AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference-Class Premium Headphones
Sporting perhaps the most spacious sound of any headphones under $1000, the AKG 700-series headphones are an excellent value for those in search of largely neutral, open sound, and the Q701 is easily the most versatile of the lot. They are ideal for critical listening applications, but due to slightly lean bass, anyone mastering with them should be mindful not to add in extra lows, lest the recording come out bloated. At 62 ohms, they do not require an amp to sound good, but their true potential can only be unleashed with a full system.
The Q701 are practically built for classical music lovers, with their luxurious velour pads and light grip to ensure comfort for hours, and their huge soundscape and balanced tonality, which render orchestral music very realistically and with an open, airy sound that is never sibilant or aggressive, giving instruments distinct space and recreating more headroom than any headphone I've heard aside from the renowned Sennheiser HD800. It is not quite as sharp-sounding as the HD800, though, remaining free of harshness despite its airy, moderately emphasized treble response. The bass delivered by the Q701 is clean yet smooth; it lacks the real slam delivered by some other headphones, and is definitely not for real bass lovers, but it extends deep and has a nice body without any bloating or bloom, and has a very pleasant, atmospheric quality when properly amped. It is slightly looser than the DT880, so electronic music fans or those who like their drums nice and punchy (though never boomy) should look at the Beyers instead. Their midrange is full and ever so slightly warm, making them better for relaxed listening than the occasionally-sterile DT880, which is designed for similar purposes but has a slightly cleaner, albeit less involving, midrange. The two are quite similar on paper, but in practice the DT880 has noticeably punchier bass, as well as slightly sharper treble and less prominent midrange, giving it what enthusiasts call a little bit of the "v shape" signature, whereas the Q701 is closer to being truly flat. For this reason, the Q701 is my top pick for this price range, and an easy choice for lovers of a true-to-life, reference grade sound.