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Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
I have also written an informative article on the AKG Q701 vs. K701, if you were looking for that comparison, but clicked on this out of curiosity. If you were looking for the AKG K702 vs. K712, I have that one too!
I also give my recommendation for the Q701’s at the end of this review overall. Read on to find out why!
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this review
Who these headphones benefit?
Similarities & Differences
Both of these models have been around for awhile and both have gotten generally favorable reviews. As of late however, the AKG brand is now being designed in Austria and assembled in China, much to the dismay of many audiophiles and enthusiasts. Please keep this in mind before purchase. Both sets still get very good reviews to this day, but there are some people who have noticed a marked difference in quality since they made the switch to China.
Material: Leather head band, plastic, velour padding.
These babies will provide you with a flat, close to neutral reference sound conducive to mixing in studio. The bass is somewhat lacking, but the mid range is really their strong suit. Some bullet points:
The Soundstage on them is exceptionally wide, but some say so wide that they may start to sound a bit unnatural. Others love the 3-D like presentation that the K701 supplies.
They are very even sounding across the spectrum, with no frequencies overpowering each-other.
They will require a good amp, and are really power hungry.
They aren’t really 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 YouTube 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.
Voices sound true to life. The treble is rendered beautifully.
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.
Bass is very light and lean. Lacks impact. The quality and extension is there, but there just isn’t a lot of it.
Sound may have “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.
Credit to my boy @Metal571. Check him out on Twitter!
I did an exhaustive amount of research on this matter, and I will continue to do so until I’m satisfied. You can find links to my sources at the bottom!
With a low impedance and high Sensitivity, the K701 is fairly easy to drive, despite claims to the contrary around the internet. This has been the subject of hot debate for what seems like years and years. What is Sensitivity in Headphones? Even though a lot of people will tell you the K701 is extremely amp picky, in reality it’s not given it’s 62 Ohm Impedance and 105 dB Sensitivity. You should have no problems with an entry level desktop Amp like the Schiit Magni 3. This provides 430 mW into 300 Ohms, and powers 99% of headphones with ease.
You can also opt for an Amp/DAC combo; something like an E10K, or Audioengine D1. More on these in a jiffy!
The reality of the K701 is that it has a very lean bass response combined with a bump in the mid-range around 2kHz. Because the sound of the headphone is fairly laid back, lean, and neutral, with a somewhat anemic sounding bass, it creates the illusion of needing a ton of power.
Now is the Magni the best amp for the K701? Probably not, but it will suffice for the majority of users. Let’s discuss some options!
As mentioned above, this will be your bread and butter solution for the majority of headphones. It’s got a clean, neutral response and will not color the headphones in anyway. Some complain that the Magni is too bright, and tends to make already bright headphones sound rather harsh. I can relate with that sentiment to some degree, but I still think this is about as good of an amp as you’ll find in the budget category, along with the JDS Labs Objective 2.
The 02 paired with the Cambridge Audio DAC Magic 100 is a sublime combination indeed. It also sounds great with a Modi DAC, as well as the ODAC from JDS Labs that comes in a combo if you wish. Like the Magni 3, you’re getting a crisp, neutral, and clean signal from this amp, as it will also not color your headphones in anyway. It’s honest Abe all the way!
After spending a lot of time with the E10K and various headphones like the HD600, 650, Aeon Flow, and Black Mage, I can say without a doubt that there really isn’t a reason not to own one of these. It works as a desktop solution as well as a portable Amp/DAC solution. With a gain switch and bass boost, there really isn’t anything more you could ask for. The gain switch helps out tremendously with more power hungry headphones (cough K701), and the bass boost is cool if you want to get all hardcore and rebellious.
I would call the sound very crisp, neutral, and clean, and it’s got an output impedance of less than 1.04. This basically means that it will power the majority of headphones without an issue, much like an Objective 2 or Magni. Build is excellent for an Amp/DAC under $100, and everything feels quality and solid to the touch.
If you only have about $100 or less to spend, this is the solution.
Another often overlooked choice, the Presonus HP4 has a ton of headroom, and a clean, crisp signal, and plenty of power to drive a K701. Many users report this one pairing very well if you’re looking for an entry level Amp.
You can plug up to 4 different headphones so it’s cool for movie sharing or demoing headphones as well. Like the Audioengine D1, you can use this with your studio monitors too, so it becomes versatile in that regard. What are studio monitors?
This is an amp that will not only work with a K701, but a lot of other headphones as well. If you’re familiar with the original AKG K240, it was notorious for being extremely hard to drive. Not so with the HP4. A sound investment indeed (no pun intended).
This puppy is extremely versatile with RCA/Analog outs, Optical out, and USB inputs. It makes an amazing Gaming rig as well! I was astonished at how much of an upgrade it was vs. plugging the headphones right into the Dualshock 4. The Best Headphones for Gaming! This just may be the most versatile little box under $200 or otherwise. You can power your studio monitors with it, you can use it as a headphone amp, or you can use it as a gaming rig on your console or your PC! What are studio monitors? It even brewed me a cup of coffee the other day! What I also love about it is that it’s immediately recognized by your PC and there are zero issues.
While a solid state amp or Amp/DAC combo may be the most logical and practical pairing at first, a tube amp is what the K701 really desires. This will result in a liquid smooth sound that will leave you satisfied for hours on end. Solid state amps combined with brighter sounding cans have a tendency to cause fatigue in the short term. The K701 has bright areas that do tend to wear on you after awhile with an equally as neutral (read: bright sounding) headphone amp. A tube amp sort of smooths it out and make it sound heavenly. If this isn’t the best option for the K701, it’s certainly up near the top.
This little beast pairs extremely well with a Topping D3 DAC, and has RCA outputs on the back for some added flexibility. You can use it as a preamp to power some studio monitors or you can hook it up to your Turntable for some fresh Vinyl snacks! Like the Darkvoice, this Little Dot also benefits from some tube rolling but the stock tubes sound fine too if you don’t want to upgrade right away. This will do very well with the K701 because like the WA6, it tends to smooth out the rough edges in that 2k area. The Dot has a rock solid build and lots of power as well. If you’re coming from a cheaper solid state amp, get ready to have your mind blown!
As mentioned above, I did a lot of research on this. Here I will list out everything I came across, with the amps towards the top getting the most mention followed by the ones toward the bottom with the least amount of mention.
Heed Can Amp. This seems to be one of the most recommended pairings with the K701, but it’s much harder to find nowadays.
If you’re looking for a wide, expansive Soundstage 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 a startling realism. They are also great for FPS gaming as they have that 3D Soundstage. Learn more:The Best Headphones for Gaming
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. These 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.
It seems as though the K702’s are overall a better buy, for less money. The bass is more pronounced while still remaining tight and controlled, and these seem to be more comfortable than the 701’s. The ear cups are a bit thicker as well. Keep in mind that like the 701’s, these benefit heavily from a good headphone amp. It has been said that these cans are really difficult to drive. One amp that stands out as the best option however is the Woo Audio 5 again.
Tight, controlled, and not overpowering. Very natural sounding.
Transparent mid-range, and crisp highs.
Clean, neutral and honest, flat.
Nice Soundstage. Very wide.
Light and comfortable.
Perfect for mixing, translates to speakers/monitors very well.
Great for classical music/opera.
The plastic feels a bit cheap, prone to breaking.
Cable is really long.
Bumpy, somewhat uncomfortable head band.
Bass lacks a bit of impact.
Can be cold to some. Be weary of your sound source, as these are very revealing.
The same applies with the K701. All three headphones (Q701, K701, and K702) have very similar signatures. The Q701 added more bass, warmth, and a Soundstage that’s not quite as wide as the K701.
All of the Amps that work well with the 701 will also work with the 702, so don’t fret!
Who these headphones benefit?
If you’re looking for a wide, expansive Soundstage these will do very well. They are also good for mixing (like the 701’s), and will give you a flat, even response. The mid-range on these is particularly good as well, as they render acoustic instruments to great effect.
They do well with:
Rock/Alternative (from a good source)
Just keep in mind, they lack a certain bass presence, and may not do as well with hip-hop, reggae, etc.
Again, the sound clarity is amazing, but the head band issue leaves the comfort factor with a bit to be desired. Again, like the newer model Chinese K701’s, the new version of the K702’s also do not have headband bumps. As far as the ear pads, they are very comfortable. Be prepared for an honest representation of your music regardless!
Both are open back, and people will be able to hear what you’re listening to. This also means that your mixes will be better, because the music has room to breathe. It doesn’t get trapped inside your head. This is a big reason why mixing on closed back cans can get very tiring in a hurry.
Both benefit greatly from a good headphone amp.
Both have the bumpy head band issue that a lot of reviewers have complained about. However, the newer Chinese model does not have any headband bumps.
Both are good for mixing, and have that neutral and flat sound.
Both need adequate time to break in.
Neither headphone sounds particularly “fun.”
The pads on the K702’s are thicker, which supposedly allows more of an “around the head” speaker like experience.
The 702’s have a detachable cable, the 701’s do not.
The 702’s do not come with a stand, the 701’s do.
The 702’s bass response gets generally more favorable reviews over the 701’s.
One reviewer noted a vast improvement in comfort and sound when he replaced the 701’s with the 702’s. The bass was stronger, and the mid range was closer.
I would say if you desire a bit more bass and warmth with your headphone experience, the Q701 may be the better fit. Keep in mind that the differences between these headphones is fairly subtle.
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.