Home Headphone Guides 7 AKG Headphones Ranked From Worst To First

7 AKG Headphones Ranked From Worst To First

by Stuart Charles Black
AKG K712 Review

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Greetings mate 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…

Today we’ll rank 7 AKG headphones from worst to best and determine which of them is most worth a purchase today.

By the end of this article,

you should have an excellent idea of how they compare as well as some potential caveats in each.

This article will serve as a definitive list/buying guide so keep checking back as the ranking/list may change a little from time to time.

With that, let’s dive in!


#7

AKG K52

Price: Don’t even bother looking lol. | Official Review: Never happening xD

I demoed these somewhere and I can’t even remember where.

Probably Guitar Center or Sam Ashe.

In short, they’re pretty awful and I wouldn’t bother. How these are still on the market is beyond me.

They don’t even deserve an image. Shame on you, AKG.

If you’re into overblown bass, sucked-out mids, and a rollercoaster ride of a frequency response (ups and downs, cuts, and dips), this is the headphone for you.

Next!


#6

AKG K612

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

AKG K612 Review

Some folks may get upset with me over this one, but I tried.

I tried so hard to like these. For a few years I tried, but they’re currently up for sale on eBay.

  • Update: Sold.

In fact,

I kept going back to them time and time again in an effort to see them (read: hear them) in a new light.

And I simply couldn’t.

It’s not that the sound signature is bad. If you look at a graph it looks darn near perfect.

The problem?

It’s that it’s darn near perfect.

It’s too flat. There’s not enough variation in the signature and it ends up sounding like a mish-mosh of sounds.

This headphone is a prime example of why it’s super important to emphasize some part of the frequency response.

Anything.

Headphones cannot be ruler flat in a literal sense.

If this were the case, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish, well, anything.

It would all sound like a big blob.

This is unfortunately how the K612 sounds to some degree. It’s as close to ruler flat gets but doesn’t actually sound good.

It’s hazy and fuzzy and wooly and weird. There’s nothing all that noteworthy about it.

In fact, you may have a tougher time separating frequencies because they’re all very flattened out.

In any event,

build and comfort are both excellent though.

The headphones sport the hammock-style self-adjusting headband and rest on your ears magnificently well.

The build is light and nimble but doesn’t feel cheap.

The clamping force is almost perfect, and the velour pads feel great on your ears.

There’s plenty of room inside, but as with most velour offerings, they will collect undesirables (dust, particles, hair, etc.)

Something to keep in mind!

Video Comparison to K702

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#5

AKG K712

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

The K712 is in no way bad.

These are definitely better than the 612 in that they don’t sound blobby, but they suffer from a slightly different issue:

Namely that sometimes too glossed-over, thin, hollow-ish character.

It’s not threatening and mostly sounds right overall, but you’ll notice a couple of things:

  1. The gradual decline after about 500Hz into 1k. Not a huge deal, but still contributes to its somewhat overly laid-back sound.
  2. The treble at around 9-10k takes a nosedive and makes them sound kind of flat.

These 2 things in my mind are what make the K712 not quite ideal in terms of an overall best offering, but it isn’t all bad.

Everything from roughly 20Hz to around 500 is just about perfect, and in addition to the bump at 2k, saves this headphone from being a complete bust.

The main takeaway here is the overall fuzziness/dryness and lack of weight, impact, and body to the music.

At times it’s as if the K712 just took a huge hit from a bong and is just lying there, stoned out of its mind.

“But K712, you’re supposed to be playing music right now.”

“Yee.” *smiles*

“Huh? What are music?”

Video Discussion


#4

AKG K240

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

AKG K240 Review

I’m including both the Studio version and M version here (original Austrian), as I’ve owned both and still own a K240M (600 Ohm).

Other than the K240M having a sky-high impedance, these mostly sound about the same.

The K240 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 latter of which is pictured above.

The K240 is certainly one of the most polarizing headphones in the world, but the sheer fact that people still talk about it decades after its initial release really says something.

If other headphones opt for a more conventional approach to sound signatures, the K240 flips that completely on its head.

In fact,

I feel these are kind of similar to the K712, only they have less bass, a peak at 6kHz, and no treble drop-off-a-cliff though the top end is in no way boosty, artificial, or bright/strident.

What makes these stand out in my mind as a better overall purchase than the K712 is twofold:

  1. The headphones are infinitely cheaper and more affordable. The K712 is definitely overpriced if we’re being honest about it.
  2. The K240 works so incredibly well for Motown, Soul, and older recorded Classic rock that I have a tough time not recommending it to people in certain instances.

It’s almost as if the K240 was made for those genres specifically, as you can kind of disregard it for a lot of other, harder genres.

It simply won’t make the cut for those, but it’s still a headphone to consider at the end of the day.

As with the K712 and 612, you’re still getting the hammock-style adjustment, but the cups are faux leather and much more shallow.

In other words,

comfort can be pretty bad with these and you’ll find yourself adjusting more often than not. They tend to dig into your earlobes leaving you in a world of pain like Smokey from Big Lebowski.

A world.

of pain.

At the end of the day, some may swap #4 and #5, and I don’t have too much of an issue with it.

Put simply,

you may feel as though the K712 is better than a 240, and that’s fine!

The obvious trade-off here is that (in my opinion) you’re getting a slightly better sound (K240) at a cheaper price but sacrificing the exceptional comfort that the K712 provides.

Video Review!

All credit to @Metal571. Check him out on Twitta!

 


#3

AKG K371

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check B&H! | Official Review: Here!

AKG K371 Review

Another polarizing headphone due to its Harman-tuned response, the K371 is indeed an excellent headphone in most respects.

One glaring reason it can’t take the top spot is because of that sometimes laughably boosted bass shelf on certain tracks.

I will say that it works fine with the majority of songs, but if you happen across a track that was mixed too high in the sub-bass or mid-bass, hold on to your hats because it’s hilariously ridiculous how bad it sounds.

In other words,

I think it could have used 2-3dB less from around 20-30Hz.

Still, by most accounts, the Harman response is one that most people actually prefer in blind listening tests, and in hearing a K371 it makes a lot of sense.

This is a smooth, detailed sound that works for nearly all genres and just sounds right.

It’s hard to explain,

but the 371 has a colored sound that somehow doesn’t sound too over the top and mimics the speaker experience quite well.

As is the case with most AKG headphones, comfort is exemplary and the clamping force is just right.

What you’ll also love about the 371 is that it’s incredibly portable and folds up into a neat package for on-the-go use.

In addition to that,

it’s not hard to drive and can work out of a phone in a pinch.

Build quality in my experience was phenomenal, but some folks have told me they’ve had issues so definitely keep that in mind before purchasing.

Video Discussion

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#2

AKG K550/K553

Price: Check amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

Note: The K550/553 is essentially the same headphone with different US/EU naming. I demoed the K553 @ Guitar Center and it’s an experience I won’t soon forget.

The K553 is another Harman-y type of tuning but sounds more open and clearer in my experience without the at times overzealous K371 bass.

It’s still boosted to an extent but doesn’t feel quite as over the top.

In other words,

I think the K553 would fare better for mixing than the K371, but your mileage may vary.

Another thing that separates the K553 is the treble.

It’s a bit brighter than the 371 and this is a bit of a tough thing to reconcile.

Some will tell you a bright treble is unnatural, but our ears kind of expect things to be at least bright-ish, as it helps with clarity and makes music sound livelier and more exciting.

That said,

the 553 isn’t over the top with it, but it’s definitely not as laid back as a 371.

Still, these headphones are quite similar so again, I wouldn’t be mad if you swapped them out (i.e. ranking the 371 #2).

Some of the best qualities about the K553 are its great Soundstage (especially for a closed back), instrument timbre, and its open airy nature.

I talk quite a bit about these in terms of them being some of the only closed headphones that actually sound like an open-back.

That, in addition to their smooth, detailed response makes them a fantastic choice even today.

Build and Comfort is excellent, but they are notorious for having a hard-to-achieve seal, meaning once you put them on your head it takes a bit of finagling to get a proper seat.

Video Review!

All credit to @Metal571. Check him out on Twitta!


#1

AKG K702

Price: Check Amazon! | Check Sweetwater! | Check eBay! | Official Review: Here!

AKG K702 Review

Blade Runner approved.

Perhaps I’m a bit biased, but the K702 is a headphone that does 99% right in my mind.

The bass is exceptionally handled – slight roll-off but incredibly articulate with just the right amount of solid impact, the midrange is supremely flat with a perfect 3-5dB boost at around 2kHz (where we expect a rise), and the treble is crisp and snappy without sounding artificial, overly bright, or strident.

Yes, the K702 is just about the most perfectly tuned headphone I’ve had the pleasure of listening to (560S is up there as well), and in my opinion, easily tops this list as the best AKG headphone money can buy.

I’ve had one since 2019 and will never sell it. Ever.

In addition to everything I just mentioned, it’s comfortable, and built well like the others, but it’s also incredibly versatile.

It works for nearly any genre and does so well, it’s great for gaming, it’s great for watching film, and it has exemplary Soundstage, resolution, clarity, and detail without sounding fake or contrived.

In short,

you can absolutely never go wrong in purchasing one. The timbre and resolution here are just about on par with a planar, and that’s saying quite a lot as I hold planars in pretty high regard.

If the K702 is 99% perfect, what about that other 1%?

Well, I will say it can sound ever so slightly thin at times, and this is something most folks will agree on.

It has this smidgen of papery quality to it (+ a slight bit of subtle hiss), but again, it’s a hugely minor nitpick and shouldn’t deter you from dropping everything and purchasing one right away.

Video Comparison to HD600

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Final Verdict

If you’re looking for the best, I think the K702 is it, hands down. With a startling price-to-performance ratio, it becomes a pretty easy decision.

Learn More:

 


Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve come away with some valuable information in this article on the best AKG headphones.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I leave something out or get something wrong? Please reach out in the box below or contact me! I would love to hear from you.

Which of these are you more likely to go with? Let me know as well!

Until then, all the best and God bless…

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

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12 comments

EthanFriend November 21, 2022 - 3:14 am

I own the AKG k361, it’s a sort of k371 version without the boosted bass and it’s generally more liked than the k371. It’s the cheapest headphone I own and I’m using it every day. It’s just so competent with everything that I feel sick when I realize I haven’t touched my hifiman or sennheisers in weeks because this AKG does all I want. I feel like I wasted hundreds of € when I’m happy with a 95€ headphone from AKG. These headphones are so good they make me feel guilty and stupid about all the money I spent in audio.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black November 21, 2022 - 3:23 pm

Wow nice! You’re making me want to get my hands on one lol. Sounds like the perfect compromise. Which HIFIMANS and Sennys do you have?

Reply
EthanFriend November 21, 2022 - 5:00 pm

Senn. HD598 with “cheap” velour pads ( I’ve replaced the pads many times over the years ) and hifiman he400se. The hifiman can do things no other dinamic headphones can do ( you’re very aware of it ) but they’re heavy and create a hotspot on top of my head. Also the vocals don’t sound as natural as my other dyanmic cans. That doesn’t mean vocals don’t sound good though, it’s just not my first choice when listening to podcasts.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black November 23, 2022 - 12:26 am

Yes, you’re so right. There’s something that’s always bothered me about HIFIMAN tuning and to me, it just sometimes sounds kind of stuffy in the mids – as if everything is a little too pushed back and directionless/lost. I was talking with someone recently about gaming headphones and we both agreed that the 400se is simply never a viable candidate for such a task (due to its SS for gaming which should be a lot better than it is in practice). It also seems odd given that the DEVA actually is! I find the DEVA more open and crisp sounding but it does have that treble bite.

Reply
Mariano August 25, 2023 - 1:03 am

An AKG K240DF will take the K702 for a ride, give it a try if you can. Cheers!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black August 25, 2023 - 4:58 pm

Would love to try one!

Reply
Craig Watanabe September 15, 2023 - 11:16 pm

Looks as though you left out the electrostatic AKG K340’s😊

Reply
Stuart Charles Black September 16, 2023 - 10:42 am

I need to try ’em!!!!

Reply
TOAST September 29, 2023 - 11:29 am

Adding another AKG to the pile for consideration: K245.
Going for mega-cheap here in the UK: £45.
Had mine since March. Lacks the sparkly detail and huge soundstage of the K702, but it has bass!

Reply
Stuart Charles Black September 30, 2023 - 5:04 pm

It’s TOAST!! Hey man great to hear from you again. I will jot that down. I have never heard of that lineup. Very interesting.

Reply
TOAST October 1, 2023 - 10:24 am

Good to talk again.
Yeah, the K175, K245 & K275 definitely escaped radar detection. K550 MKIII and K371/361 got more attention around their respective launch times.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black October 7, 2023 - 2:43 pm

Haha, escaped radar detection. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTq-i6tDqxk I’m sorry in advance xD

Reply

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