Ah, the AKG K240; one of the most polarizing headphones in existence. What makes it stand out? Who is it for? Is it worth a purchase? 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, all over again, so…
At A Glance
AKG Pro Audio K240 STUDIO Over-Ear, Semi-Open, Professional Studio Headphones
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 sounding kind of different as your brain gets used to the new stimulus. And no, we’re not talking about government handouts here either. xD
This article was inspired by a recent conversation I had with someone about their dissatisfaction with the K240 after purchase.
Hey man, i’m in a weird position. this is yet another source praising the k240. I recently purchased the chinese 55ohm version. but the issue is that they just don’t sound good and not at all like people describe them.
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 by 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
Hey man! They could be faulty, but you bring out a great point about the K240 that I’ve been recently noticing. Keep in mind that I do have the K240M 600 Ohm version, but yeah, it’s definitely not a sound signature for everyone. I also completely see where you’re coming from as I’ve experienced those same sorts of sentiments as well in my own listening.
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 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.
Going further, the mid-range is something that takes quite a bit of getting used to.
Putting this headphone 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 made for these types of music specifically.
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 a headphone’s drivers. What is a Headphone Driver?
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.
Even so, 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.
Comfort & Build
What holds this one back is comfort; the earcups are incredibly shallow and your ears will start digging into the drivers – which are only separated from your ears by a thin piece of cloth. What is a Headphone Driver?
You’ll find yourself adjusting and re-adjusting after about 45 minutes, relieving your ear lobes and getting some fresh air to them.
Not the most ideal design choice, but remember that this headphone originated in the ’70s and still somehow remains relevant after many decades – surely a testament to its sound and not its comfort level.
Even so, the hammock style self-adjusting K240 sits nicely on your head outside of the cup issue, and even despite its Playskool weight and feel, it’s an incredibly robust headphone all things considered.
It seems like it would break down at the drop of a hat, but in my experience, that just isn’t the case. Its unlikely durability factor also makes sense when you consider that the K240M I currently have is almost 50 years old and still functions flawlessly.
Simply put, there’s a reason these things are still talked about now.
I’d plan on investing in an Amp regardless of if you go with a K240 Studio, K240M, or some other variant.
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.