Review: AKG Quincy Jones Signature Series Q701 Headphones
Positives:Amazing sound clarity and balance throughout the frequency spectrum
Superb spacial imaging and depth
Great build quality
Comes in three colors – white, black and neon green
Negatives:Can be uncomfortable on certain head sizes – check before you buy!
Lacks that "hyped bass" sound which depending on your style of music/mixing you might need
If I could some up the AKG Q701 in two words, it would be “Pristine Clarity.” If my review was limited to 10 words or less, I would say “Pristine Clarity, but make sure they fit your head first!” And if I was on the moon, I would say – “look at me! I’m on the moon!! and these headphones still sound great!!” Plus with the look of the 701′s I would fit in with the fashion styles of Princess Leia quite well.
After owning the Audio-Technica ATH-M50s for years (which are a great set of cans!) last year I was demoing a ton of headphones – Beyerdynamic, Sony, Shure, seinnheiser, and found the AKG sound was the most like listening to well balanced studio monitors. The mid-range clarity of the AKG was really second to none! Simply stunning in the clarity, depth and width of the sound field, and playing music I was familiar with I was hearing elements I had never heard before!! It was like a blanket was lifted off my ears. After 30min of testing, I knew these were headphones I could mix in a pinch on, and simply loved their sound!! “I can hear clearly now, the rain is gone! I can hear all mix obsticals in my way!”
The Q701s are Semi-open headphones, which means that they do not fully cover the back of the speaker driver and thus there is sound bleed. So dont use these as tracking headphones! But the openness of the speakers really translates well to the openness of the sound. If there is one small gripe with the sound of the 701′s, is that they are lacking a bit of that low end beef, especially in the subs. Not to say that the frequencies aren’t there (these headphones go from 10hz-39.8khz!), its just they are BALANCED, which unlike most listening devices who’s low end is hyped. Thus if your using these cans and trying to get that hyped bass sound you hear in other headphones (like the ATH-M50s) you will for sure have WAAAAY to much bass in your final mix. So make sure you learn these cans accordingly, but to me the quality and clarity of these headphones FAR out way the lack of a little boom.
The other important factor when considering headphones is not only how they sound, but how they fit on your head. You dont want to be into the 8th hour of recording and be in writhing pain due to the headphone band pinching your head. Lucky for me I have a small head, so these do not feel like they are squeezing my mellon, but I have a friend who returned is 701′s because he would get a headache after wearing them for 30min. But the headband itself is another story. As you might be able to tell from the picture, the AKG headband consists of 7 foam bumps on the top of the headband, which you would think would be nice, soft foam. However, these things are HARD AS A ROCK!! Again, since I have a small head these dont seem to bother me so much, but my friend would end up with a sore head that was sensitive to the touch – and no one likes sore head!
There are mods you can do to make the band feel better – in particular cutting those hard foam knubs off the band (I have NO idea why AKG did this in the first place!!) but users do this because its worth sacrificing some esthetics when the headphones themselves sound this good!! The foam pads on the ears are SUPER comfortable (probably the most comfortable I’ve ever worn), and the semi-open design actually helps with ventilation so my ears do not get sweaty in these hot CA summer sessions.
These headphones are built very well, and I love the fact that the cable is detachable, making it easy to change the length if required or replace entirely if need (i.e. you accidentally run over the cable with your chair enough times that it shorts out, you dont have to chuck the cans in the trash). It even comes with two cables, a long 3 meter cable, and a ridiculously long 6 meter cable. The 3 meter works fine for me, but you could always buy a 1.5 meter cable and use that if you need shorter.
Bottom line – I always thought my $150 ATH-M50s were awesome enough headphones that I had no desire to upgrade. It wasn’t until a friend let me hear is AKG Q701s that I quickly understood how AMAZING a set of high quality cans sound, and I was ashamed I waited so long to get a pair. DO NOT SKIMP on your headphones – it is WELL WORTH IT!!