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You've heard the talk, now see the science: these headphones have impressive performance measurables, and should work well near a computer.

The Q701s are comfortable: crafted with expertise, and designed intelligently.

Tried and true, the Q701’s band is unusual, but very comfortable as far as self-adjusting bands go. Definitely a draw for leather enthusiasts, as the entire contact surface between these cans and your head is made of the stuff. Additionally, for those who don’t like to have strings attached to their headphone relationships, the AKG Q701s have got you covered, as they offer very well-insulated removable cables in 10 and 20 feet. Capping off those rather long cables is a 1/8th inch plug, threaded for a 1/4th inch adapter.

These cans exude a classic feel, with just the right amount of funk.

Unlike their predecessors, the AKG Q701s are surprisingly durable for open-backed headphones, as the cord guards on the AKG Q701s aren’t too fragile—they can handle a little rough treatment from time to time. Worst-case scenario: the cable comes out, and you just slap it back in (or get a new one for a fraction of the cost). We still recommend keeping them indoors, as even a little errant moisture can slip into the driver and ruin their sensitive insides. Practice safe listening.

If you haven’t come to the conclusion by now, the point I’ve been so indelicately dancing around is that these headphones are sexy. Like a Soul Bossa Nova for the eyes, these cans exude a classic feel, with just the right amount of funk. If white headphones don’t tickle your fancy, these also come in jet black or lime green.

While the band is a bit unusual, the self-adjusting nature of it makes the AKG Q701 a very comfortable set of cans. Able to fit large and small heads alike, these headphones should be able to accommodate just about anyone. Over time, there isn’t much heat buildup, nor is there any sort of fatigue caused by the weight of the units.

Some emphasis shifts here and there, but overall a fantastic result.

With a parent signal of 78dB, the s maintain a mostly even response, though our graphs are scaled to emphasize any imperfection. At its very worst, these headphones only show a 4dB shift away from the mean signal to either side, but these ranges of emphasis are actually not all that noticeable to the human ear.

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Even if a flatter frequency response isn't for you, what it provides in terms of usability is actually quite important. For the pro studio worker, it allows you to level your tracks easily, and much closer to what others will hear on speakers. For the casual listener, a flat response also enables the use of an equalizer with minimal errors or distortion, which is very cool. Don't like the response? You can change it with said equalizer!

Very, very low distortion.

The AKG Q701s aren’t perfect, as they have a relatively small amount of general distortion, but because that level of distortion is less than 0.5% THD, no human will hear it. That is, of course, provided they don't crank the volume past 99.12dB before hitting a 3% level of distortion, becoming quite annoying. It’s a blessing in disguise, we think, as you will be less likely to damage your hearing by using lower volumes.

Stellar audio quality; among the best we've seen so far.

Though it’s a little bit erratic, any ranges of underemphasis actually downplay some of the harsher noises (cymbal splash and some of the more piercing notes) while keeping everything within our ideal limits. Though there aren’t a ton of people out there who only want a flat response, these cans are just about begging to be equalized, as they can handle it very well. Damned impressive performance here.

In terms of channel preference between the left and right sides, the AKG Q701s stray a little away from where they should be.

In terms of channel preference between the left and right sides, the AKG Q701s stray a little away from where they should be, as they have some minor tracking errors. Due to their relatively minimal severity, you’re very unlikely to hear them, even if you know what you’re looking for. If you can, you are probably a robot. Same too for the distortion: it's almost not even there.

Ain't no cans out there like these.

If you’ve got the juice to power these headphones, you’ll lose yourself in easily one of the best headphones we’ve tested. While most celebrity-endorsed headphones typically get slaughtered in our ratings with poor audio performance and value, the AKG Q701s take a set of headphones that were already great and add durability and aesthetic features that put them over the top.

It may seem like our praise is a bit on the effusive side, but look at it this way: these are the first headphones that hit our theoretical maximum on frequency response, as well as having some solid durability features that prolong the lives of these already wonderful headphones. It’s no wonder why the Q-man was willing to put his name on them.

So if you’ve got money burning a hole in your pocket, and you’re looking to buy a set of fantastic over-ear headphones that are not only easy on the ears but also stunning looking, the AKG Q701s are the dude- er, cans. As it sits right now, they’re the cream of the crop.

Meet the tester

Chris Thomas

Chris Thomas

Staff Writer, Imaging


A seasoned writer and professional photographer, Chris reviews cameras, headphones, smartphones, laptops, and lenses. Educated in Political Science and Linguistics, Chris can often be found building a robot army, snowboarding, or getting ink.

See all of Chris Thomas's reviews

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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