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The AKG K702 vs. K712? An exciting comparison indeed. Do they sound identical? Let’s dive in and find out.
Greetings comrade, 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…
At A Glance
Best For Mixing
Best For Casual Listening
AKG Pro Audio K702 Over-Ear, Open-Back, Flat-Wire, Reference Studio Headphones,Black
AKG Pro Audio K712 PRO Over-Ear, Open-Back, Flat-Wire, Reference Studio Headphones
The K702’s are very honest and analytical. They accomplish what they were set out to do, and that is to provide you with a flat, close to neutral reference sound conducive to mixing in the studio. The bass is somewhat lacking, but the mid-range is really its strong suit. Some bullet points:
The Soundstage on them is exceptionally wide, but some say so wide that they may start to sound a bit unnatural. I don’t personally agree with this, but your mileage may vary.
They are very even sounding across the spectrum, with no frequencies overpowering each other.
They will require a good amp but aren’t as power-hungry as many people claim.
They aren’t plug-and-play type headphones, even at a modest 62 Ohm impedance.
They also won’t sound too good playing back low-quality audio, being that they are so honest.
Finally, being open back, these will leak quite a bit of sound.
Bass is tight, controlled, and not overpowering. Very natural sounding.
Transparent mid-range, and crisp highs.
Clean, neutral, and honest, flat.
Nice sound-stage, very wide.
Light and comfortable.
Perfect for mixing, translates to speakers/monitors very well.
Great for classical music/opera.
Bass lacks a bit of impact.
Can be cold to some. Be wary of your sound source, as these are very revealing.
Headband bumps can be an issue.
Bumpy, somewhat uncomfortable headband. This is now neutral because it didn’t bother some people, and the newer models resolved the issue. The Chinese models do not have headband bumps.
Even at a somewhat low impedance, these will need to be driven by some sort of amp as they aren’t very efficient. The Woo Audio A5 will do the trick, but if you are looking for a more affordable solution, hang tight.
Don’t go mortgaging away your life savings on an amp with these. Just about anything decent will work just fine. Yes, they do need an amp. But the people who want to get all fancy about it and make it way more complicated than it needs to be are likely just audiophile snobs who think they know everything.
I’ve had plenty of experience with various Amps and headphones to know what needs a lot of power and what doesn’t. It’s simple math. Generally speaking:
The only thing that you really need to understand is that a headphone with a lower Sensitivity will require more power from the Amp to reach optimal listening levels (around 110dB is the standard for loudness), and vice versa. A high Sensitivity headphone requires hardly any power to sound loud enough. This is also why it’s important to have an amp that can output a good amount of power at all Impedance levels.
The K702 has a low-ish Impedance and a very low Sensitivity. The K712’s are even lower. We do need to find something with enough power, but we also shouldn’t sell our Kidney to make it happen. Just find something that provides a lot of power and is relatively affordable.
The JDS Labs Atom or Objective 2 comes to mind as a couple of really clean and powerful options.
I did a ton of research on the matter and came to the conclusion that a lot of pairings will work great with the K701/K702. Don’t get so carried away that you end up not making a decision at all! 🙂
Who do these headphones benefit?
If you’re looking for a wide, expansive Soundstage, these will do very well. They are also good for mixing (like the 701’s) and will give you a flat, even response. The mid-range on these is particularly good as well, as they render acoustic instruments to great effect.
They do well with:
Rock/Alternative (from a good source)
Just keep in mind, they lack a certain bass presence, and may not do as well with hip-hop, reggae, etc.
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Amazing sound and clarity with a lively profile, the K702 is sure to please. Some may not like its somewhat colder nature, but this to me gives it some much-needed energy in the mid-range.
In The Box
AKG K712 Pro Reference Studio Headphones
Mini XLR Connector Cable
Mini XLR Coiled Cable
Limited 2-Year Warranty
Do note: This is a loaner unit lent to me by a good friend Marko from Finland. He wasn’t able to/didn’t have everything to send which is completely fine! The cable and case pictured are aftermarket as well. 🙂
These headphones are pretty highly regarded, although they kind of fly under the radar. The K712 has more bass than all of its predecessors and siblings – specifically more mid-bass rise. The roll-off is more or less the same below 30Hz.
Far and away these are open-back headphones meant for mixing and reference. They are clinical and revealing, but not COLD. The K702 (and the 701 for that matter) have both been accused of being a bit cold and heartless at times. I can certainly empathize with those sentiments; at least in comparison to the K712. The K712 by contrast is definitely not cold. It does sound warmer and has a somewhat glossier sheen over top of the music.
It thrives in an isolated studio and home environment, away from distractions. You won’t really want to wear these out in public, as they leak sound and people will be able to hear what you’re listening to. You’ll also look like a goofball walking around with them on, so it’s not advised.
The K712’s have a great Soundstage. Like the K702, there are lots of out-of-your-head moments and you’ll frequently be whipping your head around to make sure Jason Voorhees isn’t about to chop your f’ing head off. What is Soundstage? Some say the mid-range is its strong suit, a couple of people pointed out that they may be a bit recessed, grainy, or muddled.
I tend to agree with these sentiments to an extent. I found the K712 to sound mostly correct and absolutely very natural, but there are times you’ll get the sense that there is this ever so slight layer of sheet across the music. It’s not a blanket or comforter, and it’s fairly subtle, but it is there. Thankfully this is a minor nitpick and not at all a deal-breaker as it doesn’t ruin the overall wonderful experience.
Overall, these are very very accurate headphones, with great balance, smoothness, and a natural Timbre. What is Timbre?
Great Soundstage with a phenomenal sense of space.
Extremely accurate, balanced, and smooth.
Full, accurate, and tight bass response. I came across something really neat when reading about this. If you take the M50x’s bass and compare it with the 712, you may hear the same subtle sounds, but the 712’s have this way of really jumping out at you, while the M50’s are more subdued. The 712’s have this really nice texture and nuance to them.
Natural Timbre. Very similar to the Sennheiser HD 650 in this regard.
Auto-adjusting leather headband.
Lightweight and extremely comfortable. Great for long listening sessions.
Comes with 2 cables, coiled and straight.
Detachable, replaceable cable.
Replaceable ear pads.
Ever so slight veil we discussed above.
Quality control issue? Only saw this once in about 13-14 pages on Amazon, but it’s noteworthy nonetheless.A particular reviewersaid that his left headphone driver kept going out. He sent it back and received a new pair only to suffer the same issue.What is a headphone driver?
The velour carrying bag is nice, but given that the headphones are very lightweight and somewhat fragile, a hard case would have been ideal.
Mid-range. As mentioned earlier, a lot of people said the mid-range was the highlight of this headphone. Some didn’t and called it recessed/muddled. Still, it’s been compared favorably to the HD 600’s fantastic mids.
Easy to drive? I will get into this more in a jiffy, but some said the 712’s are a pain to amplify. Still, as I read each and every review on Amazon, I came across a plethora of different amp setups that people were using to fine effect.
They aren’t very forgiving in the upper mid-range and treble. Be aware of your source files, and try to use lossless, .wav files as well as high-quality Mp3’s (320 Kbps).
Not actually manufactured in Austria, but rather Slovakia. Most didn’t see an issue as the sound quality is still top-notch. Others found it deceptive to deliberately put the wrong location inside of amazon.
Good build quality despite its lightweight construction, but some have noted that they do feel a bit fragile and dare I say “cheap”.
These do remarkably well with most genres. They are perfect for mixing/reference in an isolated studio environment and have been endorsed for gaming quite a bit. In fact, they just may be the best gaming headphone out there. The Best Headphones for Gaming [In Depth Guide]
One chap even said that his online gaming community attempted to ban him because he could actually hear the enemy from such a great distance, that it gave him a distinct advantage over his opponents. Everything became so crystal clear that the game seemed easy!
So yeah, top marks as a gaming headset, but it doesn’t stop there. Good with all of the following:
Bass-heads. Yes, its bass is quite impressive, but I wouldn’t get this headphone solely for Rap/Hip-hop.
Hard Rock. May have a bit too much bite and up-front sounding mid-range. This will diminish over time, however.
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The K712 is a great all-around headphone if I had to sum it up quickly. It does well with most genres, and its bass has more impact than the K702. Overall, it’s a remarkably musical headphone that has that “fun” factor. Some have said it needs a burn-in period to open up, and ultimately does need amplification to power correctly.
Similarities & Differences
Both have the exact same specifications.
Both are open-back headphones that leak sound and thrive in a studio environment.
Both are very similar in build quality/construction.
Both have an almost identical aesthetic/look.
Both do well with a similar range of genres.
Both are very revealing. Consider your source material.
Both have detachable mini XLR cables as their connection.
Color. The K702 is black/blue while the K712 is black/orange.
Sound. The K712 is more musical and fun, while the K702 is cold and analytical. While both are perfect for mixing, the 712 is not overly critical and does function nicely in a casual setting. It’s also more engaging, with a slightly fuller mid-range, and an overall more extended and slightly less harsh treble range.
Soundstage. The K712’s is much improved over the 702. No longer too wide, it feels more realistic.
Ear padding. The K712’s are memory foam vs. the velour of the 702’s.
The sound signatures of these 2 headphones are very very similar.
Neither are without their shortcomings, but the 712’s improve on all of the 702’s flaws, and come packaged with bass that has impact! One of the biggest gripes in the 701 and 702 was lack of bass. The 701’s had virtually none, while the 702’s improved upon it a little bit. The 712’s have a bit more than all of their siblings, but it still manages to be tight and controlled. Ultimately this isn’t a bass-heads can by any stretch, but an exciting headphone nonetheless.
Even with that said, the differences are fairly subtle. In the grand scheme of things, the 712 does have a bit more bass, but overall the frequency responses are nearly identical. The main takeaway is that the K702 is going to be a bit better for mixing/reference, while the K712 is more of a kick back and relax type of sound. It’s more of a casual headphone but still does very well for reference, movies, and gaming.
Out of the 10 or so headphones I currently own, the K702 most certainly is getting the most use lately. It’s a near-perfect sound signature and in fact never gets fatiguing, from a musical standpoint or otherwise.
I found the differences to be subtle but still noticeable. The K712 can sometimes sound a bit too relaxed, warm, laid back, or syrupy, while the K702 is definitely more neutral and snappy sounding. It’s crisper and some say “colder.”
Which you go with really depends on if you absolutely want that warmer, more laid-back tone. If that’s the case, go with the 712.