Hi guys, I'm having a bit of an issue and I can't quite tell what in the world is going on--I'm not sure if either A. My q701's are going bad or B. My XFi Ti is going the way of the dinosaur, or C. the sound source isn't mixed properly, or D. I'm just hearing things. I'm going to try to explain this the best I can. Recently, I've been noticing some staticky, hissy, or sound that feels out of place during bass lines and whatnot. I think the best way to describe what i'm hearing is a faint sound akin to a vinyl record being played before the music starts, that empty somewhat scratchy feedback. Imagine bass percussions and at the tail end faint rustling leaves. Essentially, I'm worried that my q701's are going bad, but before I cry wolf and contact Akg for warranty only to have them laugh at me, I want to make sure that what I'm hearing is not a fault of the headphones. For starters, here's my setup: XFI Titanium (non hd) > q701's. The Creative Drives are updated as much as they can be and when I listen to music Entertainment mode is selected. The windows volume knob is set at 35%. Speaker Configuration is set to 7.1 on windows, and within the Creative Launcher, speakers are set to headphones, bass boost is turned on @ 3db - 80hz cutoff. The Bass/Treble virtual knobs are both set at 50%. Eq preset is at flat. [Quick note, changing any of these settings has had no impact on mitigating this perceived issue] As far as audio quality is concerned, the music I'm listening to isn't exactly FLAC, but it's up there in terms of KB/s. Primarily listen to HQ streams, such as deepvibesradio or Sony Music Unlimited on their HQ setting. I believe that they're in the 320Kb/s territory--from what I understand it should be at fair quality. For example, when I stream Instant Crush by Daft Punk, the intro to the song (first 20 seconds) as the drum beats intertwine between the bass beat, there's a little slight noise I'm talking about, akin to some faded distortion. Another Song, such as Red Lights- Tiesto at around the 1:30 mark as the beat drops it seems Off. Last one I want to showcase as well, is when I listen to some Miss Melody - Miri Ben Ari for example, there seems to be way too much crackling noise. At about the 19second mark, when Akon says upfront, right after that beat hits and recedes there's that rustling noise right after it. It's been ruining music for me for the last few days and it's been making me pretty upset. I passed the cans to my GF and even she said, yea something doesn't sound right. In order to make sure or to test that it's simply not just bad mastering of the track, or that it's supposed to be that way, I've pulled up the same songs where I notice these trends on youtube [don't hate, it's the best thing I could do w/o pirating] and im finding the same flaws at about the same places. If not in the same place, then in another place. => thoughts so far, I'm thinking that ok, maybe it's a compression issue; 320kbs aac isn't 128kbs mp3 but it still isn't flac or wav so I was ready to chalk it up to bad mastering or soundwork but I still wasn't super sold. I plugged in a few more headphones and earphones. The ones I had immediate access to were the ****ty little earphones that came with my note 3. While they sounded differently than my q701s, I was still able to make out the imperfections that were driving me insane. But I still wasn't sold. Whipped my phone out, put up the sony music app to hq and streamed the very same songs, both on loudspeaker and on the earphones. On the loudspeaker, I couldn't really hear the imperfection b/c mono. With the ****ty earphones, It was somewhat of a mixed bag. I could hear some, but not others, and with the q701s plugged into the phone it was also sad because everything was somewhat muted. I then realized I had one more pair of earphones, a sony pair that I bought when I got a vita. Plugged those in and... nothing. I couldn't find anything to complain about in terms of the noise that was annoying me, this both on the pc and my phone. Lastly, me and girl went driving around town and I was bluetoothing the streams to my sound system and everything was gravy. (granted it's a 10 speaker 350 something watt amped system) even the g/f said that she can't hear anything "bad". So this leaves me in a conundrum. I have ****ty earphones and q701's that don't sound right. My car stereo and some random vita headphones seem fine. I'm thinking "ok, ****ty headphones are ****ty by nature and won't do any good anyway. the q701's are decent but I'm not amping them and therefore they sound like ****ty headphones, since the vita headphones and my car are not having this issue, because the vita headphones don't need much of anything to go and my car stereo has a decent amp on it." That's what I'm thinking right now as I'm typing all of this, I have a Titanium HD on order, and afaik it has a amped headphone port which I hope will drive the q701's better than the non HD Titanium did. Having explained all this, do you guys think I'm on the right track? is this what's going on or am I way off? Do my phones need legitimate replacing or they just not being driven properly? Please, chime in.