AKG got Quincy Jones to add Thrill to their sound and got us looking at Q 701 headphones with The Eyes of Love.While the endorsement by him is a great touch, these headphones have a charm of their own that make them hard to pass over. They resemble the K 240 MK IIs in their look but their audio is much more corresponding to their price. These are premium headphones which churn out detailed and rich audio. They are temperamental, based on recording quality and pairing equipment. There are some pitfalls but that’s offset by the auditory ambrosia that Q 701 has to offer.
AKG kills it with the massive soundstage on the Q 701. The whole audio response is so airy and spacious that you transcend into the concert happening just outside your head. Details are picked out and placed 360 degree around the head turning it into a live experience. The downfall is that you might feel the audio is a bit too clinical and crafted. Indeed this is the deal, and feels especially so when you play bad recordings or MP3 format. These would just feel like fingernails across chalkboard with each flaw exaggerated on the sonic output.
Mids are textured with intimate details and flow smoothly from the Q 701 headphones. This is pretty much the same behavior we like in the MK IIs. Female singers will croon seductively in your ears with their golden sound clear and bright. Upper mids tend to get a little too bright sometimes and that can turn fatiguing. Highs can get a little sibilant at high volumes.
Bass is tight all right, in the AKG Q 701 headphones but it lacks body which sucks the impact out of bass. Even by audiophile standards, and especially by them, the bass is not right. You don’t feel that you are quiet there in the music without the punchy bass. Treble is just about enough and no more than that. Stereo imaging is almost spot-on in details but it gets a little more side oriented leaving the center weak.
A burn-in period is definitely required to get the AKG Q 701 to get their sound together. Once they do and you play some high quality recordings, you will revel in the beauty of classical music, jazz and acoustic guitar. At 62 Ohm input impedance, these headphones require an amp to drive them. The FiiO E11 amplifier will come in handy at this point. They also require good quality music to be played through them.
The AKG Q701 headphones are open-back cans. This gives their soundstage the spacious quality that we so admire. They feature round earcups with doughnut shaped cushions that keep your ears cozy and free from clamping. The headband used has a cable-cum-suspension type design with self-adjusting length. Surprisingly the headrest is a piece of leather and has bumps on the underside. We don’t understand what the need for these bumps was but they sure make the headband uncomfortable for long hours of use. That’s a shame because the headband can automatically stretch up to your noggin size and sit snug and cozy without you fidgeting to correct it.
The headphones themselves are pretty comfortable except for the headband which may or may not bother everyone. They are lightweight and look stylish. Because of their open-back design, they are best used at home in front of your home-theatre or when you want to cool off to Stravinsky’s music. The construction of these headphones is solid. For their price, it will be prudent not to drop them frequently.
AKG Q701 headphones come in 3 colors: a complete black one, green with black accents and white with black accents. We did not fancy the green color much because it robs the Q 701 of their premium looks. However, they would go well with Halo addicts. The cable of these headphones is detachable and AKG supplies two of them with the pack: A 3m cable and another 6 m cable. Both end in 3.5mm plugs. Both plug into the left earcup securely through a 3-pin mini XLR plug.If you find that the cables are too long for your use, you can braid them.
Studio jack: The AKG Q 701 headphones are marketed with a 6.3mm jack that can be fixed on top of the 3.5mm jacks on their cables.
AKG Q 701 headphones are for people who like their music evolved and serious. If you take the trouble to download high quality audio files in respectable formats and then play them through a carefully chosen setup of amp and DAC, then Q 701 is right down your alley. And if you want to start being a certified audiophile and do both these things, then Q 701 headphones make a great choice. They will bring out the true details of the badly recorded files and educate you about what you have been listening to in the 128 bitrate mp3 files. Unforgiving as these headphones are, all these blemishes will seem significant. The lack of bass will also rein in your temptation to go for bass-heavy Beats. For all its shortcomings, Q 701 still fits an audiophile’s bill.