AKG K601 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer AKG Model K601
Headphone Type Open Circumaural Headband Type Double
Weight (g) 235 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Plastic Isolation (dB) 0
Impedance (ohms) 120 Cable Length (cm) 300
Frequency Response (Hz) 12 - 39500  
Connector 6.5mm Street Price US$290
Buy from Amazon.com  
Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 6.8 Bass Impact 6.5
Bass Quality 7.3 Mids Quality 7.8
Highs Quality 6.8 Soundstage 6.3
Detail 7.0 Portability 2.0
Isolation 0.0 Comfort 7.5
Durability 7.0 Improvement With Amplification 6.8
Value for Money 7.3    
Overall Score 7.1 Total Reviews 4

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Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member JMCIII on 22 Jun 08  03:25
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality7

There's been a lot of debate on the internet forums as to the quality of the AKG K601s, espeically against the K701s given the rather small price differnece. Well, having lived with the K601s for over a year I feel I can comfortably comment on the sonic qualities of the K601s (I'll get to the K701s a bit later when I review them under the K701 heading).

First off, the K601s are a fairly well balanced, even sounding, coherent set of open backed headphones. They don't exhibit any one aspect at the expense of the balance of the audio spectrum. Bass is good, deep and solid (though not in the same league as their more costly brother the K701s) but does intergtate smoothly with those wonderful AKG mids. The midrange is all one could ask for - vocal, both male and female come across as real - and instrumentals are handled with aplomb. The treble isn't as extended as the K701s, but you'll likely never be overly bothered by this shortcoming (some ight even prefer it to the exacting nature of the K701s) as they still manage to reproduce the upper range with a clean, clear sound. What they don't do is offer you all the harmonic info and that sense of space for those harmonics to waft off into. That's OK, because what they do right they do very, very right.

Second, they can "almost" give that same sense of soundstaging that a good pair of top quality mini-monitor loudspeakers do - in other words they can come close to fooling the ear which is a neat trick for any headphone.

Third, they bring the music to you. Or, to put it another way, the K601s are not a distant sounding set of headphones. They don't keep you at arms lenght from the music. They bring you closer to the stage than the K701s.

Lastly, they are superbly comfortable. Not too tight, not too loose, but like baby bears bed, they are "just right." I can wear them for as long as I choose without feeling the need to remove them and give my head a rest.

All in all, the AKG K601s are an excellent choice in headphones, and are so at a price that keeps such top quality headphones well within the reach of anyone who is looking for a good pair of headphones. The AKGs straddle the line between the over bright Grados and the bass heavy (and slightly veiled) sound of the Sennheisers. Of course, each of us has different priorities and biases, so I would suggest giving as many headphones as you can a listen before committing. That said, if you're looking for a good, neutral set of affordable cans, you could do a lot worse that deciding on the K601s.

Review by Member Renad on 08 Jan 16  06:09
Individual review
Bass Extension6
Bass Impact6
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality7

I've bought this headphone three years ago, after a careful comparison with AKG K701. I was looking for my reference headset.
K701 seemed better in soundstage and bass response. But in the end I decided for the K601 because I realized a better value for money.
This comparison has been performed at the shop, in several sessions, by using the phone outlet of a Naim Nait 5si.
When at home I discovered that none of my devices was able to drive this headphone properly. My old Marantz 1070 has a phones outlet derived from the power output. The NAD 302 is only slightly better. The REGA Elicit has not phones outlet at all.
Then I decided to buy a dedicated phone amp, a Yaquin PH-5L.
This is a vacuum tubes amplifier. At present it is connected at the tape out of the Marantz 1070 and I'm fine with it.
According to this experience I warmly reccomend to drive these headphones by a suitable source.
It doesn't seem a matter of impedance but more of efficiency (101dB SPL/1V here, on 120 ohm impedence).
Now I am getting the best from the K-601 by means of this 250 mW tube amplifier.
The best of K-601 is the mid range and the focus of the details. The result is an airy sound that I really like.
What seemed me better in other cases are bass extension and soundstage, that here lacks a bit of depth.
Cups are made in a material similar to velvet. Despite the confortable size and shape, ears start to heat up after a while.
Construction seems to be able to ensure a good durability. But I can not forget the fragility of the pavilions of other AKG models, made in leather, which I owned in the past. Hopefully this velvet is better from this point of view, and in fact there have been no damages in three years of use, do not always intense anyway .

As a conclusion a serious headphone that can be considered a reference for some parameters such as resolution and mid range effectiveness. The upper model, K701 is a significant upgrade against the weaknesses of this model.
I guess that the price difference is not so much nowadays.
Therefore, if you find a right offer, you could consider this alternative.

Review by Member CanCan on 02 Dec 07  18:24
Individual review
Bass Extension8
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality7

The K601 was bought to replace a Grado SR60, which replaced my Grado SR200. I got rid of my Grado SR200 headphones as they were not very comfortable. The earpads were unbearble after about an hour, so I bought the SR60 and liked them better overall, but I finally decided to get a better sounding set of cans. The SR200 has less bass extension than the SR60, but the SR60 is not as well controlled and a bit less distinct. The SR60 treble was a bit ragged in comparison to the SR200. I had been using an old Sennheiser HD450-13II/600R when I wanted a more laid back presentation than the SR60 provided. Neither set of cans was never really satisfactory for me, though they are very good for the price.

My goal was to get a set of cans that was superior to all the above for not much over $200 if possible. I eventually bought the Beyerdynamic DT880 for their ruggedness, but felt the slightly hot top end could be tiring at high volumes and extended use. Also, they tended to cost around $300 if new and I am leery of buying used cans unless I know the history behind them. I found a pair at a steep discount; otherwise, I would have went with the K701 over the DT880 anyway. Technology is changing and I want cans I can afford to replace every 5 years or so if necessary. I have been aggravated too much with broken cables on Sennheisers, and they can cut out when side pull is exerted on the cord. Ergonomically, the Grado cans never have suited me very well. That eventually narrowed the choice down to AKG and the the K601 or K701. The frequency response chart looked like what I was wanting, and the K601's 120 ohm impedance would work well with my high impedance, high voltage drive B&K Pro-10MC preamp I use as a secondary preamp and headphone amp now that my Conrad-Johnson PV-14L serves as my main system preamplifier. Anybody who likes the superiority and liquidity of C-J midrange sound will like the K601 sound. Both companies have built a reputation on nailing down the midrange like few others ever have.

The K601 works OK in my CD player headphone jack, better than the SR60 as a matter of fact, but it improves somewhat when powered through the Pro-10MC. The Pro-10MC has been able to power any cans I tried with it from 32 ohm Grado to 600 ohm Sennheiser. Straight out of the box, the K601 sounds better than any cans I ever owned, even the SR200. My SR200 was much less extended in the deep bass when new, and never went as low after break-in as the K601 did when new. The SR200 has a midbass hump, deep bass rolloff, a slightly hot upper midrange and lower treble and a very dynamic sound that is great with most rock music. The K601 is a slight bit less dynamic, but has a smoother frequency response and outperforms the SR200 in every other way. The K601 is a better all around performer, no contest. It has this uncanny ability to keep instruments and voices separate in complex mixes. Vocals are great. The K601 is somewhat midrange centric and extends the frequency response up and down from there without calling attention to any segment of the sound. Highs and lows are very good, but the midrange is just fabulous with excellent detail retrieval for the $220 it cost me. All expectations have been met. I have never seen the VAST improvement in breaking in a set of cans that others report, except to flesh out the bass somewhat as the suspension loosens up. Since the K601 already went as low as I can hear in a relatively linear fashion, there was little improvement even after full break-in, as another user previously reported. Yeah, there will be a real but slight difference, just don't let it get blown out of proportion by zealous owners. More likely, peoples' ears get broken-in to the sound of their new cans more than anything else. Loudspeakers seem much more in need of extended breaking in than cans, as they are far more complex and the multiple drivers and crossover components interact with each other. Headphones generally break in rather quickly if you crank up the volume and let them play overnight.

Comfort is much improved over the Grado cans, but a little bit of soft padding in the headband would have been nice. The full size phone plug is permanently attached, and downconverts to the 1/8" jack, as an audiophile grade headphone should do. The cord is smaller and more limber than a Grado cord, and it's nice to be done with the Y cord that Grado and Sennheiser are stuck on. These are large cans, and are pretty useless for compact portable use. They are not as heavy as they look and can be worn for several hours without a problem. Overall, they are plenty well built for home use. Can't tell yet for sure, but I suspect they will last longer and be more reliable than Sennheiser or Grado in the long haul. When is the last time you heard anybody griping about a premium AKG product crapping out in a hurry???

I have been noticing a lot of little details in my music that my other cans didn't quite catch. The K601 can do this without sounding analytical, and I attribute it to the incredibly clean midrange and the fact it preserves the natural timbre in instruments and voices. There seems to be less coloration than in any other set of cans I ever owned. The DT880 gets a lot of upper frequency detail, but at the loss of some midrange detail. The K601 is a midrange champ and has that wonderful AKG quality of putting the midrange in a spotlight. Vocals are especially noteworthy. It is very comfortable to listen to for extended periods without being a bit laid back and veiled like my old 600 ohm HD450-13II/600R Sennheisers. The sound isn't too good through my computer, but no cans ever sounded good through my computer. Plug the K601 into something worthy of it, like an audiophile CD player. It easily reveals faults in source components.

These are serious cans for serious listeners. The K601 performs beyond its price point. In the midrange especially, WAAAYYYYYYY beyond its price point as I bought through HeadRoom on sale. I would advise against buying the Grado SR225 or any similar price point Sennheiser until I had a listen to these cans. My K601 is more efficient than older AKG cans I tried in the past, although still a bit behind Grado and Sennheiser.

I hooked a Sansamp RBI (recording bass interface for bass guitar) to my preamp and set the controls to flat, then hooked up my Spector bass guitar, The K601 bass response sounded essentially flat up and down the scale. I hooked up a signal generator and did a frequency sweep from 30 HZ to beyond 100 Hz. It still sounded like a relatively flat and extended bass response. Those who think the K601 has slightly deficient bass don't know what linear bass response really is and probably don't get to hear many live bass guitars. If you are a TRUE bass guitar fanatic who wants to hear detail like intonation and timbre, then these just might be your headphones. The bass is true and detailed, and that is something that I'm sensitive to.

The K601 is the set of cans I wanted the SR200 to be. I guess I'm finally an AKG convert now. The only reason I hadn't owned AKG cans previously was the efficiency issues, which now seems solved for the most part. Some owners have said they felt the K701 isn't really superior to the K601, just a bit different. AKG was big on building their better pro level models for many years in a row and developing a loyal following. AKG is solid substance and engineering driven, not flash-in-the-pan quick-buck marketing mentality. AKG will be around in the future to service your cans. AKG is thus probably one of the safest buys you can make for the long haul IF they suit your audio tastes. I've owned two Grado and four Sennheiser cans, but the K601 sounds more musical to me. The DT880 can sometimes outperform the K601 on instrumental music, but never on vocals. Sennheiser had a long time to correct their flimsy break-o-matic cables (the old original HD414 cables were much tougher). I'll never go back to Sennheiser or Grado unless they really pull a rabbit out of the hat......and I think they had better if they want to stay competitive at the sales levels they have grown accustomed to.


Review by Member aaron-xp on 20 Dec 06  21:53
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality6

Here are my brief impressions on the K601.

The K601 is that it is rather musical, especially when compared with the DT880 (of which I prefer the K601). I have done some brief listening to both the K501 and K701 (both of which I found great).

As a benchmark for comparison, here are my impressions on the K501, K701 and DT880.

K501 -> Lean, tight bass (may be considered somewhat deficient). Very wide soundstage.
K701 -> Nice across the board. Really black between the notes.
DT880 -> Analytical. Good highs. Somewhat dry.

The K601 is somewhere in between the K501 and K701. There's a somewhat wide soundstage, though, based on my failing memory, it's slightly smaller than that of the K501. There's more bass impact in the K601 than in the K501.

It's "greyer" between notes than the K701, but still rather nice. Details are great. I can hear some stuff that I didn't hear before, on the UM1, etc. However, it's not as good as that of the K701. Overall though, the K601 is rather quick, but with a nice decay, especially if the track was recorded "live" in a big concert hall. Cymbals sound great for some apparent reason.


I'm currently pairing it off with the Marantz CD5001, ampless (which is a pity, since the K601 is a 120 ohms headphone) so my impressions may differ from others. They scale well to an amp, however, with their somewhat high impedance.

PS: The K601 has had at least 300 hours of burn-in/playtime already.

AKG K601
AKG K601