If you landed here from the K701/H600, or HD650/K702 search, don’t worry! It’s all here 🙂
- 2/29/20. Article posted.
- 1/22/21. Article/link cleanup.
- 4/20/21. Series links.
- 6/10/21. Article cleanup.
- 6/27/21. Article cleanup + additions/consolidation
4,576-word post, approx. 12-13 min. read
Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into the AKG K702 vs. Sennheiser HD600, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
I’m Here to Help!!
Table of Contents
Specs & Introduction
Build + K701/K702 & HD600/650 Differences
Sound & Imaging
Amplification & Genre
Recommendations & Final Word
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check B&H! | Check eBay! |
- Type: Open back.
- Fit: Circumaural (Over-Ear).
- Frequency response: 10Hz to 39,800 kHz.
- Impedance: 62 Ohms. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 91dB/mW.
- Material: Leather headband, plastic, velour padding.
- Color: Midnight Blue/Silver/Grey
Sennheiser HD 600
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check B&H! | Check eBay!
- Type: Open back.
- Fit: Circumaural (Over-Ear).
- Impedance: 300 ohms.
- Sensitivity: 97dB/mW.
- Frequency response: 12Hz – 39000 kHz.
- Material: Metal grilles, carbon fiber, velour earpads, plastic
- Color: Speckled Blue, Black, Sky Blue.
I’ve owned the Sennheiser HD600 since 2016, and just recently purchased a K702 after a few years of research. From said research, I kind of had a good idea of how it would sound based on many hours of reading other people’s impressions and getting a sense of its perceived performance.
The good news is that the way people describe it is just about 100% spot on. It kind of restores my faith in humanity, a little.
I look at it as a fine example of anecdotal evidence that an idea is correct and true. If the majority of people are saying X headphone sounds like ____ , and then you try it and find that to be accurate, then it most likely is.
In a sense, audio kind of does kind of become objective in a way, even though there will always be outliers and rebels who want to argue with you tooth and nail about, well, everything. There are also outliers in terms of sound. Not every impression of a headphone is 100% accurate, but then again, as humans, we do hear a bit differently from each other at the end of the day.
Anyways, enough of that.
I bought the K702 for a specific purpose (Gaming), and it doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. We’ll get into that more in a bit! The Best Headphones for Gaming [In Depth Guide]
K701 vs. K702
Before we begin, let me just clarify the differences between the K701 and K702 as well as the HD600 vs. 650.
In short, it’s just about the same sound but the K702 has a bit less bass roll-off and extends a little deeper than the K701. That’s really it! If you were interested in my 600/700 shootout: AKG K612 vs. K712 vs. K702 vs. K701 vs. Q701
Here’s a nice graph illustrating the point:
HD600 vs. 650
The difference here lies in the bass, as well as the mid-range.
The HD600 has a more forward mid-range which makes it sound a bit livelier and more energetic than that of the HD650. Also, the 650’s mid-bass is a little more prominent.
By and large, the overarching difference between the 2 is that the 650 sounds more relaxed, more laid back, lusher, and some say more veiled. In comparison to the 600, I would say yes, that’s a very accurate sentiment.
Here are a couple of nice graphs illustrating the point:
Shout out to Crinacle!
They may appear the same but take another look. Notice the HD600’s mid-range is elevated across the board by about 5dB in the presence region and about 2-2.5 in the low mids.
These 2 graphs are a perfect representation of how the headphones sound in practice!
Now that we’re aware of those subtle differences, let’s get into the main review!
Right off the bat, you’ll notice that the K702 feels lighter than an HD600, but is actually an ounce heavier at 10 Oz vs. 9 for the HD600. I found this to be fairly surprising after weighing both on my scale without either cable attached.
I can’t really say one feels more durable than the other though. The K702 is certainly bulkier looking and feels nerdier on your head and in your hands.
The HD600’s don a less flamboyant profile by contrast, and resemble something that a more casual music listener might gravitate towards.
When you put on a K702 and look in the mirror, be prepared for disappointment. In yourself, mostly. How or why would you ever think this was a good idea? Lol.
“Buy the K702 they said. It will be “revealing”, they said.”
Oh sure. It’s revealing alright. It reveals how big of a doofus you are.
Haha. I know you laughed a little.
Jokes aside, the 600 looks a lot more low profile, whereas people will instantly know you’re a nerd wearing a K702.
“Yeah, he’s a geek.”
The main difference build-wise between the K702 and HD600 is that the 702’s utilize that really cool and convenient hammock style headband adjustment that I’ve come to adore over the years. You simply put it on your head and let go. It self-adjusts to the size of your big melon (or small), and you never have to worry bout re-adjustment. Sorta. We’ll get into that in a sec.
The HD600’s sport the standard click feature; there’s a thin piece of metal that runs from the top of the headband going into each ear cup, and you adjust by pushing up or down. Pretty simple and straightforward.
Ear Cups & Materials
On both headphones, the ear cups are made of velour, but the padding on the 600’s is more plush and soft. The K702’s padding is still good, it’s just a bit more rigid and stiff feeling.
The cups on both will wear down and flatten out over time, so do be prepared to replace the pads on both. The not cool thing about this is that you’ll have to spend more money. The cool thing is that you won’t actually be using said money + more money to replace the headphone themselves. Just the pads.
Both of these puppies are built for the long haul. Since I bought the HD600’s in 2016, I’ve had zero issues with them. None. They perform flawlessly every single day. No cable issues, no build issues, no driver issues. Nothing. It’s also super easy to take the pads off and put them back in on both models.
I do need to replace said pads on the 600, but that’s about it. There’s a reason this headphone has been so highly regarded since 1997. It’s simply one of the best audio purchases I’ve ever made. Imagine buying something and being more impressed with it as time wears on. That’s what it’s like to own an HD600. It’s one of the most solid investments you could ever make.
The K702 is similar, and although I can’t really speak to its longevity yet, it feels light but still robust. It doesn’t feel cheap or haphazardly built. It’s also light for a reason – you’ll want to be able to wear it over long listening sessions when you’re mixing down a track, gaming, or binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy by yourself at night. I don’t do that though I swear. XD
I haz a funny!
Both headphones are built mostly out of plastic, but the 600’s do have that piece of metal that we discussed above.
Cable & Termination
Moving into wiring, both admittedly have an extremely long and annoying cable. I’ve learned to live with it on the HD600 though.
Why is that?
BECAUSE I SAID SO!
Just kidding. It’s because the cable on the 600’s is extremely rugged and durable, even despite me running over it with my computer chair hundreds of times. I recently found out the reason for this is because it’s made out of a reinforced Kevlar material. Mind blown. I had always wondered why it kept on taking a licking but still kept on ticking like Mick Foley, but now I know. It’s because it’s built to last like Duralast homie!
I suppose I could just buy a shorter cable for it, but I don’t really feel like it, alright? Don’t stress me.
Both the K702 and HD600’s terminate in a 3.5mm jack. The 600’s come with a snap-on adapter while the 702’s utilize the standard screw-on.
Note the differences below:
The cable thickness on each is roughly the same, but the 702’s have a rounder cable vs. the flat cable of the 600’s, which also has a small ridge in the middle running down the length of the wire.
The cable on the 600’s splits off into a Y and runs into both of the ear cups, whereas on the 702 it only goes into the left side via mini XLR. I do not know for the life of me what the 600’s is called, but it’s a 2-pin connector.
There isn’t any padding on the 702’s headband, but you’ll find you don’t really need it quite as much. The 600’s sport the classic 4 pad structure, and I’ve never really had an issue with “dig” into my head. Over extended listening sessions, you will have to adjust a little, but that’s to be expected.
Imagine receiving a warm hug from a trusted friend. That in a nutshell is what it’s like to wear an HD600 on your head. It just feels right.
Every time (and I mean every time) I put an HD600 back on my head after a long hiatus, I’m reminded of the sound decision I made in purchasing one. It feels snugly like a pillow. It makes you feel safe and secure. Now I realize that this might sound extreme, but it’s true. Wearing a 600 on my head makes me feel like everything’s going to be okay.
It’s almost like you and the headphones melt into one. I would say for all of the listening sessions spent with the HD600, 95% of them are discomfort-free. I almost never have to adjust them on my head, save for those extra-long listening sessions that seem to wear on forever (no pun intended).
For those, a slight adjustment is needed, but even that’s a minor concern. Put it this way: If you’re still wearing the headphone long after the music has stopped, you know you’ve found something special. I routinely forget I’m even wearing them.
The K702 is similar, but you will find yourself making somewhat more frequent adjustments. For instance, I find them sliding either backward or forwards. With these, you’re sometimes semi-obsessing over the fit. “Do I have them placed right?” “Should I slide them a bit forward or backward?”
“Am I a complete tool for investing in such a geeky-looking product?”
Yes. Yes you are, Brett.
I’m always looking to get a bit better of a fit with the K702, but I’m still really nitpicking. Overall, the comfort level of these headphones is definitely above average. You will find yourself noticing the headband more and more over longer sessions, and that is most certainly the result of the non-existent padding. I can almost understand why they did it; it keeps weight low, and for the most part, you’re not really going to need it. Perhaps a little sliver of padding would have helped though.
Out of the close to 100 headphones I’ve demoed at the time of this writing, the HD600 is still by far the one of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn and it’s really not close.
The K702’s pads also aren’t quite as plush as the 600’s (as mentioned above), and I think that also helps to contribute to their somewhat less comfy profile.
Overall, I would give the edge to the 600’s here.
Sound & Imaging
The sound profile of these headphones is very different in a lot of ways. We’ll start with the bass.
The bass on both is fairly rolled off, but the K702’s are definitely more anemic in the low end. Be prepared for an incredibly lean response, almost as if it’s not even there sometimes.
It’s a fairly universal consensus at this point that the K702’s bass is pretty light. That said, it’s also very textured and sounds detailed. It just doesn’t dig very deep or hit very hard. If you’re a bass head, just forget about it. You won’t like it. For everyone else, keep reading. 🙂
In movies and gaming, this is readily apparent. You’ll be able to hear everything going on, but it lacks the weight and impact that the HD600 does provide better by contrast. Keep in mind though that the 600’s aren’t good for gaming or movies because of their narrow Soundstage.
Even despite the fact that the HD600’s bass is also kind of lean, it does hit slightly harder than the K702’s, and you will notice it a lot more. In fact, the bass on the 600 is nearly perfect for a headphone of this stature and profile. It fits the mold of a bass response that’s infinitely present, yet subtle and unassuming. Sort of like Mr. Rogers. The bass sits well in the mix, all snug like a bug in a rug, but it still sounds like it’s there. With the K702, it sometimes gets lost.
On the HD650, there was a mid-bass bump that the 600’s do not have. This made the 650 sound a bit warmer than its older brother.
On the K702, none of that is apparent. In fact, the 702’s bass could in fact be dubbed “cold”, and it kind of is. It’s there, but just barely and it sounds almost .. blank. This all might sound like a dig at the nerdy-looking headphone, but it’s not. I actually sometimes prefer it if you can believe that. I used to be a bass head, but nowadays I enjoy hearing all of the frequencies, with none overpowering the others.
Speaking of, the mid-range isn’t overpowered here in the slightest, giving the 702’s a nice revealing quality that never really sounds too in your face or intense. If the HD600 gave you a “blank stare” with regard to showing you what’s there, the 702’s boast an even blanker one.
I almost never feel like any of the frequencies on the 702 stand out in a way that seems forced. There is a slight presence bump around 1 and 2k, but it’s subtle enough to render the mids with a lot of clarity and fullness without sounding too lively.
By contrast, the HD600’s mid-range has always bothered me around 3kHz. Everything about the sound is perfect, but then the forwardness of instruments and vocals just ruins it because it ends up being a bit too much. I’m frequently fumbling for the volume knob, trying to achieve equilibrium while the 600 insists on arguing.
It’s as if it wants you to accept, and even praise the fact that it pushes the mids in your face. I just can’t. If I could make an analogy, it’s like that guy who always has to get the last word in. You’ve long since accepted that he’s a tool, but he just keeps proving it over and over by opening his mouth, even long after you’ve stopped talking.
The 600 likes to flaunt its flaws in a similar way, drawing unnecessary attention to itself more often than not.
Even with that said, you can imagine that the issue must not be as big of a deal as I’m making it seem, given the fact that I’ve spent years with the headphone and don’t plan on getting rid of them.
That is true. While it does annoy me, it’s not a deal-breaker. It’s simply a clear flaw that only becomes apparent after spending a lot of time with the headphone.
The K702’s mids are also pushed forward, but I don’t find them to stand out in an unnecessary way. By contrast, they are fairly relaxing in comparison to the 600’s.
You will find that the 702’s do lack that weight, body, and fullness that the 600’s provide in spades. It’s as if the sound of the 702 is juuuust a bit too thin at times. Maybe a tad hollow? It’s hard to put into words. As if it’s missing some meat on its bones – like me when I was over 6′ tall and 120 lbs. as a freshman in high school. XD
The 600’s sound a bit warmer, and closed in, with good instrument separation but a narrow Soundstage. What is Soundstage? [Detailed Explanation]
One of the biggest differences between the 2 headphones is just that.
The K702’s are going to sound much more open and spacious, with greater width and depth to the image. This is why they are infinitely better for Gaming and movies in my estimation.
While I would almost never recommend an HD600 for gaming, I would nearly always place a K702 at the top of a buying list for both gaming and movies. You’re going to start to hear sounds in all directions: above you, below you, to the right, to the left, etc.
The Soundstage on the 702’s gives you the perception that the sound is coming from outside of your apartment at times. In watching Primal Fear on Netflix, I kept on thinking someone was walking on the gravel below me! (I live on the second floor).
It turns out the sound was coming from the movie. This happens with pretty much any movie you may be watching.
The HD600 is simply never going to provide you with this level of immersion, no matter how you slice it. With the K702, you’re always getting this nagging feeling that something is going on outside of the headphones, which causes you to take them off fairly frequently as you look around for something out of the ordinary.
In the majority of cases, it is the incredibly open and spacious soundscape that the headphone provides. This is why the 702 always shows up in ‘best-of’ lists with regard to Soundstage and Gaming. They just do the job incredibly well.
By contrast, I would almost never put on an HD600 in the same situation and feel that great about it. It just doesn’t perform as optimally.
I would say the treble on both of these actually sounds fairly similar. This is just my opinion, but I think because the bass on the 702 is leaner, it makes the treble stand out more while sounding ever so slightly more essy. There’s a bit of added sparkle. While it mostly sounds right, there are times when it stands out just a bit too much. Still, a minor nitpick.
Overall, the 600 sounds lusher, more relaxed, more inviting, more intimate. It sounds like how a warm hug feels.
The K702 is more open, more clinical, more sterile, crisper. It sounds a bit cooler and there’s certainly more “air” around the instruments and composition as a whole.
Was that enough word salad for you? Hold on I’ve got one more.
Don’t forget to leave me some love!! <3
Night Time Inside
Day Time Outside
Amplification & Genre
For the back and forth demo, I was using the DragonFly Red to compare these mostly. I also used a FiiO K5 Pro, Bravo Ocean, CEntrance DACport HD, iFi hip-dac, and iFi Zen DAC/Amp. Keep in mind I’ve listened to the HD600’s with a plethora of different amps over the years as well. With the K702 that list is a bit shorter, but still fairly expansive considering I just got them and have a lot of amps at my disposal to work with.
Simply put, both of these do need an amp but don’t go crazy over which one you go with. A lot of different combinations will work wonders for both. In fact, I wrote 2 very extensive articles on the topic that will really help you out in deciding!
Be sure to leave a comment and check out the video for the 600/650!!
The basic gist of it is that both are fairly inefficient (the K702 more so). The HD600 has a Sensitivity of 97dB/mW and needs around 20mW of power from an Amp to reach optimal loudness.
The 702 is even less efficient at around 91dB/mW, but also has a lower Impedance than the 600’s, coming in at 62 Ohms vs. 300.
What this basically means is that the HD600’s will resist the power fed into them from an amp a bit more, while the K702 won’t. In that sense, both Sensitivities are almost a wash. You’ll notice that they need similar amounts of power out of an amp to sound their best.
For Genre, I would say the 600’s will fare a lot better for Hip-Hop, Rap, EDM, etc. They sound more full and rounded out, which helps with these harder-hitting types. Rock music also resides in the 600’s comfort zone, so be prepared for a head-banging good time friend! It’s where they shine the best musically, as rock neither places too much emphasis on bass, mids, or treble.
With harder rock and metal, the 600’s do still sound good, but the crunchy nature of those songs can sometimes not sound as lively enough out of the headphone, even despite a great level of detail and realism. For metal, I’d much rather have a headphone like the Sennheiser HD25, but that’s just me. Your mileage may vary.
The K702’s by contrast will work with Rock, and to an extent Hip-Hop, but they excel a lot more with quieter genres and more subtle musical passages. Think of stuff like Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, etc.
It’s not the type of sound that you’re going to want to try and blare through your headphones. This will only result in frustration. The K702 is really meant to be listened to at much quieter volumes than even an HD600, so plan on adjusting accordingly.
It’s a much more subtle type of sound, lending itself well to detail retrieval, expansiveness, spacing, width, and depth. You’re going to feel more like you’re in a live setting given the proper recording and genre. You’ll also notice the texture of Jazz drums specifically is much more detailed, realistic, and natural sounding.
With the HD600’s and Jazz, I sometimes feel like the character and timbre of the drums isn’t conveyed very well, and sort of almost gets lost amidst everything else going on. What is Timbre? It feels more congested, whereas the K702’s render the genre almost perfectly. There’s a fantastic sense that you’re actually listening to artists in a space rather than through a device. Dave Brubeck’s “Strange Meadow Lark” is a great example of this. The K702’s render those types of gentle drum hits with incredible precision and detail. Overall, the K702’s will provide just that – even more detail than you may be expecting. In listening to “Clair De Lune” by the brilliant Claude DeBussy, I was hearing all sorts of things in the background of the song that may or may not have been intended. I kept pausing the track to determine if the sound was coming from the outside. This is a practice that you’ll find yourself engaging in more often than not for sure.
Mixing & Reference
For mixing and reference, I think both do extremely well. I would say the K702 has a slight edge in terms of finding flaws in the mix, but be careful of overcompensating with regard to bass. Because the 702 is bass light, it’s important not to get carried away in adding too much to the final mixdown.
Recommendation & Final Word
Which of these you go with depends more on preference than anything. Outside of Soundstage and mids (The 702’s clearly has the edge with Soundstage and a slight edge with regard to mids), neither is really better than the other. It comes down to what you hope to achieve within your own studio space or home listening environment.
I think if you’re looking for a headphone primarily to be used for movies, gaming, mixing/reference, and plan on listening to lighter genres (think Nick Drake, Iron & Wine, Jack Johnson, etc.), as well as any of the other genres and more that we discussed, the K702 is the obvious choice. It’s going to fare better at lower volumes, and sounds infinitely better with stuff like Jazz and Classical, being that it’s more open and spacious.
As a pure musical headphone, the HD600’s are a better all-around choice. They aren’t going to be nearly as good for movies or gaming, but they will work for reference incredibly well, also sounding great with most genres. I wouldn’t rely on them solely for Jazz or Classical, but they will work. It’s just not the most ideal pairing.
If the 702’s have the edge in terms of Soundstage, I would say the 600’s provide a better bass response overall. The treble is a bit more relaxed to my ears as well (perhaps not quite as “airy”?), given the fact that the 702’s bass is lighter by contrast.
Interested in discovering more about the HD600?
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this AKG K702 vs. Sennheiser HD600 Review & Comparison.
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
Which of these headphones sounds more like you? What do you hope to achieve within your listening environment? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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