Updated: Nov 16, 2020
Technical and bright. The most "demanding" of the 7 series. in deutsch
frequency range: 10 - 39800 Hz | sound pressure level: 105 dB | impedance: 62 Ohm | dynamic
For private use, I am often attracted to the K702 because of its better audibility, but more technically and precisely I am on the road with the K701, respectively the Q701.
Bass Mids Trebles Stage Imaging
8 8.5 8 8.5 9
Processing Comfort Earpads Headband Weight
9 7 8 6 235 grams
Price 125 €
Pro Contra - variety of details - the bass is a bit too "neutral"
- neutral tuning - bright and sharp in the high frequencies
- great 3D image - headband quickly becomes uncomfortable (old version)
- mid-range reproduction - Isolation
The K701 is considered an AKG classic when it comes to neutral-bright headphones for reference listening. The close relationship with the K702 cannot be denied, but the K702 sounds more relaxed in the midrange and in the high frequencies. With the Q701, however, one can almost speak of a twin.
Plastic, metal, leather, velour - the material combination including the design remains the same in every model of the 7-series. The design is of course a bit outdated, but still one of the most functional. The K701 is an open headphone, which means that the isolation does not play a big role, as it is practically non-existent, both inside and outside.
The velour posters enclose the whole ear and have a thick (behind the ear) and thin side (in front of the ear). This causes the driver to supply the ear with sound a bit more from "in front", which is supposed to provide a spatial representation.
Unlike the K702 & Q701, the cable (3m - 6.3mm jack) is not removable and can be adapted to 3.5mm jack (adapter included). For me the not removable cable is not the biggest disadvantage of the K701, because AKG "only" uses a 3-pin (single-sided) cable with the other models, so a balanced usage is not possible even with these without tinkering. The only advantage here remains the interchangeability in case of cable breakage or the use of different lengths (see Q701).
With the headband, the old K7XY disease comes up (if you still catch an old serial number of the K701 like I did) in terms of wearing comfort.
The headband has nubs (8), which are very hard and instead of padding they cause headaches because of the pressure points, if you were not given a full head of hair. Meanwhile there is a new version with a flat and more comfortable headband, as it is the case with the K702.
Included in the delivery is a plastic headphone stand, which is not the most valuable, but functional. The headphones are simply placed in the foam insert and stand securely in it.
The K701 is probably the weakest of the 7-series in terms of bass when it comes to quantity. Qualitatively it has a good, dry punch and a very solid detail reproduction, but I miss something the body, which makes it sound more sterile. Nevertheless it has a good dynamic and cannot be called lifeless. Nevertheless, for my taste, the "accustomed" naturalness is lost a bit.
Maybe you ask yourself who actually decided that neutral always has to contain such a subtle bass? The answer is our "manipulated" listening habit. At every live concert, the drums are given a fatter sound via the PA. Also on many recordings (if they are not acoustic) instruments like bass and drums are amplified, which basically ends up in an "unnatural" sound. If you stand in front of an unamplified drum set, the bass drum will not sound room-filling and powerful, but rather duller and flatter than we are used to live or on the recording. Therefore "neutral" headphones usually have a subjectively quite bass-poor music reproduction. This is less fun, but in the case of the K701 I still find the bass to be musical enough to enjoy the music. In contrast to the K701 the Q701 has a bit more level, but the boost is still decent in comparison.
The K701 is slightly more relaxed in the mids compared to the Q701. However, the emphasis is on " slightly". The K701 also has this shrillness, which is probably caused by a peak around 2 kHz. Together with the high frequency peak around 5-6 kHz this gives a nice clarity and transparency, but it can also be quite demanding. The K702 is the brave one, but also a bit veiled in the mids. Vocals sometimes tend to be a bit harsh and a bit brighter than they should be, but you get used to the presentation very quickly. Except for this slightly over-enthusiastic reproduction, the mids sound mostly authentic, even if they could use a bit more warmth and body. Because of the more direct and subjectively clearer and more detailed mids, the point here goes to the K701 (as with the Q701) compared to the K702, even though I can hold out longer with the K702.
The trebles of the K701 are a bit tricky. They sometimes have an unpleasant sharpness and are a bit too accentuated, which also gives the K701 its brightness. AKG has also clearly recognized this in the Q701 and made the high frequencies a bit more relaxed, while maintaining the same level of detail. Together with the stricter mids, the high tone of the K701 requires some tolerance. For me, using the K701 for several hours is not possible. Nevertheless, the treble is extremely competent in terms of its technical characteristics, but for me the price is a bit too high. So I have to consider the Q701 as an upgrade, even if the Q701 does not always make it easy for me as well.
The stage extension of AKG's 7-series models can always be described as exceptionally wide. Almost too wide to seem natural. This makes the K701 very interesting in the stereo panorama, because it knows how to use the space, occupies the spaces in between and the separation does the rest. Still, I miss the depth and intimacy a bit. A SENNHEISER HD6XX has that a bit better, even if it doesn't have the lush stage structure of the AKGs.
As with the Q701, the K701 produces a very plastic 3D image. The differences here are marginal and can only be seen in the depth. The Q701 also has the more stable foundation. The imaging of the K701 seems to be a little more finely drawn, airy and therefore a little more fragile than the Q701, or K702. It's a matter of taste, but I prefer to have it a bit more catchy and obvious.
The AKG 7-series is a success story and has certainly earned its place in many studios and audiophile headphone collections. Meanwhile, the price is also extremely competitive, which speaks for a very good price-performance ratio.
The models are all suitable in their own way as tools and/or musical companions with high standards. For private use (when I feel like getting the AKG 7 house signature), I am often attracted to the K702 because of its better audibility, but more technically and precisely I am on the road with the K701, respectively the Q701.
Thanks to Sattler Electronic Showtronic AG for providing the test headphones.