Before we get into The Best AKG Headphones, grab a snack, sit back and relax because…
You’ve come to the right place!!
What I will bring you in this article
Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!!
I’ve written about, and done quite a bit of research on AKG headphones over the last few years, and I have an extremely good idea of which models are the most worthy of your dollar.
My experience coupled with my insatiable desire for knowledge has led me here, to share the headphones that absolutely deserve mention, and leaving out the ones that don’t.
The Goal is to only list the headphones that I would buy. Too many times online I see Best Of articles that provide laundry lists of cans with no real rhyme or reason to why they’re listed.
I read a lot, and often times I’ll come across articles that seem to echo other articles, i.e. it seems like little thought went into it. I’m not saying this happens all the time, but you can tell when one website copied the others list and gave it slight modifications to make it seem a bit different.
Fortunately for you, I’m here to clear out all the Riff Raff and get down to brass tacks! Choosing an AKG headphone doesn’t have to be difficult. There’s some things to know about the company and it’s offerings, and I’ll do my best to convey the information in a straight forward and easy to understand way.
The K240 Studio is a legendary headphone based around the original “Sextett”, which housed 6 passive drivers under and surrounding the main driver. These aided in some extra bass, but AKG thought better of it and eventually scrapped the idea altogether in future models. There were a few other iterations of the 240 including the K240DF and K240M, The former of which had a 600 Ohm impedance! Learn more:AKG K240 Studio Headphones Review!
The K240 Studio’s only have a 55 Ohm impedance, but have an extremely low sensitivity thus needing an Amp/DAC of some sort. Don’t expect to plug these into your phone or laptop and be satisfied. They’ll sound much too quiet for any type of real enjoyment.
That said, these perform wonderfully with a basic amp, like the Schiit Magni/Modi stack, or something like an Oppo HA-2. How to choose a Headphone Amp!
The sound of the 240 is very mid-range oriented, with excellent clarity, detail retrieval, instrument separation, and Timbre. What is Timbre?
Out of all the headphones I’ve tried, I believe the K240 to have the least amount of bass. So if you’re a bass head, avoid these like the plague!! Now for me, I happen to enjoy what these have to offer and don’t really miss the bass too much. There is considerable roll off however, but there’s a lot of texture and nuance to the low end. It’s a very articulate bass. You’re going to be able to hear more of what’s going on rather than simply feeling it. So for a genre like Jazz or Classical, these are going to be a real treat.
The headphones feel like something you’d pick up in your local Walmart’s toy section. They are incredibly lightweight. This is phenomenal for comfort, but not so much for durability. That said, I didn’t have any issues with the pair that I previously owned.
The K553 has a bit of an upgraded sound, but these two bad boys are some of the absolute best headphones for reference in this category or otherwise. In fact, both have a sound that resembles an open back affair despite being closed. The sound is extremely spacious and airy, and everything has a ton of room to breathe. Closed back vs. Open back headphones.
Soundstage is particularly good for a closed back, and overall these remind me a lot of a Philips SHP9500. What is Soundstage? The bass response is fairly lean, but does hit a bit harder than a 9500 due to less roll off and being closed back as well. Learn more:Philips SHP9500 Review!
One of the best qualities about the 550/553 is instrument Timbre. Everything sounds so incredibly natural and crisp, making you realize how unnatural music actually sounds through most headphones!
Things to keep in mind
You won’t need an amp. I found them to be excellent out of my phone due to their high sensitivity and low impedance. That said, an amp/DAC never hurts, as there’s the capacity for a sound quality increase.
It takes a bit of elbow grease to get a good fit, as the headphones don’t particularly excel at clamping. They kind of remind me again of an SHP9500 in that they have a tendency of sliding around on your dome piece if you’re not careful. That said, once you get a nice fit, it’s smooth sailing.
The K553 is a slightly upgraded version with most of the same specifications. Learn more:AKG K553 Review!
The K612 flies mostly under the radar, but is a phenomenal headphone with superb comfort and nice tonal balance. The bass here is tight and controlled, and in comparison to a K701 there is more to speak of.
Like most AKG headphones, these also make for an excellent reference can, and do extremely well for lighter genres like Jazz and Classical. Instrument separation, imaging, and Soundstage are all top notch, and the treble is just right. Not too bright, not too dark. There are definitely no sibilant qualities to speak of as well. What does Sibilant mean?
The mid-range is of course the highlight, as the K612 will do well with a variety of genres, and specifically are sought after heavily for gaming and movies. Learn more:The Best Headphones for Gaming!
Things to keep in mind
The cable feels a bit cheap, but it’s nothing to really fret over.
The clamp force is a bit tight at first, but opens up over time.
There are two different models of this headphone around. The Austrian and the Chinese. Read this review to find out the differences!
Material:Leather head band, plastic, velour padding.
The K701 has a fairly lean bass, with a fantastic mid-range and a somewhat darker treble. They’re arguably most famous for their extremely wide and spacious Soundstage, with some claiming that because it’s so wide, it comes across as unnatural. Again, your mileage may vary. You’re likely to really enjoy the K701 because of it’s balanced sound signature and ability to handle most genres with ease.
Things to keep in mind
Bass. For most people, these are going to be bass light, and bordering on not enough. The Q701 does add some more, so if you like your headphones with added low end emphasis, you may consider them instead.
Soundstage. May be unnatural to you, or you may really enjoy it. Just know that it’s a common concern for people.
Amplification. In my research over the last few years, many people claim that the K701 needs some pretty beefy amplification to shine properly. We’re talking something like a Violelectric V200. Others like Metal571 drive them from a Schiit Stack like me. The takeaway is that amplification can be overrated at times, but there is certainly some truth to finding a good pairing for hte headphone in question. An example is the Focal Utopia, a $4000 headphone. You may think at first glance that it needs the best amp. I ran it on my Magni 2 and it sounded unbelievable. I have yet to demo it on higher end gear. Will it make them sound better? Perhaps, but the difference is likely to be smaller than you would imagine.
It’s a Metal571 love fest in here! I don’t always agree with him on everything but he will always give you a thorough review and I really appreciate that.
The K702 is very similar to the K701, with some minor changes. Let’s take a look.
Things to keep in mind (Differences)
The pads on the K702’s are thicker, which supposedly allows more of an “around the head” speaker like experience.
The 702’s have a detachable cable, the 701’s do not.
The 702’s do not come with a stand, the 701’s do.
The 702’s bass response gets generally more favorable reviews over the 701’s.
Treble. The K702’s have a bit brighter of a treble around 8-9k, which gives them a little more energy. The Q701’s share this added emphasis in the treble as well. Out of the three, the K701 is probably the most neutral.
The K712 has a similar bump around 2k, but is probably the flattest out of this entire line. It’s got a darker treble, and some fairly significant roll off after that 2k rise, similar to a Q701.
Things to keep in mind
The differences between these 4 headphones, The K701, 702, Q701, and K712 are very subtle. Though the slight changes in frequency response are present, they will only become apparent after many hours of listening time.
Credit to LLAT!
Which of these you go with depends on your budget at the end of the day, and whether or not you would prefer an absolutely as close to neutral sound vs. something a little more “fun.”
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.