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Headphone Amp for AKG K701 #1487341
08/03/10 01:07 PM
08/03/10 01:07 PM
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KeVan Offline OP
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Hi, can anybody recommend me a headphone amp for around $200? The less the better but if it's really worth the money, I might put in a bit more. I've heard these headphones can't live without an amp, so I am wondering which amp is best to accompany it for piano usages. Thank you. Sorry if this is the wrong forum.

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Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: KeVan] #1487365
08/03/10 01:55 PM
08/03/10 01:55 PM
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 1,676
The Netherlands
Victor25 Offline
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Meier makes good amps. Also Ray Samuel's has good amps. Google will help you.

www.head-fi.org is the best place for info on this. I use a SPL Phonitor myself, but its quite expensive.


Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: Victor25] #1487530
08/03/10 05:25 PM
08/03/10 05:25 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,675
Northern NJ
dewster Offline
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Try the PreSonus HP4. It's $130 or so. Gives you 4 headphone outputs with individual volume controls, plus monitor output with volume control. Tons of gain (some would say too much) and loads of headroom - it really works well.

Has a lighted monitor mute button which I use a lot, and a lighted mono button, which I seldom use but is nice to have. All I/O is 1/4".

Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: dewster] #1487540
08/03/10 05:34 PM
08/03/10 05:34 PM
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London UK
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Exalted Wombat Offline
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Have you actually tried them directly into the headphone jack? Looking at the AKG website, there's a certain amount of audiophool BS being spouted about this model - oxygen-free, bi-wiring... In such circles you'll often find a reluctance to take the simple, cheap path when there is a complicated, expensive alternative! If these cans aren't loud enough, consider extra amplification. But don't kid yourself that an extra amp will improve the sound quality being sent from the piano.

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Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: Exalted Wombat] #1487544
08/03/10 05:39 PM
08/03/10 05:39 PM
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The Netherlands
Victor25 Offline
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Hmm... as abit of a headphone freak myself, and having owned the K701, it does work ONLY with a headphone amp. The difference between running it through a standard opamp jack, or a true headphone amp is really big. The big floppy bass will become tight, the reach will extend, and the sibilance will dissapear. The voltage swings a low impedance headphone like this requires, just simply can't be generated by a regular (read cheap <5$) opamp.


Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: Victor25] #1487553
08/03/10 06:07 PM
08/03/10 06:07 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,675
Northern NJ
dewster Offline
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I own a pair of AKG-K271 Studio cans (old MKI). Here's how they compare from a drive standpoint to the K701:

AKG-K271 studio:
Sensitivity 104 dB/V
Rated impedance 55 ohms

AKG-K701:
Sensitivity 105 dB/V
Rated impedance 62 ohms

Pretty much the same. I can plug my K271s into just about anything directly and they always sound fine to me. Bass is "laid back" but I like it that way. Never have any problems with sibilance, soundstage, etc.

Not trying to dis anyone in particular, but I find the headphone field fairly awash in snake oil acoustic theory and bad science, and tend to take any subjective info on the web with enough salt to break world land speed records with a rocket car.

Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: Victor25] #1487554
08/03/10 06:10 PM
08/03/10 06:10 PM
Joined: Sep 2009
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Raleigh, North Carolina
MacMacMac Offline
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Originally Posted by Victor25
The voltage swings a low impedance headphone like this requires, just simply can't be generated by a regular (read cheap <5$) opamp.
Something's not right here.

1. Cheapie op-amps (or nearly any op-amp) can develop enough swing to fry these (or any) phones, if the circuit design permits.

2. If the K701 were low impedance phones, then the necessary voltage swing would be LOWER than for higher impedance phones.

In fact, their rated impedance is 62 ohms (from the mfg web page). That's a bit higher than the 30 ohms (or so) found in the cheapie phones that come with $25 CD players. But it's much lower than the high-end phones that often have impedances of 200-400 ohms. Those hi-Z phones are hard to drive. The low- to mid-Z phones, like the K701, are EASY to drive.

Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: dewster] #1487555
08/03/10 06:11 PM
08/03/10 06:11 PM
Joined: May 2009
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The Netherlands
Victor25 Offline
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Thats fine if you think that way, I'm not here to convince anyone, just to help. But I have literally owned over a 100 pair of headphones, and more than 20 different headphone amps. My current setup is the Sennheiser HD650 as pick-up headphone, and the AKG K-1000 (a NOS) as the real deal. And like I said a SPL Phonitor amp, believe me, if someone is gonna spend that kind of money on gear, they sure did their research first. Its like saying why get a ferrari? A skoda also has 4 wheels and drives...

@Macmac you are confusing current with voltage swing there. Also frying a headphone, and properly driving a headphone have noting to do with eachother. I can blow up a hifi 100w speaker easily with a cheap 20w amp, but it won't sound the best it can.

If you want a headphone that doesn't rely as heavily on amplification you are much better off with a Grado heaphone.

Last edited by Victor25; 08/03/10 06:14 PM.

Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: Victor25] #1487583
08/03/10 06:42 PM
08/03/10 06:42 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,675
Northern NJ
dewster Offline
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Originally Posted by Victor25
Thats fine if you think that way

It's not so much how I think, but we all agree upon as fundamental reality - i.e. the sciences of physics & acoustics & human perception. Business people, for various practical moneymaking reasons, often function outside of accepted reality.

Originally Posted by Victor25
I'm not here to convince anyone, just to help.

Same here.

Originally Posted by Victor25
But I have literally owned over a 100 pair of headphones, and more than 20 different headphone amps.

Sounds like the clinical definition of an addiction! smile

Originally Posted by Victor25
My current setup is the Sennheiser HD650 as pick-up headphone, and the AKG K-1000 (a NOS) as the real deal. And like I said a SPL Phonitor amp, believe me, if someone is gonna spend that kind of money on gear, they sure did their research first. Its like saying why get a ferrari? A skoda also has 4 wheels and drives...

Do the K-1000s really have "composite diaphragms of elastic intermediate layers finished with a 16th century violin varnish to suppress ultrasonic ringing"? That right there is entering deep into audiophile land (and I mean that in a bad way).

Originally Posted by Victor25
@Macmac you are confusing current with voltage swing there.

No, he's got it right, lower impedance headphones are generally easier to drive, but the sensitivity spec is important too.

Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: dewster] #1487587
08/03/10 06:49 PM
08/03/10 06:49 PM
Joined: May 2009
Posts: 1,676
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Victor25 Offline
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Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by Victor25
Thats fine if you think that way

It's not so much how I think, but we all agree upon as fundamental reality - i.e. the sciences of physics & acoustics & human perception. Business people, for various practical moneymaking reasons, often function outside of accepted reality.

As I have worked in audio studio's I know for a fact that its not all snake-oil. Ofcourse there are things that are still a bit weird to me (bi-wiring, balanced driving of headphones, different cable materials etc.). But just saying that its all fake, and then giving a 'general' argument which you can just as well say as FOR my point, doesn't make any sense. What is your experience in this field?

Originally Posted by Victor25
But I have literally owned over a 100 pair of headphones, and more than 20 different headphone amps.

Sounds like the clinical definition of an addiction! smile

Or a professional dedication.

Originally Posted by Victor25
My current setup is the Sennheiser HD650 as pick-up headphone, and the AKG K-1000 (a NOS) as the real deal. And like I said a SPL Phonitor amp, believe me, if someone is gonna spend that kind of money on gear, they sure did their research first. Its like saying why get a ferrari? A skoda also has 4 wheels and drives...

Do the K-1000s really have "composite diaphragms of elastic intermediate layers finished with a 16th century violin varnish to suppress ultrasonic ringing"? That right there is entering deep into audiophile land (and I mean that in a bad way).

Its still regarded as one of the best headphones ever created (along with the Sennheiser Orpheus, and Sony RD-10), as someone who comments like he knows alot about audio, you know better than to read descriptions (remember all those 10$ headphones with 10-20khz specs). Please don't bash my baby, especially since you have never heard it.

Originally Posted by Victor25
@Macmac you are confusing current with voltage swing there.

No, he's got it right, lower impedance headphones are generally easier to drive, but the sensitivity spec is important too.



No, he's got it wrong, lower impedance headphones are not easier to drive, they just produce higher volumes, which has nothing to do with how 'hard' it is to drive.

Again if you really want to know more about this stuff, I suggest you read up on it and like I said; head-fi.org is a place where people with some real knowledge are. If you are however just here to blatantly shout out a very inexperienced opinion on equipment you have never even seen in life, then this is just an ill discussion. I hold you in high regard, and this is by no means meant to be disrespectfull! But please don't tell to a butcher that he can just use your kitchen knife.


Last edited by Victor25; 08/03/10 06:50 PM.

Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: Victor25] #1487591
08/03/10 06:52 PM
08/03/10 06:52 PM
Joined: Sep 2007
Posts: 14,492
Hamamatsu, Japan
Kawai James Offline
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Quote
please don't tell to a butcher that he can just use your kitchen knife.


wink


Employed by Kawai Japan, however the opinions I express are my own.
Nord Electro 3 fan & occasional rare groove player.
Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: dewster] #1487596
08/03/10 06:56 PM
08/03/10 06:56 PM
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emenelton Offline
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in this thread the op, with the same K701s', did the research, and decided on a real headphone amp!

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1471285/Anyone%20know%20anything%20re:%20headp.html#Post1471285

Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: emenelton] #1487599
08/03/10 07:00 PM
08/03/10 07:00 PM
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Victor25 Offline
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A disregard that whole respect line. I see that Dewster and Macmacmac are just on some anti-hifi crusade. Count me out, some people live in a box. @ Kevan I suggest you read that thread, there are also some serious good posts in it. Also post on head-fi, there are plenty of people that actually own or have owned a K701 out there that can help you.


Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: Victor25] #1487610
08/03/10 07:09 PM
08/03/10 07:09 PM
Joined: Dec 2009
Posts: 4,675
Northern NJ
dewster Offline
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Victor25, I'm seriously not trying to be mean to you, quite the opposite. Two people can discuss reality, particularly an engineered product like headphones, without getting too emotional, can't we?

Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: Victor25] #1487618
08/03/10 07:23 PM
08/03/10 07:23 PM
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ChrisA Offline
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Originally Posted by Victor25
...The voltage swings a low impedance headphone like this requires, just simply can't be generated by a regular (read cheap <5$) opamp.


You are right about that. But I doubt anyone actually uses an op-amp to drive a headphone load. They would either use an opamp to drive a push-pull pair of transistors or they use a small integrated power amp IC. Either way would cost about $1.

I second Dewster's suggestion to buy the Presonus amp. I have another Presonus product with a built-in headphone amp and I use it with low impedance AKG headphones. My ears can't take a setting past about 3 on the volume. And the amp is built like a brick


Last edited by ChrisA; 08/03/10 07:36 PM.
Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: ChrisA] #1487746
08/03/10 11:45 PM
08/03/10 11:45 PM
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KeVan Offline OP
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I've went through the other thread and it seems like it boils down to Creek OBH-11 and the Presonus amp. I've also been to head-fi and did a quick overview and found out that most audiophile will swear by the Heed CanAmp + AKG K701 combo. But unfortunately, the Heed CanAmp is a staggering $600 amp. That's more expensive than the headphones! I might just go for the Presonus as I can pick it up at my local dealer, opposed to ordering some expensive amp online. But the thing is, I don't want to spend $150 now and a few weeks down the road thinking I should use my paycheck on a $600 amp, what else would I do with the old amp? I feel sorry for my wallet, lol.

Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: KeVan] #1487786
08/04/10 02:45 AM
08/04/10 02:45 AM
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Victor25 Offline
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KeVan you should definetly listen before buy. And also the reason I was able to have owned so many amps and headphones, is because they are really easy to sell! The 'forsale' section of head-fi is really helpful and will save you a lot of money when trying things. You can ofcourse always look for a second-hand headphone amp there too.


Currently working on: Perfecting the Op 2/1, studying the 27/2 last movement. Chopin Nocturne 32/2 and Posth. C#m, 'Raindrop' prelude and Etude 10/9
Repetoire: Beethoven op 2/1, 10/1(1st, 2nd), 13, 14/1, 27/1(1st, 2nd), 27/2, 28(1st, 2nd), 31/2(1st, 3rd), 49/1, 49/2, 78(1st), 79, 90, 101(1st)
Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: KeVan] #1487906
08/04/10 08:50 AM
08/04/10 08:50 AM
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Originally Posted by KeVan
I've also been to head-fi and did a quick overview and found out that most audiophile will swear by the Heed CanAmp + AKG K701 combo. But unfortunately, the Heed CanAmp is a staggering $600 amp. That's more expensive than the headphones!

Oh lord, I'm in the wrong business!

I believe one can remember whether there is too much bass or whatever in a particular headphone, but between two high end headphones with similar acoustic sealing (i.e. open, closed, semi-open, etc.) without the correct test setup it is very difficult to say which one sounds "better".

One thing I always keep in mind in these such discussions is that, when it comes to remembering things like sound quality, audio memory is notoriously bad. So bad that when comparing two sets of speakers you have to have them in the same room, switch between them often, and have the levels matched to something like 0.1 dB so as not to influence the comparison (the ear tends to hear louder as better).

So when people say one set of headphones sounds better than another, and they don't tell you the details of how how they did the A/B testing, then I would submit the information that person is trying to convey is highly questionable.

And when they tell you a particular headphone amplifier sounds better than another, well, except for things like hum and hiss and distortion products from a shoddy design, you would have to A/B the heck out of two adequately designed headphone amps before I even start believing you, and I would doubt the results unless there was some clear technical reason for one to sound better than the other.

Originally Posted by KeVan
I might just go for the Presonus as I can pick it up at my local dealer, opposed to ordering some expensive amp online. But the thing is, I don't want to spend $150 now and a few weeks down the road thinking I should use my paycheck on a $600 amp, what else would I do with the old amp? I feel sorry for my wallet, lol.

This is how subjective reviews of technical products work, and why manufacturers of audiophile equipment love them. They plant the seeds of doubt, and so to be safe you buy the more expensive, better reviewed product - a technique which often works for the consumer, but it doesn't work so well when the higher end stuff contains snake oil.

Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: dewster] #1488019
08/04/10 11:43 AM
08/04/10 11:43 AM
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Raleigh, North Carolina
MacMacMac Offline
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Originally Posted by dewster
Originally Posted by KeVan
I've also been to head-fi and did a quick overview and found out that most audiophile will swear by the Heed CanAmp + AKG K701 combo. But unfortunately, the Heed CanAmp is a staggering $600 amp. That's more expensive than the headphones!
I believe one can remember whether there is too much bass or whatever in a particular headphone, but between two high end headphones with similar acoustic sealing (i.e. open, closed, semi-open, etc.) without the correct test setup it is very difficult to say which one sounds "better".

One thing I always keep in mind in these such discussions is that, when it comes to remembering things like sound quality, audio memory is notoriously bad. So bad that when comparing two sets of speakers you have to have them in the same room, switch between them often, and have the levels matched to something like 0.1 dB so as not to influence the comparison (the ear tends to hear louder as better).

So when people say one set of headphones sounds better than another, and they don't tell you the details of how how they did the A/B testing, then I would submit the information that person is trying to convey is highly questionable.

And when they tell you a particular headphone amplifier sounds better than another, well, except for things like hum and hiss and distortion products from a shoddy design, you would have to A/B the heck out of two adequately designed headphone amps before I even start believing you, and I would doubt the results unless there was some clear technical reason for one to sound better than the other.

Originally Posted by KeVan
I might just go for the Presonus as I can pick it up at my local dealer, opposed to ordering some expensive amp online. But the thing is, I don't want to spend $150 now and a few weeks down the road thinking I should use my paycheck on a $600 amp, what else would I do with the old amp? I feel sorry for my wallet, lol.

This is how subjective reviews of technical products work, and why manufacturers of audiophile equipment love them. They plant the seeds of doubt, and so to be safe you buy the more expensive, better reviewed product - a technique which often works for the consumer, but it doesn't work so well when the higher end stuff contains snake oil.
+1 to that.

Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. FUD. It brings in lots of revenue.

And +1 on the test conditions. In A/B testing, the louder unit sounds better, even if it's a K-Mart boom box up against a Carver amp. (Ok, slight exaggeration.)

And the tone/equalization? Crap unit with treble turned up can sound "better". That's fine if you like that. But why pay $600 for a treble boost when you do it for free?

Re: Headphone Amp for AKG K701 [Re: MacMacMac] #1488169
08/04/10 04:20 PM
08/04/10 04:20 PM
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I'm using the AKG K701 with Kawai CA63 and I play with the settings Brillant Classical Piano R2.2 (thanks to TADutchman):

http://www.pianoworld.com/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/1448603/2.html

I only need to put the master volume to 4.5 (scale 0 - 10), the setting "Phones Vol. = High" and I can play with and without headphones with the same master volume.

using these headphones with a PC, you need to "push up" the master volume of your PC to have an acceptable sound response.

BTW, the K701 are very comfortable (you can play hours with it) and have a very nice frequency response. As the headphone is "open", it gives you a real sensation of "surrounding"

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