AKG K702 - how to get the best out of them
Jun 21, 2011 at 3:07 PM Post #16 of 34

AuralRelations

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Great posts about the K702. I was disappointed by the K702 initially but that was because I was using the wrong amp. I have a Little Country III hybrid tube/solid state amp that sounds pretty good, but a little bright and hard, especially with the K702. I bought a vintage Pioneer SX-850 for $100 off Craigslist and have been truly impressed by its sound. It's smooth and more relaxed. I also feel that the Pioneer is slightly more dynamic, probably because it's super powerful. I can't turn the knob past 9 o'clock before the fear of hearing loss sets in. 
 
I'm truly surprised that a receiver from 1979 can perform so well. I wish Pioneer, Marantz, etc would go back to making amps like these. I love the look of them, especially the blue glow and VU meters of the older Marantz. I'm finally happy with my K702 and wouldn't trade them for another headphone. Even if I do upgrade eventually, I'll keep the K702s as a reference for sound stage depth and imaging as well as for its detail retrieval. 
 
Jun 21, 2011 at 3:28 PM Post #17 of 34

AndyV

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Thanks everyone for your feedback. With your help, I feel I am on the right track right now. I really don't want to turn this thread into another amplifier war debate. Your reassuting advice to listen to my system first and then decide where I want to go is what I wanted to hear. I know for sure I will get myself the best match for K702 but I am also revealed that there is nothing terribly wrong with my current system either (as long as I enjoy it).
 
I will probably post another update down the road if my impressions change in any way or if I have other specific questions. In the meantime, thanks a lot again and if you have any specific questions to me, just email directly or post them here.
 
smily_headphones1.gif

 
 
 
Jun 21, 2011 at 3:35 PM Post #18 of 34

AndyV

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I really like that idea regarding vintage receiver. I do have nostalgia for vintage look and would definitely try going this route if the sound is as good as you describe (and no damage is done to the phones by older specs). I will definitely explore this alternative in the near future. Especially since it costs almost nothing.
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Jun 21, 2011 at 4:37 PM Post #20 of 34

Acix

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Quote:
Just googled SPL Phonitor and I would definitely not consider it as a 'start" for my budget. I am sure neither Bill Gates, although for a totally opposite reason.
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It looks more like a 'finish' to me. But are you trying to say that $160 Corda headfive may sound as good?
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Bill Gates?? dude you've gone tooo far...what I'm trying to say is to check out a few cheap and expensive SS amp , and to gain your own experience.
 
Jun 21, 2011 at 5:00 PM Post #21 of 34

Modo

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I'm truly surprised that a receiver from 1979 can perform so well. I wish Pioneer, Marantz, etc would go back to making amps like these.

Yamaha did with the A-S2000. I bought mine to drive the speakers, but it turned out to also be a great match for the K 701. And it's not even getting a balanced signal yet.
 
Jun 21, 2011 at 5:33 PM Post #22 of 34

AndyV

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Quote:
Quote:
I'm truly surprised that a receiver from 1979 can perform so well. I wish Pioneer, Marantz, etc would go back to making amps like these.



Yamaha did with the A-S2000. I bought mine to drive the speakers, but it turned out to also be a great match for the K 701. And it's not even getting a balanced signal yet.


Interestingly, my Yamaha E810 (microsystem) was released approximately the same year as A-S2000 (around 2007) and also conveys that retro-look with silver plates, separate components, plain simple design, and black Yamaha grand piano finish on speakers. This is why it cought my eye when I saw it on the sale site and I really hoped it would work well with K702. They look great together for sure (both black and silver). And looks like there is nothing horribly wrong with sound too.   
 
Jun 21, 2011 at 8:47 PM Post #23 of 34

Redcarmoose

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Yes, go to a meet. Bring the pair of headphones you own. The last meet I was at in 09 had no AKGs in the mix! It was just one of those strange happenstances. The great reward thing in this hobby is getting a new sound advance using the equipment you already own. Just by an addition of some small change you can make a big difference.
 
The other process going on is sound signature. You are now enjoying your set-up but you are also starting to learn and getting to understand what possible house sound your into. This is much like a journey into food or art where you are finding what is good/bad on your own terms.
 
In the world of the internet, the ignorance is bliss scenario has been nullified. Instead of just enjoying what you have, we read about all the endless possibilities surrounding our new purchase. The pages of banter on Head-Fi can be endless as each listener find his or her own personal reality with the AKGs.
 
Jun 22, 2011 at 10:43 PM Post #25 of 34

livewire

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My 2 cents -
 
As others have said, go to a meet with your K702's in hand.
Two amps that have excellent synergy with the K702's are the Burson HA-160 and the Schiit Lyr.
You would have to listen to see what sounds best to you.
I really enjoyed the Burson amp coupled with the K702's. The sound was on the clinical side, absolutely true to the source.
 
I currently run my K702's with a Marantz 2275 receiver (1974 vintage) or with my Little Dot Mk-III tube amp.
It depends what mood I'm in. The tube amp yeilds a lush, musical sound that takes the edge off of the K702's
treble and has a stronger bass.
 
But then I'm also a Stax fanatic. My K702's usually take a backseat to the Stax sound.
I use them as a reference set or when I'm in the mood for something different. (as in euphonic tube sound)
 
Jun 22, 2011 at 10:47 PM Post #26 of 34

Gatepc

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I've heard a few amps the K702s and my overall favorite so far is the Burson 160 which others have also mentioned. This thing manages to dig even more detail out of the 702s but keeps it musical too. I don't want to write up a long page on how they sound great but trust me you will want to check out this combo.
 
Jun 22, 2011 at 11:51 PM Post #27 of 34

AndyV

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Quote:
I've heard a few amps the K702s and my overall favorite so far is the Burson 160 which others have also mentioned. This thing manages to dig even more detail out of the 702s but keeps it musical too. I don't want to write up a long page on how they sound great but trust me you will want to check out this combo.


Looks like Burson 160 is a definite winner and will be at the top of Christmas list to Santa from many K70x fans this year, including me. 
rolleyes.gif

 
And since I am writing, I couldn't help it to share - I just experienced something like a shock during listening FIRST TIME EVER Paraguayan Harp (yes, a harp) performed by Alfredo Rolando Ortiz (Album title "Serenata"). I have never heard such intensity from such a mellow instrument before. If you don't have it in your collection, I would highly recommend especially if you never heard Paraguayan Harp before (it sounds more like a piano than a classic harp). What this guy can do with this harp is just insane, IMO; totally blew my mind away. And it sounds great either through speakers or a headphone (ANY headphone). 
 
 
Cheers. 
 
  
 
 
Jun 23, 2011 at 12:06 AM Post #28 of 34

Andru08

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I too have been shopping around for a headphone amp to drive the K702s I own, I listened to them for a bit after burning them in and decided I didn't like them as they sounded rather thin when compared to my Sennheiser HD650. My first thought was that I needed a better amp. I've been shopping around for months and am currently looking at the Burson HD HA-160D, but I'm still undecided because like you I'm worried that it won't sound any better than my present amp.
 
On a whim after reading that the K702 sounds really good with female vocals today. I picked a Diana Krall album to be the test. To my surprise they sounded really good after all when compared to the Sennheisers that have been my favorite phones for the past 4 years.  
 
The HD650 now sounds a little veiled or muffled. They sound like I'm listening to the music through a curtain because some detail was lost.
 
I've found a new appreciation for the AKG702 now. However, they are still rather uncomfortable to wear for more than an hour because of the bumps on the headband. I wish they didn't have those bumps. They would certainly be a lot more comfortable to wear without them. TIn comparison, the Sennheisers are quite comfortable to wear for hours on end because of the soft cushioning it has on the headband. 
 
When you compare the weight of the two, the AKGs are by far the lighter pair.
 
I'm using a Yamaha RX-V3800 receiver set to pure-direct mode to drive the headphones.
The source is either my iMac or my Pioneer DV-563A DVD/DVD-A/SACD player.
 
Thanks for writing about your experience.
 
Jun 23, 2011 at 12:58 AM Post #29 of 34

AndyV

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And here is another interesting observation that came to my mind today which I wanted to bring to attention of those who may be interested in K70x. When I listen to an acoustic jazz band, piano concerto, or symphonic orchestra (exclusively via Pure Direct by the way, no bass boost), the bass level is always spot on - not dominating yet very full and natural to the point that I can "see" vibration of the strings on a bass guitar or on the skin on the drums. I would NOT want it any different, it's just perfect. Yet, when I switch to pop/rock music, the bass just disappears somewhere. The whole fullness and naturalness just escapes through the back door somehow and doesn't want to stay inside the phones. To get any acceptable level of bass I have to switch to the EQ mode and crank the bass knob to almost 100%. Even after than the lows sometimes just don't sound right.
 
So, here is what I think about it. I suspect that the bass generated by accoustical instruments requires somewhat different kind of cone vibration versus electronic bass. I think it make sense since both kinds of bass do sound quite different (and different sound is produced by different vibrations).  And I think that AKG cones have been specifically (or accidentally) designed to handle better acoustical bass than electronic bass. This would explain why so many people are calling AKG's light on bass - many people these days (even among audiophiles) prefer electronic music to acoustical. So when they listen their favorite electronic music through AKG (and don't listen acoustical), they naturally (and correctly by the way) accuse AKG in weak bass reproduction. On the other hand, people that prefer jazz or classical music (like me) don't see any flaws in the bass area.
 
Now, this is just my opinion which (by the way) may easily change later after I spend more time with AKG. One particular weakness that I see in my theory is that my main source of pop music is FM radio. Even though some stations sound loud and clear, music from the radio (especially lows) may not be as good as from CD or iPod. I will try to dig out some pop CD's later to do better test. As usual, feedback from other users regarding this observation would be highly appreciated. In any case, I hope this information might be useful for someone.
 
 
 
Jun 23, 2011 at 9:59 AM Post #30 of 34

nanaholic

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Quote:
Quote:

Because you have a mini receiver you're already happy with, (and because of synergy) I wouldn't bother buying anything solid state.  To hear the difference you're looking for, and for your musical preferences, tube amps are the way to go.  Of course, only some tube amps work well with the K70xs.  The Woo Audio 6 is an excellent amp sonically w/ the K70xs (and otherwise) but is expensive (>$500) and is slightly underpowered for these phones.  I really liked this pairing when I had it.  

 
I just received my WA6 and I'm going to vouch for the WA6 pairing as well.  It may be slightly underpowered but it would probably make the phones less piercing to the ears of some people.
Since I also have the Burson my feeling of the pairings can pretty much be summarised like this (yes been doing a lot of back and forth between the amps):
Burson Audio HA-160: if you like the sound signature of the K701 just the way it is go for this one, however it will only give you more of the same (keeps the phone to a very analytical and articulated sound, plus puts more extension on both ends)
Woo Audio WA6: if you feel that the K701 is too analytical, bright and bass light and would like to "fix" the sound signature go for this combo, the standard drive tubes included will do this (adds bass emphasis, smoother and lush sound), plus you have the options to roll in tubes later
 

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