Hi there friend and Welcome!!
This is part of my “Budget Kings” Series, which takes a look at some of the best options for under $100. Check out:
- Budget King #1: The semi-open back Koss KPH30i Review!
- Budget King #2: The open back Philips SHP9500 Review!
- Budget King #3: The closed back Sony MDR-7506 Review!
- Budget King #4: The closed back Creative Aurvana Live! Review
- Budget King #5: This review
- Budget King #6: The closed back Status Audio CB-1 Review!
Why did I place this fifth?
The K240 has long since been a quintessential studio headphone and for good reason.
For a headphone under $100, it sounds like it should cost a lot more.
You can listen to these for hours without fatigue, they have a fantastic mid-range and a smooth, detailed treble that never gets out of line.
What holds these back from the top spot is they are a bit flimsy, the ear cups are rather shallow, and the bass is extremely lean.
Many people coming from bass-heavier headphones will be taken aback by this; there’s no getting around it.
However, it still receives a spot rather easily because listening to music with these honestly feels like the first time.
Music seems more fleshed out, with better attack, sustain, and decay.
There’s a sense that the artists are actually performing the song for you instead of you just simply listening through a device.
For me, this has always been the goal.
I want the instruments and vocals to sound as natural and organic as possible, giving off the impression of a certain amount of realism.
The K240 does this incredibly well.
Before we get into the AKG K240 Studio Headphones Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
For clarification, this article will review the newer AKG K240 Studio 55 Ohm as well as the 600 Ohm version as seen above (and below!). The pictures seen here are of the K240M (600 Ohm).
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!
Back in 2016, I purchased an AKG K240 Studio 55 Ohm from my local Sam Ashe. Unfortunately, I sold it and wish I had not.
Fast forward to 2019.
I found a K240M 600 Ohm Austrian model on eBay for $35 shipped and couldn’t resist. I would say the sound of the 55 Ohm and the 600 Ohm is pretty much identical.
You’d also be surprised to find out that the 600 Ohm isn’t that much harder to drive.
In fact, I used it with an E10K and was completely satisfied.
Sounds kind of crazy, sure, but all of this just goes to show that Amps and DACs are kind of overrated.
The sound differences, while they can be apparent, are incredibly subtle and marginal in the grand scheme of things.
The other part of it is that browsing the internet, you’d think you would need a nuclear reactor to power the 600 Ohm K240 when that’s just not the case.
Sure, it’s a bit more difficult to drive than a 300 Ohm headphone, but it’s not impossible and whatever you have lying around may work!
With that, let’s get into the specs!
AKG K240 Studio (55 Ohm)
Note: The only real difference between the 600 Ohm and 55 Ohm is two-fold: Higher impedance and the original M was made in Austria. The K240 Studio was originally designed and made in Austria, but now is only designed in Austria and made in China.
AKG K240 Studio
At A Glance
In The Box
AKG K240 Studio Professional Semi-Open Stereo Headphones
Gold-Plated 1/4″ Adapter
Limited 2-Year Warranty
Shoutout to Crinacle for the graph
- Color: Black/Gold.
- Frequency Response: 16Hz-22kHz.
- Type: Closed-back. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
- Fit: Supra-aural (On-ear).
- Plug: 1/8″ / 3.5mm TRS
- Weight: 8.5 Oz. / 240g
- Impedance: 55 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 91dB. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
- Load Rating: 200 mW.
- Cable Length: 9.8ft. / 3m
Let’s talk a bit about build!
The build on the 240 is pretty underwhelming when you hold it in your hand but seems to hold up phenomenally well over time.
The 600 Ohm model that I have is showing signs of cosmetic wear, but other than that there are no broken parts and it actually seems durable for something so lightweight.
Plus, it’s an original ’80s model. Enough said.
It’s made of pretty much all plastic, but on the 600 Ohm versions, there seems to be a hint of Metal around the Ear Cups.
The ear cups are made of faux leather and are really shallow.
You will feel your ears hitting the driver (through the cloth).
- Related: What is a Headphone Driver?
Termination & Cable
The headphone terminates in a 3.5mm jack and comes with a 1/4″ adapter. Pretty standard.
The cable is very long and not detachable.
Keep in mind the newer Chinese model’s cable is detachable and looks a bit different going into the ear cup.
The headband is a thin piece of faux leather and sports my favorite: The Hammock style adjustment.
Literally, put the headphone on and it self-adjusts to the size of your melon.
I’m a huge fan of this style and wish more companies would utilize it.
BUILD SCORE: A-/B+
I’m kind of at a loss about what to give it here.
Have you ever personally had issues with the build of a K240? Let me know down below!
What about comfort?
Comfort is pretty decent, but you will be making adjustments from time to time due to the shallow cups.
They tend to dig into your ears and can get rather uncomfortable after about 30-45 minutes.
The headband and clamp force are perfect though; this headphone sits perfectly on your noggin and doesn’t dig into your head.
I really wish the cups were deeper and made of velour. That’s one of the main differences between something like the AKG K240 vs. Samson SR850.
This ensures better comfort over longer listening or Gaming sessions.
- Recommended: The Best Headphones for Gaming!
Overall, the K240 is a bit average as far as comfort goes I’m afraid. Maybe slightly above average if you’re a bit more tolerable.
COMFORT SCORE: C+/B-
How about sound?
Sound & Imaging
Fortunately, this is what makes the K240 worth the price of admission and then some.
Overall, the sound is phenomenal, but there are some caveats. Let’s take a look at a comment I received about these and attempt to dissect it further:
AKG’s K240 is a prime example of what we talked about in the HD600 Discussion Video; that is, the propensity for a headphone to sound a certain way upon initial impression, and then sound kind of different as your brain gets used to the new stimulus.
And no, we’re not talking about government handouts here either. xD
I came across a few reviews describing exactly what i’m experiencing. most notable is voices in podcasts and similar sounding very muddy and distant and in some progressive metal certain characteristics of guitars (growling throaty) are non-existent without EQ. also classical music becomes very muddy and everything seems muffled and indirect. it just sounds wrong. not open at all. more like listening through a thin wall. it’s warm but i can only get certain details when i turn up way too much and even then i need EQ to really perceive them properly. now, i’m no audiophile and very new to this but as a musician and music lover i feel like i can’t be THAT off.
is it possible that they are faulty or maybe that the chinese version just isn’t the same? i’m about to replace them with ATH M40x or Sony MDR-7506 but i still kind of want to find out, if i’m crazy. i just can’t understand how this is supposed to be “flat”. also have tried amping and the difference was too small to really solve the issue.Philipp Hertzfeldt
Looking at it objectively, I think the 240 is a highly specialized headphone and works extremely well for some things, and perhaps not nearly as good for others. For instance, Motown, older recorded rock, soul, oldies, etc. sound really good with a 240. Modern music not as much. I do think vocals can sound a bit too pushed back at times, but the overall sound is incredibly natural. I’m listening now and there’s just something I really like about the signature even though it does sound really weird when you first put it on. If I’m honest, yeah, it doesn’t sound “correct”, at least in terms of what we’re used to. Our ears expect a rise around 3k and the 240’s dips in that area while rising back up around 5-7. That’s what I measured anyway in my 240 Review and comparison to the 850.
Crinacle’s graph shows a rise around the presence region but still has the 7k peak as well. This discrepancy could be the model difference but probably boils down to measuring inconsistencies. Getting a good seal is quite a challenge, but there are so many other factors that come into play. I do really enjoy the headphone for the most part. It’s super relaxing and the treble is incredibly non-fatiguing. It’s a sound that will either grow on you or you just won’t ever end up liking it. I’d give it a bit more time. If you still don’t like it, I’d probably recommend for you an SHP9500 or 7506. Both are headphones everyone should have regardless. Let me know if I can help you choose between the 2. I’d consider 9500 first.Home Studio Basics
It made a lot of sense to me, and as much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself, I could totally understand why someone wouldn’t enjoy the headphone at all, at least at first.
The 240’s sound signature is most certainly neutral, but its peaks and dips occur in places that our brains really aren’t used to, at least in comparison to other more predictable sound signatures.
I’m referring specifically to the 3.5kHz dip and 7k spike.
The bass is significantly rolled off, and the treble sounds very relaxed and almost dull in a sense if you’re listening to music that should theoretically sound more exciting or lively.
It’s not a headphone you’ll put on and immediately be impressed with.
It’s more of a slow burn, but the kicker is that you’ll either come to love it or completely hate it.
the mid-range is something that takes quite a bit of getting used to.
Putting these headphones on after listening to brighter cans is most certainly an awkward experience.
The mid-range sounds pushed back and distant, the sound seems boxed in and kind of muffled, and you almost feel like you’re listening to music inside a wooden box or something.
It’s hard to explain, but you’ll know it when you hear it.
Again though, once you keep listening and resist the urge to take it off, something happens.
Your brain adjusts to the unique sound signature and it starts to sound incredibly natural and right.
I’ve always harped on the notion that the K240 is a somewhat specialized type of headphone; it does incredibly well with certain genres and sounds kind of mediocre with others.
It’s also completely honest and ruthless about the source.
If the track was poorly recorded, mixed, and/or mastered, you’ll know right away.
Fortunately, genres like Motown, Soul, Big Band, Oldies, Jazz, Classical, and older reordered rock sound almost sublime with the K240.
It’s as if the headphone was specifically made for these types of music.
You really get a sense of an instrument’s attack, sustain, and decay; most certainly the highlight of the K240.
It renders instruments with incredible ease, precision, and clarity.
Guitars and voices trail off and have a life to them.
There’s an effortless portrayal of the sound that’s hard to argue with.
Jazz sounds incredible with the K240, in that, the gentle brush strokes are heard as they may sound in real life.
Voices take on a more “live” flavor.
The timbre of instruments and drums sounds more like real life than it does through the headphones’ drivers.
- Related: What is a Headphone Driver?
It isn’t all good though. Sometimes the K240 sounds downright awful to the point where you’re clicking next inside Tidal or Spotify.
I think this can be true of all headphones though; how a track sounds ultimately have more to do with how it was recorded than it does with how the headphone makes it sound.
With modern, well-recorded, and engineered music, it’s much easier to distinguish a headphone’s actual sound signature and unique qualities.
I think the K240 brings out those amazing qualities in the genres mentioned above better than most I’ve heard, which is why I believe it should have a place in most people’s cabinets.
You can clearly hear why this headphone has remained legendary for so many years.
It’s one of the quintessential studio headphones, and will likely remain so for a long time.
Even with that said, the bass is what some people will predictably have a problem with, which is understandable.
The 240s are very bass-lean, but I don’t have a problem with it.
It’s very textured and nuanced. It’s not a deep bass by any stretch, but you will likely come to enjoy it over time.
You start to really appreciate the actual notes rather than the impact or weight that they are capable of delivering.
For instance, fire up Tears of a Clown by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and just listen to the bass.
You can hear every individual pluck while being able to follow it with that proverbial microscope in your head.
What you’ll also notice is that the bass is articulate; there’s texture to it. There’s nuance.
It sounds like an actual bass guitar rather than a digital rendition of a bass.
The important thing to note is that these cans are very genre-specific.
They are undoubtedly mid-range oriented, which isn’t a bad thing at all!
The mids in my estimation are slightly forward, which makes stuff like guitars and vocals really shine on certain tracks.
There’s really something about these headphones that makes you stop and admire the music again.
As a reviewer, constantly evaluating tracks can become overwhelming and stale after a while. The K240 reminds me again why I love music so much.
You know it when you hear it. It’s that moment when you say to yourself, “This is what music is supposed to sound like.”
The K240 does a fantastic job of portraying the sounds as they were meant to be heard.
They sound more fleshed out and more intricate. The attack, sustain, and decay on most tracks sound outright sublime at times.
To quote Alex Rowe from Medium.com:
This is precisely my same reaction to the sound.
There’s just no other way to really describe it although I really put my try-hard pants on in this article.
“Baby Love” by the Supremes is another great example of this.
There’s a nice bounce to the track that just triggers this desire in you to let go and enjoy the music.
At 2:11, her voice trails off so beautifully, with a remarkable sense of decay.
Instead of cutting off or sounding lost, it’s fleshed out in a way that sounds so much different than your average headphone with your average source file.
The treble isn’t recessed nor is it too bright. I would position it somewhere in the middle.
There is a nice sparkle to certain tracks, but it never gets out of line.
I would describe it as much more relaxed than something like an SR850’s treble.
While that headphone can sound artificial and sibilant in the upper regions, the K240 dons a more relaxed approach.
It sounds much more natural and organic while still retaining a nice sense of detail and subtlety.
One of the best aspects about this headphone is the Soundstage and Imaging it’s capable of.
The K240 is going to sound more open, airy, and detailed than the average, and I think this is in large part why it sounds so bloody good.
On Santana’s “Everything is Coming Our Way” you can hear exactly what the rhythm guitar is doing. Like, with a microscope.
Every strum sounds so crystal clear that it really makes you wanna slap someone. Lol.
This detail reached a pinnacle for me on “(Love is Like A) Heat Wave”, from Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.
The K240 achieved door 3 status during the intro to this song.
There was this ringing from one of the instruments at 3 seconds that I’ve never been able to distinguish in all my years listening to the track.
All in all,
I can’t say enough good things about the Sound & Imaging on the K240.
If you’ve never heard what music should sound like, the K240 is a fine example of a headphone that showcases it.
SOUND SCORE: A/A+
Will you need an amp?
These puppies however really shine with some sort of amplification.
In fact, I would argue that they need an amp or an audio interface to shine.
Running them through my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 and throwing on the album “Grow” by Chon, and they just sing like you wouldn’t believe.
However, I would recommend a dedicated Headphone Amp/DAC to run these.
As I mentioned in the open, the bare-bones minimum would be something like an E10K, but you won’t want to rely on that as a long-term solution.
If you have any questions, leave them below. I’d be happy to help!
It helps to use the 850 as a barometer for comparison here. I noticed that the K240 will not sound that great for harder stuff like Metal, Hard Rock, etc.
This is due to its more relaxed treble, and rolled-off bass.
It ends up lacking that impact and weight needed to make Metal sound thrash worthy and exciting.
Because of the fact that the 850’s treble is brighter, it will sometimes work better for these harder genres while the K240 won’t.
On some songs, like Chon’s “Bubble Dream” for instance, these seemingly negative qualities actually work to the 850’s advantage while also rendering the K240 a bit dull.
The song sounded much more lively, engaging, and exciting through an 850.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying experience, and the sibilance heard in other songs was somehow negated here.
It didn’t have a harsh, forward quality to it which was rather interesting.
Aside from that,
I also wouldn’t rely on the K240 as your main Hip-Hop/Indie/Pop headphone, though it will work better for Indie Pop than the former.
It just doesn’t have the weight needed at times and can sound fuzzy and weird.
Of course, the lean rolled-off bass response is the culprit here. It will sound kind of clammy and distorted at times, mainly due to the kind of extreme lack of sub-bass.
There’s just nothing there and it can be a bit disappointing if you’re goal is to bang your head into a wall.
Fortunately, the K240 does amazingly well for Classic Rock, Doo-Wop, Soul, and Oldies type stuff, as well as various types of Jazz and Classical music.
This is a headphone for detail heads. You’re gonna want to kick back and relax with this one for sure.
So what’s the Final Grade?
I’d give the K240 an A-.
It’s not a perfect headphone, and it’s kind of quirky about what you’re intentions are, meaning: It will sound great with a lot of genres and not so hot with others.
Comfort is a bit hit-and-miss, and the build may concern you at first.
Keep in mind that these are all minor complaints.
I love the K240 and now that I have the 600 Ohm version, I don’t see it leaving the studio any time soon.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this AKG K240 studio headphones review!!
Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!
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What do you think about these? Are they worth a try? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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