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Aciel
12
Mar 11, 2016
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I have had mine a few days now. So my opinions are still based on early listening with about 30 hours burn in. The reviewers I respect say they won't shine until 250-300 hrs burn in.
I'm an audiophile. I want to hear the musicians as if they were right in front of me, or as if I were in the recording studio. So, any equipment I buy I'm critical about. However on saying that I have only ever owned high quality components and have never tried cans, so please take my opinions based on the fact I have very little experience with headphones. My first foray into headphones is admittedly more on the budget side of things, but my comments are based on my normal equipment I use daily. Perhaps not a fair comparison, but thats how I roll! Before you ask B&0, B&W and Niam. (I grew up in the UK, but live in the US, so european HIFI is more to my tatste)
I have paired my K7XX with an SMSL M8 and a Schiit Vali 2 so you know my sound profile. All tracks I am listening to are at least 192/24. Out of the box bass is strong, mid range is meh and treble is bright and grainy, however sound stage was wide and addictive as you would expect. On trhe whole I was quite disappointed in them after everything I had read. So I decided to leave them playing for two days without listening to them.
Woah, what a difference! Bass is now more controlled and is never boomy. Treble has lost some of its graininess but isn't fully there yet. The thing that bothered me most was the sub-parr mid range . Its becoming more defined, but isn't where I would like it yet, but based on the improvement I am already hearing with a fraction of the burn in time, I'm encouraged. I will say these headphones sound slightly dark, which is something I like, but you may not. Obviously neutral is best, but I personally find a darker sound more seductive and makes me say, yes I'll do that after one more track!
I will say that, crappy recordings sound pretty good for what they are, but the K7xx's will highlight their shortcomings. Yeah I tried a couple of bad MP3's. Like many of you, I have a track I listen to when I test equipment out of the box...mine is Prince, Purple Rain, as it hits pretty much every octave I can hear (don't tell anyone, but I don't even like this track, but it always is unforgiving of subpar equipment). I have a high quality FLAC and it sounded terrible! It was the first track I played. I felt as if I had made a mistake buying these headphones. Then I skipped through my list of tracks and tried Hotel California. It sounded so wonderful I made everyone in my household listen! Bear in mind this was straight out of the box.
So, I, currently have mixed feelings on these headphones, the brightness and graininess is diminishing, the mid-range is becoming more articulate and bass is tight and has appropriate weight where required. I'm impatient and can't wait to hear them when they have fully burned in. I'll post again after the burn in period if it will help anyone.
As an aside, I can't recommend the SMSL M8 enough. It nearly matches my main system DAC at a tiny fraction of the price. It may not be a full 9018, but the difference is negligible. I never see reviews on this DAC and it always frustrates me. Oh and the Vali 2 is surprisingly neutral. If it has the tube/valve warmness I am yet to hear it, but there again I am using the stock tube and haven't rolled it yet.
I'm 42 and can't hear as much as I used to, so take that into account. I hope this helps someone out there.
Mar 11, 2016
Sagacious
124
Mar 12, 2016
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Without critiquing and adding too much subjective opinion I have had the same a similar initial impression with the AKG7XX. I do realize they need some time break in more so than any other headphone I encountered with the exception of a pair of Philips I have yet to grow favor to. An objective opinion: The AKG7XX measure anywhere from -7db to -12db (pink noise -20db reference bandwidth limited) less efficient than other headphone in my stable at same gain. (Driving them with a CEtrance HD with the higher output gain switch high) This lower efficiency alone can bias my listening experience.
My subjective opinion initially: The AKG7XX seems to have a very good linear frequency response without as much of the Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF) frequency curve added. Tests done on the AKG7XX show this. There is a recent study done showing that even spectral balanced frequency response being more linear is preferred. The AKG7XX do sound closer in response to a flat speaker response and if you had to mix on these it seems you would likely get usable rough results. I played a bit with EQ on these and found general EQ is too broad and only detracted. I wound up using only some parametric very high Q (10)notch boost in the 12khz +4db and 14.5khz +4db, then a 1khz +3db Q4 with a 15hz at Q1+6db (Q1 is very broad like standard EQ) to balance it out. These were very subtle changes. (all done at 83db to 90db listening)
Despite its closer to neutral frequency response, I didn't find the AKG7XX to be highly resolving. I bear in mind that breaking them in for a couple hundred hours versus the 15 or so will help. For example subjectively my Shures and CALs have a lot of detail but the shures have strong peaks in them that make me love/hate them.
This AKG7XX did create a paradox for me so far. My gripe with headphones has always been the all over the place dis-balanced peaky frequency response and I viewed each set having its own built in EQ setting. Have I become biased to the "HRTF" enhanced curve making me perceive resolution?(peak curves in the 1.5khz to 5khz area) Is the lower efficiency further emphasized by the more linear response causing even more skewing? Linear frequency response is idealistic but equal transient and low THD at all spectral frequencies is just as important. Phase linearity being critical too. A lot to demand from a single driver for resolution.
Another note: I did keep turning the AKG7XX's up higher than other headphones for what I perceived as the same listening level. The AKG7XX handle power well but at 90-95db in headphone listening I get the same fatigue I would get from a concert level at a 110-115db.
At this point, I should do 2 things before I comment any further.
Break them em at proper DB level for a couple hundred hours and then setup a proper A/B comparison with other sets using proper eq'ing to de-emphasize other sets peaks. The second becomes a daunting task to do it properly.
I just wanted to chime in as it seems a few others are having similar first impressions.
Mar 12, 2016
Aciel
12
Mar 12, 2016
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I couldn't agree more...and fully admit I am a newbie to headphones. My opinions are subjective. I value your measured approach. I also like you added disclaimers based on break in. For me they are getting better by the day. Let's hope they end up being what we all wanted :)
Mar 12, 2016
Steve1
18
Mar 15, 2016
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You haven't noticed insane listener fatigue? These drive me nuts. I'm always reaching for the volume to turn it down, the treble for whatever reason is making my ears cry. Maybe once they're more broken in I'll be able to listen at louder volumes, but the fatigue is pretty bad.
Mar 15, 2016
Aciel
12
Mar 15, 2016
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I did to start with, but mine have mellowed out quite a lot. My whole headphone system was brand new, so I can't be absolutely sure if either the dac or headphone amp is burning in and mellowing the treble. I have around sixty hours on mine now and they are sounding better and better. I leave mine running all day long.
Mar 15, 2016
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