which headphone amp for akg-k701 fpr 140 dollars? (120eur)
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KratzbaumInSpace

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hi

i recently bought the akg k701 and because i have read that the akg massively benefits from a headphone amp i want to buy a fitting one for circa the same price i spent on the headphones, which is 120eur (or 140usd).
at the moment the akg runs on my onboard soundchip.
since i am from germany your recommendation optimally shouldnt be too hard to get for europeans.
i have heard great things about the schiit magni 3, and even though its an american company, i can buy it from europe. what do you guys think about that combo, the agk k701 with the schiit magni 3?

i am using the akg for music (all genres) and gaming.

thank you!
 
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serman005

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The combination of the K701 and the Magni 3 may tend toward the brighter end of the spectrum, IMO. Does this bother you? If so, you might consider something like a FiiO A5, which is also terrific (and powerful). If you like tubes, the Bravo Ocean is another nice option in your price range. You can roll the stock 12au7 and replace it with a Gold Lion or Mullard and get a terrific improvement in sound quality, FWIW. Just my takes and YMMV, of course.
 
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i recently bought the akg k701 and because i have read that the akg massively benefits from a headphone amp i want to buy a fitting one for circa the same price i spent on the headphones, which is 120eur (or 140usd).
at the moment the akg runs on my onboard soundchip.
since i am from germany your recommendation optimally shouldnt be too hard to get for europeans.
i have heard great things about the schiit magni 3, and even though its an american company, i can buy it from europe. what do you guys think about that combo, the agk k701 with the schiit magni 3?

i am using the akg for music (all genres) and gaming.
If you're using a newer gaming motherboard these aren't exactly as horrible as older boards that you might as well just save up for something like a Corda Rock or even a Jazz FF. Or wait around for a used Corda Swing, Arietta, or Headfive, etc. Maybe a Schiit Asgard.

On top of which you still have the ambient noise of that computer that gets in the way of listening (not to mention you might not be listening without any distractions), so even if there were differences that I might be able to hear, we can't make any guarantees that you would.

One other option is the Creative Sounblaster X AE-5. Low output impedance so it doesn't have the problem of older soundcards and even most newer motherboards, and in case you're gaming, the DSP tricks might be of use to you, in case your motherboard doesn't have those.
 
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KratzbaumInSpace

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my mainboard is the Z170 Extreme4 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec), Supports Purity Sound™ 3 & DTS Connect.

i could also get the schiit fulla dac to replace my onboard sound instead of getting the schiit magni which i would connect with my onboard sound.
what would be better?
 
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Don't waste your money on Shiit. Get an SMSL sAp II. All the amp that you'll need and you can even OpAmp roll if you are so inclined.

Pair this with a Topping D10 and you have best possible desktop setup you can have for around $150 usd.
 
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For sure I suggest you Objective2. It drives k701 without stress and is not needed to use the second level of gain. The sound is on the analitic and precise side if you like it. Hope it helps.
 
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my mainboard is the Z170 Extreme4 7.1 CH HD Audio (Realtek ALC1150 Audio Codec), Supports Purity Sound™ 3...
AFAIK, Purity Sound is ASRock's marketing term for "we didn't skimp on the analogue audio circuit." It uses two NE5532 op amps, one for each channel. As much as the circuit is more important than just the components in it, I wouldn't expect a relatively cheap amp to be noticeably better other than you now have a guarantee that the headphone amp has a low output impedance (but then again, if the motherboard actually doesn't have a high output impedance, then the difference will be even harder to perceive unless you really can tell the difference, ie, you've been into audio long enough).


...& DTS Connect.

i could also get the schiit fulla dac to replace my onboard sound instead of getting the schiit magni which i would connect with my onboard sound.
what would be better?
Fulla2 will be even closer to the performance of that motherboard than the Magni3. You might as well save your money now and just get an AudioGD NFB-11 later on.

Also Fulla2 uses USB. I can't find the complete web page that lists features but if you're running virtual surround on that and need it, and if it uses a Creative chip like on some ASRock boards, virtual surround might not work via USB if the chip is a full on DSP chip that handles those features (as opposed to just a chip that tells the Creative software that it's a licensed product and let the software DSP run on it) since DSP chips aren't wired to send audio back to the CPU (other than the mic's) and then out through USB. SPDIF would work.

Whether it does have virtual surround or not I'd still much rather save up for an AudioGD NFB-11, Schiit Asgard, or any desktop Meier amp for that headphone. Or heck if you don't mind used then you might get lucky.
 
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KratzbaumInSpace

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my budget is around 120eur and the AudioGD NFB-11 costs 4 times that, so that isnt an option for me.
so you are saying that neither the fulla nor the magni wil make a noticeable difference in sound quality, only maybe if i have trained ears (which i do not have).

if thats the case i would rather buy nothing OR get the magni to just increase the volume of the headphones because they are a bit low.

on the other hand, the fulla has the added benefit that i could take it with me and plug my phone into it and thus it would amplify the headphones so i could use them outside.

the akgs are open, so they are pretty loud for outside-listeners, but thats ok because i wouldnt use them in busses or so, i would just use them when i go on walks
 
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my budget is around 120eur and the AudioGD NFB-11 costs 4 times that, so that isnt an option for me.
That was kind of the point of my saying, "save up." As in save money little by little. Like save €15 a month. In 30mos you'd have enough to add to your €120 now.


so you are saying that neither the fulla nor the magni wil make a noticeable difference in sound quality, only maybe if i have trained ears (which i do not have).
Even with my ears I'd be more inclined to make do with that motherboard and save up.


if thats the case i would rather buy nothing OR get the magni to just increase the volume of the headphones because they are a bit low.
If the volume output is just too low for you then definitely you'd hear an improvement, assuming going louder is that important. If anything, at least it can go louder without sounding like "schiit."

Just note that going louder without totally breaking up doesn't mean it's all good. Some distortion will still be there and one reason I tend to mention Meier and AudioGD (as well as Violectric) is that they don't get as sharp as you go louder as with some other amps like Schiits or the O2, although in some cases this gets overdone in the other direction as with the NFB-16.

Bottomline though if your problem right now is that the volume is too low then even with that you'll get mostly an improvement, although of course this is another reason why I've been saying just save up.

Before you blow money in any way though - have you downloaded all the audio software for that motherboard from ASRock's site? Because there's a chance that as far as output level is concerned it might be partially solved by the gain setting, except PC products have needlessly roundabout and fancy marketing names for "High Gain Mode" like something along the lines of "Pro G4M3R P4wnAg3 Audio" or whatever. Even if the Magni3's output will still have less distortion and noise than that motherboard's audio circuit on high gain, at least if your motherboard has this feature, it's technically free since you already have the motherboard.


on the other hand, the fulla has the added benefit that i could take it with me and plug my phone into it and thus it would amplify the headphones so i could use them outside.
Did you check whether your particular phone works on the Fulla2 as far as software is concerned? Or whether the Fulla2 will work with just the smartphone's bus power? Because the Fulla2 isn't like other USB DACs - it has a lot of power output and ergo sucks a lot more power to do so. It has a separate power input because of issues with USB power, so the idea there is to hook up a separate USB charger (which most people tend to have, and it would still be smaller than the Magni's power adapter). IIRC at minimum you might have to hook up a powerbank to power it when used with a smartphone, but some powerbanks for some reason won't work in these applications. I have three different powerbanks and none of them could power my USB speakers nor help run a UDAC that I tried before.


the akgs are open, so they are pretty loud for outside-listeners, but thats ok because i wouldnt use them in busses or so, i would just use them when i go on walks
You're gonna need a fair bit of power to get past the noise floor, and even then you still have that noise floor and the relatively early bass roll off of the K701 working against you there.

All things considered - your gear, your budget, the gear you're willing to spend on, your use case, etc - what you should be doing instead is just sell the K701 and get something else that would actually work for your needs a little better. You're in a situation that's kind of like buying a Lotus since you heard it's really fast, but you don't really drive for sport, the normal roads you go on have low speed limits or aren't curvy backroads, you need environmental isolation, etc that you might as well just trade in the Lotus for a BMW 325i AWD.
 
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(...) because i have read that the akg massively benefits from a headphone amp (...)
Take that with a grain of salt.

AKG K701 is among the trickiest headphones around.
It does benefit considerably with very high quality and properly matched setups as well as matching recordings. But it's not as simple as just picking a random headphone amp.
In some sense, AKG K701 is like those very cheap inkjet printers with very expensive cartridges. Despite the fact that you've only paid 140EUR for them, they need similar treatment to that of a 1195EUR Sennheiser HD800 which by the way, needs considerably less power than the AKG K701.

You might find that most setups that are very good for the AKG K701 are over 400EUR and you'll also find many setups that are even more expensive and still not good for K701.

AKG K701 has a very wide soundstage and very good layering. In my experience regular quality sources fail to provide enough blackness between sounds and thus the presentation get congested and K701 can't show its nature. Tonal balance also plays a role as most high quality setups typically provide a more realistic timbre especially in the treble region while regular audio can sound all over the place, from muddy to plastic, splashy, etc. A slightly warm but tight sounding setup is what you need along with smooth transition in the upper midrange-lower treble and extended but also tonally balanced upper treble response (shouty amps - overly forward upper mids - can be a very bad combination for K701).

But even then, even if I lend you my current setup (FiiO X7 Mark II + AM2A) that would cost you around 850EUR in Germany, or even if someone else brings a 10K setup you might or might not like the results enough. Quality gear add refinement and realism to the sound but good part of the headphone's character is preserved. I enjoy my K701 on my setup and use it mostly for some of the highest fidelity classical recordings around. You might prefer to listen to a vastly different set of recordings and have more fun while gaming or watching movies, then K701 won't shine no matter how great your setup is. It's not that great as an all rounder.

--------------------------------------------------

If I were you, I would pick a pair of the very expensive AKG K712 pads (96EUR) along with a trusty FiiO E10K (79EUR)
That will make you one of the very few owners of the rare and unofficial AKG K711 which is warmer and even more comfortable than K701.
E10K gets you quality decoding and enough clean power to feed these headphones at healthy levels with some extra room assured.

--------------------------------------------------

If you really want just an amp, and trust the quality of your motherboard chip for decoding, make sure to pick one that's not very splashy in the treble region.
I've owned the original Magni and it wasn't a good match for the K701. I've also owned the bigger Asgard 2 which was a better match. Can't speak for the new Magni.
I've used the K701 with the FiiO A5 and it works very well since it's warm with resolving but not boosted or clinical in the treble.
Always keep in mind the amp won't shine if your source doesn't allow it to.
 
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AKG K701 is among the trickiest headphones around.
It does benefit considerably with very high quality and properly matched setups as well as matching recordings. But it's not as simple as just picking a random headphone amp.
In some sense, AKG K701 is like those very cheap inkjet printers with very expensive cartridges. Despite the fact that you've only paid 140EUR for them, they need similar treatment to that of a 1195EUR Sennheiser HD800 which by the way, needs considerably less power than the AKG K701.
Thy cost a lot more when they first came out ($399 AFAIK) so it's more like buying unsold sports cars that now cost as much as entry level sport sedans like 4cyl Acuras, but they still need 91 octane.
 
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The AKG k701 headphones have ended up being a long and interesting personal journey for me. As listed above the k701s can be purchased fairly cheaply on the used market, and offer a certain sound if your so inclined to it. After having headphones starting in the mid 1970s, the AKG k701 sent me on a big learning curve.

A have run them simply off a little JDS Labs 421 with the OPA2227 chip. In this situation, it was an Apple iPod going 3.5mm to 3.5mm into the portable JDS amp. Gain was on low, and the volume was 100%. In this situation it all worked out, but didn’t offer a super well rounded system which would do all styles of music. Though listening to Led Zeppelin play “Stairway To Heaven” at the beach at sunset on the k701s was truly amazing!

Still they prefer something like the Schiit Asgard to really get going. And......depending on the source even the Asgard can be taxed somewhat to get the k701s going.

Much of this depends on your musical genre choice and loudness preference, but the k701s are a tough headphone to make sound all around great. Though again depending on your expectations you can arrive at happiness with some creative choices.

I stupidly purchased the Woo 3 tube amp to drive them back in 2007. Basicly the combination was a total failure. It wasn’t until I purchased the $3000 Woo 5LE tube amp that I really heard what the k701s had as potential! They are one of the classic purchased and sold headphones here, and many never find out what they can do.

The issue is damping. What ends up happening is most folks tend to never get an amp that powers them right. The right power will only add a decibel of extra bass frequency, but the damping will add bass definition which ends up being perceived as more bass. With the right power from an amp the k701s can be totally rewarding and still a headphone that will do a ton of musical sub-genres well.

Here is my 10 year review of them.
https://www.head-fi.org/showcase/akg-k701-studio-headphones.11862/



They end-up a highly detailed and expansive soundstage. With their mid-range boost they can endear many, and still have a huge following due to their personality and uniqueness! I found that I probably tried them with 20 different amps over the years.

Another concept is simply taking the time to get used to them. Also even with my best equipment I found they did excellent at only a few genres. They do Classical, New-Age and Electronic music super well. And Heavy Metal Ballads they do superb! Vocals and simple microphoned guitar, there may be no better headphone.

Enjoy.
 
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