Originally posted 3/31/21.
- 1/6/22. Added links, revised some verbiage.
Big shoutout to my boy MetalK371, *ahem* excuse me Metal571, for being nice enough to send me his K371 for a while!
Thicc thighs save lives, but…
Are you a Harman whore?
Do you want to be? Who exactly is the AKG K371 for and what does it sound like? Let’s dive into this Harman-tuned homie and find out if it’s worth a purchase.
Greetings bass head and Welcome aboard. Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear) all over again, so…
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At A Glance
In The Box
AKG K371 Over-Ear Oval Closed-Back Studio Headphones
9.8′ Detachable Coiled Cable
3.9′ Detachable Straight Cable
9.8′ Detachable Straight Cable
3.5mm to 1/4″ Adapter
Limited 1-Year Warranty
Shoutout to Crinacle for the graph! This is Crinacle’s graph. There are many like it, but this one is his.
- Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check B&H!
- Color: Matte Black.
- Frequency Response: 5Hz – 40kHz
- Driver Size: 50mm
- Type: Closed-back, Dynamic. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
- Fit: Circumaural
- Plug: 1/8″ / 3.5mm TRS (1/4″ Adapter Included)
- Audio Connector to Earpiece: 1x Mini XLR 3-pin
- Cable Design: Single-Sided
- Weight: 8.9 Oz. / 252.3g
- Impedance: 32 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
- Sensitivity: 114dB. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
- Materials: ABS, Protein Leather.
- Cable Length: 9.8′ / 2.99 m, 3.9′ / 1.19 m, 9.8′ / 2.99 m
- Carry Bag: Yes
- Active Noise Cancellation: No
Who exactly is the K371 for and what does it sound like?
- Amps & DACS Used: iFi Diablo, FiiO K5 Pro, AudioQuest DragonFly Red, FiiO BTR3K, Creative SoundBlasterX G6, iFi Zen CAN
- Source(s): 24/44, 24/48, 24/96, Tidal, Spotify, Masters. What is MQA?! (Everything You Need To Know)
- Official Playlist Here! Always keep in mind: I do not add every single song I hear to a playlist; only the ones I like. So in reality the amount of music I demo with any given product will always be way more than what’s shown.
Describing this headphone is a bit of a challenge due to a couple of things:
- The elevated bass shelf can be polarizing.
- The relaxed sound signature works amazingly well, and it doesn’t at the same time.
Bear with me as I unpack everything.
I used to be a bass-head back in the day.
Aside from Classic Rock, Hip-hop is what appealed to me and essentially what I was raised on; for better or worse. I was a beat junkie in every sense of the word, and still am. Life is ultimately about struggle, and true Hip-Hop understands this at a heart and soul level.
Elevated bass is what I generally preferred and what I was about, but my tastes in Frequency Response have changed over time; certainly a byproduct of demoing over 100 headphones, discovering different sound signatures, and becoming completely immersed in the subtleties of the hobby.
With the K371, this amount of bass can either be a blessing or a curse.
On some tracks, it sounds sublime, but I think it’s more a testament to how the track was recorded. With other songs, it’s so laughably boomy that I’m skipping to the next song almost instantaneously.
Two examples from the playlist are Toonorth’s Wish You Would Call and Last Chance. With the K371 they sound absolutely awful, but the songs sound incredible with other headphones that have a more rolled-off bass.
Do keep in mind that this is the exception and not the rule; again, likely due to the track itself (how the bass was mixed) and not necessarily the headphones.
This is why I always emphasize the profound importance of how a track was recorded, mixed, and mastered. It should always be what you look to first when analyzing how any piece of gear sounds.
Most songs sound great with the 371’s boosted bass, but I’m also finding that even if it does sounds good, at times it tends to get in the way of the mid-range; in my opinion the most important aspect of music and something that can either make or break a listening experience.
Fortunately, the mid-range here is almost perfect, but again, the boosted nature of 60Hz and below can sometimes spoil that to an extent.
Let’s be honest, there are times when the 371 does sound like a $100 headphone; there’s really no getting around that.
Fortunately, those moments are few and far between.
I think the 371 largely avoids the pitfalls of your typical V-shaped headphone. Vocals here are not pushed back, but they also aren’t overly forward. They stand out in a way that’s pretty surprising considering the elevation below 60Hz.
This is about as balanced as it’s going to get while still emphasizing what people generally buy those types of headphones for; i.e. the bass.
It’s interesting to look back on old preferences vs. the ones I have now.
People who aren’t used to a rolled-off bass may scoff at it until they realize how effective it is at staying out of the way and letting the track breathe and express itself; i.e. letting it shine like Tommy DeVito after he makes your shoes look like mirrors.
With the K371, I’m finding that while at times the Timbre is amazing, there are still other times where there’s a bit too much sheen. And no I’m not referring to Charlie.
I’M TALKIN’ ABOUT MARTIN!!
Even so, what I appreciate most about the K371 is its treble response; an aspect of headphones that most companies screw up time and again.
The treble here is relaxed and crisp without a single hint of essiness, sibilance, peakiness, etc., etc. It sounds natural and correct, a headphone I could listen to for hours without feeling like I need to take it off for any reason. What does Sibilant mean?
Most headphones tend to over-emphasize the treble, which can also be a good or bad thing. Good because of air and sparkle (something the K371 sometimes lacks), but bad because it may come across as artificial or metallic.
This was a problem in headphones like the M40x, 400i, DEVA, 7506, 9500, etc. As much as I like HIFIMAN products, the treble has always been a point of contention; an issue really only rectified in 2018’s Sundara.
The K371 understands fundamentally that a headphone can still sound really good without a peak in the treble – something other companies should take note of.
As crazy as it sounds, a headphone like the 9500 excels in the sub-bass precisely because of the fact that it doesn’t emphasize the sub-bass.
Yes, it’s an oxymoron of sorts and seems like a contradiction, but I’ve had conversations with people that say the exact same thing. It’s a mutual understanding shared between 2 people that is sort of unspoken.
The rumble and vastness of the sub-bass come through because it’s not purposefully boosted. A concept that doesn’t make sense to our natural intellect and can only be felt on an almost subconscious level.
There’s always a word I’m looking for to describe the infinite nature of sub-bass, but it’s so hard to explain.
It’s eternal at its very core when you think of it as you’d think of the vastness of space rather than a sound that emanates from a headphone driver. What is a Headphone Driver?
Sub Bass to me is like the wind, you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, but you know it’s there. You can feel it.
Sure it can be heard, but to me, this diminishes its value almost incredibly so. I’d much rather sense it in my heart than listen to it with my ears.
When you boost the sub-bass, as in the case of the K371, it may just end up sounding muddy, boomy, or bloomy at times; an unintended side effect and something that can really put a damper on an otherwise great listening session.
Do keep in mind that for me, the K371 sits in a sort of gray area in terms of whether or not I’d purchase one for myself.
Still, I’m mostly leaning towards yes when considering the entire package and how much fun it is to listen to.
What I love:
- It’s easy to drive and doesn’t really need a lot of power.
Does the AKG K371 need an amp?
In short, no.
At 32 Ohm and 114dB Sensitivity, the 371 won’t resist power and is extremely efficient. You could theoretically run it out of a phone. What is Headphone Impedance? Any of the above options in the sound section work really well. DON’T OVERTHINK IT!!
- It’s incredibly comfortable.
The oval-shaped cups envelop my ears quite nicely and the padding feels like protein leather. The headband doesn’t dig, but it also feels incredible to the touch.
The cups are deep enough to where my ears aren’t touching the drivers as well; a problem in the original K240 variants.
Overall, the 371 fits on my head almost perfectly and the headband adjustments are free and easy to move up and down.
Do keep in mind that you may be making ever so slight adjustments from time to time as the cups sometimes start to push into the backs of your ears.
A minor nitpick but should be noted.
The Mini XLR detachable cable is the perfect length for desktop and phone listening. It also comes with a 9.8′ detachable coiled cable, and a 9.8′ detachable straight cable for couch potatoes on their gaming consoles. Related: The Best Headphones for Gaming [In Depth Guide]
Metal didn’t include these because of circumstances outside of his control, but the cool part is that I can simply use my K702’s cable with the 371 if I want to watch some film or game with these. More on that in a bit.
Build & Aesthetic
The K371 also feels substantial and is built very well for easy fold-up and transport. It’s highly portable, but it’s also sleek, elegant, understated, and utilitarian all at once.
The ear cups actually rotate similar to the HD25’s left side (IIRC). I’m too lazy to check the article (LOL).
If you’ve got the headphone in front of you with R and L in their correct spots, just imagine pushing both cups towards you and up until they each rest inside the headband. It even makes a satisfying clicking sound!
These feel more durable than an HD25 and that headphone usually goes for around $150. I don’t know if the K371 can take the abuse that the HD25 took, but I guess it couldn’t hurt. Metal would be cool with it I think. Haha JK.
Do note that they don’t rotate both ways. So for example, if the left was on the right, and vice versa, each side would rotate up and away from you.
The design is simplistic but very effective. The outside of the cups reveals the AKG text as well as their logo on the circular piece of the headphone’s adjustment. The only other text reads “AKG K371 Professional Headphone” on the cup itself.
For a product at just a shade over $100, it feels incredibly premium for its price. It’s not heavy at around 9 Oz., but the materials used don’t feel cheap.
It’s comprised of Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS Polymer), and thus avoids the pitfalls of traditional plastic in the sense that it both feels and seems more durable. I also really like the non-finger print gathering matte black finish on the cups.
The top of the headband hearkens back and feels like the material used in Audeze’s Sine On-Ear, but it feels more appropriate here. With the Sine, I didn’t like that they used that same material on the sides of the cups – something AKG has avoided doing here. While I thought that headphone was a bit tacky, the K371 is like your future wife. Beautifully understated, fit, and gorgeous.
I think this headphone is perfect for people who need something really portable and compact that they can use in almost complete isolation.
My neighbors tend to stomp around like Elephants for no apparent reason causing me to want to gouge my eyes out, so for me, this headphone is a dream!
It’s great for pretty much all genres of music but does excel with harder stuff and more bass-oriented tracks. If you listen to a lot of modern electronic music, these are a dream.
Soundstage is not exemplary, but it’s also better than I was expecting. Remember that this is a closed-back headphone and thus won’t sound like a K702/K712 in terms of an open, spacious stage with complete separation.
Still, for closed headphones, the Soundstage is definitely above average!
Imaging is very good as well. I was noticing the attack, sustain, and decay of instruments is exceptional, but things are placed incredibly well too even despite its closed nature.
I tried the K371 for gaming using my K702 cable, and I was shocked to find how good the Soundstage is. It’s definitely not quite on the same level as a K702/K712, but the amount of “out of my head” moments I experienced was staggering considering it’s a closed-back headphone.
In watching the film Serpico (in one of Al Pacino’s best performances), I kept thinking something was going on inside of my apartment.
It was more subtle than with a 9500 or 702, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what exactly it was, but you can hear a lot going on in the film that you perhaps wouldn’t with other headphones; the ambiance and stuff going on outside of the immediate conversations or scenes in the movie really adds to the immersion and makes you sort of feel like you’re in the same space or environment with the actors.
In gaming paired with iFi’s Diablo, I have to say I noticed Fallout 4’s in-game sounds, dialogue, music, gunshots, etc. all seemed lusher, crisper, and more natural.
To put it bluntly, the K371 sounds wonderful for gaming – something that again, I was not really expecting. The Soundstage isn’t quite as good as it is in film, but it’s still slightly above average.
Given its price to performance ratio, I can’t in good conscience not recommend a 371 considering everything I’ve talked about.
Yes, the bass to me is not ideal in some instances (even as a recovering bass head!), but man, it’s such a balanced, neutral response overall outside of that and works well for pretty much anything and everything you can think of: In the office, on a plane, on a bus, on a train, in the rain, with a cup, when you’re in love, or with your pup.
I can’t think of an instance in which a 371 wouldn’t come in handy. It’s as close to a perfect sound signature as I’ve heard, and does happen to be perfect if you EQ the sub-bass down just a smidgen; as in maybe 2-3dB.
Also included is a high-quality carrying bag for easy transport on the go for road trips, vacations, and things of that nature. It’s a perfect investment at its price.
Plus, a lot of people will fall in love with its bass. This is bass for pinkie-out Harman snobs like Metal571. 😛
My preferences tend to fall in line with Audeze bass (flat line), or somewhat rolled off similar to K702 or K712, but the 371 still impresses for the most part. If you listen to a lot of Indie Pop and Hip-Hop like me and need a good closed-back, I think this is the one.
If it were around $99 I’d surely put it at or near the top of my Budget Kings series. As it stands, this will make a perfect entry into my upcoming “Mid-Fi Marauders” series.
I can listen for hours without having to adjust or take the headphone off – something I can’t say about many other headphones.
They say that the Harman response curve falls in line with most people’s actual listening preferences, and in hearing a K371 I can certainly see why. There are moments I had with it that just had me smiling from ear to ear as it sounded absolutely incredible.
For that, I do recommend it, and at its asking price, it’s a really easy purchase.
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this AKG K371 Review & Discussion, and came away with some valuable insight.
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Does the K371 sound like a headphone you’d enjoy? I would love to hear from you. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,
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More to come!