If you’d like to see the final shootout of all K600/700 AKG models, go here: AKG K612 vs. K712 vs. K702 vs. K701 vs. Q701 In there I give my all impressions and rankings in one place!
Hey there friend, and Welcome aboard!!
Before we get into the Best Headphone Amp for the AKG K701 & K702, grab a snack, sit back, and relax because.
I’m Here to Help!!
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
Over the last few years, I’ve done quite a bit of research on the K701 & K702.
Even before owning a K702, I kind of had a good idea of how it was going to sound.
Once I purchased the headphone for myself, all that research proved fruitful and all of my findings were pretty much spot on.
I bought it for a specific purpose (Console/PC gaming) and was aware of some of its perceived flaws.
Those flaws are definitely apparent, but they aren’t deal-breakers.
They’re minor gripes to an otherwise fantastic headphone.
Both the K701 and K702 sound about the same. The difference between them is that the K702 has a bit more bass emphasis and its Soundstage isn’t quite as unnaturally wide as the 701’s.
Still, the differences are fairly subtle in passing.
- Recommended: What is Soundstage?
Like the HD600 and 650, there are a plethora of amps that work well for the K701 & K702.
Related: Best Headphone Amp for the Sennheiser HD 600 and 650.
It used to be said that both the K701 and K702 are notoriously hard to drive.
That turned out to be a myth, and even though both do need some sort of amplification, you don’t have to go crazy trying to find the perfect pairing.
In reality, they aren’t that hard to drive.
A lot of amps will work very well for both of these headphones. After demoing 60+ amps at the time of this writing, I’m fully convinced that the differences between them are extremely subtle.
Before we delve into pairings, it’s important to discuss headphone Impedance and Sensitivity ratings for these 2.
Headphone Impedance & Sensitivity
They both come in at 62 Ohm Impedance, which is basically just a measure of resistance.
It determines how much your headphones will resist the power fed into them by an Amp.
- Higher number? It will resist more.
- Lower number? It will not.
Sensitivity is a measure of efficiency.
How efficient is the headphone at using the power it receives from an Amp?
Higher number = more efficient. Lower number = less efficient.
The sensitivity for both of these monsters is around 91dB/mW. That’s very low, and not efficient at all.
Because of this, both headphones will require some power from an amp to reach a listenable level.
The good news is that at 62 Ohms, they won’t resist that power much at all.
HIFIMAN headphones are also notorious for being inefficient, oftentimes coming in at around 93dB.
My Sennheiser HD600s sit in a weird middle ground at 97dB and 300 Ohm.
They aren’t very hard to drive though; I’m perfectly satisfied with a semi-under-powered amp like the FiiO E10K and even the less powerful K3.
So the main takeaway is that you’ll need some sort of amplification for both the 701 and 702, but don’t go ape shit about it alright?
Lol. The E10K will still drive it plenty loud enough.
A lot of amps will sound great as well.
I’ve done quite a bit of research on the matter over the years, and this list will be the definitive guide on what you should go with.
So sit back, strap on, and get ready! This will be an exhaustive but thorough list.
By the time you’re finished, you should have a fantastic idea of what to go with.
I will also update the post as I try more pairings.
Let’s take a look!
JDS LABS ATOM
Price: Check JDS! | Official Review: Here!
Note: Objective 2 has been discontinued.
These 2 would be a logical step up from the K3 or E10K and are currently my all-time favorites as far as pure black sound goes. What does that mean? It means whatever I say it means!!
Haha just kidding.
It means that the sound is entirely neutral and uncolored, so what you hear is how the headphone actually sounds – no added flavors, colors, or preservatives. 😛
Think of these amps like buying organic; everything is mad natural homie!
The ATOM has no business being as cheap as it is, and the same goes for Objective 2.
When you listen through these amps, it kind of feels like you’re in a studio space rather than listening through a set of headphones.
Don’t wet yourself or anything though.
It’s not like actually being there, but you do get a sense that there are depth and width to the soundscape.
With a headphone like the K702? That’s certainly a great thing.
If you’re just starting out in the hobby, I’d probably look to either of these first.
They provide just about the cleanest sound I’ve ever heard, but at the same time are dirt cheap and provide plenty of juice for any headphones.
That’s quite a … power-packed combination, friend!
There’s a reason a lot of people copy the open-source schematic that’s now been around for quite a while; it just sounds right. No distortion, no hiss, nothing. It’s almost hard to believe how much clarity is present when you pair it up with a K702, HD600, or HD650.
FiiO K5 Pro
Price: Check Amazon! | Check B&H! | Check Apos Audio! | Official Review: Here!
- Note: Also check out the updated K7.
This little buddy can do basically anything, and sounds great with a K702 for both music and Gaming!
It has an Optical Input, a Coaxial input, a USB Type-B Jack, and a DC15V power jack in addition to a set of RCA inputs and outputs.
This means you can connect it to anything in a studio or gaming environment, and it’s simply one of the most versatile units I’ve ever tried.
I listened to quite a few albums out of it, which I will list towards the bottom.
The overall sound is slightly north of neutral (meaning not entirely neutral but pretty close to it).
Just know that the K5 Pro has quite a lot going for it and will always prove useful in any type of listening situation.
AudioQuest DragonFly Red
Price: Check Amazon | Check B&H! | Check eBay!
Every time I plug in a DragonFly and listen, it’s like I’m getting a bit of an upgrade.
I still can’t tell if this is in my head, but the same thing has happened every single time: The sound opens up, it’s a bit smoother, and the song almost expands like the universe or something.
Whoa, man. The universe. It’s like, vast and stuff.
Vast is a great way to describe the DragonFly Red. This little thumb drive is an Amp/DAC combo rolled into one.
Yeah, that’s right, you heard me correctly, BUB. A thumb drive.
Plug this bad boy into your laptop, grab some headphones, sit down, and shut up.
Why? Because you’re in for the ride of your life. Listening now with the K702 sounds magnificent, as per usual.
With the K702, you’re always getting this uneasy feeling that something is in the room with you.
The DF Red doesn’t help this sentiment any.
I’m constantly wondering if the sound is coming from the headphones or outside of them.
If you live in a remote area and listen at night, it’s particularly unnerving.
I’m enjoying this pairing more so than some of the other amps I have at my desk. It’s extremely immersive with the K702 and sounds really lush and expansive.
So turn that frown upside down!
Let’s look at some other Amps now!
Other Potential Pairings
As mentioned above, I did a lot of research on this over the years.
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.
- Creek OBH-11.
- Vioelectric V200. I reached out to Vioelectric about possibly sending this one for a demo. They responded, but the conversation kind of went nowhere – sort of like that girl you’ve been talking to who went cold like your mom’s leftover meatloaf. 😛
- Asus Xonar STX.
- Questyle Audio CMA 800R.
- Benchmark DAC-1.
- Musical Fidelity X CAN V3/V8.
- Matrix M Stage.
- Aphex Head Pod.
- Woo Audio WA-6.
- SPL Phonitor.
- Schiit Valhalla.
- Burson HA160.
- Auralic Taurus.
- Leben CS300XS.
- Cary SLI-80.
- Lake People G103P.
- Schiit Lyr.
- Neco Mosfet V2.
- Neco Portable V2.
- JDS Labs cMoy.
- Titanium HD.
- Trends Audio PA-10.
- Tascam UH7000.
- Mix Pre-D.
- Meridian Explorer.
- RSA Intruder.
- RSA Raptor.
- Val E10 Vacuum Tube Amp.
- Corda Classic.
- Meier Aria.
- Darkvoice 337.
- Art 406.
Don’t forget to leave me some love! <3
I don’t want you to get carried away in trying to find the perfect pairing. There are simply too many amps out there for all of that nonsense.
If I had to recommend one to get you started, I’d go with a K5 Pro.
The important thing to remember is that all of the ones I’ve tried sound good with my K702. Any perceived differences are very slight and may be all in my head.
Also remember that the K702 does need some power, but it isn’t that hard to drive – even a K3 will do the trick, and that Amp does have less power than its older brother (E10K).
That said, my recommendation today is the K5 Pro as it’s basically a perfect product.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve gotten some valuable information out of this article on the best headphone amp for the AKG K701 & K702.
Which of these would you be inclined to go with? Do you have any suggestions? Be sure to let me know!!
If you have any other questions or feel I’ve missed the mark on something, leave a comment down below or contact me!
I very much look forward to speaking with you…
All the best and God bless,
Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!
Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!
Dug out my now-retired FIIO K3 to check out your assertion that they’d drive AKG K702’s. Short answer is “NO”. Simply insufficient power to provide a decent listening experience.
Hey that’s the beauty of this hobby! I respectfully disagree. Listening again now with my K702 and it’s a perfect little budget set up. Sounds fantastic. I’m using gain and no, there’s not a ton of headroom, but I would never max the volume out with this combo; it’s simply too loud for extended listening. Could it be that your hearing is damaged? Just a thought. Also make sure all levels are maxed out in your PC’s volume control, as well as whatever app you’re using. Rudimentary, but can make all the difference in thinking it’s not loud enough vs. “Oh, I didn’t have the volume turned up all the way on my PC.” It annoys me to no end how many people over the years in articles have parroted the “power hungry” BS about the K701 and K702. It’s simply not true. These headphones aren’t that hard to drive.
No, I agree with Wayne, 120mW @ 32ohms for the FiiO K3 is not nearly enough power to bring out the true character of the AKG K7** series headphones. 1001mW @ 32ohms for the Atom amp is far more ideal. Even the 200mW @ 32 ohms fro the Fiio E10K is much more suitable for the headphone. Despite being 62 ohms, the K702 takes quite a bit of power to realize its potential. The FiiO K3 is puny and quite ineffective for powering the K7** series at high volumes.
I’m listening now with the K702 and K3 and to me, it’s completely fine. I’m not even on high gain and it’s plenty loud enough and sounds great. I figured I would try it again to see if my impressions changed any.
I think the whole power-hungry thing with these headphones has been blown way out of proportion over the years, to be honest. Unless your ears have been completely blown out, I just don’t understand why anyone would need to keep pumping volume here. The K702 doesn’t like to be pushed too hard anyways as it does better with lighter genres (though I still love it with literally everything). I do agree that the E10K will give you a bit more headroom, but I mean honestly does it matter that much?
Yes, they are inefficient. Yes, they need power. But it’s way less than people would have you believe online. Like almost astronomically so.
Sitting on the fence. If to get K702 or something else. Using a decade old K514 ( a semi open). My iFi IDSD Nano drives it well.
Somewhere I got a spec it is 100dB / mW Headphone. iFi iDSD Nano has output is 130mW at 32 Ohm. As you wrote PC volume could mislead one that the DAC/AMP is not capable. Now my question can the same device drive a K702?
First off, wow. I didn’t even know those headphones existed! Lol.
130mW at 32 Ohh may be really cutting it close. I probably wouldn’t rely on that for K702. My E10K provides 220mW into 32 Ohm and I’m on low gain with a bit of headroom with K702. 130 just may not be enough.
I would probably upgrade if you do plan on getting a K702. E10K will be great starting out. Someone actually just asked me about it through email and I whipped it out again to try. Great pair!
Keep me posted with questions, but also check out the K702 review here. Should help you out in deciding!!
I’ve been listening with K3/K702 all morning and while my other reply still stands, I thought to myself “Is it really necessary to start out with a K3 or E10K when you could just get an ATOM or K5 Pro?” And my conclusion is no. I think saving that money up front makes more sense. So thank you! I’m going to update the article to reflect the change in a bit.
Since it’s not mentioned in the Article, would you recommend the Topping L30 as a standalone AMP for the k702 and also a pair of Sundaras (which I might wanna buy). Or is the Zen DAC and Fiio K5 the better choice here.
Hey man! Yeah, I like the L30 for sure. Clean sound, perfect for gaming/film on the couch as you have the remote. It’s a bit more convenient than the K5 Pro in that sense. K5 Pro can be used with optical as well, but Zen is mostly desktop listening.
Check out my topping series: Topping E30/L30 Review – Just How Good Is It?
K5 Pro, G6, and Zen are all in my top Amp/DACS as well. I love K702 with the K5 Pro or Zen. Keep in mind those 2 are a tad warmer/more laid back, so for you, it would depend on if you want a super clean, neutral, and low output impedance vs. something a little less so.
Hi there Stu,
I am a huge metalhead, and listen to everything from Ozzy to Black Metal. I love my AKG K702 Headphones, and currently use a Little Dot MKII Valve Amp. I really want the best “Feel Like I am there” at the Concert, or in the Studio sound. Is there anything you would recommend to take me up from the Little Dot MKII? Kind regards from the UK.
Hm, gosh man! That’s a tough call. I’m trying to think of a DAC I’ve heard that fits that bill, but in all honesty, I think the DAC has less to do with that to be honest with you. If I had a gun held to my head, I would say the ATOM gave me that “in the studio” type of feeling. It felt like I was listening/part of an actual space rather than hearing through the device. Other than that, the Mojo is definitely the best sounding DAC I’ve heard (in terms of feeling like the artist was in front of me) outside of the Byrston BHA-1. Definitely consider a Mojo but read this first and let me know what you think 🙂
I had a read of your other page. ( before you buy a mojo… ) and it does worry me about the battery life and how some just die, and the lack of support, especially for the price.
My interest started from a visit to a Hifi store, and they sat myself and my wife down and played us some music on Vinyl on a decent Hifi, we thought it sounded good, but then he put it through a Hifi specific Valve amp, with the nice glowing Valves on the top. It Sounded a million times better, like we were there. I went out and bought my Little Dot II within weeks. It was not as good as the shop demo, but still better than just though my speakers.
Are the DAC’s BETTER than the Valve Amps? I am mainly going to be playing CD’s and Vinyl through the headphones, but would be nice to play through my powered speakers too.
Hey man! You mean; is an Amp/DAC combo itself better than pairing with tubes? The main difference is really just warmth (which the Mojo actually has a bit of, actually). I think the Mojo is as close to a tube sound you’ll get without actually being a tube amp. To me, that’s what makes it stand out – in addition to the great sound of course.
As you probably know, tube amps typically are designed for higher impedance headphones; think HD600/650, etc. I mostly just tell people if you want that warmish type of tone/flavor, a tube amp is great, but some regular Amp/DACS have higher output impedance and thus sort of function like tubes would.
For your need, DACS can be flexible in that many of them have those connection options. For instance, I can play vinyl with a K5 Pro or G6 quite easily from my turntable and love the versatility of both. This article also goes into the setups as well: The Best Headphone Amp For Listening To Vinyl.
And yeah, you can also use either with powered speakers so you can imagine why I recommend those 2 quite a lot! You could also use them as just DACS into pretty much any tube amp. So an example would be turntable > FiiO K5 Pro via the K5 Pro’s RCA inputs, and then output to Tube Amp.
And you’re welcome! Keep me posted with any questions.
Forgive me if I am misunderstanding, i’m a bit of a newb when it comes to this audiophile stuff. Are the DAC’s better than Valve amps? or same thing?
I only ask, as what got me interested in the 1st place, was I made a visit to a hifi store, and they sat me and my wife down and played some music of vinyl, on a nice hifi, it sounded great, but then he put it through a Valve amp (not the Guitar Amp type that I am used to myself, but one specific for hifi’s), I was blown away by how much clearer it sounded, and yes, I felt like I was in the room with the band.
Would I use a DAC as well as the Little Dot II, or instead of it. As I assumed it was the Valves that made the sound so good, whereas DAC’s seem to be Digital. Or am I on wrong track, lol.
Thanks again really appreciate the advice.
Hey man just saw this. I know you posted another comment saying roughly the same thing, but you touched on something important in here and what I forgot to mention. Yeah, some DACS are just DACS (no amp), while others like the K5 Pro and G6 that I mentioned are combo amp/dacs but also can work as just a dac if you want. So yeah, you can mix and match to your heart’s content with most of them anyway. The E30 is an example of a great dac that has some versatility as well.
And yeah, you’re opening up a huge can of worms with that DAC statement (in the best way possible) Lol. I personally cannot stand DACS right now but I won’t get into why right now, lol. We’ll be here all day XD
Hey there Stuart, I really do appreciate your time, and advice. I see the G6 is listed as a Gaming DAC, and thats great as I do love my gaming too. But is it still a GREAT Music DAC as well? or is the K5 Pro, Atom, or Mojo the better option?
Once again THANK YOU!!!
Hey man my pleasure! Well, the Mojo for me was the best in terms of sound, but I’m not sure I would personally take a gamble on it if I was in the market for a DAC given all of its potential problems. The G6 is an amazing all-around DAC. Fantastic for everything. Music, gaming, film, etc. I was using it again today with the K371 and just had to smile. It’s fantastic! I wouldn’t hesitate. A close second is the K5 Pro followed by the Zen and then the ATOM. Those are my top recommendations as of now. 🙂
Went for the G6, got one coming tomorrow. Thanks for all your help and advice.
Nice!! You’re so welcome, man! I think you’re going to love it. You can EQ with it too via the SoundBlaster Connect App! Also, Scout mode is amazing and really opens up headphones and makes them sound even better. Let me know if you have any questions. 🙂
Nice article, I use the JDS Labs Atom DAC and Atom Amp stack for $200 and it drives all my headphones wonderfully. I was lucky enough to get an AKG K7XX back in 2016 when Drop still made them (it’s basically a very slightly different K712 Pro with black accents). The K7XX/K712 is a much warmer, bassier, smoother, and more neutral headphone than the K701/K702. I couldn’t recommend switching from the anemic and slightly strident K701/K702 to the K7XX/K712 Pro more than enough. For some reason the price of the K712 Pros is really inflated in the US (like $600), but you can buy them for $215 from Thomann UK or other foreign sellers. I find that the K7XX excels with every genre of music I throw at it from Jazz to Classical to Pop and Electronic. This is in part due to the wonderful neutral quality of the Atom amp, but I think the AKG K7XX is an audio-engineered masterpiece, it easily bests my Sennheiser HD6XXs in soundstage and character. For only about $200, it’s excellent value for the money. I have tried more expensive headphones that I actually didn’t like as much as the AKG K7XX.
Love the ATOM.
Heard the 7xx was terrible, but haven’t tried it.
Youre impressions of the 712 are very much correct, but I didn’t find the 702 anemic or strident. Not sure what people are listening to here, but I personally recommend it over the 712 because I actually don’t like the 712’s glossier portrayal. It’s just too syrupy for me but still a good headphone overall. I ranked them here if you want to check it out: https://homestudiobasics.com/akg-k612-vs-k712-vs-k702-vs-k701-vs-q701/
I’m all for discussion though so drop a comment there as well and maybe we can get a dialogue going. I also agree about inflated prices of 712 which also turns me off a bit from it.
The way you feel about the 7xx is the way I feel about my K702 lol. It’s kind of replaced daily driver duties over the HD600 but I love having both as they complement each other quite nicely.