AKG 701 series have been survived in the headphones market long enough, withstands lots of challenges from the competitors that keep growing stronger and stronger, last few years AKG is not innovative enough, as the 701s series are in the game for years and just change the housing and maybe headband, but still using the same aging driver, it is still good regardless of time and has its own sound signature that I believe many are fonding of, this is including me as well. The so called ‘milky’ sound signature and ultra wide/spacious soundstaging and a very affordable price tag, which is just selling 2xxUSD now Also don’t forget about the K612Pro that is selling for a lower price tag).
Before we started, a big thanks to E1 Personal Audio for the review sample, K712Pro is successor to the long age AKG 701/702 series, AKG claimed that K712Pro has more bass (by 3db) than the previous model (Which audiophiles crowd keep complaining on before), while authentically they still looked more or less the same, just K712Pro is using the orange scheme which appeared to be younger looks, depend on how do you think regarding this approach.
K712Pro is very comfortable on head, thanks to the new headband that do not have any ‘bump’ on it, it is also having reasonable weight so that it will not fall down from your head, clamping force is average, luckily the cable is still interchangeable and it is using the same mini XLR plug just like other AKG headphones, for those who want to mod it to balanced cable need to do some modification.
Oh yes, it is made in Vienna instead of other country, in case you don’t know the latest batch of Q701 is already made in China, as you can expect from AKG, K712Pro is built accordingly, which is very nice/solid/durable, although most part is build by plastic.
Source : Soundaware D100Pro Deluxe Edition, CD Transport and CAS
DACs : Yulong Audio DA8, Firestone Audio Tobby, M2Tech Hiface DAC and Kingrex UD384
Headphone Amplifier : Firestone Audio Bobby and Graham Slee Solo Ultra Linear Diamond Edition
I love the AKG 701 series but I have really needed to complain on 701′s imaging power/Soundstage flatness and impact of bass, so when I hand on the K712Pro my first step is played some symphonies that I always listening to, I am really keen to report that K712Pro has far better imaging and positioning, the soundstage is now presented in a 3D and more rounded, well defined soundscape instead of just being super flat as the 701, for example when I am listening to symphony music or orchestra now, I can ‘see’ the performance it and imagine it better, luckily it still has the wide soundstage performance of 701 series but it has a much better soundstage depth now.
Another thing that AKG has claimed is the boosted bass by 3db compared to 701 series, this is something that audiophiles have been complained and concerned in the past years, while I am not fancying on bigger bass response but I appreciated AKG’s approach regarding this problem, I can definitely tell you that bass is more prominence than 701, but still it is nothing in destructive way nor what I will call it as boomy/muddy bass, because of the nicer bass respond, sound generally became richer, transient response is so much better now, a better bass response has enhancing my listening experience with Classical music, especially symphonies and drum based songs, also, piano, cello and drum sounded much more realistic and better on K712Pro, Cello can’t play correctly on 701, neither Piano and drum as well, although violin plays exceptionally good on 701, it is still good in K712Pro, while it might not have the famous ‘milky’ (You might also call it as ‘plasticky’ sound if you dislike it) sound signature as the 701s, but overall it do sounds better and fuller now.
Vocal is another strength of 701 although much might disagree/agree with this statement, I like the tonal of vocal in 701 series, however I am sorry to report that female vocal does not sound good on K712Pro, there is slight sibilance and vocal sounded too thin opposed to my preference.
Assuming that vocal has been slipped back, but generally it still sounded much better and healthier than 701, especially the bass and transient respond. I like to listening to Classical musics on K712Pro, it is now standing head-to-head with the headphones in this price range. Those who spend time on classical music will like K712Pro in my opinion. Other than classical musics, new ages, jazz and OST musics can play well on K712Pro already (Which 701 can’t)
Back to reality, I played the Jazz album by Super Trio, first track (The River) pack a lot of bass impact from kick drum, K712Pro does not have the deepest bass not super impact, but the low body is enough to make this album enjoyable overall. When music getting complex, it is still managing them with good authority, while not being obsessively good, it is enough for the price and in its own.
Thanks God there is still no pairing that I will say it as ‘bad pairing’ with the K712Pro, in fact potential of K712Pro is good as every time when I switched to a better headphone amplifier there is a noticeable improvement, however, an excellent built in headphone amplifier such as the one in Yulong Audio DA8 is enough to do K712Pro justice already, switching to a better headphone amplifier such as the Graham Slee Solo Ultra Diamond edition or the Firestone Audio Bobby, there is a better soundstaging and headroom, but investing in an external headphone amplifier that cost you 1-2kUSD is something that you will need to consider as well (However, headphone amplifier that is built in the DA8 is very good)
So is AKG K712Pro better than the 701/702? In many ways it is, I am sure it is! First, bass body is much healthier than the previous model, luckily it is not something that is boomy or muddy, bass line behave like the previous model but has bigger body/impact and quantity. Then the bigger imaging and positioning ability is a big bonus to me, this is great for classical musics especially symphonies musics.
There is a single stigma though, AKG took too long of time to market the K712Pro,I am sure if AKG had marketed K712Pro 3 years ago then it surely will impress a lot of buyers, but now there is a lot of competitors in the market already, although K712Pro can stand still in front of them, it doesn’t have the definite strength anyway, even if I have not mentioned about the aging look.
However, looking at the much improved ergonomics and performance I have no reason not to recommend it to fellow audiophiles. It do sounds good although I am expecting it to be cheaper, now I have a lot to anticipate in AKG K612 and K812.