Before we get into the Sennheiser HD600 vs. AKG K701, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..
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What I will bring you in this review
For this article, I will do a quick and dirty comparison, and then link to my official recommendation towards the end! 🙂
K701: Chinese vs. Austrian Model
Similarities & Differences
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!
Ah, two of the best studio headphones for mixing. Both of these are wonderful in their own right, and both have received some nice praise over the years. While the HD600 has largely remained exactly the same since it’s incarnation in 1997, the K701 has undergone a couple of changes, one of which has bothered many enthusiasts and hardcore audiophiles alike.
K701: Chinese vs. Austrian Model
The main differences between the K701 Chinese model and Austrian model comes down to the headband bumps on the top of the Austrian model, which many people complained about.
The Chinese model improves on comfort, but not necessarily on build quality. The vast majority of people said that the overall quality suffered after the manufacturing relocation to China.
The HD600 has some Soundstage, but it’s not a standout quality of the headphone overall. What is Soundstage? There are certain times when I whip my head around to see if someone’s behind me, or rip off the headphones and look around. This is the exception and not the rule though. Most of the magic behind the 600’s sound is apparent in their exceptional instrument separation and Timbre. It’s just breathtaking at times. What is Timbre? It’s as if someone hand separated the different layers of sound for you, to the point of extreme intricacy, and well, intimacy for that matter. Everything feels close and oh so delicious. By contrast, the K701’s Soundstage is quite the opposite, being much wider and more open. Some even call it unnaturally wide, claiming that the K702 and Q701 both improve on this supposed flaw. Others really love the fact that it’s so wide and large. Another thing to note is that some like the instrument separation more-so on the K701, as there’s more room for the sound to breathe.
Amp. The K701 is infamous for being extremely amp picky, while the HD600 will do well with just about any decent solid state amp, and isn’t finicky in that regard. How to choose a headphone amp!
Impedance. The K701’s impedance is pretty low at 62 Ohms, while the HD600 comes in at 300 Ohms. What is Headphone Impedance? Now you may think lower impedance automatically means easier to drive, but with the 701 this is unfortunately not the case.
Detail. The K701’s are very detailed, to the point of being much to cold and analytical for some. They are pretty much a perfect match for mixing purposes as well. The HD600’s are also great for mixing, but are a little warmer and less “harsh” I would say. They’re definitely analytical, but not in a way that could possibly turn you off. The K701’s come across as kind of emotionless, while the 600’s are a lot warmer and more inviting.
Bass. The HD600 is not a bass “heavy” can by any stretch, but it’s just the right amount for me. It’s there, and it’s tight and detailed, but never out of place. The K701 by contrast is very bass lean/light, which a lot of people complained about. You won’t be getting nearly the impact or extension that the 600 provides.
Dark/Light. The HD600 has long been accused of having a veiled, or dark sounding treble. What is the Sennheiser Veil? I honestly didn’t experience it, and kind of ascribe to the notion that it’s kind of a myth. Proper amplification will negate any claims of them being “dark.” The best headphone amp for the money. That said, the 600’s are on the warmer side in comparison to the 701. The 701’s are very bright in the treble area. I found the 600’s to be more relaxed in that region, with a superb sense of instrument Timbre. What is Timbre? The instruments and vocals really come through with an incredible sense of realism. You feel as if you’re getting a sense of the personalities and conditions of the artists. The K701’s by contrast are much brighter, and some say a bit harsh and Sibilant. What does Sibilant mean? Still, others love that crisp clarity that they provide.
Headband. The K701’s have that hammock style headband that self adjusts according to the size of your melon. I really like it and it’s a nice touch while also being extremely functional. The HD600’s sport a traditional style headband with the adjusting mechanisms on the side.
Comfort. The HD600’s are incredibly comfortable, to the point where I don’t even have to adjust them hardly ever. The K701’s by contrast are hit and miss, depending on if you get the model with the headband bumps or without them. For many, they cause ear fatigue as well as pain because of the bumps. Overall, the 600’s are more comfortable hands down.
Forgiveness. The HD600’s are a little more forgiving of bad source files than the K701’s. The 701’s are very critical of source material.
Overall Sound. The HD600’s have more slam and impact to them, while the K701’s are more airy and open. A reviewer on Head-Fi made a great analogy. The K701 is like being hit with a shower head on the “spray” setting. The sound hits you from all angles, and is more immersive, while the HD600 is more like the “stream” setting.
For a detailed comparison of 8 songs between the K701 and HD600, click here!
With all that said, I would go with the Gold Standard, the Sennheiser HD600. It represents the benchmark to which all headphones should be compared. It’s everything you could ever want or need in a headphone. It’s the all in one solution. Interested in learning all about my favorite audiophile headphone?
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.