AKG K3003 - Impressions.

McCol

Well-known Member
I was on the verge of buying the new Heir Audio 5.0 but decide to hang fire till I read some reviews and opinions on them. I then thought of the Sennheiser ie800 but a comment from Steven in the Heir Audio thread got me looking at some of the other high end iem's on the market.

The AKG K3003 are one of those earphones that at £1000 you read about but don't really think you'll buy. However after selling my Heir Audio 4.ai and an Acer laptop, I'd raised £560 towards some new iem's, my missus then said she'd give me some money for birthday this month so I started to look at the Sennheiser ie800 but came across 3 sets of the K3003 on ebay. All were new and sealed, 2 were £750ish but I won the auction on a set for £670.

They arrived this morning and early impressions are in a word Wow!.
Build quality is amazing, nice sturdy cables and stainless steel earpieces, they feel pretty solid and very well made.

Sound wise it's very early days, only tried with an iPod nano as my ibasso dx100 is enroute back to me from being repaired in China, should be here Monday so will get a better idea of sound from a better source then.

Despite this they sound great from the iPod. Smooth, big soundstage and so far deep detailed bass which will no doubt improve as the dynamic driver burns in.
I've only listened to a few tracks so far but will update this regularly if people are interested.
 

FredBare

Active Member
I think a loaner exchange would be nice, seriously impressed with these 5.0's but onwards & upwards is the way to nirvana, anything for a extra bit of detail… I feel such a slut for saying that.
 

McCol

Well-known Member
I think a loaner exchange would be nice, seriously impressed with these 5.0's but onwards & upwards is the way to nirvana, anything for a extra bit of detail… I feel such a slut for saying that.

Almost choked on my coffee at that. It's a terrible hobby really. I know I will still try the 5.0, either when I've sold my Phonak 232's or in a few months.
Not adverse to a loaner scheme once I've burned them in a bit.
 

Steven

Senior Moderator
Am sure that was an off the cuff post without checking :D Erm... congrats

May be worth keeping the PFE 232 rather than sell to fund other discretionary purchases. Value may or may not appreciate seeing as Phonak have exited the game. Who knows.

The main thing that concerns me about the AKG is lack of removable cable but otherwise it is pleasing to see more and more manufacturers catering for the more-money-than-sense-but-do-not-want-to-go-custom segment :)
 

McCol

Well-known Member
Am sure that was an off the cuff post without checking :D Erm... congrats

May be worth keeping the PFE 232 rather than sell to fund other discretionary purchases. Value may or may not appreciate seeing as Phonak have exited the game. Who knows.

The main thing that concerns me about the AKG is lack of removable cable but otherwise it is pleasing to see more and more manufacturers catering for the more-money-than-sense-but-do-not-want-to-go-custom segment :)

I'm sure it was off the cuff but it got me thinking and looking, it was around skipping the Senns and looking at others.

To be honest I will probably keep the Phonaks, they are up until now probably the iem's I have enjoyed most along with my senn ie8. Will also make a nice back up iem.

The K3003 cable seems really well made and hopefully won't be an issue, but there is 2 year warranty which gives me a wee bit of reassurance.

Your right about the more money than sense thing but I wouldn't have paid £1000 for these or any other earphones(possibly a statement to be regretted in the future?:blush:). I have limited experience with customs, I have Minerva Mi-3 customs which are triple driver and made here in the UK. Now they are good but not a patch on the Phonaks or Westone 4. In some respects I prefer the fit and comfort on all my iem's compared to the customs.

I've been listening to K3003 most of the afternoon and they are making me a smile a lot, lots of detail, airy sound but tight if that makes sense. To my ears they don't have the V-shape sound of the 232's and vocals/mids are just so lush.

I can't wait to get them plugged into my DX100, hopefully on Monday.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
I tested these in Washington DC at Dullas, in terminal B the headphone shop lets you play with lots of units these included.

My view was too expensive, but he was charging $1200. they are heavy but well built, real quality items.
My normal earphones are Sony MDR Ex1000s and Sennheiser IE8is, what I found was they were as close as I could here to my full size Sony MDR 1RBT, very warm and full, just too damn expensive.

What I learnt after using the sonys and Sennis, is the incremental gains above that kind of headphone isn't massive and you really don't gain massive ammounts, Its like chasing a rainbow, you always want the next version to see if it makes that Nirvana sound in your ears.

Would I buy some, Yes if I was Rich. would I save up for some No my Sonys do what I need near as dammit, if not I just switch to the full size cans.

very good headphone though and well done on that price. I would however have loved to listen to them Sennheiser as I hear they are quite special
 

FredBare

Active Member
thing is you only had a brief listen, the K3003 comes with three flavours which makes them better value as a whole... I've paid £1k+ for different flavours of Heir products... some of us enjoy whoring ourselves for the extra bit of pleasure.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking full-size headphones are better than the new crop of IEM's... not knocking your choices but you can't really have a moan about prices when you yourself own several headphones.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
agree, I do have quite a few as I was one of the rainbow chasers.

Luckily for me, I get Sennheisers to demo long term, so ive only really paid for my Sonys. Id love to try the IE800s.

But after many years of testing and playing I actually made a decision that the Sony IEM gave my ear what It needed, the AKGs were as I would put it likewise and great but costly.

I have been sorely disappointed with Etymotic and other IEMs.

What I haven't tried though is Ultimate Ears high-end Buds, I did get some free UE700s a while ago and I have to admit for there size they do sound excellent compared to likewise form factor Beyer 101x which sounded poor.

I think you made the right choice for the High-end, as they do sound good, its prob where my money would go if I ever had that kinda spare cash.
 

FredBare

Active Member
being a big Sony fan I'd love to have a bash at the EX1000 which is probably the best dynamic out there but here's the rub, I'm gullible for any sexy sounding IEM.
 

McCol

Well-known Member
I've had these almost a week now, my ibasso dx100 came back from China on Monday so I've had a good 3 days or so to really have a good listen to the k3003 driven by a really good source.

I've waited 3 days as I didn't want to come on here gushing straight away but gushing is what I'm going to do.
The sound from these is by far the best I've heard from any iem I've owned. I'm never sure what a neutral sound is meant to sound like but these to my ears come close. Nothing overpowers each part of the sound. The bass is deep, tight and textured, on a track like Dry the Rain by The Beta Band there is a bass presence that other iem's have struggled with often just becoming a boomy mess but not with these, keeps it tight and detailed.
The mids are smooth and detailed and sound so lush with vocals, on The Smiths track Well I Wonder, Morrisseys vocals are at the front of the music but not to the detriment of bass or highs.
The highs are super detailed, the drums and cymbals on tracks are clear and crisp and easy to pick out(if that makes sense).

Separation of instruments is second to none, I often use the Bowie track Starman when trying to new earphones as the intro to the song has a great wee drum roll type thingy that on some iem's gets lost in the mix but not with the Akg's you feel the drums moving ear to ear but in line with everything else.

Soundstage is deep and airy, similar to the Senn ie8 or Sony Ex1000 but probably even bigger with more detail.

Comfort wise I've had no issues, I'm wearing them down from the ear and have used for long periods with no discomfort and no sibilance issues.

The k3003 have a tuning port system, so far I've only used the reference tuned port but will try and report back on the bass boost and treble/high boost options.

Most tracks I listened to on the DX100 are either Flac or 24bit hires files although have got a fair few mp3's on there as well, and they are quite forgiving of badly mastered/produced tracks.

Are they worth the money? I would say so, not sure i would ever have forked out a £1000 for one set of iem's but at £670 they are to me worth every penny.
I have always believed in the theory of diminishing returns on earphones over the £300-400 mark but the Akg's have challenged my thoughts on this bit. At £1000 they do not give the performance difference of say a £50 iem to a £350 Westone 4 and although at MSRP they are more than double the price of my Phonak 232 they don't have that jump in performance compared to the other ed of the market. However to my ears they are markedly better in both build quality sound difference, more refined sound and more detail to the music.
 

McCol

Well-known Member
being a big Sony fan I'd love to have a bash at the EX1000 which is probably the best dynamic out there but here's the rub, I'm gullible for any sexy sounding IEM.

The Sony EX1000 were one of my favourite iem's, lovely deep textured bass that are only slightly bettered by the Akg K3003, but I did hear some harsh sibilance from them. Not everybody does though, I also found the fit to be a bit hit and miss, often siding out of my right ear. I only sold them on as I found my Phonak 232 almost matched them in the bass stakes but were less harsh in the highs and had a better fit.
 

[email protected]

Active Member
yes agree on the fit, the best ive had it with comply tips, But I still don't understand how the UE700s I have straight out the box fit like a glove there the best ive ever had fitting wise.

I wonder what your AKGs would sound like with that new Fiio E12. bet that makes them sing.

I did think about custom ear plugs but have yet to decide, Anyone know of a UK place that does them mail order ?
 

McCol

Well-known Member
yes agree on the fit, the best ive had it with comply tips, But I still don't understand how the UE700s I have straight out the box fit like a glove there the best ive ever had fitting wise.

I wonder what your AKGs would sound like with that new Fiio E12. bet that makes them sing.

I did think about custom ear plugs but have yet to decide, Anyone know of a UK place that does them mail order ?

I'm not sure that the Fiio E12 would be an improvement on the ibasso DX.

When you say custom ear plugs do you mean full custom phones or custom plugs for your current phones?
 

FredBare

Active Member
I've got the FiiO E12 it's a great little amp but I'm not too sure about pairing in with higher performing DAP's... I love it for old soul/rock music as it smooths down the Z1070's soundstage, takes the edge off of things if you like & makes it warmer.

I don't really see the need for me to go for XBA4's (the XBA40's are tempting) as I have 3BA, 4BA & now 5BA IEM's, I'd be more inclined to go for a high-end Dynamic... I'm pretty sure Sony may bring out a revised EX1000 as they seem to be updating their entire range like Audio-Technica.... I also had a listen to a ER4 in a Apple store last year, definitely not my cuppa, some call it neutral(?).
 

roygbiv6

Active Member
Wow McCol fair play to you that is some purchase you made there.

Glad that you are happy with them and that I could help you buy them (well kinda).

Was actually looking forward to your comp between the 4ai & the 5 but this was much more interesting.
 

smokedog

Well-known Member
I had my K3003 for about 5 months, managed to bag them for trade price due to contacts. At first I wasn't that impressed with them and preferred my Klipsch Image X10i. But after a good burn in, 50+ hours, it seems to give a warmer and more detailed sound. They still manage to surprise me when I heard the detail and taut sounds it can produces, brings a smile to my face.

My biggest disappointment is the cable, only half the cable is made from a woven fabric. The other half is rubber/plastic connected to the in-line mic and seems it could be an area of weakness.
 

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