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Akg Q701's going bad?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by kaputtequ1pment, May 4, 2014.
  1. KaputtEqu1pment
    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.
  2. Blinxat
    My xfi titanium can get hissy and distorted if you run a long session of browser stuff with adobe flash, vlc, media player, foobar etc.. Rebooting always fixes the issue.

    If the q701 runs at 35% moderately loud I dont think you need amp.

    Also speakers tend to be much less prone to flaws in recordings or inferior sources to some extent. Depends on speakers I guess. But my consumer 5.1 sounds ok on realtek but horrific with headphones. Xfi does a good job imo.

    New z cards have dedicated headphone amp, but I never use more than 25-30% volume on most headphones on normal xfi ti so never upgraded.
  3. KaputtEqu1pment
    So you're saying that if I were to get a cd of said songs where I hear the problems that I wouldn't hear them anymore because of how the xfi ti interacts with flash streams?

    The second thing I gather from this is that a different sound card would fix this?

    Also, I've been creeping on posts talking about q701s and volume and amps and the consensus seems to be that even if I'm not turning up the volume to "shake the earth" levels I should still invest in an amp; I just want to know your rationale behind your advice of not having to worry about an amp.
  4. Blinxat
    No im not saying that at all. This is a rare issue and it is very obvious if you have it.
    Your problem is either the card, the headphones, the track itself.
    You can diagnose it yourself. Try different sources and headphones etc..
  5. KaputtEqu1pment

    I've tried different sources and headphones.  I mentioned that I connected different headphones and earphones to my computer.  The crappy earphones displayed the same issues that my q701's are having.  My sony earphones and the Gold headset I did not have the issues with.  Plugging the same things into a phone yielded the same results, with the exception of the q701 because it was too quiet to hear everything. Car stereo did not show the same issues.
    So it's been dwindled down to soundcard and headphones, leaning more towards headphones.
    Unless there's a magic setting I'm not doing or the Q's are so detailed that I can hear all the minor flaws (doesn't explain why I didn't notice it before). 
    Do amps magically make this disappear? like it did in my car?
  6. Blinxat
    probably not, a warm one maybe, the q701 benefits from a little warmth anyway. (from what I have been reading).
  7. KaputtEqu1pment
    If the amp in the Ti HD is not enough (and I'm sure plenty of people on here will say so) and I were to get an amp, which amp should I get in the $100 range.  I've been looking at the o2 and Fioo e90k.
    If at anything, the headphones just seem almost surgical.  Comparing my car audio and other headphones with this--it's like looking at a painting from a few a feet away (car audio, other headphones) and the picture looking fine.  However, stepping closer or putting on your glasses, you can see the cracks and imperfections within the picture or whatnot (using the q701s). 
  8. Mad Max
    Have you tried Foobar2000 with WASAPI output mode in order to bypass Creative's effects and see if that alleviates the issue?
    If you never heard of foobar, Google it.
    Q701 is very, very surgical.  It is not hard to get it sounding incredible with the right equipment.  I wouldn't be using computer soundcards in the first place with Q701, and you're stuck with the O2 with that budget.  I would recommend saving up more, for say, an M-Stage, the one with a USB DAC built-in.  There's plenty of threads and discussion around with regard to equipment that matches well with that AKG.
  9. KaputtEqu1pment

    I've been reading about q701s and days and amps and whatnot to ad infinitum it seems. It's just a lot of information parse and at the end of the day I feel more lost than when I went in.

    Gotta understand something about me, I was rocking a razer charcharias and using my "awesome" on board xfi-Realtek frankenstein motherboard solution to sound processing. One day my headphones broke and I started looking around, found namelesspfg's guide and it opens pandora a box for me. Saw q701, fell in love and I had to have it. I figured, "hey, I gotta have something proper to plug these into" and at the time terms such as dads/amps/ohm/impedance were a strange subject (it still is unfortunately) so a sound card just made the most sense to me-I wanted to know where the explosions were coming from and I wanted it in all it's glory; the Xfi titanium non hd seemed to be the best choice @ $50 from what I understood.

    It's been 6 months since i got this combo. I don't know if i was hearing it all along but was so excited about the new things I'm hearing that I might not have noticed.

    I like games first, I want my 3d sound and I love the creative surround solution a lot more than Dolby. I don't want to necessarily give that up if I go over to an external dac. But on the flip side I'd like to be able to enjoy music as well.

    Your suggestion about an external dac, is that to eliminate interference? Wouldn't the the enclosure on the Ti Hd help with that?

    But I'll definitely try the Foobar out and see what happens. Thanks!
  10. Mad Max
    Try foobar and if it alleviates the issue, then your software is at fault.  If not, then I'm not sure what the deal is.
  11. KaputtEqu1pment
    Just downloaded foobar and I gotta say damn, that's a one hell of a playe with more options than I'd ever think to know what to do with.  I suppose there's no chance for this thing to play back the sony music unlimited streams though?
    Edit: I can't seem to figure this wasapi output out.  I dled foobar and the wasapi component.  Double clicked on the component and it installed it in foobar, but I have no idea whether or not it's active.  From what I've read from the wiki that it's linked to, it says that f00bar should be only thing generating sound, but that doesn't seem to be the case.
  12. KaputtEqu1pment
    Alright quick update,

    I've received my Titanium hd card and there are definitely some differences going on. Sounds definitely fuller with much less distortion that was my problem initially.

    However, a new slew of issues appeared : certain songs seem to favor one can over the other and there seems to be some ghosting present during certain tracks, I'll hear the lyrics in the foreground or in proper volume and I'll hear a super faint one being played a split second later like its haunted.

    So I'm thinking it can't be the headphones, I think they're fine and are simply that good at presenting me whatever is being thrown at it.

    Seeing as this is a xfi ti hd, would swapping to fresh op amps do something about this?
  13. Mad Max
    No, the soundcard might be faulty.
  14. KaputtEqu1pment
    Ugh I just can't seem to catch a break with this crap.. Should I say to hell with it and get a recon zxr? I don't want to lose cms3d. Not sold on Dolby headphone.

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