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dcstep
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AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pro vs. Vienna Acoustic Beethov

This review compares three great headphones with an excellent 3-way, floor standing speaker system. During all of the review the headphones were driven by my stock Woo Audio WA6 that has between 200 and 300 hours on it. The speakers were driven by a 300 watt (into 4 ohms) Conrad Johnson CA200

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Fun review, Dave. You put a lot of work into this.

I, too, adore good isolating in-ear headphones when traveling - they are a must have.

I find the 701s to be detailed and a bit harsh/exhausting, regardless of amplification. Interesting that you find them smooth and a bit rounded off. A great illustration as to how personal all of this is.

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Everybody at head-fi.org says that the 701s need 300 hours to break-in, yet mine sounded good right from the start. OTOH, nobody says that the W5000 sounds good from the start, but mind sounded awful, but then good pretty nice after 100-high. Still, if you thought the 701s a bit harsh, then don't even look at the ATs.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

I have AKG K701's Coupled to the same Woo amp. I find them extremely smooth. I am not sure just how many hours I have on the phone, but they do sound much smoother than they did new. I find the low end very accurate on these phones. The mids are silky smooth, if anything I find the highs ever so slightly bright. I have a pair of UE super pro 5, and they don't sound as tight or neutral on the low end as the K701's. I also can't get use to the almost complete loss of imaging. The soundstage just seems very flat to me. Great phones though for travel. I do like them more than my etymotic ER-6's.

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

The pair of 701s I heard were relatively new so they may not have been broken-in. Transducers typically do change with use.

They were very good 'phones, regardless.

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

I haven't tried the Woo Audio amp, but heard a lot of great things about them. I have AKG-701s and had it run by Heed CanAmp, which I thought was a tremendous match. Until I got my Leben CS600. The audio signal from Leben's output transformers gets relayed to its headphone jack directly, so you can imagine... the music is freaking unbelievable now on my AKG-701s. I haven't heard many headphone amps at all, but the ones I did try pale in comparison to the Leben. I sold my Heed, obviously.

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

I haven't heard the Leben CS600, but it sure is elegant looking. If it sounds half as good as it looks, then it's killer.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Dave. You gotta hear this thing... it's even better through great speakers. I'm no devotee to 'tubey' sound, but this amp shatters the usual stereotypes about tube amps. Had to have one b/c I couldn't forget how it sounded when I auditioned it.

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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Dave. You gotta hear this thing... it's even better through great speakers. I'm no devotee to 'tubey' sound, but this amp shatters the usual stereotypes about tube amps. Had to have one b/c I couldn't forget how it sounded when I auditioned it.

What speakers are you driving with it? I'm worried that it wouldn't manhandle my Vienna Acoustics appropriately.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Harbeth Super HL5s. The Leben really punches above its weight & I wouldn't be surprised if it could have its way with your Vienna Baby Beethovens. I'll ask around a few of my other friends who have Lebens and see if they've heard it paired with Vienna Acoustic speakers...

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Dave. I got back from my friends re; Leben w/ Vienna Beethoven Baby grands. One of them thinks the Leben can rock the shit out of the VAs, but the other thinks that the VA Beethoven Baby Grand works best w/ SS. I guess the only way is via experimentation. i wish there was a clearer parameter, but such is life & its vicissitudes!

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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Dave. I got back from my friends re; Leben w/ Vienna Beethoven Baby grands. One of them thinks the Leben can rock the shit out of the VAs, but the other thinks that the VA Beethoven Baby Grand works best w/ SS. I guess the only way is via experimentation. i wish there was a clearer parameter, but such is life & its vicissitudes!

Understood.

I've got a pretty large room, so when I went from 100 watt SS (Bryston) to 300 watts SS (Conrad Johnson) it was a pretty impressive step up. I DO have some tubes in my front end (phono stage), so I think I'm getting the best of both worlds sonically. My headphone amp is a very sexy Woo Audio WA6, with the Coke bottle shaped rectifier, but that Leben is a contender champ of best combined form and function.

Says to self, "must avoid tube temptation, must avoid..."

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Man, I bet your speakers sound fantastic w/ the CA200... btw: I heard Vienna Acoustics is working on a reference line. Hard to imagine they won't knock the socks off pretty much most of everything out there.

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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Man, I bet your speakers sound fantastic w/ the CA200... btw: I heard Vienna Acoustics is working on a reference line. Hard to imagine they won't knock the socks off pretty much most of everything out there.

Yes, it does work well. The VAs like a high damping factor and generous power. The Rowland amps also work very, very well with the VAs.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


Quote:
One disadvantage is that when I use these at home, I can
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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

It's kind of uncanny but when I'm listening through my AKG 701s, I can definitely hear what my wife is saying, as long as she's addressing me in a reasonable volume.

Jazzfan: that's an impressive arsenal of headphones you got! I wouldn't know what to listen to...

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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At the present time I rotate my headphone listening amongst all my cans: Ultrasone Proline 750, Ultrasone Proline 2500, AKG K701, Sennheiser HD-650 and Beyerdynamic DT880. My headphone amp is a Headroom "Maxed Out" Desktop amp with a Desktop Power Supply. I also have the "max" DAC module in the Desktop amp and I listen to music via a SqueezeBox (digital output into Desktop's digital input). It's a very simple and clean little installation for bedtime listening and I never have to put away any CDs.

Do the Ultrasones have a lot of detail in the bass? The UEs and 701s give me the bass impact I'm looking for, but the 701s lack detail in the bass. I'm considering recabling the 701s because I like so much else about them, but right now they're not delivering the details that I'm getting with the VA, UEs and ATs.

What is your fav and how do those stack up vs. the 701s?

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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Do the Ultrasones have a lot of detail in the bass? The UEs and 701s give me the bass impact I'm looking for, but the 701s lack detail in the bass. I'm considering recabling the 701s because I like so much else about them, but right now they're not delivering the details that I'm getting with the VA, UEs and ATs.

What is your fav and how do those stack up vs. the 701s?

Dave

I didn't mention it earlier but several of my headphones have been recabled. The Sennheiser has a Cardas cable (which is removable) and both the AKG and the Ultrasone 750 have hardwired Moon Audio Silver Dragon cables.

I bought the AKGs with the Silver Dragon already attached so I don't know how they sound with the stock cable. The Ultrasones I had wired and the Moon Audio does make a noticeable improvement to the sound, at least to my ears. The Silver Dragon cable seems to help to "clean up" the bass, i.e. make is less muddy, and smooth out the high end. The bass is quite full and has plenty of detail. Add to that the fact that the Ultrasones image better than all of my other cans and I think you can guess which 'phones are my favorite.

I use the AKGs for listening to music with less bass, like string quartets, since the high end on the AKGs is as smooth as silk. If anything the Silver Dragon cable seems to make their high end even smoother since the high end on these 'phones is really quite stunning.

The Sennheisers were my first pair of "high end" cans and as such they will always have a place in my heart. The Sennheisers do nothing wrong - their high end is clear as a bell (but not as clear as the AKGs), the bass is tight and well defined (but not as forceful as the Ultrasones) and they image quite nicely (as well as the AKGs but not quite at the same level as the Utlrasones). Basically the Sennheisers are from the school of "do nothing wrong" and you'll end up with wonderful 'phones - and that's just what they are.

Comfort wise the AKGs are number one with all the others kind of equal at number two.

Oh, the Beyerdynamic are my 'phones of choice when listening to a movie. I don't know why, but they sound the clearest when presented with a mix of music and dialog. I also have leather pads on the Beyerdynamics and these pads help to tighten up the otherwise some loose bass of these 'phones.

And finally the Ultrasone 2500s still have the stock cable but they are still good, just not quite as clear and well defined as the recabled Ultrasone 750s. Also the 2500s are an open back design and the 750s are a closed back design.

dcstep
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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

I think the 701's cable is holding them back so I'll recable. (That may explain the relatively low price). I hear something really good in them, but it's like great speakers with crummy cables, you can't really tell how good they are until you get a good cable/amp match.

I can get 10' of Mogami for $70 plus installation or Cardas for $125. I think I'll go ahead and splurge on the Cardas. The guy's got something called "Resolution" that I've never heard of, it costs more I'd rather stick with a known name in this area.

Thanks for the info on your setup.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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I think the 701's cable is holding them back so I'll recable. (That may explain the relatively low price). I hear something really good in them, but it's like great speakers with crummy cables, you can't really tell how good they are until you get a good cable/amp match.

I can get 10' of Mogami for $70 plus installation or Cardas for $125. I think I'll go ahead and splurge on the Cardas. The guy's got something called "Resolution" that I've never heard of, it costs more I'd rather stick with a known name in this area.

Thanks for the info on your setup.

Dave

Dave,
Do you have a link for the recable?
The prices sound reasonable.

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

http://www.solozaudio.com/

The labor is $25 for the single line (as stock, retaining the internal cross-the-head wire), to install a double lead it's $50 labor plus the cost of the right housing that includes a cable hole. Jacob is finding out how much that is.

I'm thinking that's very reasonable. Some guys are asking outrageous amounts to recable. Recabled with Soloz, new 701 will still cost less than used, stock w5000s.

Of course it remains to be seen how they sound. I'm really optimistic that it'll make some very good cans great.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Thanks for the link.
Those are reasonable prices.

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Dave,

I like the Cardas cable with My Sennheiser 650s (also tried it on my pair of 600s with sucess) and on this basis can recommend trying it on your 701s.

My cable is also very long (30' I think) so that I can sit in my normal listening chair using headphones if I so choose. Even this long cable was not a problem.

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Yeah, I'll probably get 15" to cut out the extension that I use now when not listening critically.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Ok guys, I just received the 701s back from Soloz Audio which swapped out the stock cable for 12' of Cardas with dual leads into the cups (stock is only one) with a high quality 1/4" termination (Neutrik, gold plated).

Here's the cost breakdown:
12' of Cardas $145
Replacement cup from AKG for the side without a hole $25
Labor $50
Total $220.

The headphones can be purchased for only a little more than that and represent one of the best headphone bargains out there. My Audio Technica W5000s cost me $620 USED.

I'm listening through my brand new Jeff Rowland phono stage that he installed in my Continuum 500 yesterday. So, the phono section and the new headphone cable have only minutes on them.

So that you don't have to read back up the thread I'll outline the weakness in the stock AKGs that caused me to rate them behind my Ultimate Ears Triple.fi 10 Pros by a good margin. Although I thought that my well broken in 701s had great overall balance, they lacked the transparency and detail that I heard UEs and my Vienna Acoustic speakers. Well, I can tell you right now that that's no longer an issue. They've jumped to the top of my headphone pile.

Getting rid of the tube phono stage and replacing it with the Rowland's ultra quiet phono stage is allowing me to listen deeper and deeper into the music. With the new cabling on the 701s, the resolution is right up there with my VA speakers.

Bass impact, slam and balance is incredible. I'm playing a GRP CD right now (switching sources of course), "a twist of motown". The second cut is "Pappa Was A Rollin' Stone" which has incredibly deep synth supporting the electric bass. Not only is the line low, but it's full of harmonic complexity and rich detail. Now, for the first time with the 701s, I'm hearing all those rich details and two instruments. At the same time the vocals and Chris Botti's trumpet obligatos pop right out of the mix, along with swish-cymbal sound, percussion, wah guitar, flute, other synth sounds. Versus my speakers, the only thing missing is the slam in my chest.

Imaging, such as it is with cans, has opened up, with sounds all around my head. The AKGs were good at this before, but now they're really giving my a spacial show, with almost nothing right in the center of my head and most of the sound to my sides and out front.

I don't know what I'll do if they get better with burn-in. Frankly I'd be happy if they don't improve anymore. I'm ordering a RIAA inverting attenuating card to put between my universal player and the phono input, so that I can leave the player on constantly and quickly get a couple of hundred hours on the phono cards. I'll keep the cans plugged also and let you know what I hear a couple of weeks from now.

Ciao amigos,

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Sounds awesome. And I hate you for giving me another reason to spend! Now I can't look at my 701s w/o wondering, 'what if?'

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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Sounds awesome. And I hate you for giving me another reason to spend! Now I can't look at my 701s w/o wondering, 'what if?'

Sorry 'bout that. You can go with less expensive cable and, I suspect, gain much for less than I spent. If I recall correctly Mogami was half the price of Cardas. That stock cable is easy to improve on. Still, I "guarantee" that the improvement with the Cardas will blow you away. These are really, really sweet cans now.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

Oh, that was mock anger, Dave. I'm happy actually to get your report of it, as I trust your judgment. Will definitely go w/ Cardas... after I get the vinyl set-up done with. I'll look forward to your post-breakin report!

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

I'm dying to recable myself my new K701. Would someone please describe how to, or where to get the spare parts from AKG?

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

It's not a job for the guy with no soldering experience. I've been told that the wires inside the cups are tiny and easily fried. If you want dual entry, then you'll have to order a cup backing with a hole in it from AKG. I think you can buy the Y-wire straight from Mogami or Cardas, but I'm not certain.

Anyway, it's not like just plugging in a new wire, which you can do with the Sennheizers, Ultimate Ears and some others. The AKG 701s are hard-wired.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

I thought I read once that the Cardas cable was designed specifically for Sennheisers but maybe I just imagined it. I only have first hand experience of it with HD650s where it makes a substantial improvement over the stock cable. However after living happily with it for over a year I was surprised to find that considerable further improvements were still possible.

A guy here in Sweden bought and tried four different aftermarket cables on his HD650s and concluded that the Moon Audio Silver Dragon was top of the heap (fwiw he was also impressed by the Zu Mobius, reporting that both were a big step up from the Cardas with those cans). By the way, he also tipped me off about tweaking the HD650s by removing the foam liners. If any of you HD650 fans out there haven't tried it you really should...

Anyway, I decided to go for the Silver Dragon myself and have been so pleased that I ordered their Black Dragon (copper) cable equipped AKG 701s (didn't even know anyone was putting Cardas on AKGs until I read Dave's post). Although the Silver Dragon/AKG K701 combo has been well reviewed I was concerned that the silver cable, which brightens the slightly dark tonal balance of the Sennies so perfectly, might just tip the AKGs over the egde leaving them overly hard or bright. However, as always the results will vary depending on the rest of the components in the system - particularly when it comes to overall tonal balance - so ymmv.

You can find reports on just about every permutation over at head-fi, but unfortunately very few people who have actually compared multiple contendahs. So you just read and read, and as usual the more you read the more you realize you don't know!

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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I thought I read once that the Cardas cable was designed specifically for Sennheisers but maybe I just imagined it.

The Cardas cable are "designed specifically for the Sennheisers" in that they come with the proper connectors on the end for easy insertion into the Sennheiser's ear pieces.


Quote:
Anyway, I decided to go for the Silver Dragon myself and have been so pleased that I ordered their Black Dragon (copper) cable equipped AKG 701s (didn't even know anyone was putting Cardas on AKGs until I read Dave's post). Although the Silver Dragon/AKG K701 combo has been well reviewed I was concerned that the silver cable, which brightens the slightly dark tonal balance of the Sennies so perfectly, might just tip the AKGs over the egde leaving them overly hard or bright. However, as always the results will vary depending on the rest of the components in the system - particularly when it comes to overall tonal balance - so ymmv.

I have a pair of AKG K701s hard wired with a single entry Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable. At first, just as you state, I thought that the silver cable made the K701s just a little too bright but now I'm so sure. I purchased the 'phones used and I had no idea of how much "break-in time" was on the pair. I've had them for about two years now and they just keep on getting better and better, so I'm guessing that the 'phones were not fully broken in when I got them.

The biggest improvement I've heard as far as recabling headphones goes is to the pair of Ultrasone Proline 750s I had recabled with Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable. If anything the tonal balance of the Ultrasones is darker than that of the Sennheiser HD650 and the silver cable seems to tame this "dark side" and let some light in.

dcstep
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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

My attitude was that almost any cable would likely be an improvement of the AKG's stock cable. I might have even just gone with Mogami, but it was like, "Well, now that I'm doing it, why not get the Cardas?"

I'm very happy with my results, but the Mogami might have been just as good. Unfortunately, the only ways we're likely to know is either at a meet where there happen to be several option or when a modder makes up several sets for people to try.

Dave

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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By the way, he also tipped me off about tweaking the HD650s by removing the foam liners. If any of you HD650 fans out there haven't tried it you really should...


Do tell: what impact does this have on the sound?

struts
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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

I think the easiest way to describe it is "what you would expect". Give it a try! It is a great tweak in that it is free and reversible.

The howto. Just pinch hold of the velour earpad at about 12 o'clock and pull straight out (towards the other one), it is a snap fit so no risk of any damage if you exercise 'normal caution'. You will then see the foam cover on the inside, just remove it and replace the earmuff being sure to press home all round (rather like refitting a tire you can end up 'chasing it round' so a 'diametrically opposing push' can help).

Be a tad careful handling the cans in this 'naked' state. Although the plastic 'spider' still offers some protection to the diaphragm it is nevertheless more exposed. But that is the whole idea, right? Did you ever hear speakers that sounded better with the grilles off?

Please be sure to let me know what you think!

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


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Did you ever hear speakers that sounded better with the grilles off?

Please be sure to let me know what you think!

Yes I have heard plenty of speakers that sounded quite a bit better with their grilles off. My pair of Energy Veritas 2.2 sound better without their grilles.

As for the Sennheiser "foam" tweak, I had read about it a while back on HeadFi but for some strange reason I had never given it a try until just now and boy, what a nice difference it makes in the overall sound of the HD650s. It's like a layer of dirt has been removed so that the music has just a bit more bite to it. Your pair with the Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable and without the foam must really sound very sweet.

Elk
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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip

I'll give it a try this weekend.

Thanks!

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Re: AKG K701 vs. Audio Technica ATH-W5000 vs. Ultimate Ears Trip


Quote:

Quote:
Did you ever hear speakers that sounded better with the grilles off?

Yes I have heard plenty of speakers that sounded quite a bit better with their grilles off.

Oops! I meant with their grilles on Removing the foam is like removing a pair of really obstructive grilles.


Quote:
Your pair with the Moon Audio Silver Dragon cable and without the foam must really sound very sweet.

Oh they do, they doobee-doobee-doobee-do!

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