Review: Massdrop AKG K7XX Limited Red Edition – The Dark Side

Disclaimer: It’s been a while but I’m back with my first article that covers a full size headphone on Headfonia and I think you’ll see me covering more variety of gear soon. I borrowed the AKG K7XX Red Edition from a good friend for this article. I thank him for making this review possible. 

BACKGROUND

As you know, Massdrop creates nice opportunities to get wide selection of gear with really nice prices. It has become really popular as we see every type of equipment in several price levels, from Lo-Fi to Hi-Fi. The only drawback is the waiting time but I suppose for those prices it’s worth the wait.

AKG K7XX is a Massdrop exclusive headphone. This one is more exclusive though, as it’s colored red instead of the full black one. K7XX is a reconfigured version of AKG’s 65th Anniversary model; K702 and the main purpose was to improve low frequencies and making a more flexible sound overall. If you’ve seen my UM Martian review, I’ve talked about how great it is to see high performing equipment with competitive price levels. In this case the price is 200$ which is very affordable. This headphone is a real steal at this price range, so let’s look upon it in detail.

SPECS

  • Configured by Massdrop
  • Manufactured by AKG
  • Open-back construction
  • Ruby Red (RAL 3003) colorway
  • Frequency response: 10-39,800 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 105 dB/V
  • Rated impedance: 62 ohm
  • Genuine leather headband
  • Memory foam earpads with velour covering
  • Weight: 8.3 oz (235 g)

 

PACKAGING

It is a classic AKG package with the cool K7XX and Massdrop logos on it and it’s in black all around. Non-red version comes with a white box. It’s not a premium type of box to say the least, which is expected of course. There’s nothing special about the package or the contents inside. You open the box and you meet the headphones with a ¼ inch adapter supplied, nothing else. Quite straightforward, but I guess it’s enough.

k7xx-iii

DESIGN, BUILD and COMFORT

Design wise, I can say I loved this red color touch. Compared to full black version it brings an exciting look to the table. The full black variant is also very cool and classy, but kind of boring compared to this one. Other than that the design of K7XX is still old fashioned, like the former AKG headphones, maybe except it looks a little more modern because of the color scheme. Anyway it’s what we’ve accustomed to from the likes of K601 and K701, the classics.

Build is fairly good for the price: it’s plastic overall but doesn’t give a cheap feeling. Although it’s not a premium build, plastic structure helps to keep the weight very low and through my time with the headphone, I didn’t face any problems. The cable is very long with a 3 meters length so be aware of that. General quality of the stock cable is pretty fair, just like the headphones; not premium but not cheap.

K7XX is a very comfortable headphone like the other AKG’s that were released before it. The lightweight and comfy feel is here again. The pads are big enough to cover your ears all around and clamping force is minimal. Perhaps it’s a little too minimal for my liking because I prefer a tighter sitting. Sometimes I think it sits too shallow on my head as it moves around easily. But that’s my thought; your experience might be different. The headband is real leather and that’s a nice material to have, it gives the headphone a classic and old school type of quality look and it’s also quite comfy.

There’s no sliding mechanism to adjust the headphone to your head, instead the leather headband adjusts itself to the wearer by moving up and down as a whole. So you don’t need to adjust the headband time and time again to find the sweet spot. Another benefit of this design is that it helps to distribute the weight across your head. The pads are very nice and thick enough to make your ears comfortable. They’re made of velour, and there is memory foam inside them.

Overall the K7XX is very comfortable and you can easily sit down with it for about 1 hour. My only complaint is the shallowness, which is just my preference. Isolation is basically non-existent as it’s an open-back and it leaks plenty of sound to the outside too. You may want to be alone to crank up the volume or to listen to your favorite music in a quiet environment.

k7xx-vi

SOUND

We know AKG’s Open Back Headphones as flatter and thinner sounding. They are mostly suitable for classic and jazz oriented types of music. Well, not this time, because we now have different things to talk about.

K7XX shifts to a more all-rounder type with its self-evident differences from the old K701, K702, K601 and so on… Now it’s not limited to specific genres; it’s more versatile, musical and forgiving. In general, it’s a nice change in presentation which I found pleasing.

The star of the show is probably the bass response here. From the claims by Massdrop, we know that there’s 3 decibels of increase in bass department which is quite a substantial difference. I can confirm this input with my listening sessions as well, it’s definitely more bassy than the original model, in a good way. It’s of course not the best bass response out there because you know, there are some great planars and also fellow dynamics around, but when we consider the price this is going for, we can agree about this being pretty darn close to the best price/performance ratio in an open back dynamic. Especially considering the old AKG’s, this is a great addition to the bass section. It’s not only a “bass boost” by the way, it’s not about just the quantity, it’s also about the texture and extension.

The prominence is on mid-bass but for this kind of an headphone, I can’t say sub-bass is lacking. In fact, it’s surprisingly good, it has good extension and punch, also can go fairly deep which are surprising things to hear from an open-back manufactured by AKG. While the midbass is somewhat the more elevated part of the lows; it retains a good level of control and there’s no excessive mid-bass hump. It doesn’t bleed to other parts of the spectrum so the headphone doesn’t give a muddy sound overall. These things aside, you still shouldn’t expect a flagship type of texture, extension or speed. It doesn’t have neither the speed like some pricier headphones, nor the control, but it’s probably one of the best around 200$.

More on sound on page two

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A lover of personal audio from Turkey, Berkhan always seeks the perfection. He chooses a simplistic expression of sound at all times, and tries to keep his photography enthusiasm at the same level with audio. Sometimes photography wins, and sometimes his love for music takes him over and he puts that camera aside.

22 Comments

  • Reply October 27, 2016

    KBaum

    So in terms of a amp, would a dragonfly black do, or would more power bring the 7xx to life

  • Reply October 28, 2016

    Berkhan

    I think it will drive it to some extent, but to get the full performance you need a desktop amp.

    • Reply October 29, 2016

      Alan kirschbaum

      Thanks Berkhan. I’m using my dragonfly with amperiors. Plenty of power. Would the dragonfly do for a dac with a desktop amp? Oh Yaxi eapads work well on amperiors

      • Reply October 29, 2016

        dale thorn

        The DF does well as a DAC to most amps, but the best amps would like a better DAC. It’s trial and error unless you follow a specific recommendation, since the number of combinations is huge.

        • Reply October 29, 2016

          Alan Kirschbaum

          Thanks Dale. When you add a DAC combo to th picture, more expensive, but also more efficient products like the 400s look more attractive. And I can audition the 400s…

  • Reply October 28, 2016

    Woz

    Surprised you didn’t review the AKG 712 pro way back when it was released 2 years ago. The differences might be subtle to some but imo it does have better build quality, upper extension, greater definition, image is more stable, airier mids. Background detail is rendered better where as its slightly smeared on the K7XX in comparison. The 712 pro seems more precise and addresses some of the issues you have with the K7XX. Granted the 712 pro is 1.5x the price of the K7XX. The 712 is one of the best AKG phones ever made IMO. The K812 is also very good but can’t really compete with other flagships at its price point.

    • Reply October 28, 2016

      Berkhan

      I would love to hear that model but I never did. Thanks for the good info.

    • Reply October 28, 2016

      dale thorn

      Agree!

  • Reply October 28, 2016

    Ozkan

    Thank you for the review. Actually the custom cable is from Bocuraudio and I’ve been using their custom cables for several years. They are very well made and good quality. ????

    • Reply October 28, 2016

      Berkhan

      No mate it’s not Bocur Audio. It’s a different guy.

      Thank you too.

  • Reply November 17, 2016

    Yağız

    I made this cable.

    Cheers

    Yağız, from Bocur Audio

  • Reply March 29, 2017

    Jeff

    any chance you’d wanna sell yours? 🙂

    • Reply March 31, 2017

      Berkhan

      It wasn’t mine. Borrowed from a friend to review it.

  • Reply November 26, 2017

    Theo Kamp

    I bought the red 7xx after hearing all the positive reviews and wanting an alternative to my HD600. I was looking for better bass, imaging and more sparkle on the high than HD600.

    After putting 30 hours on it here is my impression, comparing to HD600. My DAC is Arcam rDAC, amp is a discontinued Hagerman HA-10 that works very well with HD600.

    The good…
    – Imaging is excellent. Sound stage is deep and very wide.
    – Treble on these are just right; providing the extra sparkle I am looking for, without causing fatigue.

    The not so good…
    – Midrange is quite noticeably thinner than the HD600, comparably lacking texture and naturalness, though vocal imaging appear accurate, not laidback nor forward.
    – Bass is not extended nor deep and it’s lacking integration with the midrange. I feel bass is the weakest part of the frequency on these cans despite the claim of 3dB boost. HD600 is not known for deep and extended bass, but it is well integrated with he midrange.

    On Schonherz and Scott’s “Wishing Well”, instrumental placement is excellent and easy to locate and pick out; soundstage stretches to far edges. The bass does not extend as low as the HD600. I found the upper bass and lower mid very much missing on this track. This is what I call the lacking of bass and mid integration.

    • Reply November 26, 2017

      dale thorn

      The deep bass drum hits on Wishing Well have a strong impact. I can’t be sure if they’re real drums or synthetic, but I never would have guessed that the HD600 would beat the K7xx. Have you tried the HD650?

  • Reply November 27, 2017

    Theo Kamp

    I have a HD650 as well. I used HD600, a known neutral can, for base comparison, because I wanted to convey how much the 7xx derailed from neutrality. Compare with HD650, the bass performance difference is even more pronounced. HD650 shows very extended and very deep bass and bass integrates very nicely with midrange, that dwarfs the 7xx, which evidently left a hole between bass and mid.
    Could this be a matter of amp and headphone mismatching?

    • Reply November 27, 2017

      dale thorn

      If you have a mismatch, then the K7xx will sound very different with whatever you plug it into. So probably not. The K7xx should be much easier to drive than the Sennheisers, especially in the bass. I have found that there are many good choices in closed headphones in these price ranges, but there’s not much to choose from in open headphones until you go much higher in price.

  • Reply November 27, 2017

    Theo Kamp

    It could be down to a matter of preference for sound between AKG and Sennheiser, though I can’t imagine someone would like both.

    • Reply November 27, 2017

      dale thorn

      I’ve liked both, but what happens with me is, I have so much music that after using one of these for a few weeks to a few months, I find that I’m listening mostly to the music that sounds the best on that particular headphone.

      Equalizing can help salvage a real problem like a thin lower midrange, but it doesn’t help enough in my experience to make an AKG sound as good as a Sennheiser on the music that the Sennheiser sounds best on, or vice-versa.

      I think that’s why most audiophiles end up with several headphones, since the long-time experience with each one reveals where they work the best.

  • Reply October 19, 2018

    Sammy

    This is a limited edition product and I got a chance to check it from one of my colleague. Needless to say, it feel like a premium AKG headphone as always. Other than the audio quality, I loved the nice comfortable light weight feel. Pretty good to have !

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