The AKG K612 vs. K701? Glad you asked! These are two very well regarded headphones in the audiophile community, and today I’ll dissect the similarities and differences between each. Before we get started though, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
The K612 is a superb entry in the AKG line and flies mostly under the radar. It has great tonal balance, with a crisp, clear, well-defined sound. The bass is tight and controlled without being overly boomy. These have significantly more bass than the K701’s.
Overall the 612’s are a very neutral set of headphones but still sound quite musical. Some describe the sound as clinical, and these would make a great entry into your mixing/reference cabinet. The sound-stage is also quite expansive, with the instrument separation and imaging being standouts as well. The treble on these puppies is not too bright or sibilant either. What does Sibilant mean?
As for the mid-range, it’s smooth and slightly warm, with vocals coming across very nicely. This is a headphone that does very well with a multitude of genres, is heavily endorsed for gaming and movies. They give a dimension to your music that will have you really smiling as you go back and listen to all of your old albums. There are detail and clarity here that is remarkably impressive.
Crisp, clear, natural sound. Neutral, yet still fun and musical sounding.
Expansive and well-imaged sound-stage.
Sounds good with an array of genres.
Very comfortable and lightweight. This stood out a lot in my research. Many people could not get over the comfort factor!
Tight and controlled bass, without being boomy.
Good tonal balance.
No detachable cable.
The cable is a bit cheap.
The headband may hurt your dome piece after a couple of hours. Clamping force is tight at first, but opens up eventually.
Be aware that there are two different models of this headphone floating around. The Austrian made and the Chinese made. Read thisreviewto find out the differences!
Check out the video review!
Hands down, you will want to purchase separate amplification to power these. The JDS Labs 02 does well here. To be quite honest, If you’re looking for a headphone that will sound good plugged into your laptop or mobile device, I would steer clear of these. The 612 definitely needs amplification to shine.
Gamers! I’ve seen so many people endorse both the 612 and 712 for gaming. Due to the remarkable sound-stage, you will be able to hear things coming from all directions. Perfect for 1st person shooters, and games like Fallout and Borderlands where there is such a heavy emphasis on sound. The detail you get with these is astonishing. Being that they are so directional, you’ll be able to hear exactly where the enemy is about to come from before it happens. If you’re looking to improve your K/D ratio, the 612 fits the bill quite nicely.
Multi-Genre. The K612 is said to fare well with a lot of different genres of music.
The AKG K612 is an impressive headphone for gaming and movies, and also excels with most genres. The cable isn’t detachable which bothers some, but the overall comfort and sound to these is nothing short of phenomenal. Do be cognizant of the 2 different models before purchase.
These babies accomplish what they were set out to do, and that provides you with a flat, close to neutral reference sound conducive to mixing in the studio. The bass is somewhat lacking, but the mid-range is really its strong suit. The sound-stage on them is exceptionally wide, but some say so wide that they may start to sound a bit unnatural. They are very even sounding across the spectrum, with no frequencies overpowering each-other. They will require a good amp, but they aren’t “Power-hungry” contrary to what a lot of snobs will tell you. They aren’t plug and play type headphones, even at a modest 62 Ohm impedance. They also won’t sound too good playing back low-quality audio, being that they are so honest.
The sound is pleasant from your mobile devices, albeit a bit on the weak side. One thing to note is that there are two different models of the K701: The Austrian made, and now the Chinese made. A lot of people are saying that the overall quality has suffered, but some including Metal571 on you-tube said he didn’t see much difference. Still some things to keep in mind:
The early 2008 Austrian model (as seen in Metal571’s review)
The cable terminates into a 1/4″ adapter rather than the standard 3.5mm
Has a 7 bump headband. The later models had 8 bumps. The newer models don’t have any bumps, which I found interesting.
Very comfortable. You may forget you’re wearing them. The ear cups are also very large and fit all sizes of the ear.
The headband is made of leather, and self adjust to the size of any melon, big or small
Very even sounding across the spectrum
Particularly great mid-range. There is a 5db bump at 2khz (just a spike if you will), but it gives the 701’s a certain energy that makes the music sound really enjoyable to an otherwise very flat headphone.
Great for gaming, as you can hear the sound all around you, and can therefore make quicker snap decisions.
Comes with a headphone stand.
The bass is very light and lean. Lacks impact. The quality and extension is there, but there just isn’t a lot of it.
Slight pressure from the headband after many hours of wear.
The sound may have a “tinny” quality until they are burned in for a certain amount of hours (upwards of 100). There is a spike in the treble range which can be off-putting to some. Others say this makes it sound more detailed, extended, and quite gorgeous.
The sound may be a bit cold, dry, and TOO analytical for some.
Sound-stage may be unnaturally wide.
Check out the video review! Note: This video does review the K701, comparing it to the Q701. If you’re interested to see my comparison review on those two: AKG Q701 vs. K701. I will give my recommendation for the Q701 by the end of this article, so stay tuned!
Credit to my boy @Metal571. Check him out on Twitter!
Even at low impedance, these will need to be driven by some sort of amp. The Woo Audio A5 will do the trick and is highly recommended. In general, Woo Audio amps are said to pair very well with the 701. The Vioelectric V200 is also said to be a killer pairing. If you are looking for a more affordable solution:
Fiio E10K (can be paired with the E17 or used as stand-alone)
JDS Labs o2 (a very highly regarded amp for a variety of headphones)
If you’re looking for a wide, expansive sound-stage, these will do very well. They are also pretty darn good for mixing and will give you a flat, even response. The mid-range on these is particularly good as well, as they render acoustic instrumentation with startling realism. They are also great for FPS gaming as they have that 3-d sound-stage.
The K701 excels in flat, even sound conducive to mixing, but some may find that they will have to overcompensate due to lack of bass impact. Has a wide sound-stage, great mid-range, as well as good clarity and instrument separation. The Austrian model does lack comfort as far as the bumpy quality of the headband. The newer Chinese models don’t have any bumps on them. They also may be a bit awkward-sounding, since they will expose tiny human flaws in musicianship that other headphones gloss over. In a nutshell, they are about as cold and clinical sounding as it gets.
Similarities & Differences
Both are open back, studio headphones meant for use in an isolated environment. They will leak sound, so be aware of your surroundings.
There are 2 models of each floating around, which tends to confuse people (myself included). To put it simply:
Austrian model (headband bumps).
Chinese model (no headband bumps).
Note: The overall quality is said to be a little better in the Austrian model.
Note: I didn’t really see a difference here in terms of sound and build quality with each model of the 612’s.
Sound. The K612 is a more enjoyable headphone overall. It has more bass impact, and remains very musical and “fun”. It’s something that you could pick up and almost instantly be rewarded. Its sound is neutral, but not cold. The K701 by contrast is the opposite. Its sound is very analytical, dry, and almost too clinical for some people. Its sound-stage may also be abnormally large and unnatural.
Chord. The K612’s do not come with a detachable cable, while the K701’s do (mini-XLR).
Amp. Both need separate amplification to truly shine, but this is especially true for the K701. It’s been called “extremely amp picky”, and will be harder to pair than the 612.
Bass. The bass on the 701 is almost non-existent. This has become pretty much a universal consensus among-st reviewers, consumers, enthusiasts, and audiophiles. The K612 does have a lot more bass, and again is much more of a fun listen.
Impedance. The K612 has a higher impedance than the K701.
While I do like the K612, I am going to recommend the Q701 over it. It’s a little more expensive but really becomes the go-to option out of all the Kxx models. Its sound-stage is much improved over the K701, and it has a detachable cable whereas the 612 doesn’t. Like the 612, it’s a neutral headphone with impressive bass impact but reaches down slightly more than the 612. It also comes in 3 different colors with more spacious ear-cups, and may not be as picky with regards to amplification. You can also perform a DIY modification for added bass if you so, please!
Not satisfied? If you’re looking for the absolute best mixing/reference headphone in its class or otherwise, my top recommendation is the Sennheiser HD 600. It’s about as flat and neutral as it gets overall, and serves as a benchmark for which all other headphones should be compared. It’s been called the Gold Standard, a Genre master, and perhaps the best price to performance ratio out there. A+ numbah one headphone! You like!
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.