The AKG Q701 vs. K701 comes up a lot when evaluating headphones, specifically those made for mixing and reference applications. Today I will dissect each, outline the differences, and hopefully help you decide which suits your needs better!
The Quincy Jones model 701 is the 2nd newest model in this series, right behind the 701 anniversary edition. It has more bass than the 701, and is overall a better, livelier headphone in general. It has a detachable 10 or 20 foot straight mini XLR cable, and sports those super comfy velour ear cups. What is XLR? The self adjusting headband is still convenient as ever, and the ear-cups are about as big as two tires. Lol. They do a fantastic job with melons of all sizes, and really keep the drivers away from touching your ears. They are also wide and round enough to fit just about any ear, Ross Perot included. 😀 Do understand that these are open back, and will leak sound.
The same stuff applies here. They are quite neutral, flat, and true to the source. Be aware that they aren’t really made for on the go, as they are big and bulky with a long cable. However, you can purchase an aftermarket 3 foot chord. Just be aware that people may be annoyed when you blast Big Willie Style on the bus. Lol. 1997 anyone?
Great 3-d Sound-stage It’s huge. Some say it’s a bit unnatural, but overall it makes for one heck of a great listening experience. The sound-stage gives off a nice width and depth.
Very flat, although not quite exactly neutral. They do have some color to them, which a lot of people will be excited about. They also have more bass impact than the 701’s.
Flat bass, but extends very deep. The bass is very accurate, rather than bloated, like Thanksgiving at your Grandmas. 😛
All the frequencies are there, and represented well. “Well Brian, that’s a very nutritious lunch. All the food groups are represented. Did your mom marry Mr. Rogers?” “No, Mr. Johnson.”
Very nice mid-range presence, much like the 701’s. There is a spike around 2khz, but like the 701’s it adds a certain energy to the tracks, especially vocals. The mids are there, and they are a bit in your face.. but they never sound harsh or grating to your ears.
The treble is very revealing. You really get a lot of lush detail. They sound really sharp, but they may take a little while to get used to. The headphones are just that honest.
Exciting. The Q701’s have a quality that will get you pumped up about the sound more so than say the Beyerdynamic DT880 or Sennheiser HD600. They are a little more colored if you will.
Very lively, but still honest .. and not harsh. What more could you ask for?
Still bass “light” to some.
Sound-stage still may be too wide to some, but this is nitpicking.
Treble range may sound a bit harsh at first.
Credit to my boy @Metal571. Check him out on Twitter!
Even at a modest 62 Ohm impedance, they will be a bit difficult to drive. An amp definitely improves them, but you may still be able to get away with simple plug and play. Some good amp recommendations:
Great for FPS gaming and music in general. They have such a lively flavor and sound to them, even being marketed as neutral. They are very flat and neutral, but not 100%. This actually makes them a lot more versatile and prevents the sound from being too boring like the K701. Any genre of music will suffice with these puppies, but..
Bass-heads: Avoid. While the Q701 does have more bass than the K701, it’s still lean. Expect an honest, textured, and detailed signature. Don’t expect to be blown away.
The Q701’s are not quite 100% neutral, but close to it. They have an extra bit of bass emphasis, and the sound-stage is markedly improved from their 701 predecessor. This is a headphone that you will have a lot of fun with, as it’s less cold and analytical overall. Mind you, it’s still a clinical can meant for mixing and reference, but there’s also great potential for pure enjoyment. You will hear such great detail and clarity in the treble range, and the mid-range has a slight bump which brings out vocals and instruments with startling realism!
material: leather head band, plastic, velour padding
These babies accomplish what they were set out to do, and that is 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 it’s 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, 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 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 (ear pads are circumaural and are made of velour). You may forget you’re wearing them. The ear cups are also very large and fit all sizes of ear.
Voices sound true to life. The treble range 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.
Great for gaming, as you can hear sound all around you, and can therefore make quicker snap decisions.
Comes with a headphone stand.
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 head band after many hours of wear.
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.
Sound may be a bit cold, dry, and TOO analytical for some
Check out the comparison video!
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)
Who these headphones benefit?
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 a 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. 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.
Similarities & Differences
The mid-range on both are very similar, if not identical.
Both headphones are very analytical, but the Q701 sounds less cold than the K701.
Both models are mostly made of plastic. They feel solid, and are light.
The Q701’s headband has a lot more tension than the K701’s.
The Q701 has an 8 bump headband while the K701 (Austrian model) has 7 bumps. The newer Chinese models sold on amazon don’t have any bumps however.
The bass on the K701 is about 4db quieter than the Q701. There is just overall more bass on the Q701.
The Q701 has a detachable cable while the K701 does not.
The Q701 has bumps on the headband, while the newer model K701 does not.
The Q701’s have different color and branding. They come in Black, Green, or White, with a neon green chord. They also have Quincy Jones inscribed on the top of the headband. The K701’s by contrast are grey and maroon, and have the standard AKG branding on the headband.
The K701’s sound-stage is said to be unnaturally large. Music sounds distant at times when it really shouldn’t. The Q701’s by contrast is more realistic, and so much more enjoyable. It is still large, but not abnormally so.
If you dig the the sound signature of this headphone, I would recommend going with the Q701. It has more bass impact, but retains all of the qualities of the 701. It also has a detachable cable and happens to be a lot more affordable as well. The sound-stage has been improved and is no longer abnormally large and unnatural. There is really no reason to buy the K701 anymore, unless you really wanted to seek out an Austrian model.
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.