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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. 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
  3. Nec3
    One of the Best Budget Audiophile Headphones
    Written by Nec3
    Published Oct 30, 2014
    5.0/5,
    Pros - Enormous Soundstage, Solid Bass Impact, Accentuated Mids, Textured Treble, Durable, Velour Earpads, Big Earcups
    Cons - Weak Center Imaging, Lean Bass, Unnatural mids for some songs, Painful Headband, Big Earcups, Picky with Sources

    _BBD1686.jpg
    TL;DR Review of the AKG Q701’s


    Accentuated Mids: Enhances most female vocals, also forwards vocals, “livens” synthesizers in electronic music. Can cause vocals to sound uneven due to the 2khz bump.
    Grainy/Textured Treble: Gives texture and dynamics to ride cymbals and high hats, may force treble into songs that suffer with treble. i.e. Metal genres. Not to be confused with “sparkly treble”.
    Lean/Solid Bass: Bass is solid and fast, impact hits hard but rumble is lean, benefits in most techno, jazz, and classical/orchestra music. Quality of bass leaves the listener wanting more.
    Soundstage: Large soundstage that has a 3D Surround better than 5.1 gaming headsets. Suffers from center imaging that relates to “in-your-head” feeling, however it has a prominent forward stage. Soundstage similar to standing in the back 24’x18’ room, 5' away from the wall.
    Comfort: Bumps in the headphone gets uncomfortable overtime, earcup placement is crucial in relative to sound perceived. I.e. earcups placed too far backward can cause mids to sound muffled. Velour earpads and ~270 gram weight allows comfort over long periods of time.
    Build Quality: Dropped over 5 times at height of 5’ (unintentional), still working. Plastic used for earcups allow scratches to not be visible. After 3-4 years of constant usage, earcup swivel may develop friction and creak.
    “Sound Signature”: Somewhat reliant on the source, however most of the time the Q701's sounds dry due to the fast decay of notes. Especially sounds analytic when compared with other headphones, soundstage gives a dynamic feel to songs, but it suffers from center imaging in regards to intimacy.
    Amplification: Requires more current than voltage to power them right in my opinion. Performance on Q701’s rely more on the quality of source rather than how much power it can output.

    Conclusion: The AKG Q701’s are bright sounding headphones at first without proper amplification and brain burn in.
    If you don’t need isolation for gaming, throw away your gaming headsets and get AKG Q701’s. If you’re looking to get serious with your music, like detail retrieval and don’t mind spending an amplifier/dac combo that costs the same as the AKG Q701’s; get yourself a pair. If you want boomy bass, if you want isolation, if you want a smooth experience; look somewhere else, the AKG Q701’s aren’t for you. The Q701’s can be found for cheap now and definitely worth it.
     

    Day in the Life with AKG Q701’s

     

    Introduction


    I got to visit a studio today and it was nothing short of audiophoolishness delight. Upon entering the studio I was greeted with just two tower speakers made by Strauss (Strauss-SE-MF-2). These gave off a very life-like impression in sound and I was quite blown away by how close they sounded to actual instruments.  The only issue I have with the speakers is that I had to be at a certain position in the room for everything to sound just right in regards to soundstage and for the treble to not sound muffled. I guess you could say this is similar to how the Q701’s need to be centered for them to sound right.

    Alongside listening to the studio, I got to listen to my friends’ band play in a rehearsal room a while ago, a concert hall, and a venue all with the same song. Though none of you know the song, I used this song as a benchmark for all my tests with the Q701’s.
    Cataclysm by Motivated by Foolishness
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJ6NWu8lZ8w
    Songs found above.
    http://motivatedbyfoolishness.bandcamp.com/releases
     
    The Q701’s I have are third hand, pre-burnt in, Austrian made, and so far have about 3000 hours on their mileage, not including the hours used by the previous owners. My review is solely opinion based and I’m not too hard focused on specifications (except for the measurements), and please do take the titles of the review into consideration. As there may be misconceptions of my review if they are ignored. I will assume you already have done research about the Q701’s from other reviews, I’m just providing more insight.
     

    Q701's vs Real Life Instruments

     
    After an entire day of listening to just instruments. I came to the conclusion that the Q701's:
    • Sound a bit dry, instruments seem to not linger around very much (not regarding reverb though)
    • Lack a bit of center imaging
    • Tom toms don't have enough attack
    • Treble is a bit grainy, and needs some more sparkle. However the Q701's have the high hat texture not many headphones have.
    • There needs to be a bit more upper mids/lower treble flatness, electric guitars though have the detail and crescendo-like sound, they don't have the smoothness needed during reproduction. This upper mid is what makes pianos and violins sound more solid, the Q701's lack the solidity of piano notes.
     
    Needless to say I believe headphones exaggerate sound overall, the only way that reproduction can be saved here are through binaural recordings. In which replicate sound much better in comparison to regular stereo recordings. Unfortunately, most songs that I know of aren’t tuned and mastered for headphones, rather for speakers instead. If I had to mention soundstage, I’d have to say the Q701’s are spot on for an acoustically tuned 24 feet by 18 feet room with musicians playing in it. Nevertheless, soundstage does indeed require a good sound signature to illustrate the distance of instruments. So the only nitpicks or comments I have about that is the flaws I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph in regards to soundstage.
     

    Q701’s vs Strauss-SE-MF-2 Studio Monitors
     

    The problem I actually have with listening to reference tuned studio monitors is that they sound a bit bland with my songs. Mids don't stand out enough and bass is a bit too much for my taste.…
     
    The Q701’s lean bass allows more detail for the rest of the spectrum, from strings getting plucked to the fingers sliding along the neck of a guitar. As you’ve noticed, I do indeed enjoy a certain part of headphones even BETTER than live performances or studio monitors; and that’s a sense of intimacy. Though these headphones don’t have the accurate reproduction of studio monitors, or the ‘in-your-head’ feeling with other headphones, I can get quite enough of intimacy through the Q701’s. I believe that intimacy can be achieved through:

    A) As if you were in the room with the band members
    B) Having the band members being shoved into your brain.
    So it’s fairly obvious which one the Q701’s strive for. (B)
     
     

    Q701's vs Other Headphones in Brief.

     
    So why do I still have the Q701's?
    Why don't I have DT990's? In which they clearly have more bass oomph and a higher treble spike?
    Why don't I have HE-400's? That have a flatter sound signature, extremely solid sub bass, and smoother treble that allows me to turn up music higher?
    Why don't I have HD800's?
     

    Sennheiser HD800


    Well first off, I don’t have the funds for HD800's, if I had the money I'd sell my Q's and own the HD800's. I've auditioned them before and fell in love with them.
     

    Hifiman HE400

     
    HE-400's yes, are nice, but I prefer the near weightlessness of Q701's. The issue I had in regards to comfort with the AKG Q701’s are indeed the headphone placement and headband. They have to be placed somewhere near center of my head so that sound is directed into my ears and that I get full advantage of the spectrum. As for the headband, I cut off the bumps and replaced it with 0.3mm of foam. The bumps molded into my scalp and eventually I got fairly uncomfortable when I had less hair on my head after a haircut.

    Also,  the HE 400 don't offer a big enough soundstage for me. If you’ve heard of ASMR, the enormous soundstage heightens the effectiveness of ASMR videos. Also due to the enormous soundstage of the Q701’s, instruments feel as if they’re just being suspended mid-air, ready to be picked and listened to individually.


    Beyerdynamic DT990 250 ohm


    DT990’s (250ohm) slightly emphasize bass and higher treble spike, although I didn’t feel the same excitement of music when the mids weren’t quite there. However the DT990’s actually have a bit more detail.


    Other Headphone Recommendation that Compliment the Q701

     

    Audio Technica ATH-A900X

     
    My favourite “fun” headphone would be the A900X. When I switch back to the Q701 after 3 hours with the A900X, the Q701’s sound life-less and I need at least 15 minutes for my ears to burn back to the Q701’s. In which I listen to Flamenco Rumba or a song that takes advantage of soundstage to get myself accustomed to again.
     

    Etymotic Research ER4S (Tri-Flange IEM)


    If you have the Q701’s, I recommend the ER4S. They have similar sound signatures and the extreme isolation of the ER4S compliments the Q701’s open back nature. Of course both headphones have comfort issues, but if you already have the ER4S or Q701’s, we can already assume you’re a masochist.
     

    Sennheiser HD598

     

    Bass

     
    HD598:
    1. I found the bass quantity increases with stronger amplifiers, regular amplification makes the HD598 sound flat
    2. HD598 with regular amping (i.e. JDS Labs ODAC/O2) still have more mid-bass than the Q701's, but not by much
    3. Q701's have more sub-bass

    Q701:
    1. I found the Q701's to have more bass texture, but sometimes can be found lean compared to the HD598
    2. Sub-bass is also dry on the Q701's, so bass will often roll off faster without giving satisfaction of proper "oomph"
    3. After some brain burn in, I found the Q701's to have slightly more solid and faster bass than the HD598's.
     

    Mids


    HD598:
    1. Mids are flat and I found all vocals to work well with the HD598's.
    2. Mids have more weight, smooth and grounded to the floor, however the HD598 can be airy when called for
    3. Vocals can sometimes be a bit boring since they're flat.

    Q701:
    1. Mids are more intimate and exciting than the HD598's due to the peak in the 2khz area and brighter treble
    2. Mids are light and airy, giving vocals a magical presence
    3. Mids can sometimes be too much especially in fortissimo sections of a vocal solo
    4. Vocals can sometimes be sibilant. With well mastered recordings there is no sibilance. Vocalists such as Susan Wong who emphasize the letter S a lot introduce a lot of sibilance.


    Highs


    HD598:
    1. HD598's have a more extended treble peak on the spectrum, therefore giving the HD598's a more subtle sparkle
    2. However the highs on the HD598 are smoothed out and not as exciting as the Q701's
     
    Q701:
    1. Treble has a flat peak and gives high hats more texture, however lacks the sparkly shimmer sometimes.
    2. Treble is more emphasized than the HD598's
    3. Lower treble has a steeper dip that makes the Q701's sound more clean and black, but hides instruments that need it (explained later)
     

    Soundstage


    HD598:
    1. Left and Right channels have slightly more depth and have good center imaging, but front and back soundstage is less apparent. This can be visually seen by the design of the headphones
    2. The HD598 sounds more solid and grounded.
     
    Q701:
    1. Have a better frontal soundstage with less center imaging, has a harder left and right sound panning due to the lack of center imaging.
    2. Left and Right channels extend out into airiness, compared to the solid left and right depth of the HD598's.
    3. Soundstage is larger in regards to front-to-behind depth
    4. Q701's sound light and airy.
     

    Gaming, Isolation, and Comfort


    HD598:
    1. Less clamp, Less clamp = more pressure on the top of my head.
    2. Deeper cups, my ears don't touch anything inside the headphone at all
    3. Soundstage is much better presented in Source Engine games (Counterstrike/TF2) that have less audio effects due to the forwarded drivers.
    4. Fully open, all sounds go in, all sounds go out.
     
    Q701:
    1. Headband bumps are a nightmare, after these are sliced off/modded. Q701's have better weight distribution.
    2. Shallower cups, ears poke the inside foam but cause no discomfort to me.
    3. Wider earcups mean I have to center the drivers to get the best sound quality.
    4. Soundstage is much better presented in games with audio effects such as Frostbite Engine games (Battlefield/Mirror's Edge).
    5. Fully open/semi-ish closed, most sounds go out, most sounds come in. External treble frequencies muffled more than the HD598's.
     

    Microdetails, Amplification and Burn-In


    HD598:
    1. HD598 has a tad less microdetails, however due to the flatter response and less dips/peaks; multiple instruments are easier to pick up in busy tracks/compressed music.
    2. More powerful amplifiers seem to increase the bass more on the HD598's. However for these to sound more flat than the Q701's, I like to use the JDS Labs ODAC/O2 that are already tuned to be neutral.
    3. HD598's are nevertheless an easy headphone to drive
    4. I found the sound to be very open and enjoyable after 30-40 hours of brain and driver burn in.
     
    Q701:
    1. Have better microdetails but it's hardly noticeable, however due to the better mids in the Q701's; microdetails are more evident in tracks that have good mastering.
    2. Benefit from a better DAC, however requires an amplifier to extract the details from the DAC.
    3. Louder volumes without an amplifier will cause the Q701's to distort earlier than if it was amplified.
    4. Noisy amps pair well with the Q701's, as these pick up noise from amplifiers a lot less compared to the HD598.
    5. Unfortunately I can't comment on burn in, but my friend enjoyed his Q701's about an entire week of burn in.
    6. The Q701's are all about finding the right source and music to sound magical with, I absolutely love using the Q701's with tube amplifiers that colour sound.
       

    Genres, Instruments and Presentation


    HD598:
    1. Does better with classical/orchestra music in which cellos are more emphasized
    2. American punk rock/metal/screamo is suited better for the HD598's since these are less active in treble and can be turned louder without fatigue
    3. Hip hop and rap is better due to more bass (via tube amplifier)
    4. Violins and Pianos are smoother and more enjoyable/presented since there is a flatter lower treble compared to the Q701's.
    5. Male vocals sound better
    6. American Female Pop artists with lower octave registers sound more intimate and smooth
    7. More forgiving than the Q701's, making a larger variety of songs enjoyable in comparison.
    8. In regards to Techno: dubstep, hardstyle, europop and bass dependent songs are better.
    9. A flat/warm-ish sounding headphone and sometimes unengaging
    10. Can be airy as the Q701's when called for, but just not as much
    11. The Sennheiser veil is not as present in this headphone compared to the HD600. I think the veil what people are talking about is the lack of a large treble spike with a mix of a warm/bassy presentation the sennheisers have.
     
    Q701:
    1. Acoustic Guitars/Flamenco Rumba are much more detailed and fun to listen to
    2. Jazz is presented much better 
    3. Poprock is more active and engaging
    4. Classic rock from the 80's sound brighter and lively due to the large soundstage
    5. Female vocals in higher octaves sound better, sweeter and more active.
    6. In regards to Techno: Trance/Nu Disco/EDM involving a lot of synthesizers sound clearer and faster.
    7. An active/airy-ish headphone and sometimes fatiguing
    8. A brighter headphone would be something like the AD900X, in which treble is much more sparkly, airy and a lot less focused on bass.
     

    Durability and Accessories


    HD598:
    1. Feels like cheap plastic, but extremely durable nonetheless.
    2. Cable is a 6.5mm jack, but comes with a 6.5mm to 3.5mm adapter. Looks awkward on my amp but I'm not too picky about it.
    3. Velours are bound to get dirty.
     
    Q701:
    1. Thicker plastic and solid, but also extremely durable. Metal headband rods saved the headphones from landing earcups first
    2. Green cable is bound to get dirty.
    3. Velours are bound to get dirty.
     
    Sidenote: My headphones that were marketed to be durable broke first compared to these two headphones that have absolutely no issue in durability.
     
     

    Overall Impressions


    Both are good and allow me to enjoy my entire playlist of music. Though I prefer the AKG Q701's since I have more female vocals, I prefer the HD598's equally due to it's flat nature that allow me to enjoy  a variety of genres. I'm getting the Shozy Alien that apparently has more detail than any of my sources so I'll update this post accordingly in regards to how the headphones scale up to them, images coming soon!. When I need to have music or noise in the background, I grab the HD598's since they're a bit more laid back sounding. If I need to get in the zone and active/listen to my daily ASMR, I grab the Q701's.
     


    Powering the Q701’s

     
    I’m just going to flat out say, there’s a certain point in which the Q701’s don’t need any more amping. I believe, similar to the music played through these headphones, the Q701’s are picky with its sources and need a good match for them to sound good and taken to full advantage. Heck, if my initial purchase of a mid-fi headphone was an HD650 instead of the Q701’s, I’d probably have about 500 songs in my entire music collection, rather than a tailored 180 songs for the Q701. Although I have no regret, I’m enjoying my 180 songs 6 hours a day, for the past 2 years. Like any headphone, each one has their own pair of songs that just simply sing. I can't emphasize how nice Jazz sounds with the Q701's.
     

    FiiO E07K

     
    The nature of FiiO products so far is that their soundstage is a bit narrow compared to desktop DAC’s like the JDSLabs ODAC.
    The FiiO X3 sounds a bit better than the E07K in terms of clarity and bass solidity (Firmware 3.2).
     

    FiiO E12

     
    The FiiO E12 cleans up the sound of the X3 or E07K. It smoothens the treble, enriches the mids and the bass is a bit more solid.
     

    Odd Devices


    Regular devices such as an iPad, Supreme FX III (Asus Crosshair Formula-Z Motherboard/Onboard), Xonar DGX and Sony Walkman E474 (which the Sony could BARELY drive the Q701’s to audible levels) make the Q701’s sound “average”. I would have sold the Q701’s and stuck to my A900X if it weren’t for source upgrade.
     

    JDS Labs ODac+O2


    The jump from the E07K to the ODAC/O2 by JDS Labs however was the game changer, and which I started loving the Q701’s. Warmth covered the harsh treble of the Q701’s, and bass was there! Mids sounded more intimate, and treble had more texture to it.  Bass wasn’t emphasized too much but it hit hard and it was THERE!
     

    Dared MP5 Vintage Tube Amplifier


    Now I’m powering the Q701’s with a vintage tube amplifier, the Dared MP5. To be honest the sound didn’t improve very much, if anything it was a change in sound signature. I believe all that changed was that treble is a tad bit more revealing, and a slight hint of natural distortion in the treble peaks exist so that treble is more forgiving. Mids are sweeter, the bass became increased a bit in quantity for enjoyment purposes. The Dared MP5 has some background noise/hiss, but for some reason, these don’t pick up the noise as much as my other headphones even though the Q’s are detail monsters… This is quite a contradictive sentence, but if you have a noisy amp, you’d be glad to pick up the Q’s.
     

    Side Notes
     

    This could simply be an exaggeration, but if I listened to a headphone long enough, my brain starts burning in to that sound signature. Then once after listening to a new source after a period of time, the difference is evident. The opinions of this new change of source is also biased with emotional opinions. These emotional opinions sometimes get mixed in with facts. When I switched between devices too quickly, my brain doesn’t have enough time to adjust to the new source. So as a result I believe that what I’m hearing with the improved source sounds the same to downgraded source. That’s how minor the improvements are with the Q701’s. However this proves that the Q701’s are sensitive to change in sources.


    Gaming with the Q701’s

     
    After the upgrade to the ODAC/O2, soundstage felt 3-Dimensional and I could hear the distance of bullets whizzing by in Battlefield 3. If a bullet whizzed across my face 2 meters in front of me, I can tell, if bullets hit behind my feet, I can tell. Out of all the $300+ gaming headphones I’ve tried (Astro A40’s, Razer Tiamat/Kraken/Blackshark/Carcharias)… there’s nothing more immersive than a product just meant for audio like the AKG Q701’s. Headsets are just utility knives, packing devices like a microphone, batteries; they're basically a jack of all trades and a master of none.

    In regards to games made by Valve, you’re in for a treat. Games like Counterstrike Global Offensive, Team Fortress 2, Half-Life series all benefit from the AKG’s. Valve already implemented an “around your head” soundstage that’s immersive for regular headphones/headsets. The additional soundstage from the Q701’s are beneficial for sound depth. The only issue with Valve’s audio is that they didn’t implement a very good algorithm for sounds in front and sounds behind. In which the Q701’s falter because it doesn’t have a solid central soundstage. Other headphones I have such as the A900X do better with Valve’s front and rear soundstage due to the angled drivers.
     

    Q701’s Modded vs Unmodded

     
    This mod is known as the AKG Sticker Mod. The sticker mod is literally a sticker inside the earcups that can be removed to increase sub-bass. All you need is tweezers to stick into the "Q" grill of the earcups, rotate it counter clockwise, unscrew two screws to carefully remove the plate that requires some force to peel off, and finally use the same tweezers to gently peel off the sticker that covers the bass port.

    When I did the frequency response sweeps on the Q701’s, it was fairly evident the sub bass came first a lot earlier than the earcup that had the sticker still on. There’s definitely a tad looser bass with the sticker off however, although what you get is sub-bass, and a bit more bass to boot. The downside of the sticker off is less mids, and less airiness in soundstage due to the increase in bass.
    The good part of the mod is that everything sounds neutral one might even consider it as an improvement, not an improvement for me; but a possible improvement nevertheless.
    Mids are flat, bass is more full bodied, treble is not as grainy and has sparkle to it. Similar to the Etymotic Research Er4s frequency response, except the ER4S sounds more lively with this response than the modded Q701's.

    Note: This is a raw measurement of the AKG Q701, usually there would be a compensation chart to simulate sound perceived in the room, but I don't have that unfortunately. That's why the treble seems over-emphasized here.
    q701comparisons.jpg


    The stickers off also increase the higher treble area. I don’t notice this at all since the bass balances this out. Also, the graph looks weird, I apologize if this isn't an exact interpretation of the AKG Q701's, because the mids and bass through my ears sound like they're balanced with the treble.

    I tried the bass mod but the slight reduction in soundstage (in regards to circumference, not depth) somewhat turned me around back to stock.
    I prefer my stickers on, I’m a purist and prefer to use the product as is.
     

    Alpha Design Labs iHP-35 Cable
     

    The cables indeed do sound similar. The signature of the Q701's are still there; but it just sounds a bit smoother now like my Sennheiser HD598's treble.
    I had a hard time justifying a very expensive 1.5m cable. The guy at HeadfoneShop kept telling me for an entire year, "Hey, it's up to you if you want to buy it man, you just have to believe me there's a difference". As he continued to play World of Warcraft on his laptop.

    I took up his offer a year later and finally bought it.
    Was there a difference? Thankfully yes, I was ready to return these. All my doubts lead to no until I finally got a chance to listen to the overpriced cable.

    The cables made my Q701's lean a bit towards the smoother side.
    There's a bit more treble grainyness on the green stock cables compared to the ADL cable that sound oh so great with guitars that I miss.
    The cables are less sensitive to my amp's hiss but more sensitive to detail somehow.
    I would also like to re-iterate that these cables introduce a bit more sibilance.
    Realistic.jpg
     

    Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)

     
    My audio preferences? Big soundstage, solid bass, forwarded and sweet mids, and treble that could attack fast in electronic music and provide texture for high hats in which the Q701’s definitely provide. The Q701's are not headphones for everyone, since these headphones are only $150-$220 on the market, we can assume that one hasn't gone into the higher end market that already has a headphone tailored for their music preferences. Or an even better headphone that presents music better for a wider range of genres. A place that is not in reach for the near future.

    The Q701’s are indeed a hit or miss, and for me they were definitely a pinpoint shot. I believe that one needs brain burn-in equally to driver burn in of the Q701’s for these to be enjoyed. I certainly don’t think these are headphones meant to be enjoyed out of the box.

    Thanks to BlueMonkeyFlyer for the In-Ear Microphone!
      7keys, rikk009 and A8ADY like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Nec3
      @Brault It took me about 3 months to decide that I'm cutting off the headband bumps, totally worth it though.

      @kman1211 Really!? I saw the K712 has some elevated bass compared to the Q701's, they're more revealing and have a center image?
      That sounds like an upgrade from the Q701's to me!

      Thank you both for the comments :)
      I don't really write reviews for headphones though unless if I feel really passionate to write about something I really like. This is my first review, so any constructive feedback is appreciated!
       
      Nec3, Oct 31, 2014
    3. kman1211
      That's my impressions, it's a subtle improvement to the Q701 in refinement, but I thought it sounded slightly more refined, had stronger dynamics, and clearer. I guess it's like the HD 600 vs HD 650 in terms of refinement, close enough where some people don't notice the refinement difference. They are a bit warmer, wetter, and have a bit more depth. They do have a center image, the center staging always bothered me on the Q701 even after not listening to the K712 for about a week. I had the K712 before trying Q701 and I felt it was a slight step down when I compared my K712 when I borrowed my friends Q701. When I heard the Q701 at times they had enough bass, other times it felt it just wasn't enough. The K712 is pretty much where I want headphones bass wise. They could do with a bit more sub-bass but the rest of the bass is where I want it. It also has a bit more upper treble but less energy in the 2khz region, this leads to a different treble presentation. A lot of the sound changes is caused by the pads but not all.
      kman1211, Oct 31, 2014
    4. Chris J
      Thank you for the frequency response comparison between no bass mod and with bass mod!
      Cheers!
      Chris J, Nov 1, 2014
  4. 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
  5. 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!!
  6. 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
  7. psjdy88
    fantastic headphone Akg k701
    Written by psjdy88
    Published Dec 3, 2011
    5.0/5,
    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 
    1. View previous replies...
    2. wrathzombie
      LOL
      wrathzombie, Dec 4, 2011
    3. eljustinoid
      Ha Ha Ha I could say the same about my A700s
      eljustinoid, Dec 4, 2011
    4. psjdy88
      English is not my mother tongue so my review is poor ...but i will listen and i will make the changes that are necessary
      psjdy88, Dec 4, 2011
  8. 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
  9. 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'.
     
  10. Quadpatch
    AKG Q701 - Nice sound, just not directly from... well anything!
    Written by Quadpatch
    Published Apr 3, 2012
    4.5/5,
    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
     

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    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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      MMB1 likes this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. wilky61
      Hi Quadpatch,
      Having owned the Q701s for about a week, I wanted to voice my impression about the comfort of wearing them. When I first received them, I thought they were the most comfortable headphones I had ever put on (especially given their large size). I got a haircut a few days ago, however, and I immediately noticed the presence of the leather headband bearing down much more on my scalp. I do not find it to be a terribly distracting issue, though, and I typically angle the headphones slightly so that the headband sits more toward the back of my head instead of sitting flat on the top of my head.
      Amping them with a new E17 and enjoying them quite a lot. I do think that I detected a deepening in the bass around ~60 hours of burn-in, and I have been very pleased with their sound signature ever since (after some minor EQ'ing). At the highest gain setting, I typically don't have to push the E17's volume higher than 40 (out of 60).

      One bad thing about these headphones that I am having to get used to for the first time is that they make some, maybe as many as half, of my 320 kbs MP3s sound like crap. :p
      I have not tried to listen to electronic/hip-hop through these yet because I have been enjoying jazz/blues/acoustic/basically music from 30 years ago so much. They are very musical headphones. I love being able to hear the strings on the bass guitars resonating after they are plucked. Snare drums and percussion instruments in particular also have much more character than I'm used to; for example, when I listen to Frank Zappa, I can just picture the mallets in the percussionist's hands striking the xylophone.
      wilky61, Apr 15, 2012
    3. Quadpatch
      Hey Wilky,
      Thanks for coming back with some thoughts. It sounds like you noticed the same thing as me with the headband although not quite as severe. I could never manage a comfortable angle with the headband no matter how much I tried. Compared to Sennheisers soft foam band the AKG seems annoying that it's so hard. Oh and yes I did notice that about the MP3s although some time after I did the review, I must test more MP3s for the reviews next time. I think I too noticed some bass come in after a while but couldn't tell if it was just be getting used to it. I mostly used the Q701s with the Audinst HUD MX-1 DAC/amp and it seemed to work quite nicely together.
      Quadpatch, Apr 17, 2012
    4. eimis
      IMO: D100 is a poor device for judging Q701.
      eimis, Mar 14, 2014