The open-backed design does its job of giving the Q701's a wide, uncluttered sound. Poorly mixed radio-destined music doesn't really benefit, but the spaciousness adds an extra dimension of realism to well-mastered recordings, such as the ever-impressive works of the London Symphony Orchestra, from whose works the Q701s allow you to pick out individual instruments with ease.
A wider range of material showed that AKG isn't exaggerating in its claims of the excellent accuracy of the Q701s. From the low end to the high end these are some of the flattest headphones we've ever listened to, with no trace of distortion and the amount of detail reproduced is as impressive as the flatness of tone.
Taking Quincy Jones at his word, we gave a selection of both his music, and that which he has produced for other artists (an almost unbelievably large catalogue from which to chose) and though we can't guarantee that the sound produced by the Q701s is, indeed, that which was intended to come across, but whether listening to the man himself, or works produced by him, the Q701s never disappoint.
It's not just the Quincy Jones catalogue that sound great via the Q701s. From Louis Armstrong to Frank Zappa, Credence Clearwater Revival to the White Stripes, and Aha to Kanye West, the flatness of tone exhibited by the Q701s means that they sound equally good with just about every genre of music. As such, those with particularly eclectic tastes might well consider them a better option than, say, Grado's RS325s, which although an incredible pair of earphones, have a particular 'Grado sound' that lends itself to some types of music better than others. We'd say the same, too, of Sennheisers HD650s which, though very detailed and accurate, have a more pronounced bass response than the Q701s. We'd be lying if we could call any of these - or, indeed, any of the alternatives - the 'best' and you're best bet is to find a retail shop that will let you compare a selection and pick the right one for your tastes.
The AKG Q701s are a truly excellent pair of headphones, with which Quincy Jones can be proud to be associated. Their wide, flat and accurate sound puts them in a great position in competition with similarly priced headphones from Sennheiser, Beyer Dynamic, Grado, and others with the choice between the options one of preference, not outright superiority.