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AKG K701 - The best amp money can buy?

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  1. Rayz
    Hey there.

    It's been 4 years with my K701, and I really love those headphones. I had to listen to vary selection of headphones but something always brings me back to my beloved K701 sound.
    All this time I've been driving my K701 from Xonar STX amp input (stock op-amps, extra-high gain, hi-fi mode always on, 96Khz - FLAC\MP3 320). same goes for any headphones I've been testing.

    Problem starts when I wants my K701 to sound perfect, and their sound is awesome, but I feel that It's not meet my first expectations when I first bought those headphones.
    What driven me choose this specific model was my high expectations for details, transparency and analytics. I wanted my headphones to reveal every detail in the recording, and almost every recommendation leaded me for K701.

    That's true, the K701 are very detailed - the soundstage is very wide. but I feel it doesn't give me the high analytic level I want. I feel like there is not much transparency - like high vocals or other dominant things can prevent me from hearing the other details. also, I feel like the headphones are somewhat lack of power. something in the sound seems to sound like it's unamped well. I got that when some headphones which are very low-badget revealed me more details than the K701.
    Also, there is the bass. it's almost absent, and I am aware that K701 aren't exactly basshead, but It's really like there is no bass AT ALL.
     
    Some readings here and comments suggested me that STX amp is great, but the K701, regardless their 32-ohm imp, are very power hungry and the STX just can't do the work, and same goes to any entery-level or even average amp, so if I want to get my perfect sound I have to get my hand deep into my wallet for a proper amp...

    So, I need a very strong amp who will match the K701, and can give them what they lack of, for me- highest level of details, transparency and analytics, and also, some low-end boost - not much, but heal it from dead-pale bright as they sound now.

    My budget, as mentioned, is high. I can climb to 1K$ if necessary.

    Please help me choose once and for all.
    Thanks! :)
     
  2. vforrest Contributor
    I enjoyed K701s a lot. If you like the AKG sound but want more bass, the K712s will provide it.
     
    What is your source? Is it a computer? Does your DAC use a USB input? Do you want a combination DAC and headphone amp?
     
  3. Shaffer
    Take a look at the Corda Classic. Good luck.
     
  4. Rayz

    I don't want "more bass". read again. 

    my source is xonar STX, I only need an amp without a DAC.
     
  5. ProtegeManiac Contributor
     
    Quote:
     
    So the bass being "almost absent" isn't actually a problem? He must have interpreted that it was given the emphasis on "no bass AT ALL," and a +1dB of bass over what you hear now is still technically "more bass." The K712 I think is a +3dB though.
     
     
     
    Check the output stage specs on the STX. If it has a clean line output separate from the headphone output, then you can go get an amp for it, since this means you get a clean, relatively lower level, unamplified signal that won't force you to use software volume control along with the amp's. I'd go with the Magni as a low cost solution, but I won't bet on the amp alone helping the "almost absent" bass - it does however have a lot of clean power that will help give you some headroom for using the EQ, although of course that doesn't mean you have to add gobs of bass boost.
     
    What kind of bass are you missing anyway? Is it the impact on the bass drum, or are is the bass guitar/double bass inaudible or inarticulate? From my listening the Burson amps really helped in all those areas. My Meier was no slouch, but when I plugged into a Burson Soloist, the dynamic range on the upper bass was clearly improved, with louder transient notes while the overall response wasn't any different (ie so it wasn't a matter of the amp EQ-ing the sound). Bass drums were louder and cleaner too, but the bass viola/guitar wasn't much louder or more articulate. That was level matched as best as I could with my ears on a 1.2khz sinewave and the tracks themselves BTW, and the bass drum did well on both settings.
     
  6. Rayz
    Well, the input is crystal clear, and my system is driven by an aftermarket power supply (seasonic), so nothing from this side, i'll give it that. so my problem is 99.9% amp.

    About the bass- once again, as it's almost not there, it's the less of my problems (i'll explain). I'm looking for a way more better details.
    The bass itself seems to be very very flat in 30~60Hz. from 120 it gets better. actual sound is cold pale bright. problem is that I get disturtions in the bass in movies\games, even in low listening volumes, what seems to be like cans unamped well. 
     
  7. Boffy
    Well, I am using a Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies (~$999) to drive the K701, and they sound great. But, I am almost certain that there are better and more expensive amps out there that can drive your K701 even better. So, let me ask you again: What is your budget? Is it unlimited or is it $1,000? If it is unlimited, you can try end game tube amps like Woo Audio WA5 or Eddie Current 2A3 MKIV. However, I highly doubt you are going to get those, so I will just assume that your budget is $1,000. Woo Audio amps works very good with the K701, so you can try WA3, WA6, or WA7 like me. I heard Bottlehead Crack works really well with K701. My final recommendation would be Headamp GS-1. Good luck.
     
  8. ProtegeManiac Contributor
     
    Try an amp first, but th thing is even without audible interference the analog outputs can still have some distortions, and even more when used with an amp, since they weren't designed purely to function as real, fixed voltage line outputs.
     
     
    Yep sounds like you need more power with less THD. The thing is though if you're looking for "the best amp money can buy," it'd be a good idea to get a DAC with that too, built-in or separate, given the cleaner lien output. The most recommended before with the K701 was the Heed CanAmp, but the thing is I never read any recommendation for that amp to be used with anything else; if you're going to buy the best that money can buy, I would highly recommend the Burson Soloist or the Conductor (which is essentially the same amp circuit, but has a DAC, plus separate power supplies - avoid the SL versions unless you get them with a big discount).

    Just to add to what I said of Bursons above, have you heard Grados? Imagine the tonality and audible (not necessarily actual) dynamic range of an RS1 or SR325 with a decent amp; with the Bursons, the AKGs sounded a lot like those (smoother than the SR325 though), but with good imaging.
     
  9. Rayz
    Never had a chance to hear any Grado. I love my K701 sound tou, don't want to swap from it.
     
    About the best amp, I made some reaserch and I came into 3 options with $1k top:

    - SPL Auditor
    - Violetric V-200
    - Violetric V-100
     
    Let me know if I'm wrong: the SPL option ($1k) will give me the most analytic and detailed sound, with less low-end tou.
    The Vio's might give me less analytic sound but better bass.
     
    I'm looking into the SPL for now, as what I care the most is details, details, details. I want to reavel anything in the recording, and I only need a little bass boost.
    Question is- what are the differences between V-200 and V-100 beside V-200 costs twice than V-100?
     
  10. Shaffer
    The SPL has a relatively high output impedance and isn't the best match for your K701. I own a V200 and love it dearly. Its emphasis on detail is somewhat subtle, which isn't to say that it lacks anything. It just isn't upfront. The Corda I recommended earlier in the thread is more detail-driven. Never heard a V100, but there's a comparison posted on the forum. Might want to run a quick search.
     
  11. Duncical
    Buy something on the used market. Personally if I were in your position I'd upgrade my DAC and my amp.
     
  12. Rayz
    There is nothing wrong with STX DAC. it is known for it's clear and great clarity
     
  13. Oktyabr
    I used to have the K701s and once my ears got used to it, found the bass plentiful and neutral... nice to listen to.  I only sold them because I have a BIG head and the bumps on the headband hurt after only an hour or two of using them.  Source was 64 bit linux with a realtime audio hand rolled kernel -> M-Audio Delta 44 pro sound card -> Creek OBH-11 headphone amp.  Most of my collection is lossless FLAC, either ripped from CDs (or in a few cases, vinyl), or 96/24 studio masters.  I have some ogg and mp3s in my collection as well (who doesn't?!?!) but the 701s were the first headphone that could reveal a noticeable difference to my ears between a high def, lossless format and the run of the mill iTunes type stuff.

    I don't really have an answer for you!  If the bass is missing with these headphones then either 1) your headphones are defective, 2) your ears are defective or 3) your upstream components are not ideal.  I suspect #3.

    1K budget?  Hmmm...  let's see.  For US$1000 I could buy a pro-audio sound card (forget the specs on the STX) AND a good amp.  Do you really want a boutique headphone amp?  Portable, or (I assume) desktop?  I'd personally be looking at a higher end stereo processors too with that much money to play with.  The Sony Playstation 3, for example, had excellent DACs in it.  My current Yamaha utilizes the industry standard Burr-Brown chips and sounds fine to my ears.  A higher end Pioneer (or Denon?) I listened to had the Wolfson DACs in it and at least on $5000 worth of Martin Logans I was pretty sure I could hear the difference.

    Further, due to trends in technology, I suspect unless you are a very careful shopper, you might find modern full size stereo components a bit weak on the headphone section, much like the phono section in integrated amps at the turn over, before CDs and HDMI came along.  A very good *vintage* amplifier is what I'm thinking.  Stereo amplifier.  Home stereo amplifier.  With an awesome headphone section.  Me?  I'd be hauling my K701s with me to every good stereo shop in town and plugging them in, in the display room.  Same with demo'ing higher end vintage stuff on craigslist or whatever.  Think vintage Marantz, Pioneer (the SX-1980 I had sounded awesome with anything plugged into it, and popped safety fuses on 400wpc Cerwin Vegas one night when I told a friend "Hey, watch THIS!"), McIntosh, Creek, NAD, Rotel, etc.
     


    The point I think I'm getting at is unless you want portable, or something very expensive AND very tiny, that looks cool, you should maybe expand your horizons a bit.  YMMV. 

    Just my US$0.02 worth.
     
  14. burdie
    K701 become my primary headphone after I bought Schiit Mjolnir as I think this amp actually pair very well with K701 (I also owned LCD 2.2 & HE-500). It really push K701 to higher level which  I never heard from other desktop/portable amp that I ever tried. However, you need to convert your K701 to balanced mode.
     
  15. Shaffer
    FWIW, there's a V200 in the classifieds for $650. It's a killer amp for K701.
     
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