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AKG K3003 High End 3 Way System Headphone

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  1. lee730

    lol my opinion stands on that. The unit I received showed signs of wear at the strain relief area to the housing. The carrying case may have contributed to that as well but I just don't see that as being acceptable at all. Heck even the Sui appears to be more sturdy in that regard although it doesn't really look like it.
    BTW didn't you have problems with your AKG3003 and had to get it replaced under warranty? Wasn't that from the cable?
  2. music_4321
    No, the problem was not the cable, but a malfunctioning remote unit (the rewind / play previous track feature, to be precise), not the cable issues you now call "atrocious". I asked AKG Austria directly to please send me a non-remote/mic unit instead.
    And I have stated several times that I personally prefer and recommend the non-remote/mic version, which is the one I've had for a good 9/10 months now and, which to me, aesthetically looks even better than the remote/mic version.
  3. Aero Dynamik
    I think I may have made an observation that I haven’t seen anyone else write (explicitly) about. I’ve noticed that the more I use the K3003, the more I change the filters to match the “keynote of the recording” and my preferences. For starters I thought I would eventually tune in to one of the filter types and not care much for the others. For quite a while I felt the “High boost” filters would become my final choice, but not so. The more I use the K3003, the more I’m sensing the sophistication behind the thought, implementation and use of the filters. It’s amazing how easy it is to switch filters to match recordings and mode, and I really love the colour scheme of black, grey, and white; a very functional European style which really appeals to me.

    I wouldn’t go as far as to say I got three IEMs for the price of one, but the filters certainly add substantially the K3003’s value and use. I’m beginning to associate certain recordings fairly strongly with specific filters.

    I’ve seen another tendency. For those recordings of high quality that I know extremely well, for example Mike Oldfield’s Amarok (in my book one of the most supreme pieces of music ever created, and, among other things, an absolute adventure of very fine and subtle details) I enjoy the “High boost” and “Reference” filters equally much but for different reasons. I tend to prefer the “High boost” filters for their ability to portray absolutely all fine details in a very favourable light and for the exquisite transient attacks. Yet I enjoy the same recording almost equally much with the reference filters, but this time for the reference filters’ ability to portray a somewhat more resonant bottom and (for lack of another word [​IMG]) coherence.

    To my own amazement, I’ve even started to find recordings where I prefer the “Bass boost” filters; one example being Alphaville’s album “Forever young”; not only for a more prominent bass but for a tad more substance in lower mid-range. I feel Marian Gold’s (alias Hartwig Schierbaum) voice sounds a little too feminine with the other filters.

    There are also recordings where I definitely prefer the “High boost” filters. For example, I have a CD with the Swedish chamber orchestra that I just love and feel sounds just perfect with the “High boost” filters. Though I suppose illegal, I’ve made a small sample from this CD available for download here. I’d be very curious to know if those of you who generally prefer the “Reference” filters (music_4321!?) would possibly prefer the “High boost” filters with this recording. I find the flageolets of the solo violin to sound eerily real but nevertheless extremely pleasant with the “High boost” filters.

    Conclusion; The more I use the K3003 the more I find its filters to be an amazingly well implemented, useful, enjoyable, and entertaining feature. I no longer believe the initial thought behind the filters was to broaden the market share, but to give the owner the means to tune the K3003 for various types of recordings and moods. Simply brilliant!
  4. music_4321
    Very interesting findings / comments.
    Haven't actually swapped filters for a looong time! Please give me a day or two and I'll tell you what I think, FWIW. Hope the music is at least fairly decent!  :wink:
    EDIT: Oh, btw, my favourite track on Alphaville's "Forever Young" is To Germany With Love, a brilliant track.
  5. tumburu
    I find the high boost filters usually too much, at least for me it is. For classical and acoustical genres they works like some kind of magnifying glass over the music, but for modern, rhythmic, electronic music, you need to feed them with very balanced tracks. I find even the reference filter to be unmerciful with bright masters that are so common these days, but the high boost filter makes them simply unbearable.
    Unfortunately, every time I tried the bass boost filters, although I wanted to find a use for them, I always ended putting them back in the box.
    I think that the three (in practice actually two) filters are indeed a "genre" related option, but above that I believe they are important for choosing the right signature one prefers. Due to my sensitivity to highs, not having the reference filters (technically the high boost ones are just a grid, not actual filters) would render these almost unusable. So yes, it's really good to have them.
    Regarding the cable, I have to admit, I began to worry about it a month ago (the IEMs were bought in september 2012), when I noticed visible marks on the upper part of the cable, from the splitter above, which does not have the protective fabric, on each end of the two pieces of cable (where they split and where they meet the housing of the IEMs), which are due to the periodically applied strain which appears naturally on those segments. Now, the thing is, these are intended to use with a phone (they are the  3003i model), this meaning everyday use, and they were used exactly like that because I bought them to have outmost quality, everywhere, all the time. I would feel a lot more secure if the cable was easily changeable, and I mean it. I stopped using them outdoors on a daily basis and replaced them with cheaper models. I use them exclusively indoors now, simply because I'm not curious to discover, for the price I paid, the life span of the cable if used as intended by the manufacturer, as an iPhone headset.
    But if something bad happens, I will report.
  6. lee730

    I like Big in Japan :).
  7. Aero Dynamik
    Thank you!
    About the music; it has a very Scandinavian (I'm Swedish myself) sentiment. I wouldn't call it sentimental but definitely a bit on the "sad side" (for lack of a better word) and I'm not sure you'll like it. I grew up with music like this so it somehow speaks very directly to my "Swedish soul" :) (My ambition was to become a professional violinist until the age of about 20. Now, that was quite awhile ago, and I'm pretty far from being a musician, but I still love music). Anyway, I'm very curious to see your reaction listening to it with the "High boost" filters.
    To Germany With Love, oh yes, and I just love the bass on that track!
  8. music_4321
    Beautiful piece of music!! Thanks for (inadvertently ) sharing!

    Onto the filters: For me, the reference filter delivers the most natural / convincing sound with this particular piece, that of a (small) concert hall with very good acoustics. The timbre of stringed instruments, in particular, is just wonderful. The "high boost" filter does a fine job, but the high notes, in particular, sound, er, boosted and not so lifelike, not as I'd picture this piece in a live setting.

    Bear in mind there are several aspects as to why we may perceive sonic differences irrespective of what each of us considers good sound. Let's say we both have a similar notion of what good sound is when we listen to speakers. Now, even when using the same tips—and perhaps, even, the same sized-tips—there may be minute differences in how sound reaches or ears—each ear, even—and how we interpret that sound. You also get age factors, perhaps different levels of hearing loss, differences between left and right ear canals, etc. This, the choice of tips issue and differences in ear / ear-canal shapes, is something you don't get with full-sized phones, or the differences /issues between those impressions by different people are certainly not so marked /diverse to the extent (read: as conflicting) as you do with IEMs, and even with custom IEMs, but to a (much) lesser extent.

    Then take the recording itself and which instruments are more audible (given more prominence), better recorded, and—often overlooked—how they're played by each musician (individual tone and technique), which also accounts for a better / clearer and cleaner perception of each instrument and the music as a whole.

    tumburu's description above of the three filters, and for what it's worth, happens to mirror my own perception, almost word for word.
  9. k3oxkjo
    Well purrin, I see where you're coming from. M-L's to me have always been one of those things that bordered on greatness, but never quite made it. The old CLS's through all their iterations seemed to end up with the "mustache on the Mona Lisa" effect. I just heard the CLX's at the show this weekend and things are better but...
    At any rate, the coherence issue in the K3003 strikes me as much less than the M-L's and to me reasonably minor (though there to some degree). Now some people are very sensitive to this, some to the point where only single driver speakers with all their other issues are the only thing they will listen to. Though something like Lowther-based systems may be coherent, they are far, far from tonally balanced, which is more important, in my view. In my experience, I can't think of a multi-way cone based loudspeaker that, to me, is truly coherent, though the Spendor BC-1/SP-1 make a good stab at it. The most coherent speaker to me is the old Quad 57's, despite other weaknesses, it does that for sure!
    It's interesting to see the ER-4S on your list of "IEMs which I do not consider to have serious flaws with driver coherency and response smoothness". I own a pair and am not really disagreeing with this assessment as far as it goes. But if one looks at the Innerfidelity FR graphs for these two IEM's, above 1 khz the K3003 has what is really a dip at 4khz, a peak at 10 khz and lower level peaks at 15 khz and 20 khz as the response rolls off in the treble. The ER-4PT has a tiny peak at 4 khz, a big peak at 8 khz, and a big peak at 15 khz where the response is otherwise rolling off.
    These treble anomolies show up in the square wave plots as significant ringing on the leading edge of the waveform. That and the relatively higher distortion of the ER-4PT are disadvantages in the ER-4PT that (along with my listening experiences) make me rate the ER-4 inferior in overall sound quality when actually listening to music. I mostly use the ER-4 mostly in situations where the isolation is useful. Of course, let's not forget the ER-4 is much cheaper. But I have never understood the ER-4 as paragon of IEM sonic quality concept. Which, as far as I know, purrin doesn't either, though he may well like them better that the AKG's for the reasons he has expressed. To me, like Wagner’s music, the ER-4 is probably better than it sounds.
    tumburu likes this.
  10. Aero Dynamik
    Thanks for taking the time to listen to my example and sharing your thoughts about it, and glad you enjoyed the music! Yes, there are so many parameters governing how we perceive sound on an individual basis that it’s mostly impossible to reach any definitive consensus.

    I also believe there may be psychological parameters. I have often noticed in dialog with other people that we quite often seem to have different experiences, and therefore emotions, of the same words (“flawed” [​IMG] is a word that comes to mind), and I suspect it may be the same with sounds. For instance, I played the violin from an early age until I was about 20 years old. In my late teens I heard myself and my friends play string instruments for many hours every day, and I guess when you’re so close to the instruments you hear (also not so pleasant) details that most people in a non-playing audience never notices. Perhaps the “magnifying glass” as “tumburu” describes the “High boost” filters is what best brings back my fond memories of live violins, and so triggers my liking.

    Anyway, and as I mentioned in my previous post, the filters are a brilliant addition to the K3003 that really adds to its versatility.
  11. tumburu
    I see we hear things pretty much the same. Nice!
  12. Aero Dynamik
    I’m certainly no expert, but although I personally find the K3003 to be my favourite headphone, I’ve found what I feel might be a bit of a problem area. When I feed the K3003 from my Rx-MK3-B amp with very bass heavy (exaggerated bass) tracks, it’s like the amp overpowers the bass and so renders it a bit uncontrolled. An example of this is the track “Mastermind” from Mike Oldfield’s album “The Millenium Bell” (Not one of Oldfield’s greatest works, but nevertheless…). I feel the Rx-MK3-B just wasn’t designed for this kind of super sensitive IEM (despite the gain setting being set to low), but rather for full sized power hungry headphones. The same track with the TTVJ Portable Slim is a much, much better match.

    Anyway, my point is this (and it may very well be uncalled for in your case); make sure you use a reasonable source to feed the K3003. Although the Rx-MK3-B with the K3003’s reference filters can sound pretty amazing with many other tracks, even better than with the TTVJ Portable Slim, the Rx MK3 B (and similar amps, I suppose) just doesn’t seem to be the ideal match for the K3003 in every situation.

  13. Deep Funk
    How does this K3003 relate to the vintage AKGs?
    AKGs reputation is founded on the fact that their older AKG had a certain sound signature. As such my K500 stays in my stable of headphones.
  14. Gilles De Rais
    It doesn't. Neither of my full size AKGs (the K141 or the K271) sound similar to the K3003. But then that is because they are designed for different purposes (studio/monitoring). The K3003 is a more rounded listening device than those of the rest of the range I have heard, for a start there's deep bass...
  15. jonstatt
    I took a VERY big gamble and bought a pair of these off eBay. They were brand new (still sealed). And I reckoned that nobody would dare to fake these as the packaging and all the bits and pieces would just make it unviable (especially as its such a niche product too). Anyway, it definitely is not a fake as every bit oozed quality and mirrored identically the unboxing video I found. I got them for about 35% discount this way and the serial number is over 5000. So I don't know and can't vouch for whether the crossovers were adjusted or not, but I am extremely happy overall with the sound.
    I think what AKG tried to achieve is clever, but I realize those like Purrin are sensitive to coherency issues more than others. It's a bit like in the world of single chip DLP projectors, some see this rainbow effect and can't stand it, while others don't know what you are talking about. The so called Marmite effect is in place with these.
    Fortunately I cannot hear the coherency issues (perhaps because it is improved in later serial numbers, or simply I don't hear it). I agree about the concerns with the cable particularly the upper parts which are rubbery and will nick or develop creases easily. The lower part of the cable is fabric and feels much tougher. In the UK we only have the version with the remote which is a shame. It is the poorest part build quality wise. Unlike the metal earphone casings which seem durable and won't scratch too easily, the remote is a nightmare and micro scratches just wiping it clean. I don't know if its a fake metal, or just a very poor thin sheet of one, but that is undoubtedly the bit that will show wear first aside from any cable accidents.
    One advantage of a full armature design is the lightning fast responsiveness. With these hybrid units, I do feel the bass is a touch slower than some other IEMs. It is warmer and more rounded than other IEMs I have heard (NOT boomier). It also has texture in the bass, but it lacks speed. So its a trade-off but one I am not displeased about. My "big rig" comprises an Audeze LCD-3 which I absolutely love immensely. These do NOT sound like them. Rather they sound more like Sennheiser HD800s with a more crisp and open treble. I didn't want that sound for my big headphones because I also use them for my Yamaha digital piano and the Audeze compliment those perfectly. But I did want the option of a more crisp, detailed treble for other uses and the AKG fills the spot perfectly while giving me the portability (I don't go out with my Audeze of course).
    I saw some of the heated discussion in the various threads on these AKGs. I think it stems from the fact that opinions on these will be polarized a bit like single chip DLP projectors. I don't think it means that these IEMs are poor. Quite the opposite, I think they are a bit of a revelation especially at the price I paid for them. But they are not for everyone, and that's fine too.
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