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AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference-Class Premium Headphones - Black
Color: Black|Product Packaging: Standard Packaging|Change
Price:$339.95+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

on June 4, 2016
Q701s are great open-back headphones for reference & high detail listening. The amount of detail these extract is on par with Sennheiser HD600. These have a bigger sub-bass extension than HD600, but both headphones are held back on bass/low frequencies in comparison to mids & highs. This helps you hear more detail in music, because bass tends to drown out mids & highs. Q701s also has a huge sound stage, which makes it great for gaming (especially if you have a way to boost or bring up the bass some), this makes explosions & gunfire sound more realistic. This also makes them great for watching movies - big sound stage makes movies like Star Trek & Star Wars sound a lot more realistic & immersive, just make sure your source is high definition (ie. Bluray's).
Now, these headphones do need to be amped to get anything above intermediate volume levels. Cellphones might not have enough juice to take these to their full potential. From my experience, PC jacks should have plenty of power to get these to loud volumes, but a dedicated DAC/AMP is probably better for sound quality.
My pair was made in Austria, so I trust them to be better made then the ones made in China. Packaging is nice, but my headphones were crushed by UPS during shipping - headphones survived OK, but the transparent see-through window on the box got shattered, bringing down the resale value of the product, so maybe box durability could be improved. I would take the smashed packaging with made in Austria headphones, over made in China version with perfect packaging. All in all, I'm happy with the my Q701s.
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on July 5, 2017
Purchased these in 2016 and after a little over a year of occasional light use at my desk and very careful storage between uses they stopping working by failing to produce any sound to the right can. Even though it was within the warranty period, AKG failed to honor their own warranty because I did not save a sticker from the bottom of the box containing a special serial number as they did not accept the serial number on the headphones. Poor build quality from AKG's Chinese factory and poor service from AKG.
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on April 25, 2016
Not many reviewers mention their hearing capabilities before starting a review, I can hear up to 21kHz frequencies so I feel as if my ears are fit enough to make this comparison with some sort of authenticity. If you want to test your hearing I recommend you give yourself a test at: (edit: amazon doesn't allow links)
I understand that music and headphones are a highly subjective topic, so I will state my sound signature preferences beforehand to give the reader an insight of where my words are coming from in this review. I prefer a neutral bass response, forward mid range, and slightly elevated treble. I am also not a particularly treble sensitive person.
For over a month, I have used both the q701 and k551 with an external amp and DAC using 320 kbps and FLAC files. The music genres I listen to compose of metal, rock, classical, jazz, classical guitar, acoustic, and a little bit of indie. As you can see, I do not listen to music with tons of bass, so those looking for elevated bass should be warned beforehand that none of these offer exaggerated bass for modern EDM/pop/rap music. I chose specifically to review the q701 against the k551, as the k551 is often considered to be the closed alternative of the q701. I have yet to come across a full review between the two, so I though I'd give it a shot.

Quick notes before I get started:
-q701 is essentially a k701/702 with a slightly toned down treble and more bass
-k550/k551 are essentially the same besides minor changes in the treble

Design and build quilty:
q701- The plastic/leather headband is extremely flexible and feels very durable. The glossy plastic design however, does look and feel kind of cheap in my opinion.
k551- Unlike the q701, the k551 is made of metal and non-glossy plastics. It looks and feels very sleek and premium, the earcups can also swivel which can help with proper positioning.

q701- The velour earpads are deep, firm, and soft, but comes with strong clamping force that causes discomfort after using for a few hours. The top of the headband has bumps that are extremely uncomfortable and digs into your skull, I alleviated this problem by cutting away the bumps with a scalpel and covering it with some padding.
k551- The earpads are leather and incredibly soft but very shallow (your ears will touch the driver). The clamping force is much lighter which prevents discomfort around the ears after hours of listening, but this does come at a cost of creating a pressure point on top of the head due to the extremely thin padding on the very hard metal headband.

Bass/ mid bass:
q701- Unlike what many people say, the q701 does NOT lack bass, this was only a problem on previous generations such as the k701. The bass is neutral and more than plentiful unless you are a basshead. The bass is very tight and quick with a very good mid bass to give fullness to the music.
k551- The sub bass of the k551 is excellent, but there is not much else good to say after that; the rest of the bass spectrum falls short. Despite being closed back, the k551 is matched or surpassed by the q701 in every aspect of bass quality and quantity aside from sub bass, and sounds somewhat "tinny" in comparison to the q701 due to the lack of (in my opinion, recessed) mid bass. Deeper male vocals for example do not have much body and sound slightly sibilant. I understand the k551 needs a good seal for it's bass, but no matter how I wore them, bass levels remained the same. On an individual instrument note, bass guitar is much more audible on the q701 and drums sound a lot fuller and true to life on the q701.

Mids/upper mids:
q701- The q701 has a neutral midrange with very good detail and no mid bass bleed. Vocals have no sibilancy, but sound a bit distant due to the large soundstage. The upper mids do however have a sparkle which makes these great for female vocals and electric guitar
k551- The k551 has a more forward but slightly sibilant vocals combined with a smaller soundstage which sounds more intimate for vocal centered music. Electric guitar is also more forward, but are higher in pitch and do not sound as pleasant as on the q701. Piano on the other hand sounds extremely pleasant on both headphones and I would have to call it a tie in that regard.

q701- Despite being classified as an "analytical" headphone, the treble is not overly emphasized and it reveals all the micro details while still sounding smooth in classical or electric guitar music. I do not get any treble fatigue after listening for hours.
k551- The k551 is known for having "artificial/metallic" treble, and while I didn't notice it during first impressions, after comparing it with the q701 I would have to agree that the treble sounds somewhat metallic due to the artificially enhanced treble. The cymbals for example, are extremely prominent and harsh in rock and metal tracks and the tonality of electric guitar seems a bit off. Because of the elevated treble, I do get treble fatigue in listening sessions over an hour.

q701- The q701 arguably has one of the largest soundstages in any headphone besides the likes of the hd800. The soundstage does has more width than depth, and the large soundstage can make vocals seem a bit distant at times. The huge soundstage makes classical music sound absolutely incredible on these; as if you were in a live performance.
k551- The k551 sounds more like an open back headphone due to the rather impressively large soundstage which is partly why I proceeded to compare the two. It has less soundstage than the q701 which helps for vocals, but the soundstage does not sound as natural as the q701. This is probably a limitation of being a closed back headphone. Classical music on the k551, while sounding superb, did not have the same level of immersion and "wow" factor as on the q701.

q701- The q701 has very good imaging but is somewhat hindered by the fact that the soundstage has more width than depth. This makes the imaging not as precise and slightly "confused" sounding, this is only noticeable while nitpicking.
k551- The k551 has a similarly good imaging as the q701, but has an edge where it is easier to distinguish because of the smaller soundstage and more treble.

Instrument separation:
q701- The instrument separation on the q701 is simply amazing and combined with the large soundstage makes it one of the best headphones for classical music.
k551- Part of the reason why the treble is fatiguing on the k551 is because there is less layering and everything is just more forward. Although the k551 has a large soundstage, the instrument separation is not quite as good as the q701 and sounds slightly congested or less 3-dimensional in comparison. This is most noticeable in busy tracks with a lot of instruments such as metal, but the separation is still top tier for a closed back headphone.

q701- Because of the fully open design, the q701 does not isolate at all and leaks everything you listen to.
k551- The k551 does not leak sound due to the closed design, but the isolation is only decent at best compared to some of my iems, and because of the elevated treble it could cause fatigue when you turn up the volume in a loud environment

q701- Although the q701 does not require much voltage with only 62ohm, it does need a lot of current so an external amp is highly recommended.
k551- The k551 is only 32 ohm and can be driven by mobile devices easily. The cable is not removable, but it does have volume controls which makes it a good choice for portable usage.

q701- The huge soundstage combined with the hyper revealing treble makes the q701 excellent for gaming and gives you an advantage in shooter games. The mid bass adds a nice fullness without bloating the other frequencies, but the treble does cause some fatigue over a few hours of gaming when there is a lot of gun action going on.
k551- The k551's smaller soundstage with better imaging helps to pinpoint directions more precisely than the q701, but the elevated treble will cause fatigue much quicker than on the q701.


Despite the k551 being considered a closed version of the q701, in my experience the two sound different enough to be two entirely different headphones for different sound preferences. The q701 generally has an edge over the k551 in most categories, but if you like very bright headphones and desire more intimate mids, then the k551 could be the better option along with it's portability benefits. I generally prefer the q701 for classical, jazz, metal, and electric guitar music. While I end up preferring the k551 for vocal centric music after I EQ down the upper trebles by 2-3dB.
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on March 2, 2015
I am a bit of an audiophile, with expensive speakers, headphones, and a turntable that cost more than I'm willing to admit.... I'm also an avid musician living in confined space in NYC. I recently started to game more on PC and was looking for an excellent set for the soul purpose of gaming. I landed on these AKG, and they are now my everyday, use for everything headphone.

The Sound:
The Q701 have an incredibly large soundstage. You will be able to separate all of the instruments or sounds, and know exactly from which direction they are coming from. This is not only great for reference, but incredible for gaming.I have yet to hear a headphone that does this quite like the Q701 while maintaining a good bass presence. Strengths beyond soundstage come in the form of brilliant highs, and strong mids. Everything just shines on these cans, granted that you have them setup properly. Plugged directly into an iPhone or similar device, you may notice the sound softens a bit, but come alive with even a small amp like the Fiio e6. The best sound came from my sound card, which has a 600ohm amp. The bass tightens up nicely, and you get better volume across the soundstage.

What could have been a 10/10 easily turned into an 8/10 after 15 minutes of use. The cushions on this are fantastic, being slightly firm, but very comfortable. At first, the auto-adjusting strap was perfectly fine. I was quick to give these a 10/10. Unfortunately the bumps on the strap start to hurt your head... a lot after about 15 minutes or so. A lot of people have mentioned this in reviews, but I disregarded the problem thinking it was just people looking for some sort of criticism... i was wrong. They suck. 8/10 for comfort. **Side Note, I prefer this to the extreme clamping of my Grados**

Build Quality:
Although mostly plastic, they seem well made. Nothing is lose, or seems super flimsy. I also really enjoy the fact that the cable is user replaceable and comes with a 10ft and 20ft alternative . The cables also seem well made, sturdy, yet more nimble than say my Grado SR-225E cables. It's nice that it comes down on only one ear cup as opposed to 2 which I am used to with my Grados.

Overall I couldn't be happier. They sound wonderful for music, and nearly perfect for gaming... if they didn't have those headband bumps, this would have been a 5 star review.

Highly recommended.
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on January 18, 2015
These were my first step into high quality headphones. I've been a gamer for the last 10-15 years and I have run through countless headsets from the el cheapo variety to the $250 and up models. Whilst researching the purchase of a new headset I stumbled on a thread reviewing "Audiophile PC Sound". The author recommended ditching the often over-hyped PC gaming headsets and making a solid investment in some higher end headphones paired with a quality desktop microphone. So, I started researching the costs and benefits to moving in this direction. I must have looked at hundreds of reviews over the course of a few weeks on not just headphones, but DACs, headphone amps, microphones and everything in between.

After several days my brain had reached overload and I decided I would scrap the whole process. It was at this point Amazon had this set of headphones on a lightning deal. I took it as a sign from a higher power and purchased them. I don't think I have looked back ever since. These things are AMAZING. Having not been previously exposed to higher end sound equipment I was instantly shocked at how clear and full they sounded. Mind you my reference point started pretty low, but WOW. It was like I was missing an entire spectrum from hearing. The sound stage is very full and the detail is awesome. I listen to music while gaming - everything from the electronic to rock to classical. These headphones have opened up a whole new world of hearing for me.

I've had these for a few months and after using them for several weeks I started thinking about buying a headphone amp to further refine the sound these generate. My motherboard has an onboard headphone amplifier that claims it will drive 600 ohm headphones, but I'm skeptical about the quality of a built in. So I ended up buying a headphone amp. And then a few weeks later an external DAC. I guess you could say I got bit by the audio bug.

I use these daily now. Even if I'm not sitting at my PC to game I find myself queuing up tracks just to relax. The listening experience seems so personal and the sound quality is just fantastic.

These headphones are also very comfortable. The band that sits over your head is self-adjusting and they are not overly heavy on your head. My only complaint is I now constantly have "headphone hair".
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on June 15, 2016
Simply the best headphones I've personally used. These headphones are rich and clear, clean, well balanced, and comfortable (once you get used to the bumps in the band) to boot. While at first the highs came off as shrill, a few days hung up playing a variety of music at a reasonably high volume helped to soften them a bit and balance them out with the rest of the spectrum. While at first, bass extension was mildly disappointing, a quick, 5 minute modification by removing the vent covers on the magnets improved bass extension noticeably to where now deep bass and subsonics are comfortably audible or in the case of subsonics, skull rattling.

For more advanced mods, these can be converted over to balanced operation, with a little soldering and replacing the jack and cable.

They're not very portable at all given their size, and they require a bit more power than your average portable device can put out without distorting quite badly, but at home where they belong, they perform quite admirably.
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on January 3, 2015
I normally don't write reviews for products but felt that in the case of the Q701's I needed to make an exception. There has been so much controversy with the sound quality of these headphones, namely the lack of bass, as well as comfort issues, I felt the need to provide my thoughts so I can help people considering the Q701 make a more informed choice. Let me first clarify that I am in no way an audiophile, though I've always aspired to be. I have plenty of headphone-listening experience and have owned many products over the years so I know the difference between really good sound and just ok sound. My listening rig right now consists of a Denon DVD-2200 dvd player (with SACD and DVD-Audio capabilities), the aforementioned Q701's, and a Little Dot I+ hybrid tube headphone amplifier. No fancy, $1000/meter interconnects- just plain, cheap-o RCA cables that came with the Denon. I listen to a wide variety of music: Joe Pass, Ike Quebec, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Kenny Chesney, The Beatles, Mazzy Star, Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, etc. As anyone reading this knows, sound quality is subjective and all ears are not created equal. The sound quality I perceive may be totally different for you. Now, my impressions...
Long story short: these are fantastic headphones for the money! I also own the Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphones, which are another great set of headphones but there are significant differences between the two. This is not to say either set is bad but depending on what you're listening to you may prefer one over the other. The Q701's are very detailed and clear with excellent instrument separation. The sound stage is wide, but not overly so. The M50's have a more constricted sound stage but for closed-back phones they aren't too bad. The clarity on the Q701's always puts a smile on my face: there's just an open, "you-are-there"-type of feeling with an airiness in the presentation when compared with the M50's. The M50's sound great, but with a closer intimacy in the sound. The extended bass response in the M50's gives them a much more "fun" sound; which may account for the richer tone between the two. I love the M50's for that. The bass quality on those is, in my opinion, a bit congested, or bloated sounding. It is deep but seems to crowd out the detail of the bass. Now the Q701's are not as deep and rich-sounding as the M50's, but there is also way-better definition and tightness to it that I really like. You can really hear the notes better. For all those reviewers who say the Q701's are bass-deficient I say "no way". It's funny...sometimes the Q701's CAN seem a bit more boring than the M50's. I'll take them off and put on the M50's and think,"now that sounds more like it". Case in point: the Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong cd, "Ella and Louis". Louis' deep, gravelly voice sounds much deeper and authoritative on the M50's but when I put the Q701's back on, the extreme clarity and definition far outweighs the slightly less bass "oomph" they have. It's not that it is lacking or dry, it just doesn't extend as deeply as the M50's. I must say though, that as much as I prefer the deeper, although less-defined bass on the M50's, I always find myself listening to the Q701's more for the overall presentation and sound-signature that never fails to put a huge smile on my face.
The comfort is much better than my previous K702's. Those were manufactured in Austria and were very uncomfortable. Not at first but I found myself adjusting them quite often to reduce the bump fatigue. The Q701's are the newer version manufactured in China. The quality seems about the same but the comfort is MUCH better. The band and bumps feel a little flimsier but have not had any issues with comfort at all.
One last thing that I must address...these headphones are very amp-particular. Yes, you can drive these out of a headphone jack on a cd player or receiver, but you just aren't going to get the full benefit of them. I previously owned a Schiit Audio Asgard and Matrix M-Stage and both of them drove the Q701's fine, but only when pushed to around 2 o'clock on the volume knob. The Little Dot I+ I'm using now is on the highest gain setting and at noon is pushing them to pretty loud levels. Now I know loudness doesn't equal quality. All I'm saying is these need a ton of current to drive them properly. Again, these are just my non-audiophile observations. I'll be expecting a plethora of comments to this statement.
I can't recommend the AKG Q701's enough. Just buy them and see what I mean.
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on March 18, 2015
They're like speakers on your head, in the sense that everything is so clear I often confuse sounds from the headphones from sounds coming within my home. While a bit airy, these cans have the best sound stage I have heard and coming from the Sennheiser PC360s, these are a huge upgrade. Just what I wanted for gaming and movies.

The wire is very long, but I braided the cable which has contributed to its look and has an actual function. Overall build quality isn't as great as the Sennheisers, but it's not a negative considering Sennheiser build quality is fantastic. These will be used for a very long time, especially since I find it very hard to find suitable upgrades from these (for my purpose) in all my research.

Word of the wise-you'll need a decent amp to drive these. I use the Asus Xonar DGX, but it doesn't do them justice. Will most likely upgrade to a Schiit stack or FiiO here soon.
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on January 25, 2015
I've had all kinds of earphones and headphones. This is my favorite so far. I won't harp about technical details - see other audiophile reviews for that. I got this for my home workstation for composing, sound manipulation on DAWs, and of course monitoring playback. It's super comfortable. I got the white ones, with a neon green cable (makes it easy to find). It came with 2 cables with mini jacks, though there's a 1/2" inch you can plug the mini-jack into and then wind up for a tighter connection.

Yes, this is a professional grade set of monitoring headphones, but it's also fantastic for music listening pleasure. I disagree with others that you shouldn't use this for MP3s, it's more like "not only for that". (Of course, this baby stays at home. I'll stick to my earbuds for listening while commuting on train.) So when I first opened it, I decided to hook it up to my Mac and my then my iPhone for kicks. I was blown away! The acoustics and atmospherics are amazing, the sounds are very articulate and crisp. I found myself listening to various artist and genres, especially soundtracks with heavy atmospherics. I thought, "Now THIS is how this was meant to be heard!" It's inspiring, making me want to tinker with atmospherics even more when manipulating sound. So for monitoring/mastering, it's great for recordings, and I especially have a lot of fun listening to experiments and mixes from my DAWS + Akai Max49.

Besides superior sound, the best part is that I got it at 60% off, how cool is that? It would have been nice to get the AKG K712, but the deals for that aren't this good, plus Q701 is close enough.

Btw, mine says "made in China" -- what's the big deal? There are a myriad of products made in China and they're still of excellent quality. Labor cost may be cheaper, which naturally benefits AKG. The important part is the product itself is excellent.
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on December 29, 2014
Bought this back March of this year so I had this for awhile.
Associated equipments:
Parasound Zdac
Bellari Class A tube HP amp.
IFi Ican Class A SS HP amp.
Fiio E12 portable HP amp
Samsung Laptop Windows 7 Music Bee media player [wasapi]
This is a very comfortable headphone, the bumps on the pad don't bother me at all, some complains about.
I have a rather small head with smallish ears.
Sound is very open a hallmark of open back headphones. The mids can get "peaky" with certain recordings, high stay neutral for the most time. Bass is where things gets complicated. The first time one puts this on will say where is the bass? Well it's there but it not emphasized like many other headphones do. There is a bass mod that easy to perform and reversible as well if one wants to look for it. I did it on my and it stay that way. It definitely added a desired bass boost, without messing up the mids.Bass like acoustic bass sound wonderful, with clear texture of the instrument , however bass slam of kick drum is lacking in punch a bit.
Amping is another tricky issue. The specs don't indicate this but some reasons these are very picky of what amp is driving them to good results. First of all they can only handle 200MW so it's not like you need a lot of power, but certainly a decent amount of it. It's impedance is 62 ohms so it's not too low or high and it's sensitivity is a healthy 105db, but some reason it eschews quiet of the available output on many mid price amps like the IFI ICAn on low gain. The other issue is that it can distort very easily if you give them too much bass boost or power. Which brings me to the fact that music like Heavy Metal or electronic pop with lots of bass will have quiet a bit distortion if played too loud. I would not recommend these cans for "rocking" out. I mostly use these for Jazz, and classical, or new age. Loudness war compressed music will sound like crap on these. In other words it won't be your universal one stop headphone depending on your taste of music. Still if moderate listening levels is where you reside with music that recorded well it can go a long way.
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