A well-balanced sound…

Inspired by a recent thread on a Danish headphone forum, I finally summoned up the courage to do something I have been planning for a while, namely to convert my AKG K701 headphones to balanced drive. Balanced drive in theory provides double the voltage swing and four times the output power of normal single-ended drive. In the case of fairly power-hungry headphones like the AKGs that should translate into better sound, especially in the bass. Obviously, the real benefit is that it provides a perfect excuse to build another headphone amp or two ๐Ÿ˜€

Normally converting headphones to balanced drive means replacing the stock cable, but converting the AKGs is quite easy since the stock cable is four-conductor and so already provides for split return signals. The only effort is therefore to chop off the old TRS plug and solder on a 4-pole XLR instead. I used a Neutrik NC4-MXX and I managed to find a grey boot for it to make it look a bit closer to the original look.

Reusing the stock cable also meant that I could reuse the original plug to build a balanced to single ended adapter to ensure the headphones can still be driven by unbalanced amps. Visually I admit it isnโ€™t the most elegant solution in use, but it works without issues ๐Ÿ™‚

If you have a pair of K701s and want to try the mod, here is the head-fi thread that describes the connections in the stock cable.

Headphones with a couple of extra connectors on :D

Headphones with a couple of extra connectors on ๐Ÿ˜€

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