AKG Q701 help for a music professional
Jan 20, 2013 at 7:09 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 12

sterlingarcher

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Hi,
 
I've been reading and reading and reading as much as I can to figure out a proper setup for the Q701s, so I thought I'd finally ask people who know.
 
Background:
I work in the film/video game music industry (so mostly orchestral music) and I needed to get a pair of headphones to help me with mixing and balancing. I work from home, but with a wife and kid I can't exactly play my studio monitors all hours, hence the need for nice headphones. I already own Shure SRH840s and ATH-M50s, however, I was finding my mixes on both are kind of off. I did a bit of research and figured the Q701s might work well for mixing.
 
Studio Setup:
My audio interface is an Apogee Duet 2 going into a Mackie Big Knob. Music quality is fine as it is the absolute source and I'm doing the mixing. I primarily use the headphone output on the Duet, but have tried the Mackie as well.\
 
Here are the specs for both:
http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/duet2.php#specs
http://www.mackie.com/pdf/bigknob_om.pdf
 
My question/concern is do I need a headphone amp for the Q701s? I'm trying to figure out the need for a headphone amp. Does it provide something the Duet 2 does not? I understand that higher impedance headphones require more gain, but is there something else they need to function properly?
 
So far I've been underwhelmed by the Q701s. I feel the bass doesn't have the punch that my other two headphones have. Mind you, I'm not a basshead, and I know the M50s have a lot more bass, but for my tastes I feel the Q701s could have a tad more. Will running through an amp help with this?
 
Finally, I feel the Q701s distort easily. For example (and I'm not running them at ear splitting high in volume), when I listen to an area that has a deep percussion or bass hit, the Q701s distort slightly, whereas the 840s and M50s have no problem. Does this have to do with the "max input power" (as labeled on the box)? The Q701s only have 200mW whereas the 840s and M50s have something in the 1000s.  
 
I don't have thousands of dollars to spend on an amp if needed, but maybe a few hundred at the most.
 
Thanks a lot for your help and insight.
 
-James
 
Jan 20, 2013 at 10:27 PM Post #2 of 12

Stalker81598

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The Q701 absolutely requires an amp. If you are not running an amp and you're getting distortion, that's probably why. I'm not a basshead by any means but I also found the bass on the Q701 to be slightly lacking but that's nothing a little bit of equalization can't fix. +6db @ 30Hz and +3db @ 60Hz made them sound fantastic.
 
I'm running a Schiit Magni and it provides more than ample power for the Q701. At $99 it's hard to pass up.
 
Jan 21, 2013 at 2:32 AM Post #3 of 12

kramer5150

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You absolutely NEED to amp the K701/2 and the Q701 properly.  Especially with classical music, probably the most complex genre in terms of dynamics, soundstage, tambre/pitch of instrumentation, and attack/decay of musical notes.  VERY demanding on your cans, amp and source too.  Note however that adding a robust amp will increase bass response, especially with a can like the Q thats not flat across the spectrum
 
I myself am looking to make an amp upgrade with my K701.  I am torn 50/50 between tube and solid state in the $500 range... fun/groove versus flat/accuracy.  But I am kind of leaning towards the latter... but then if I do that then I'll need to up the ante on my source.  UGH!!!
 
Oh one more thing, all 3 of the cans in the series need a lengthy burn-in period with robust amplification.  HF members have long been citing sonic differences in their new / well used K701s since the model was first released.
 
Jan 21, 2013 at 5:53 AM Post #4 of 12

Acix

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Quote:
You absolutely NEED to amp the K701/2 and the Q701 properly.  Especially with classical music, probably the most complex genre in terms of dynamics, soundstage, tambre/pitch of instrumentation, and attack/decay of musical notes.  VERY demanding on your cans, amp and source too.  Note however that adding a robust amp will increase bass response, especially with a can like the Q thats not flat across the spectrum
 
I myself am looking to make an amp upgrade with my K701.  I am torn 50/50 between tube and solid state in the $500 range... fun/groove versus flat/accuracy.  But I am kind of leaning towards the latter... but then if I do that then I'll need to up the ante on my source.  UGH!!!
 
Oh one more thing, all 3 of the cans in the series need a lengthy burn-in period with robust amplification.  HF members have long been citing sonic differences in their new / well used K701s since the model was first released.

 
 
You can try the SPL Auditor SS amp for flat/accuracy sound with the K70x BTW the high end tube amps that I've had the chance to check out sounds very similar to the SPL amps on the flat/accuracy side. Maybe by changing the tubes you can bring them to be more fun/groove,
 
 
The 70x @ 200mW are very sensitive hps Vs the M-50 @ 1,600mW that are made to be more of a DJ style hps that can output a lot more volume that needed in the night club. 
 
Jan 21, 2013 at 12:21 PM Post #5 of 12

kramer5150

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The headamp GS-1 to me has always been the grail of non-boutique, "mass" produced, reasonably priced solid state amps.  I don't think I can get one for $500 used though.
 
Jan 21, 2013 at 2:56 PM Post #6 of 12

sterlingarcher

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Thanks for the responses. I guess I will have to go the amp route. 
 
Concerning the power handling, I don't play volumes that are anywhere near DJ volumes, but what was causing distortion was anything really low, such as a big bass drum hit, that would overload the Q701s. This is at a reasonable volume as well. So I'm wondering if the output impedance of the Duet 2 is completely wrong for the Q701s causing it to not perform as they should. I'm hoping a headphone amp will solve this.
 
Thanks again!
 
Jan 21, 2013 at 11:38 PM Post #7 of 12

Stalker81598

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An decent amp should solve that problem. The Q701 can achieve painful volumes with no distortion if it is properly amped. Even with the low end boosted with EQ, I have yet to hear a track that caused my 701s to distort.
 
Jan 23, 2013 at 8:43 PM Post #9 of 12

sterlingarcher

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Heya,

Return the Q701.

Or get a Fiio E9, Schiit Magni, or even a simple Fiio E10 to amplify it.

It's not a bassy headphone. It's neutral. On the warm side.

Very best,


What would you suggest as an alternative to the Q701s?

After thinking about it for awhile, what I feel I'm looking for in a pair of headphones is not so much more bass than the Q701s put out, but rather a more even sub-bass area than they currently have. To me, they sound rolled-off in the 80Hz and lower area. I can hear those frequencies, but they're not as present as the upper bass frequencies, which would be nice.

I've tried the DT770 80s and the DT880s 250s in the past, but I can't remember how they sound. I remember really liking them though. They were super comfy, which I haven't been 100% sold about the Q701s just yet. Thoughts?
 
Jan 23, 2013 at 8:53 PM Post #10 of 12

kramer5150

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Quote:
What would you suggest as an alternative to the Q701s?

After thinking about it for awhile, what I feel I'm looking for in a pair of headphones is not so much more bass than the Q701s put out, but rather a more even sub-bass area than they currently have. To me, they sound rolled-off in the 80Hz and lower area. I can hear those frequencies, but they're not as present as the upper bass frequencies, which would be nice.

I've tried the DT770 80s and the DT880s 250s in the past, but I can't remember how they sound. I remember really liking them though. They were super comfy, which I haven't been 100% sold about the Q701s just yet. Thoughts?

I had a 770-80 for a while.  I liked the bass, both impact and extension but I didn't really like its deep "U"curve from ~600~1000 hz.  It made mic'd guitar cabinets sound really thin.  Reminded me a lot of a 5.1 home theater packed into a headphone.  Good DVD movie cans though.
 
Its been a LONG time since I heard one but the D5000 might be worth looking into.
 

 
Jan 23, 2013 at 10:57 PM Post #11 of 12

sterlingarcher

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I had a 770-80 for a while.  I liked the bass, both impact and extension but I didn't really like its deep "U"curve from ~600~1000 hz.  It made mic'd guitar cabinets sound really thin.  Reminded me a lot of a 5.1 home theater packed into a headphone.  Good DVD movie cans though.

Its been a LONG time since I heard one but the D5000 might be worth looking into.




Hmmm...those Denons are kind of pricey. As I'm sure they sound great, they might be more than I can afford at the moment.

I ordered an O2 amp which is suppose to arrive later this week, so I think I'll wait to see how the Q701s sounds amped.

Thanks for the replies, nevertheless.
 
Jan 23, 2013 at 11:40 PM Post #12 of 12

Stalker81598

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Don't be afraid to EQ a little bit to get the sound you want instead of rushing out and spending hundreds on new headphones. As I said before, the Q701 is more than capable of producing lower frequencies. Sometimes it just needs a little encouragement.
 

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