AKG K701 Review
Mar 24, 2006 at 12:05 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 16

Axel

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Celebrating my 99th post ( just before becoming a 100+ member ), I decided to write my first review.

First of all, I would like to thank head-fi for killing my wallet, may he rest in peace
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. I'm a head-fi member for quite a while now, since 2003, and I must say: THANK YOU ! Head-fi is without a doubt the BEST web forum/information resource for audio equipment - too bad its mostly headphone-related. No wonder your slogan is "sorry 'bout your wallet" - you're so good at it
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!

Now to the review...

Equipment used:
Meridian 588
VPI Scout with an AT-OC9ML/II cart
Singlepower MPX3 SLAM
Sennheiser HD650 with Stefan AudioArt Equinox cable
AKG K701

I listen to mostly classical music and jazz ( and a tiny bit of 70s prog-rock ).

Looks:
What can I say that hasn't been said. The K701 don't have the chic looks of the HD650 nor the space-like looks of the new DT880, when I wear them I look like an alien from one of those 50s black & white science fiction films - and their color is a fashion disaster... but who cares ???!!!

Feel:
The K701 are one of the most comfortable phones I've ever worn - they come very close to the ultra-comfort DT880.

Requirements
The K701 are very demanding phones, amplification-wise and source-wise. When I tried to push them with a non-SLAM MPX3 ( the standard 6SN7 configuration ) the MPX3 clipped at very moderate volume levels, to my surprise. Only when I rolled my 6SN7s and replaced them with the 5687s did the K701 truly show their strength.

Burn/Break-in
The burn-in period with these phones is VERY LENGTHY. It took about one month of 3-4 hours a day burn-in to truly reveal their full potential. At first they sound very thin and bass-less.
Don't judge them until they are fully broken-in !!!

Sound
The K701 are the Avalon Eidolons of the headphone industry - they are the most neutral and natural headphones I've ever heard ! But be cautious ! they will reveal all your system's weak links ( i.e. garbage-in -> garbage-out ).
Mids are magical, treble extension is amazing, but not bright at all. Detail extraction is the best I've heard and bass is right on the money - deep and tight. Soundstage is wide and instruments separation is amazing.
I really wanted my fully equipped HD650 to be worthy contenders, but, unfortunately they were not. The K701 are ( IMHO ) better phones then the HD650 - they "make music" better then the HD650 and are a step above the HD650 ( all said is IMHO ).

Conclusion
After almost 3 month, I can say that I'm loving my K701 more and more each day - they grow on you. Be sure to wait patiently through the long burn-in period and make sure your current source and amplification can "handle" the K701 - they are highly revealing !
Don't be fooled by their bizarre looks, the K701 at their current street price ( and even at their MSRP ) are the deal-of-the-decade ! and, no, I'm not kidding.
 
Mar 24, 2006 at 1:49 AM Post #2 of 16

brat

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I have K701 for 7 days. My first impresions are mixed - except the good soundstage and the tight and deep bass everything else sucks. The mids are muddy, the treble missing, the instrument separation is bad..
I really hope they will improve a lot!
confused.gif
confused.gif

Or.. they just don't love my Prehead MK I.
What is the best amp for the k701??
 
Mar 27, 2006 at 9:11 AM Post #3 of 16

Axel

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Quote:

Originally Posted by brat
I have K701 for 7 days.


Give the K701 at least a week or 2 more burn-in before your final judgement.

Quote:

Originally Posted by brat
Or.. they just don't love my Prehead MK I.
What is the best amp for the k701??



I am very familiar with the Corda amps ( I've owned the HA-1 Mk2 ), they are extremely analytical amps, and can further reveal weaknesses in your audio chain - maybe you need a more "forgiving" amp like the Singlepower amps. I'm very happy with my MPX3 SLAM.
 
Mar 27, 2006 at 4:13 PM Post #4 of 16

jim580

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Axel...
Nice review.
Glad you like them so well.
I'm still waiting on mine and trying to be patient.
Enjoy,
Jim
 
Mar 27, 2006 at 5:22 PM Post #6 of 16

jamesp

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Nice review Axel, now I feel like ordering a pair again...lol
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 8:13 PM Post #7 of 16

Blasyrkh

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Quote:

Originally Posted by brat
I have K701 for 7 days. My first impresions are mixed - except the good soundstage and the tight and deep bass everything else sucks. The mids are muddy, the treble missing, the instrument separation is bad..
I really hope they will improve a lot!
confused.gif
confused.gif

Or.. they just don't love my Prehead MK I.
What is the best amp for the k701??



mine have 10hours or so....and the treble is what i hear most! and instrument separation and midrange are both fantastic...i feel they are just a little bit weak on bass, but with burnin i hope this will improve
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 8:18 PM Post #8 of 16

kwkarth

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Quote:

Originally Posted by brat
I have K701 for 7 days. My first impresions are mixed - except the good soundstage and the tight and deep bass everything else sucks. The mids are muddy, the treble missing, the instrument separation is bad..
I really hope they will improve a lot!
confused.gif
confused.gif

Or.. they just don't love my Prehead MK I.
What is the best amp for the k701??



The HR Max does an outstanding job of driving the 701s.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 8:19 PM Post #9 of 16

kwkarth

Electronics guys... we have our plusses and minuses. With advent of digital everything, we're being phased out
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Nice review Axel!
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 8:53 PM Post #10 of 16

Meyvn

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Blasyrkh
mine have 10hours or so....and the treble is what i hear most! and instrument separation and midrange are both fantastic...i feel they are just a little bit weak on bass, but with burnin i hope this will improve


Supposedly the bass is what improves the most. The treble is also supposed to even out a bit, but the most I'm told is bass.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 9:00 PM Post #11 of 16

sxr71

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Blasyrkh
mine have 10hours or so....and the treble is what i hear most! and instrument separation and midrange are both fantastic...i feel they are just a little bit weak on bass, but with burnin i hope this will improve





I think this fact should be stressed more about the k701s. They have no bass out of the box. It can be quite shocking when you first hear them, because you wonder why you spent all that money on phones that have a huge hole in their response.

Just run them in a closet with a blanket around for a couple of days and you will hear the bass these phones are capable of. I advocate this sort of quick burn-in because those of us who bought the phones from a merchant with a 30-day return policy can judge the phones at full capability before the end of 30 days.


They say that the k701s need almost 300 hours to stop changing in sound. I don't know if this is true, but just to be sure I would give them the full 300 hours. Remember that is a good 12 days of 24/7 running.
 
Mar 28, 2006 at 9:50 PM Post #13 of 16

calaf

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Quote:

Originally Posted by brat
I have K701 for 7 days. My first impresions are mixed - except the good soundstage and the tight and deep bass everything else sucks. The mids are muddy, the treble missing, the instrument separation is bad..
I really hope they will improve a lot!
confused.gif
confused.gif

Or.. they just don't love my Prehead MK I.
What is the best amp for the k701??



strange! Usually I listen to K701 off a Woo 3, but when I bring them home and listen to them with my Prehead MK I they do sound great. The mids are not at all muddy, on the contrary! May be a bit recessed compared with the Woo, but incredibly detailed (the CI DAC sure helps there). Same impression of extreme detail in the treble department although I don't hear the treble extension that my DT880 had. OTH I find the bass lacks in energy using the K701 with the Prehead. Using the 120 Ohm output of the Prehead helps a bit but still the Woo 3 seems to drive the K701 with more authority. I would really love to hear the K701 with the Woo 4. From what I remember from the week I spent with the Woo4 prototype it should be a perfect match!
 
Mar 28, 2012 at 8:38 PM Post #15 of 16

Mellonhead3013

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Regarding the inadequate soundstage - maybe it's the source. I'm using the 702's (so basically the same thing) driven by a Graham Slee Novo, and at first was using a Sansa Clip+ loaded with Flac files as a source. It was  good, sound quality wise, and the soundstage was typically wide, but the precision was not there, like the soudstage was blurry. I switched the source to the weird QA-350 Wav Player (cheap on Ebay) and suddenly, BAM!  The soundstage was much more defined - 3D with well recorded music.
 
With the better source I can listen to them for hours with no fatigue, other than uncomfortable dents in my bald head (hate that part).
 

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