Ah, the K712. The pretty boy of the 700 line. Who is the headphone for? What does it sound like? How do the Terminator and Solid Snake play in? All of these answers and more, comin’ up.
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…
At A Glance
AKG Pro Audio K712 PRO Over-Ear, Open-Back, Flat-Wire, Reference Studio Headphones
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. 🙂
Lol. I couldn’t help a Pulp Fiction reference there. Don’t ask.
The K712 is super relaxed and detailed, with excellent Soundstage and instrument separation. What is Soundstage? [Detailed Explanation] It continues the tradition of a somewhat lean bass but still doesn’t feel or sound excessively rolled off. For me, there’s just enough thump here to keep me satisfied.
As a recovering bass head, this is the type of bass articulation and response I generally prefer nowadays, along with the Audeze brand of “straight line” (essentially, neither rolled off or boosted). I would much rather hear individual notes and enjoy the bass as a supporting instrument rather than have it be the focal point.
I think the 712 strikes a nice middle ground and is my second favorite variety; slight roll-off but still digs fairly deep. It can sometimes sound slightly hazy or wooly (Thanks Tyll), but I think it mostly depends on the song and how it was recorded, mixed, and mastered – something I’ve been harping on for what seems like an eternity.
The mid-bass, like the K702’s, works incredibly well for Jazz drums and comes forward a bit without sounding overdone like your mom’s meatloaf.
MOM!! THE MEATLOAF!! WE WANT IT NAOW!!
Everything about this headphone is mellow but yet still detailed and present. It’s hard to explain. You never quite feel like it’s trying too hard, but you’re also never bored. It’s the perfect headphone if you want to kick back for hours and listen to music (especially Jazz) without fatigue of any kind, musically or otherwise.
The mid-range is almost perfectly done. The gradual decline after 1kHz does remind me of a Sundara in that it can sometimes feel a tad too relaxed, but it’s a minor nitpick. The K712, like most audiophile type headphones, opts for a rise back up around 2kHz which kind of ends up balancing the mids out. Vocals and instruments still stand out really well and sound correct – something AKG headphones always tend to excel at.
The treble here is also pretty relaxed and not sibilant in the slightest. What does Sibilant mean? It could stand a tiny bit of added sparkle, but if I’m being honest, this is what I mostly prefer nowadays. I’ve talked quite a bit about how most companies end up ruining the treble by placing too much emphasis around 8-10kHz, but the 712 for me is another breath of fresh air.
There’s nothing artificial or contrived about its response. Hi-hats sound natural and lush, cymbals and crashes never put a grimace on my face, and there’s absolutely zero fatigue due to a metallic, artificial sounding, well, anything.
There are times when the 712 could be livelier, energetic, or a bit more exciting (like a K702 for instance), but it’s not a dealbreaker. I think this headphone should primarily be used for Gaming, Film, and lighter genres, but I still think it works well for somewhat bass heavier stuff like what I mostly listen to – Hip-Hop, Indie Pop, EDM, etc. Just don’t go in expecting it to melt your face off. There’s this ever so slight notion that the 712 is maybe a tad veiled at times; as if there’s an incredibly thin sheet over the sound (like the one you sleep with).
It also isn’t the tightest sounding signature around, but it still excels marvelously for the most part. Out of your head moments aplenty, it’s the type of headphone you’ll want to explore the intricacies of all day because of the fact that you can keep it on your head almost indefinitely.
Speaking of, let’s get into comfort and build.
Comfort & Build
The pads here are just a tad bit softer than the ones on my K702, but it’s almost awash. Comfort levels on both are about the same; i.e. phenomenal. Clamping force is very similar as well. The headphone also doesn’t move much when it’s on your head, even as I sit here trying to get it to move and looking completely silly in the process. xD
I’d say the K712 fits a tad more snug like a bug in a rug, but the difference is fairly minimal if we’re being honest.
The much-preferred hammock style adjustment with dual overarching brackets makes their return (this time in orange), and the headphone sits incredibly well on your head as per usual. There’s no padding on the headband, but you won’t really need any.
It’s lightweight and nimble enough to where you’re almost never feeling it on the top of your dome piece either. What’s also interesting to note is that the headband’s shape deviates slightly from some of the older models. It’s more narrow in width but the stitching on either side is still present. L and R are in the same spot, but this time AKG’s logo appears on the lower circle rather than the text on the 702.
The cups are circular in nature and I’m finding my ears sit pretty comfortably inside without touching the edges or drivers. What is a Headphone Driver?
The outside of the cups reveals “AKG Reference Headphones” as with the others, but you’ll also notice “K712” right below on the outside of the driver housing.
The headphone’s left side reveals a detachable mini-XLR and terminates in your standard 3.5mm jack. The headphone comes with 2 cables: one coiled and one straight.
It’s important to note that nearly all websites advertise AKG headphones by the Volt for whatever reason (105dB/V), but this tends to confuse people because they end up thinking it’s very sensitive when it’s not. What is Sensitivity in Headphones? [Explained]
In short, the K712 is not Sensitive at all (read: it’s incredibly inefficient) and does need a bit of power to get pumping. I wouldn’t go ape sh** over it though, as the “Power-Hungry” claim parroted by everyone and their Grandma over the last 5-10 years is a bit overdone like.. you guessed it, your mom’s effing meatloaf.
Gaming is more of the same and similar to the experience I had with the K702. The Best Headphones for Gaming [In Depth Guide] You’ll get those same out of your head moments in film as well, as the K712 spaces things out quite well. Width and depth are fairly excellent, and you’ll be able to pinpoint where sounds are coming from fairly quickly and easily.
If I was forced to choose, I may pick the 712 over the 702 for film, but I like the 702 a bit more for gaming as it’s not quite as laid back. I think the crisp, snappy nature of the 702 tends to perform just a hare better when you’re trying to hear what’s going on, but the 712 is right there. It’s really just a matter of the 712 being a bit warmer/glossier and thus perhaps a bit more difficult to discern footsteps and the like; again, not a huge discrepancy but should be noted.
One thing I noticed in Terminator 2 that I had never heard before was the subtlety of the music in the background. There are a lot of tense moments in the film with more complex musical scores than you would think; especially with a headphone like the K712.
Video game designer Hideo Kojima has always been inspired and influenced by James Cameron’s work, and Terminator 2’s Judgment Day is no different.
Aside from the clear homage/reference to Arnold’s T800 in Son’s of Liberty via Solid Snake’s character, there’s a very subtle hint that Harry Gregson Williams also borrowed a bit from Judgment Day’s music in his own amazing score. It’s one of those things that you likely won’t notice unless you’re a die-hard fan of the Metal Gear Solid franchise (as I am), but it’s there nonetheless.
Here you can compare and decide. Don’t listen to the rhythm or beat, pay attention to the sounds themselves and you’ll see that Williams was really inspired by Brad Fiedel’s obscure synthesizers/instruments.
The point is that I could only make out this almost minute revelation with a headphone like the K712. It’s so delicate in the way it presents sound that you’re almost hyper-focused on some of the smallest nuances of the composition. This is a detail lover’s headphone for sure.
The K712 isn’t without some minor issues, namely the sometimes overly glossy (but still rather subtle) sheen over the music, as well as the ever so slight bass wooliness, but by and large, this is a top performer and sounds fantastic overall.
Gamers, film buffs, and lighter genre listeners need to apply. I personally love it for other genres I listen to as well, but your mileage may vary.
It’s not going to slam as some may desire, but the impact is above average for an AKG offering and may just grow on you as it did for me! That is to say that the K702 is now my daily driver and the headphone I tend to listen to most out of the ones I have currently.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.