Conclusion to DT880, HD650, K701 Comparison
Mar 29, 2006 at 5:36 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 31

txa

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Hello fellow enthusiasts!

Thread note: I've added this as a post to the original thread and a new thread here. Figured it might be more accessible in it's final form but that other long thread has some FANTASTIC contributions from many members. So you may want to read it when you have some time.
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It's been a while since I last posted - more so since I had initiated this 3-way comparison thread. I'm finally ready to document the results of my quest, now that my K701 has finally settled into its long-term sound.

First, let me thank all the current 701 owners that encouraged me to stay with it and continue the burn-in process. It has been more than well worth the wait - so much so that I'm still shaking my head in amazement as to the transformation.

My 701s only have 140 or so hours on them. Some have noted that they continue to improve through the 300+ hr range. Mine are so good right now that I'm not sure how that is possible, but any improvement will surely add to what I feel has been a great purchase!

When I last posted, I was at the point where the 701 was on the cusp of being my most enjoyable phone... and being sold.

Brutal! Normally, things aren't so black and white. The sonic adjustment required to make it move in either direction is very subtle - enough to be perceived as absurd by non-enthusiasts.

But for me, and I imagine many here on head-fi, the subtleties are what it's all about.

In the case of the K701, it had to do with what I perceived as some hardness in the presence region (2k-4k or so) that was making it difficult for me to relax and just enjoy them. Though I could see the potential of the phone, and admired it's most neutral presentation across the board, I felt it was pushing its sound on me. If it continued to do so, I just couldn't live with it when the 650 and 880 exist. If it did, it would be my preferred phone.

For those who don't want to read all of the details, here is the conclusion:
The 701 is now my current reference phone of choice. I'm in agreement with all of the others who are singing its praises and have voted it best phone for under $500.

Hopefully I have written enough material for you to understand that I'm not a fan-boy and that I have an allegiance to good sound, not to a make, model, or anything else other than what brings pleasure to the ears.

Bought Sennheiser HD595 - sold it.
Bought DT880 - kept it.
Bought AGK K501 - sold it.
Bought HD650 - kept it.
Bought Sony SA5K - sold it.

What remains are two great phones: BeyerDynamic DT880 and Senheiser HD650.

The K701 investigation was initiated to determine if this phone could split the difference of these latter two, and through its synergy, outperform them in the whole.

For me, it does just this.

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Let me describe its transformation and give some additional comparisons to the DT880 and HD650.

Transformation
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Somewhere around the 110-130 hour mark is when the big changes took place. The 3 biggies are:

- Presence region became more relaxed, spacious and inviting; currently, the hardness is completely gone; I'm actually amazed - I was very skeptical of this point.
- Overall detail improved, more space between the notes (and it was already just as good as HD650 here)
- Bass ripened; it has become more full and enveloping, yet still percussive and extremely neutral

In fact, listening to the Headroom Bithead, the bass improved to the point that I thought I may have accidentally switched the processing circuit on (which adds more bass and overall warmth) but was puzzled because I hadn't noticed the usual drop in detail. Nope, just the phones... simply outstanding!

Since the 110-130 hour mark, the above three improvements have just gotten more and more refined. I think in addition to the drivers, the breaking-in of the ear pads has helped, as they have me a little closer to the drivers. (I really believe a Beyer-like pad on this phone would be ideal - both in terms of sonics and comfort.) In any case, I just absolutely love this phone. There - how's that for fan-boyism? :)

Comparisons
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I can understand how many think the K701 is more DT880 than HD650.
I can equally understand how some think the K701 is more HD650 than DT880.

It splits the difference extremely well and it is really difficult to say in absolute terms that it is more this than that - so hopefully I can add some observations that get to the root of it.

HD650
The K701 is more HD650 in terms of its micro-level details and its intimate mid-range. I have always found the HD650 to be a better revolver of detail than the DT880 (which accentuates high-frequency detail), and the K701 is more HD650 in this regard. Better, actually, in my opinion.

Also - although I find the overall balance of the HD650 too warm for most of my music, I do enjoy it's midrange across the board. I actually prefer the DT880 more neutral bottom-end and even-handedness for much of my music, but always thinking "Why couldn't the HD650 midrange come along for the ride on this?"

With the 701, it does.

However, the 701 mid-range is not 650 mid-range. For Kef and B&W listeners, the K701 is more classic Kef, the HD650, more classic B&W.

Let me phrase both in positive and negative light:
Positive: HD650 midrange is warm and 3D. Negative: HD650 midrange is chesty and too full.
Positive: K701 midrange is light on its feet, intimate, and articulate. Negative: K701 midrange is thinner and lacks weight.

I fall into the positive camp on both phones, but I definitely prefer the K701!

DT880
The K701 is more DT880 in terms of its macro sonic presentation and frequency balance. It is very airy, detailed, and conveys the same sense of space and openness - only without the exaggerated top-end.
Its bass is an ideal mix of 880 and 650. It's bass balance and quantity is much like the DT880. It's bass articulation and percussiveness is like the HD650. (It still doesn't have the 'hit' of the SA5k, but it is closer and ‘envelopes’ you more - which I think is a result of it integrating into the midrange better.)

Thanks for reading this long thread and what feels like an even longer post - and good luck on your quest!
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 7:27 PM Post #2 of 31

JaZZ

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That's an awesome review, txa!
attachment.php


And funny how it reflects my own impressions almost 1:1!
eek.gif


I wish I had kept the DT 880 just for this comparison's sake... although seriously, two main phones (K 701 + HD 650) are enough.

Thanks for your effort!
.
 
Mar 29, 2006 at 11:44 PM Post #3 of 31

jim580

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txa,
Thanks for a great review.
I've been following all the 701 threads while patiently waiting for mine to arrive.
I had narrowed the field down to hd650's, rs1's, the new model dt880's and the 701's. Probably couldn't have made a wrong decision amoung the lot.
My circumstances didn't allow for a listen first.
Your comparison of 3 out of 4 on my list makes the grin a little wider on my choice.
Keep us posted if more hours = more transformation.
Thanks again,
Jim

~
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 2:57 AM Post #4 of 31

Anarchy965

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That was an amazing review from a skilled ear! You definitely deserve the rank of Headphoneus Supremus so others will recognise your respected status on the forums. I'm absolutely convinced that my phone choice between these three main top o' the line reference headphones would probably be the K701, between the amazing aesthetics and your perfect description of the sound signature. Now if only my wallet weren't already EMPTY
eek.gif
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 3:12 AM Post #5 of 31

VR6ofpain

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This is a very nice review. I liked the comparison to speaker 'signatures'. Even though I don't have too much experience with either KEF of B&W, I find it a good way to better convey their sounds.

After reading this (any many other threads), I think I am going to jump on some HD650's when I find them at a good price. I think once I have them, I will definately have a triangle of sound. With the HF-1, K601, and HD650 all bases will be covered.

Have you listened to the HD555? How would you compare it to the HD650?
I just picked up the 555 for my girlfriend and I am extremely impressed with their bang for the buck factor. I mean these are AWESOME cans for $119. They sound great, a very well rounded can, and are super comfy too. Not quite as comfy as my K601, but they seem to be very comfy (making longer listening easier), plus the velour head pad is much softer on the noggin than the "leather" pad of the K601. Overall I still think the K601 is easier on the head. They feel lighter and have less clamping pressure (I guess Senn does rule the camp of the "Iron Clamp").
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 2:56 AM Post #6 of 31

bill99hawk

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I very much agree with your review, like Jazz. I had the DT880s, I really enjoyed the lower 20hz-50hz bass, but I personally found the mids too thin and the highs too bright to keep, but I really enjoyed listening to female vocals on them like Sarah Brightman. I sold the DT880s. I next got a pair of HD650s that sound great for any kind of music that can use a full body sound, and I just recently found that they kick ass for PC gaming too like BF2 (compared to HD555s that I was trying out for my PC). Electronica music on the HD650s can’t be beat by the DT880s and K701. I just got the K701s. They sound like a DT880 with fuller mids, and less bright highs. The female vocals had more impact on the DT880s, but overall the K701s beat the DT880s. So I now have the HD650s that have their uses for Electronica and PC gaming, and the K701s for Soprano/Opera style music. I haven't done much listening to rock, pop, or classical music lately, but have to try out the HD650s and K701s some more.

Also I didn't listen to the HD555s too long, they sound nice and clear the HD650s are better for my setup. For $110 online they are nice headphone.
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 11:02 AM Post #7 of 31

Alu

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Quote:

Originally Posted by txa
However, the 701 mid-range is not 650 mid-range. For Kef and B&W listeners, the K701 is more classic Kef, the HD650, more classic B&W.
quest!



First off, very decent impressions. I currently use B&W 705 Speakers on Rotel amplification, and I'm more or less happy with it.

I still can't make up my mind as to get either the hd650 or the K701, even though I'm more leaning towards AKG. I think I'll order the Aria first, which will leave me phoneless at first, but I still have to figure out the placement of the new gear anyways.
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 3:42 PM Post #9 of 31

txa

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Anarchy965
That was an amazing review from a skilled ear! You definitely deserve the rank of Headphoneus Supremus so others will recognise your respected status on the forums. I'm absolutely convinced that my phone choice between these three main top o' the line reference headphones would probably be the K701, between the amazing aesthetics and your perfect description of the sound signature. Now if only my wallet weren't already EMPTY
eek.gif



Thanks much... you are too kind!
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 4:10 PM Post #10 of 31

txa

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Quote:

Originally Posted by JaZZ
That's an awesome review, txa!
attachment.php


And funny how it reflects my own impressions almost 1:1!
eek.gif


I wish I had kept the DT 880 just for this comparison's sake... although seriously, two main phones (K 701 + HD 650) are enough.

Thanks for your effort!
.



Thanks Jazz!
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 4:15 PM Post #11 of 31

txa

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Quote:

Originally Posted by J-Pak
Thats an excellent review. I can see how you made the comparison with B&W speakers and the HD650, but in defense of the B&Ws they have much better high end extension.


Tanks J-Pak!

I mentioned the Kef and B&W speakers not for an absolute comparison, but a relative one between their respective midrange delivery and that of the HD650 vs. K701.

Though both B&W and Kef are excellent speakers, and both usually described as neutral-type monitors, they do have a sonic signature. And I have found throughout the past couple of decades that B&W kevlar-based midrange driver delivers on the ever-so- thick side of neutral, while the Kef is a little lighter and brighter. This is what I wanted to convey about the 650 and 701, respectively.

Bass, high frequencies, and the entire delivery are a bit different when comparing phones to speakerss.

I still haven't heard that 800 diamond tweeter, but it's got some great press and I'm very enthused to give them an audition!
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 7:00 PM Post #12 of 31

Blasyrkh

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i have a k701 with about 30 hours of break in...and i think bass is still too shy if compared to the other frequencies

which is your experience with the bass of the k701? it improves with more burn in?

thanks
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 7:35 PM Post #13 of 31

wallstreet

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Blasyrkh
i have a k701 with about 30 hours of break in...and i think bass is still too shy if compared to the other frequencies

which is your experience with the bass of the k701? it improves with more burn in?

thanks



The general consensus around here is that the k701 has a very long burn in time to achieve its full potential ... ~300 hours.
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 7:37 PM Post #14 of 31

Blasyrkh

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Quote:

Originally Posted by wallstreet
The general consensus around here is that the k701 has a very long burn in time to achieve its full potential ... ~300 hours.


yes but, what about bass quantity? full potential doen't mean more bass after 300hours.
 
Mar 31, 2006 at 7:50 PM Post #15 of 31

wallstreet

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Blasyrkh
yes but, what about bass quantity? full potential doen't mean more bass after 300hours.


I *think* it improves. I don't own the k701 though, I just have read many impressions/reviews about it here. Hopefully someone here who has done the full burn in will answer your question about how much it improves.
 

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