Noob Help: Senn HD650 vs. AKG 701
Oct 22, 2008 at 9:06 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 49

colegibson

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I'm fairly new to the audiophile scene, but I listen to a lot of music and I'm at the point where I have enough of a basic understanding of the technology to realize I need a much better setup than what I currently have.

I've been running a pair of Sony MDR-V700DJ straight through my computer for years. I'm working on the whole setup, but new headphones are my top priority (being cheaper than an amp). I've done a lot of research online and I've narrowed it down to either the 701s or the 650s. Money is not a concern.

I listen to a broad range of music genres, notably rock, funk, jazz, and various orchestra soundtracks. The rock is more popular, though, especially Phish, Springsteen, and U2. I want some cans that are going to give me clarity between the instruments but also excite me and draw me into the music. I don't want to sacrifice bass, either. I listen to a lot more live music than studio albums as well, so I want something that can give me the emotion of the live show without muddling everything together.

Based on this info, which pair would you all suggest? Please only reply if you've had experience with both sets. I'm pretty set between the two, so please only offer other suggestions if you absolutely think it's a better option. Also, feel free to ask me any questions that would better help you assist me. I'm still a bit new to the high-end headphone scene, so I'd love for this to be a learning experience for me.

Thanks in advance!

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Oct 22, 2008 at 9:31 PM Post #2 of 49

Golden Monkey

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Based on that info, go with the 650's, BUT either will not do you justice until they are amped properly (and they have different needs as far as that goes). The 701's are nice, but lacking in the bass department, and are very clear, clean, and bright. The Senns are warmer and more emotionally engaging. Either way, you picked the "special needs kids" of the audiophile world, so you're going to need to look at amps and sources...

Welcome to Head-Fi, and sorry about your wallet.
 
Oct 22, 2008 at 11:12 PM Post #3 of 49

blessingx

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I'm more a Senn fan, but the battle between these phones is really preference (and the signitures are closer than most other manufactures). A couple HD580s are my default dynamic cans, but if that couldn't be Senns it would be the K701.

But as mentioned consider them are more expensive than they are as you'll need associated equipment. Luckly both pair well with a decent selection of gear.

And welcome to Head-Fi.
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Oct 22, 2008 at 11:30 PM Post #4 of 49

Beagle

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Golden Monkey /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The 701's are nice, but lacking in the bass department, and are very clear, clean, and bright.


No, they are not.

Well, maybe they are, if you put them up against a bloated, dull headphone. Comparing headphones to one another is inaccurate, bogus and a waste of time, and I've been guilty of this as well. The sound of headphones (or any gear for that matter) should be compared against the sounds of real instruments and voices. And if one has no idea what those sound like, they wouldn't really be able to judge "accuracy". This is very important yet all but ignored here. Of course, if most are listening through ipods and computers then accuracy is a moot point anyway. I think many people (who listen exclusively to recordings on compromised gear) would find the sound of unamped live music way too bright. I find the 701 represents more of an idea of what live music sounds like, the timing and energy seem to come through relatively intact. The Senns can sound rather blase and more like the musicians partied too much the night before the performance. JMO.
 
Oct 22, 2008 at 11:46 PM Post #5 of 49

pp312

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"I think many people (who listen exclusively to recordings on compromised gear) would find the sound of unamped live music way too bright."

Err...Wouldn't this depend on the venue and distance of the listening position. You're probably thinking of a rock concert or jazz club, but I listen to classical on the 650s and their balance is very close to what I hear in the concert hall--at least if I'm not sitting on top of the orchestra. Dull and bloated? Not to these ears.

(Well, maybe the 650 could do with a touch more up top, but just a touch).
 
Oct 22, 2008 at 11:57 PM Post #6 of 49

Beagle

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Quote:

Originally Posted by pp312 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
You're probably thinking of a rock concert or jazz club


No, I'm thinking of standing about 5 to 10 feet away from live unamplified musical instruments and voices. But you are correct in your assessment of the 650 sounding somewhat like what one hears in a cozy classical music venue from a bit of a distance back. But that is only one example of how you hear music.
 
Oct 23, 2008 at 12:31 AM Post #7 of 49

jmht

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With regards to the 701s, one of the main things that killed it for me was the uncomfortable headband. (I have a pretty big head and the elastic thingys connected to the main headband just clamps down too hard on my head for it to be comfortable...but just my opinion).

The accuracy of the sound is hard to really say since everyone expects different things, but the way sounds resonate in different rooms varies greatly....what you think is accurate if you're used to a jazz club versus a church versus a concert hall versus your room will be different.

With that said, I would say the 701 is probably closer to real, but I found the 650 much more pleasurable to listen to. As Beagle puts it, the 650s have a "cozy classical venue" sound that's just incredibly comfortable to me.

For me:
AKG701
*more shimmery highs but not excessive
*more "tight" in sound
*there's something not quite right with the soundstage making the seperation between multiple instruments sound not quite right to me.

HD650
*the lower notes tend to resonate/bloat a little (makes it sound more like a concert hall, and I like it honestly)
*I believe some lower frequency is somewhat artificially enhanced causing it to sound "warm"
*High notes do not explode although the detail is there.....(eg, a hard struck cymbol won't make you deaf)
*pretty large soundstage with good seperation between instruments.
 
Oct 23, 2008 at 12:53 AM Post #8 of 49

tintin47

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With either of those phones, you're compromising in a big way with no amp. I would say amp is a must with either. I have the k701s, and I think that they just sound terrible off of my computer. No precision and almost no volume either. The senns have an even higher impedance and would probably be worse, though I haven't heard them directly out of my computer. I have a little dot mk III amp (tube) and I absolutely love it. It was under $200 new, so an amp isn't that big of a commitment, but I would say necessary to get anything extra out of hifi phones.
 
Oct 24, 2008 at 4:55 AM Post #9 of 49

colegibson

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Golden Monkey /img/forum/go_quote.gif

Welcome to Head-Fi, and sorry about your wallet.





Haha, it's gonna feel some pain.



Thanks for the help!
 
Oct 24, 2008 at 7:01 AM Post #10 of 49

pp312

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Beagle /img/forum/go_quote.gif
No, I'm thinking of standing about 5 to 10 feet away from live unamplified musical instruments and voices.


I'd suggest that isn't the situation Sennheiser had in mind when designing any of their phones. It's also not a situation I've ever been in or would want to be in--or would want to replicate on my headphones. No, I'll stick to the "cozy classical venue" thanks, which in my case is the Sydney Opera House.
 
Oct 24, 2008 at 7:16 AM Post #11 of 49

olblueyez

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I think the issue is what headphone is enjoyable and does not produce fatigue. I have never heard a 701 on any amp that did not produce some fatigue, and the headband @#%$@ hurts. I also seem to remember more impact coming from the bass department at every live performance I have ever been to and the 701 does not produce music in that way. Also, I am of the opinion that finding an amp that will make the 650 shine will be MUCH easier and MUCH cheaper than with the 701. If you want to put together a nice easy going system that will make you want to listen for hours on end then get the 650. If you want to pursue a never ending hunt for solutions to an un-natural sounding headphone and waste a ton of listening time and hard earned money doing it then by all means go for the 701.
 
Oct 24, 2008 at 8:10 AM Post #13 of 49

rds

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Beagle View Post

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beagle View Post

No, I'm thinking of standing about 5 to 10 feet away from live unamplified musical instruments and voices.


I'd suggest that isn't the situation Sennheiser had in mind when designing any of their phones. It's also not a situation I've ever been in or would want to be in--or would want to replicate on my headphones. No, I'll stick to the "cozy classical venue" thanks, which in my case is the Sydney Opera House. No, I'm thinking of standing about 5 to 10 feet away from live unamplified musical instruments and voices.

I'd suggest that isn't the situation Sennheiser had in mind when designing any of their phones. It's also not a situation I've ever been in or would want to be in--or would want to replicate on my headphones. No, I'll stick to the "cozy classical venue" thanks, which in my case is the Sydney Opera House.


Exactly. Do you think the piano was designed to be listened to from 5 - 10 feet away? It wasn't. Neither are other orchestral instruments. The concert hall was always in the mind of musicians.

For what it's worth, the k701s represent those first few center rows in a large auditorium, and the 650s are somewhere closer to the back. I usually prefer the front row for classical, but at home, when I'm doing other things at the same time, the back row is often better.
 
Oct 24, 2008 at 12:32 PM Post #14 of 49
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The clamping on the K701 can be fixed with a couple of minutes of firm finger pressure on and around the headband. The dislike I had of the K701s was basically I listened to Denons and couldn't go back. That being said, K701s just told me repeatedly that my source sucked and, while they were excellent for jazz and classical, I don't just listen to either of those. I probably needed a good tube amp for them.

The HD650s are, to me, like a girl in a Hollywood bar that wont give you the time of day unless you drive a Ferrari or a Porche or something else you can't afford to drive them with.
 
Oct 24, 2008 at 1:20 PM Post #15 of 49

WoodenPeter

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I bought the HD650s a few month ago.

I DO NOT recommend them.

I found them horribly muted in the mids.
Completely ruins vocals and guitar for me...
I dont how know ppl can live with that.

Ultimately Im going to get RS1's.
But for now im looking at AKG

Gl
 

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