate, textured and clear.  Female vocals are beautiful, smooth and engaging while male vocals have forced and engagement.  The Q701s are by no means at the level of my LCD-2s but I don't feel I'm losing a lot by switching from the latter.  Even tracks like 'Where the Hood At' have an excellent sense of engagement, and string music will make you shed a tear or two.  Mids are, by far, the best part of the spectrum with the AKG Q701s.
    Bass
     This may sound eerily familiar from other reviews, but the Q701s have very weak bass.  It is, however, capable of producing insanely fast bass for death metal tracks ("Failure in the Flesh" by Through the Eyes of the Dead, "Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer" by Behemoth) and tight, punchy bass for jazz (Good Bait by Coltrane) and blues ("Played Twice"). 
    Soundstaging, Transparency and Detail
     The Q701s are an excellent pair of headphones for all three.  Be it intimacy for violin and cello duos or vast halls for Gregorian chant, the Q701s handle soundstage well.  I prefer the consistent intimacy of the LCD-2s, but a wide-open soundstage definitely has its place for the music they do especially well.  
     Transparency is another excellent trait of these headphones.  While they sound artificial - my LCD-2s do spoil me - there is nothing between you and the music.  Every note feels very crisp and well-articulated.  Detail plays into this transparency as every note is well sculpted in space, almost to the point of making heavy metal hard edged or almost plastic-like to the point of discomfort.  The need for quality recording with these headphones cannot be stressed enough.  Even slightly critical listening will make poorly-recorded music an exercise in masochism. 
    Conclusion
     The Q701s are cold, detailed, energetic and sometimes sibilant.  Comfort is okay, but you get a lot for your money.  If you love classical music, jazz and female vocals and have some SACDs or a sizable FLAC library you'll love 'em.  If you have a more varied library, you'd do well to have a fun, bassy headphone (say, the V-Moda M100s) to pair with the Q701s.  Either that, or keep the Q701s as a bit of extra flavor with a lusher pair when you're feeling more critical or really want to hear John Coltrane sweating in 'A Love Supreme'.
     
  5. tonyjoy
    Surely not the best in class
    Written by tonyjoy
    Published Jun 14, 2015
    2.5/5,
    Pros - Decent sounding
    Cons - Big ear cups, uneven headband tension, uncomfortable for long term wearing.
    I've given these at least two dozen chances as few of my colleagues swear by it. However, I find them highly uncomfortable to wear. I am a small person and these headphones for one, feel huge on my head. I find it hard to position them just right to get the imaging right every single time. The headphones sit on my ears and not rest on my head which causes discomfort/ on my earlobes after a few minutes.
    This one is far from being my favorite headphone, unfortunately. 
    1. mrmoto050
      So I guess these are not for people with small heads. Seeing as you said nothing about the sound signature except decent sounding. You probably couldn't get a good seal. Also you didn't mention your source. These are only 75 ohm but require a good amount of power to drive.
      mrmoto050, Jun 14, 2015
    2. peter123
      @mrmoto050 I've got a very small head and I've got no problems with the Q's, YMMV :)
      peter123, Jun 15, 2015
    3. Army-Firedawg
      Deleted my previous comment for I said it's not much a review as apposed to a quick summary over a main point you feel. But after reading your other reviews you really just sum products up so that's just your writing style. Interesting description of your EL-8 though
      Army-Firedawg, Sep 6, 2015
  6. eimis
    What is this, just get them right now. (A truly impressive performer)
    Written by eimis
    Published May 10, 2015
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Sound, comfort and price(!)
    Cons - Some headband parts are fragile, upper mids are sometimes too loud and takes a while to adjust for the best sound.

    200 bucks?!

    In short, these are the strongest performers I've heard and they made me sell my HD650 very quickly. I did enjoy the HD650s with some recordings, mainly vocal music, but they were lacking some breath, air and energy to me, while Q701 delivers all that and more. HD650 were like visiting your grandma -- fuzzy, warm and cozy, and Q701 is a lively party -- everything is lively, accurate and no detail is ever left out. They have a very nice impact. Every drum hit is very satisfying. Oh and the soundstage...why repeat ourselves; it's been said enough times already and I guess it's so good because of the angled ear pads. Also they don't choke no matter how intense your music is. That is, they are really fast sounding; fast rock music on Beyerdynamic DT250/HD650 sounds a bit dull and details/instruments get lost in a mess. Q701 presents every part of the music for you to focus on. And they sound so lively and clear. Choir and classical sounds truly impressive. The upper mids are sometimes a bit too loud with modern hotly mastered music. Though that never gets in the way with proper recordings, ever. Be gentle with them though. Those clear plastic parts in the headband tend to break easily. If that happens, cups won't be sliding as smoothly when adjusting and may start creaking. So yeah, don't sit on them.
     
     

    Bass port mod

    Mind you, all my impressions are after doing the bass port mod. I don't remember how they sound stock. Some say it's the same, just without the sub-bass. Yeah, sub-bass -- it goes very low and is another star of the show, fellas. Tightest and most accurate bass I've heard. HD650 bass was anemic compared to these. I never use EQ. The pair I have was made in Austria.
     
     

    Cup placement!

    If these headphones would automatically adjust to their best acoustic position around your ears -- they would be perfect and their fragility could be forgiven. I used to push the cups towards my face, until they touched my helix. This placement is far from ideal, as I later discovered. For me it's best to start from placing them all the way towards the back of my head, until I feel the cups touch my tragus. And then push them just a bit towards my face, until the cymbals sound right and my ears end up somewhere in the middle of the cups. After that is achieved, I'm presented with the best sound. Otherwise they sound quite wrong.
    HHNOeWZ.gif
     

    Highly recommended

    If anyone asked to recommend a desktop set-up, this would be it: ODAC->O2 Amp->Q701[+ bass port mod]
    If they don't need isolation, this setup could easily be the most they would ever need, and for a great value.
    I rather like this one, while I myself have the generic ODAC + a DIY O2.
    LqepORX.jpg hRLRPo0.jpg

    So

    If you're feeling adventurous, try these headphones. No, I mean try them. Screw that, just get them now. I could keep adding impressions. But that's really starting to get in the way of listening to them right now. There's really nothing to lose, they're $200 on Amazon, which is crazy.
    1. mdewire
      I have had mine for a few years and kind of shelved them away since I was not that impressed with the overall sound until I decided to try them with my newly acquired Schiit Lyr 2. This amp really opened up the sound and at this point they sound better than my Audeze LCD X in my opinion. I have a pair of Mr Speakers Ether's on the way and it will be interesting to compare the sound of the Q 701s to them.
      mdewire, Jul 31, 2015
  7. tdockweiler
    Sounds good
    Written by tdockweiler
    Published Sep 25, 2013
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Nearly everything, CHEAP!, Build Quality
    Cons - Slightly lacking very low bass. Don't really care.
    Mids are nice and full sounding. Not thin or lean at all. If they are it's due to a poor amp match or supposed to be that way in the recording (yeah really). I've even gotten good results with an O2, E9 and Micro Amp. Not much else yet. They sound natural to me. To me this headphone really excels with female vocals. They're very slightly forward sounding. I would say the low mids are more neutral. They're not as forward as those of the Anniversary and I like that. With some recordings the Q701 can sound nearly as warm and full sounding as my HD-650 (try Buena Vista Social Club). You can also have the Q701 change into an AD700 with some tinny/harsh recordings.
     
    Treble is not harsh unless it's due to a poor recording. Even then it's no real problem. This headphone won't make harsh/very bright recordings any easier on the ears. For that you can try the HD-598 or HD-650 to sort of take the edge off. I actually think the treble sounds neutral despite what some say. It seems smoother than what I heard on the K702.
     
    Bass is fine and there seems to be no large mid-bass hump. Not much bass impact and there is a slight lack of low bass presence (without mod). For this reason I sometimes use my HD-650 or DJ100 for gaming/movies.
     
    I don't find them crystal clear sounding, extremely detailed or super revealing. Sometimes they're even a little forgiving of some lower quality tracks. Just slightly. Even Youtube music and Itunes/Amazon samples sound fine (this varies usually).
     
    I find them neutral sound with no major emphasis in any area. I actually find them more neutral than the HD-600. HD-600 has more mid-bass and this has some extra treble. What's the difference?
     
    Soundstage is what I would call pretty good but not great. It's smaller than the K702 but I actually think this is a good thing. It's not massive, super airy and nothing ever sounds too distant. Imaging is fine and there is no lack of center image for me.
     
    This thing is pretty tough to drive. I hate it with portable players. All of them. It gets good enough volume but then it sounds like poop. I can use my HD-650 from my TV headphone jack and get good results (for short periods of time)..with this I need like 90% volume and its not worth even bothering with. Some may disagree but I could hate this with the wrong setup. It seems to sound OK from my E17 but it's just not the same as my main setup. Best setup i've heard it with is what I'm using now (well duh). O2 is 2nd best. I actually liked it with the E9 a lot and the 10ohm output impedance doesn't change the sound in any way.
     
    NOTE: This is basically my impressions after 2-3 years of use and NOT the modded version. Don't forget, that version is about 25% better than the HD-800 [​IMG]
    My impressions of this has not changed since day one. It's my 2nd favorite headphone of all time and I'm never getting rid of it. Not even if you gave me a T1!
     
    BTW I'd love a closed headphone that was a clone of this or close. It's NOT the K550! You may need to reduce the soundstage and treble a little but the mids may gain some fullness.
    1. brybry24
      So do you recommend to do the bass mod (removing the plastic tape)? I know that I will gain more bass but what will I lose in exchange (soundstage, detail etc.)?
      brybry24, Mar 1, 2014
  8. GL1TCH3D
    Goods headphones for home use
    Written by GL1TCH3D
    Published Sep 24, 2013
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Good soundstage, clarity, removable cable
    Cons - Sterile sound, costly in various countries, bumps on headband
    I owned these for a couple months before upgrading to the HD800.
    While using them, I used them with the ODAC+O2 combo as well as the Fiio e17.

    There's no doubt these are supposed to be headphones for home use. They're very open, leak sound and are just generally very large.

    From reviews, these are really supposed to be the stepping stone to the hd800 since they're meant to be very accurate like the HD800. I can agree with that statement.

    Design:
    The bumps on the headband are just plain stupid. Otherwise they're designed well, they fit well on my slightly large head.

    Comfort:
    I have a tender spot on the top of my head that loses circulation if something presses down. When I lose circulation I start having a painful feeling. The bumps on the headband are no exception. They cause that spot on my head to lose circulation. I fixed this by wrapping kleenex around the headband but judging from the k712 having a flat headband and the previous models having a flat headband, the 701 series having bumped headbands is just plain stupid and as far as I know, serves no purpose.

    Sound:
    Very sterile sound. For me this is a negative.
    Sounds flat but with the bass improvement from the k701 to q701, has a fuller sound than the k701. Please note, fuller than k701 doesn't mean it has a full sound.

    Bass: weak but present. It's not a smooth and liquid bass, it feels forced. Not punchy

    Mids: don't sound natural. Vocals lack emotion. Overall the mids aren't punchy.

    Treble: Can be a bit harsh but is revealing and defined. Treble extension is quite good at least.

    Soundstage: For a pair in this price range, the soundstage is very good. Very wide and has decent depth.

    Seperation: top notch seperation. Each instrument / note is clearly defined.

    Overall summary:
    A good pair of headphones if you're looking for something very detailed and accurate but lacks emotion and liquidity.
    The HD800 was definitely a big upgrade over the q701 but of course is 4x the price.
  9. demontux
    AMAZING Headphones!!
    Written by demontux
    Published Jul 21, 2013
    5.0/5,
    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!!
  10. biggbenn74
    Simply Amazing. At a Loss For Words.
    Written by biggbenn74
    Published Jun 29, 2012
    5.0/5,
    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.
    1. GL1TCH3D
      I really don't feel like the leakage is that bad compared to other headphones. Yea, they're open back and will leak/not isolate that well but compared to a pair of grados, there's a world of difference.
      I found the isolation was actually decent, considering they're open back, though hearing someone talk to me in the same room while having them on at a decent volume is still not that difficult.
      While an amp is required, I don't feel like you need a giant amp either. I'm running them on hi gain at the default volume of my Fiio E17 and I find they sound fantastic. I guess they lack bass if you're a bass head but I don't find them that lacking.
      GL1TCH3D, Jun 30, 2012
    2. NimbleTurtle
      Another exaggerated review. Still, good to see that you're enjoying the Q701s.
      NimbleTurtle, Aug 18, 2012