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struts
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Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701

Dear Audiophile Siblings,

As I mentioned in the HD800 thread, a couple of weeks ago I took delivery of a pair of Lawton Audio LA2000s, which are heavily modded Denon AH-D2000s. I have now been listening to them almost constantly since then and thought I would summarize my impressions. At approx $1200 (over $500 of which pays for the Jena Labs cable), these really beg comparison with the HD800s and rest assured, this is something I will return to in due course! I have posted this review over at head-fi (where you will also find a review of their "bigger brother", the LA7000s but thought I would also post here for your convenience.

To provide some structure (and allow for repeatability if anybody wants to try to replicate my findings) I concentrated on a handful of test tracks listed below, although I also listened to a much broader range of material including choral and chamber music, indie rock and bebop. Most of the material is stuff that I am intimately familiar with and forms part of the standard array of test tracks that I use to evaluate any new system. I should also mention that although all the tracks below are ripped at 16/44.1 from CDs I listened to quite a lot of hi rez masters at 24/88.2 and 24/96. I thought impressions based on tracks widely commercially available would be more helpful.

I listened to each track on my LA2000s with Mahogany cups, now with about 50 hours on them, and my AKG701s which have been re-cabled with dual-entry Moon Audio Black Dragon and are fully burned in (several hundred hours on them, I

judicata
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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701

At this point I feel like you're just personally attacking me and my K701s.

Ah, well, I'm content. I just hope I never get an opportunity to listen to the LAs.

struts
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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701

Res,

When I read that LA7000 review on head-fi I thought exactly the same thing. There's always someone who has a better toy!

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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701


Quote:
At this point I feel like you're just personally attacking me and my K701s.

Ah, well, I'm content. I just hope I never get an opportunity to listen to the LAs.


Struts, thank you for the informative review/comparison!
Ja, this is a big game of "always greener on the other side". Of course you may hear the LAs and still prefer the AKGs. Ive found that there is no definite indicator of "better", by that I mean, it is impossible to say that due to X price, materials used in manufacture, design philosophy, whatever that A will always be better than B. This was the case with my stax(orders of magnitude more expensive than my AKGS!), which are now sitting second fiddle. Maybe I havent given the Stax enough time(as a rule I like to spend at least a year with a component, getting to know it inside and out before deciding to move to something else).... but initial impressions are not looking good for my stax purchase(sad in one way, but great in another)

Ill probably check the Lawton out at some point...though I am not really sure about a lot of the cost being in the cable....(me not being of the cable camp ranks).. he sells direct, yeah Struts?

struts
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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701


Quote:
Struts, thank you for the informative review/comparison!


You bet! Glad you enjoyed it.


Quote:
Ja, this is a big game of "always greener on the other side". Of course you may hear the LAs and still prefer the AKGs. Ive found that there is no definite indicator of "better", by that I mean, it is impossible to say that due to X price, materials used in manufacture, design philosophy, whatever that A will always be better than B. This was the case with my stax(orders of magnitude more expensive than my AKGS!), which are now sitting second fiddle. Maybe I havent given the Stax enough time(as a rule I like to spend at least a year with a component, getting to know it inside and out before deciding to move to something else).... but initial impressions are not looking good for my stax purchase(sad in one way, but great in another)


Yes, it's interesting. How can an objective notion of quality be applied to something which is at the same time so subjective? I think of it as being a bit like wine (one of my other passions). People can have different tastes in wine, for instance I generally prefer fuller-bodied reds to lighter ones, lighter oaked whites to oakier ones etc. However, most connoisseurs would probably agree that one universal indicator of quality is complexity. That is, regardless of taste, most would agree that a more complex wine is a 'better' wine than a simpler one. Or even if one prefers (as my father does) a simpler wine, few would argue that it is actually better.

How does that apply to audio? I don't really know if I can explain it, I just know that from the first listen the LA2000s struck me as very definitely 'better' and not just 'different'. The detailed rationale, as best I can capture it, is all up there in the review. How will I feel after a year, when my ears have adjusted and the cans are broken in? Who knows? Feel free to ask me for a report as I am confident that I will be keeping hold of these for a good long while.

Are they perfect? Probably not, although as I said above I find it hard to identify any area of obvious weakness in the sound. What I would say is the following:

  • These are not cans to play background music while working or nodding off to sleep. They put you right up in the front row where you can almost smell the conductor's sweat! They command your full attention, no hiding at the back of the class!
  • With their Z of 25 ohms they apparently present a fearsome load. I say apparently as the Grace appears to drive them with ease and I have not detected any hint of it running out of juice. However Mark very clearly advocates gutsy SS amps over tubes, although selfdivider reported excellent results with his Woo WA2 with 'fortified' power supply.


Quote:
Ill probably check the Lawton out at some point...though I am not really sure about a lot of the cost being in the cable....(me not being of the cable camp ranks).. he sells direct, yeah Struts?


Yes, direct via his website. I found Mark an extremely nice guy to deal with, and would gladly recommend him to other forum members.

linden518
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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701


Quote:
However Mark very clearly advocates gutsy SS amps over tubes, although selfdivider reported excellent results with his Woo WA2 with 'fortified' power supply.


Yup. I can attest to this. I feared the worst but both my Leben CS600 and WA2 did great with the LA2000. I was especially surprised by the WA2. With the LA2000, my clear preference was the SET/OTL configuration of WA2 rather than the Leben (*wink* *wink* to judicata). The sound was very velvety and lush, without seeming saccharine at all. Very quiet background. Surprisingly hefty bass with sound definition. I told Mark about this, and he was very intrigued, as he hasn't heard WA2 yet. I must thank Struts for letting me test them for a few nights before he picked them up, but I also hate him for letting me listen to them!

I did the same comparison, LA2000 vs K701. I've been a vocal fan of K701s on this forum, and I still love them, but the LA2000 was just in a different league. The K701, though, for some reason, "held" the music together better, had that coherence that LA2000 seemed to lack (with some odd recordings, the LA2000 couldn't really rein in all the disparate elements), but the LA2000 weren't even close to being broken in despite my valiant efforts to listen to them, sacrificing sleep... Struts, do you care to comment?

Anyway, the LA2000 were the best headphones I've heard. With some cans, you have to be acclimated to their sound to really realize what they're capable of. With LA2000, it was like a slap in the face.

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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701


Quote:
I was especially surprised by the WA2. With the LA2000, my clear preference was the SET/OTL configuration of WA2 rather than the Leben (*wink* *wink* to judicata).

You guys are ruthless.

On an entirely unrelated note, if a person in a suit or uniform showed up to your door claiming to be a guy from a manufacturer - for the sake of the hypothetical, let's say Lawton Audio - and needed to inspect your headphones for a serious defect that affected certain runs (say they'll explode after 400 hours). Would you hand them over? I'm just wondering because.... a friend of a friend... had a similar experience. Or something. Yeah.

struts
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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701


Quote:
...but the LA2000 weren't even close to being broken in despite my valiant efforts to listen to them, sacrificing sleep... Struts, do you care to comment?


Yeah man, you looked awful! I assumed you'd been working too hard...

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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701

Nice review Struts. Thanks.

Dave

struts
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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701


Quote:
Nice review Struts. Thanks.

Dave

Thanks Dave, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Every time I try to write one of these mini-reviews I discover anew how difficult it is. I really envy guys like SD who have the gift of writing great prose.

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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701


Quote:

Thanks Dave, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Every time I try to write one of these mini-reviews I discover anew how difficult it is. I really envy guys like SD who have the gift of writing great prose.

Don't sell yourself short. You get the message across very clearly. Yeah, I love SD's writing, but we can't all be like that. You convey a genuine interest in what you're doing and provide some clear references that make it easy to understand what you're trying to say. If it's not as elegant as you would hope, please don't let that stop you. Elegance is nice, but you're conveying very useful information.

Dave

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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701

Your review was EXCELLENT, Struts! (Thanks for the props, but like Dave says, what you wrote is great on its own merit.)

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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701

struts,

I have no doubt what you heard was significant, but no where in your review did you mention the difference in price. You can get the AKG701`s in white at headroom, for $309.99. For 1200.00, they better sound real good and a lot better. In fact, why not get the 7000`s at their asking price of $999.99. Wouldn`t that make more sense? So to me, it seems the AKG`s remain an incredible value price vs. performance, compared to spending another 800.00 for this mod? Like you mentioned at the beginning, the comparison should be against the HD 800`s, or even the 7000`s, comparing how close the mod gets to them.

struts
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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701

Hey Greg, Welcome to the forum.

You're right, I didn't mention the difference in price and the reason was that it was never intended to be a "fair" comparison. The most relevant comparisons (closed design, same price bracket) are probably Ultrasone Ed8/9s and, as you point out, Denon AH-D7000s. Unfortunately I didn't have access to either. However I should, as you suggest, have made this clear. My bad.

I chose the AKG 701s to benchmark the Lawtons for 3 reasons:

  • They are widely available and most of the regulars on the board either own them or are familiar with them, so they offer a point of reference that most people can relate to.
  • They offer outstanding price-performance and are regarded as a reference product by many. A comparison with AKG 701s (rightly or wrongly) probably carries more weight than a comparison with more expensive cans that are less well known and not universally held in such high esteem.
  • I had them to hand.

I would also point out that my 701s are re-cabled with dual-entry Moon Audio Black Dragon and cost $600 so the comparison was (literally) not half as skewed as it seemed.

As I mention above, I bought the Lawtons unheard on a leap of faith. I describe a couple of aspects of my rationale in selecting them over stock Denon AH-D7000s or Mark's no-holds-barred LA7000s in slightly more detail here and here. Happily it was one of my best 'blind' buys ever.

A little bird tells me that a review comparing stock D7000s and LA7000s is in the works. Stay tuned.

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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701


Quote:
Hey Greg, Welcome to the forum.

You're right, I didn't mention the difference in price and the reason was that it was never intended to be a "fair" comparison. The most relevant comparisons (closed design, same price bracket) are probably Ultrasone Ed8/9s and, as you point out, Denon AH-D7000s. Unfortunately I didn't have access to either. However I should, as you suggest, have made this clear. My bad.

I chose the AKG 701s to benchmark the Lawtons for 3 reasons:

  • They are widely available and most of the regulars on the board either own them or are familiar with them, so they offer a point of reference that most people can relate to.
  • They offer outstanding price-performance and are regarded as a reference product by many. A comparison with AKG 701s (rightly or wrongly) probably carries more weight than a comparison with more expensive cans that are less well known and not universally held in such high esteem.
  • I had them to hand.

I would also point out that my 701s are re-cabled with dual-entry Moon Audio Black Dragon and cost $600 so the comparison was (literally) not half as skewed as it seemed.

As I mention above, I bought the Lawtons unheard on a leap of faith. I describe a couple of aspects of my rationale in selecting them over stock Denon AH-D7000s or Mark's no-holds-barred LA7000s in slightly more detail here and here. Happily it was one of my best 'blind' buys ever.

A little bird tells me that a review comparing stock D7000s and LA7000s is in the works. Stay tuned.

Thanks for helping me out here in a big way. Here is where I`m at. A pair of Grado SR60s. Beginning to build a brand new system, home theater.. Obviously a major investment. My thought process was, while building, and to have my sanity and something great to listen to, is to put together a high end headphone//headphone amp system while building. I narrowed it down to the well reviewed AKG701`s in white, and the old king of the block, the Sennheiser HD600`s. Though I`ve been thinking about the Denon AH-D5000`s after reading the reviews. The most frustating thing is that you have to buy headphones blindly. We would never consider buying speakers, w/o auditioning them first. So, I`m thinking about making a purchase thru the really nice people at Headroom. Since they have almost every headphone available. So, that is where I am at.
Yes, the guys Jore at Headroom mentioned re-cabling the HD600`s with Cardas cable. But again, if you have not heard it before, why re-cable? Unless your talking about sending them back out, after you receive them.
Am I making sense? That is my story.

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Re: Lawton Audio LA2000 vs AKG K701

Greg, since you're in White Plains, surely there'll be a headphone "meet" somewhere near you. Go over to www.head-fi.org to see the postings. At most of the meets you'll be able to hear ALL the top contenders with most cabling combinations.

Before I'd buy Senns, I'd wait to hear the new HD800s.

Dave

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