The Best AKG Headphones – Complete Guide
When it comes to quality, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better brand than AKG Acoustics. Founded in Vienna in 1947, the company has years of experience in the manufacturing of headphones, microphones, headsets and wireless audio systems. Over the years, the company has evolved continuously to provide innovative products that employ the latest in audio technology. Their name has become synonymous with professional audio, and their products are used in recording studios, stage shows, as well as radio and TV stations around the world. In 2010, they won recognition with a Technical Grammy Award.
Although better known for their microphones, their headphones are no less stellar. AKG was the first to introduce ‘integrated open’ headphones and the world’s first two-way headphones. Today, some of their best AKG headphones’ bestselling series include the K240 and K712 Pro, which are designed for musicians, sound engineers and studio producers. While their designs are bulkier than most, they make up for it with functionality and style.
As always, some thought and research should go into identifying your needs and how well the headphones fit them, before plunging into your next buy. Here are some useful features to look out for:
Most headphones come in three designs – open back, closed back and semi-open. Open-back designs allow air and sound to pass through the ear cups. This means that apart from audio playing through your headphones, you can also hear ambient noise. This is not always distracting. For example, if you’re at an intimate live music session at a bar or restaurant, there will always be ambient noise. Open back designs replicate this scenario, allowing you to have a more natural listening experience. On the other hand, closed back designs are good at isolating audio and blocking external noise, so the listening experience is very much a personal one. If you want something in the middle, semi-open offers the benefits of both features.
Headphones come in different frequency ranges. Some go from as low as 5 to as high as 33,000. However, this does not mean that they provide better sound quality, as the human ear can only detect frequencies between 20 to 20,000Hz. What it does affect is the dynamic range – how well the bass, mids and trebles play out. Some have heavier basses that pack a punch, making them great for beat-heavy genres such as electronic dance music. Others have ‘bright’ sounding tunes with a lean bass response and more emphasis on mids and highs. If you’re looking to play music with subtle nuances, avoid bass heavy models and focus on those that offer a natural, flat response with well-balanced lows, mids and highs.
Headphones come with low impedance and high impedance. Matching that with your audio source’s output is important. A mismatch could mean that you won’t get the best quality, or in worst scenario cases, blow your headphones out. Low impedance headphones (under 50 Ohms) are best used for plugging into portable music devices, such as smartphones and MP3 players, which have weak amplification. They require less power and wattage. If you connect these with a high output source, such as a DJ mixer, you might ‘blow out’ the headphones. High impedance headphones, some which might measure up to 600 Ohms, are made for studios, professional music equipment and home systems.
The Top 10 Best AKG Headphones – Complete Chart
|1. AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones||semi-open||$$||4.4|
|2. AKG K52 Headphones||closed-back||$$||4.3|
|3. AKG K712 Pro Over-Ear Mastering/Reference Headphones||open||$$$||4.3|
|4. AKG Pro Audio K77 Headphones||semi-closed||$$||4.3|
|5. AKG Pro Audio K67 TIESTO DJ Headphones||closed-back||$$||4.3|
|6. AKG K550 Closed-Back Reference Class Headphones||closed-back||$$$||4.3|
|7. AKG Pro Audio K702 Channel Studio Headphones||open||$$$||4.3|
|8. AKG K142 High Definition Headphones||closed||$$||4.1|
|9. AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference-Class Premium Headphones||open||$$$||4.1|
|10. AKG K450 Premium Foldable Headphones||closed-back||$$||4.0|
When the AKG K240 Monitor headphones were released in the 1970s, they quickly became a standard for sound monitoring in the industry, and were widely used in recording and broadcasting studios around the world. The new and updated Studio seems to work just as well, if not better, than its predecessor.
Function wise, the Studio offers a wide dynamic range and higher sensitivity. They have a frequency range between 15Hz to 25,000Hz. But the best part is their patented Varimotion XXL transducers. Located within vented closures, the transducers have a thin diaphragm which is thicker and more elastic at the edges to create a deep, solid bass.
Meanwhile, the center is less resonant, resulting in well-balanced mids and clear highs. The extra-large size of the transducers also ensures that users get life-like, three-dimensional sounds.
The Studio’s low impedance of 55ohms makes them suitable for both home and on-the-go use with smartphones or portable music players. If you’re a DJ or a musician, these headphones are perfect for live sound use. Users can tune them up to high volume levels, so they work great with portable studio instruments such as keyboards and drum machines.
The black and gold color scheme is classic and retro-stylish, albeit a little bulky. Still, it is lightweight at 240g. The headband features a strong steel structure which can take a beating, but is flexible enough to bend for single ear use. It also self-adjusts to fit different head shapes and sizes. Thanks to a shape-conforming gimbal-type suspension, the Studio’s ear cups fit snugly on the ears without exerting too much pressure, so users can wear the headphones comfortably for hours on end.
A lot of regular headphones on the market use Y-shaped cables, which snag and break easily. Not so with the Studio. Each pair uses a single, detachable cable which can be replaced easily. XLR connectors provide secure contact and maximum transmission quality.
When it comes to a truly immersive listening experience, it’s all in the details – and that’s what the K52 headphones offer. Launched in early 2016, they are one of AKG’s newer offerings and feature large 40mm drivers with a wide frequency range of 18Hz to 20,000 Hz.
Whether you’re using them in the capacity of a professional sound engineer or producer in the studio, or just for personal listening, these headphones allow for detailed outputs that accurately highlight every beat and nuance of your music. A low impedance of just 32Ohms makes them suitable for both home systems and portable playing devices. To top it all off, the closed-back design features an acoustic chamber that reduces audio leakage and ensures privacy, so it’s like bringing your private mobile studio wherever you go.
While some headphones deliver a strong, thumping bass, the K52 sounds quite neutral and delivers well-balanced lows, mids and highs. Kick drums and bass guitars are well-defined, while vocals, guitars and acoustic instruments sound clean and natural. The overall quality is clear, smooth and easy on the ears, which is hard to find on headphones with this price point.
Although lightweight, the headphones have a solid build. A self-adjusting metal headband fits different head sizes and shapes, while light and breathable pleather ear pads cushion the ear for maximum comfort. The headphones are extensively tested for durability, including drop tests to simulate exaggerated falls, as well as 80,000 cable bend cycles to ensure the cables will not snap or break easily. The single-sided cable is easy to use.
However, users have commented that the headphones need some ‘breaking in’ – as the audio quality seems to be distorted with initial use. This improves after a few hours of playback. The verdict: cheap but versatile, the K52 definitely offers great value for money.
Made by pros, for the pros, the AKG K712 Pro is a reference pair of headphones for all your mixing, mastering and listening needs. An open-back, over the ear design cushions the ears against external noise, so users can be rest assured of a private listening experience with little to no audio leakage. This feature also helps the headphones to provide accurate monitoring and unbeatable comfort. The K712 Pro has a flat, extended frequency of 10Hz to 39,800z and 105dB sensitivity. They carry a wide and deep sound stage, so sounds appear airy and spacious. Their 62Ohm impedance rating is relatively low, making them suitable for both home systems and portable devices.
The K712 Pro produces clean and clear audio, thanks to large transducers and a flat wire voice coil. The bass is slightly boosted but not overwhelming, with a sound that is full and tight but which will not rattle the eardrums or cause fatigue after long hours of listening. Mids and highs also sound crisp and smooth.
Like many of its kin, the AKG 712 Pro is bulky but retro-looking, with bright orange bands and a sleek black body. They are flexible and lightweight at just 235g. The pads are made from a material similar to memory foam for comfy, long-lasting wear, and can also be replaced down the road.
They come with a mini XLR connector and 3m-long detachable cable. One of the downsides to them is that they are heavily dependent on the output system or device’s sound quality.They are also power hungry; needing a lot of power and a good deal of voltage swing to truly shine.
Some say that the K77’s utilitarian grey and black façade looks dull and uninspiring: but we beg to differ. When it comes to quality, what matters most is whether or not the item delivers – and the K77 does that. They also do it at a very affordable price tag.
Perhaps not the best pair for professional sound engineers or musicians, they nevertheless provide a great listening experience for the average listener. Fairly sensitive, they have an audio frequency range between 18Hz and 20,500Hz. With a low impedance of 32 Ohms, the headphones are made for easy listening with portable music devices, such as MP3 players, iPods and smartphones. Large, high-performance transducers measuring 40mm on each side provide a wide soundstage that sounds clear and airy. Bass takes centre stage, so pop music sounds best on these headphones, but they are still able to handle subtle acoustics fairly well.
Despite their minimalistic appearance, the circumaural (around the ear) cups and closed design were built with comfort and functionality in mind. The pads envelop the ears snugly, ensuring no audio leakage whilst providing passive noise reduction from external sounds. Made from leatherette, they are soft and plush for extended wear without causing discomfort. Sturdy but flexible, the headband features a double-banded ‘cage’ over it for support and structure. The whole item is very lightweight at only 190g – you might even forget that you have them on your head! Each set comes with a 2.5m straight cable with added thickness so it’s less prone to tangling, as well as a convertible jack plug.
Even so, the K77 has one small downside. While the bass and mids play well, the treble is quite limited,but this can be easily corrected with a graphic equalizer.
Named after the man himself, the K67 Tiesto headphones are a DJ’s best friend, whether you’re headlining a gig at the club or listening to music outdoors. Best used for live sound monitoring and studio work, the headphones have a high sensitivity of 115dBs and an audio frequency range of 16Hz to 24,000 Hz. Measuring 40mm, the large transducers are built to channel high quality sound. A low-rated impedence of 32Ohms allows users to plug them in to portable devices on-the-go. Travel in peace while listening to music in public places – without having to worry about bothering the person next to you. The headphones have high noise attenuation, thanks to the closed ear design that significantly reduces outside noises and stops audio from leaking out. They aren’t branded DJ headphones for nothing. The K6 Tiestoplays a very deep and heavy bass sound – perfect for blasting dance music. Their moderately detailed mids are warm and natural, while the highs are clear without being screechy or harsh, making this a solid pair for playing rock or pop music as well.
Design-wise, the huge bulky muff-like earpads completely cover and protect the ears. Made from soft leatherette, they feel easy on the skin and block out most background noise. The band, which features a dotted pattern and matte sides, is made from glass-fibre reinforced polymer, built to withstand rough handling. One great feature of the K67 is their 3D Axis Folding mechanism, which allows the headphones to fold flat for easy storage and carrying.
However, the headphones do clamp tightly on the skull, and might not be comfortable for longer wear.
Not all headphones are meant to be taken outside, and that seems to be the case with the best AKG headphones K550. Extremely bulky, it’ll take more than a little self-confidence to wear them outdoors, since the large pads might obscure your face. They also come with a 3m long, non-detachable cable – convenient for connecting to home theatre systems or studio devices, but definitely not the easiest to lug around.
Having said that, as headphones that you can enjoy at home or at the studio, the K550 offers great quality. With an audio frequency range between 12 to 28,000 Hz, they carry massive 50mm drivers – the largest size offered by AKG – which produce a high output and detailed low frequencies.
Their closed-back design isolates noises well. At the same time, they have a spacious, three-dimensional sound quality that is similar to an open-back design. Generally, notes are warm and easy-going, with enough punch in the bass, a full mid-range and clear highs, although these can fall a little flat. They are best with audio that makes full use of their wide sound stage, such as subtle acoustic tracks and orchestral music.
Appearance-wise, the K550 is massive, with giant earcups covered with leather-topped foam pads. They are relatively lightweight at 305g, and fold down flat for easy storage. The two-tone black and grey color scheme and brushed metallic circles are a nice, modern touch, while the cable comes with a 3.5mm jack and 6.3mm converter.
Developed for precision listening, mixing and mastering, the K702s are a solid pair of studio headphones for both professionals and casual listeners. They are almost identical to their predecessor, the K701; just with a different finish and cable. Unlike semi-open or closed models, these headphones havae a completely open design – offering natural sounds and a heightened sense of space. They have an audio frequency of 10 to 39,800 Hz, a sensitivity of 105dB and a low impedance rating of 62Ohms.
Revolutionary flat-wire voice coils are combined with patented Varimotion technology, which feature a two-layer diaphragm. These are large, thick and elastic at the edges, while being less resonant in the middle. The result is a dramatic effect that can accurately pinpoint the location where the sounds are coming from. The frequencies are well balanced, bringing audio and music to life. Expect a smooth but punchy bass, detailed mids and high treble responses.
Beyond music and recording, the headphones have other applications. Gamers have testified to their quality in providing an immersive gaming experience. The wide sound emulates realistic sounds and pinpoints locations accurately, creating a sense of being ‘inside’ the game while donning these headphones.
Comfy and lightweight, the K702 has 3D-foam ear pads that mold gently to the ear. Made from genuine leather material, the headband is flexible to ensure a comfortable fit. Each set is individually tested for durability. They come with a detachable 3m long cable. The only thing about the K702 is that they need some time to be broken in before they start performing to their highest potential.
Today’s devices, such as portable MP3 players and smartphones, feature high definition audio – so you need an equally good pair of headphones to showcase this output. The K142 offers close-to-studio quality at an affordable price, making them a great choice for personal listening rather than professional use.
They have a frequency range from 16Hz to 24,000 Hz, and feature a semi-open design with high-end drivers. The large, inbuilt transducers with patented Varimotion technology provides higher sensitivity, a more accurate response, minimal distortion and an excellent dynamic range – from deep bass to clear mids and highs. A low impedance rating of 55Ohms means that the headphones are perfect for mobile environments. They work with almost all types of portable music devices, even older iPhones, as well as home stereos.
Function aside, the K142 aims to deliver a comfortable wearing experience and a stylish look. Lightweight but sturdy, the velvety ear pads sit on the ends of a self-adjusting headband that is flexible enough to fit different head shapes and sizes. A slim, single-sided cable connection features gold plated jacks for better connectivity and purer sound transmission. Made from oxygen-free material, it is resistant to corrosion and helps to enhance sound clarity.
While we can’t complain about their sound quality, the construction can be improved on. Long hours of wear seem to hurt the ears, even with a gimbal suspension which is supposed to keep the headphones from clamping down too hard.
Like the Tiesto K67 series, the Q701 is named after a prominent musician –the legendary American music producer and composer, Quincy Jones. But do these headphones live up to their prestigious name?
Considered one of AKG’s most accurate and responsive headphones, they are designed especially for studio use. Revolutionary flat-wire voice coils, coupled with patented Varimotion technology, create a dramatic soundstage with huge and airy three-dimensional sound. They are able to provide precise and realistic 360 degree ‘imaging’ (pinpointing a sound’s locationwith accuracy). To avoid sound distortion from overheating, the headphones are equipped with a high-performance neodymium magnet system.Meanwhile, thin, two-layer diaphgrams produce an accurate bass response, as well as sparkling highs and full-mids.The frequencies are relatively well-balanced, so if you’re looking for a bass-heavy pair of headphones, then the Q701 might not be your first choice.
With their bulky design and long cables, it’s obvious that the Q701 headphones were made for the studio. They can still be carried around – if you don’t mind wearing huge headphones in public.Despite their size, they are lightweight and the cups, which are covered with soft pleather, are built with comfort in mind. The headband has an adjustable pulley mechanism which allows users to fit them to different head sizes. They come in white and green colors, a departure from the usual black and grey.
That being said, there are certain limitations to the Q701. They can be ‘picky’ with audio sources, and will only sound good if you have very high quality music and an external amplifier. If you’re playing them with low quality MP3s or Youtube, the quality becomes distorted and harsh. They also need to be broken into, so allow them to play for some time in order to get the best quality.
<<Latest customer reviews and prices of AKG Q 701 Quincy Jones Signature Reference-Class Premium Headphones>>
Built for portability, the AKG K450 headphones are one of the smallest and most lightweight on this list. Theyare not studio grade, but work well with most portable music devices and home systems. Low impedance means that they are compatible with almost all electronic carry-on devices, even older models. This makes them a great choice for casual listeners who want something affordable, but which nevertheless offers solid performance and reliability.
Equipped with high performance drivers, the headphones can reproduce stunning detail, from frequencies as low as 11Hz to as high as 30,000 Hz. They have a dynamic range and can play well at high volumes, although the bass tends to outperform mids and trebles. The closed back design further helps to isolate external noise and prevent audio leakage.
Dubbed ‘mini’ headphones, their compact size makes them convenient to carry around. A unique 3D axis folding mechanism allows the headphones to collapse and lie flat into a carrying case, so these are the perfect companion to bring along on your travels. Meanwhile, soft ear pads and a padded headband provide a comfortable fit for long hours of wear. For further convenience, a single-sided, detachable cable runs out from one side of the headphones. They come with a jack plug that is corrosion resistant and gold-plated for maximum contact.
The K450 has its limitations, the most obvious one being the overwhelming bass. Sounds can be muddied, especially when played with low quality audio sources, so they might not be the best when it comes to highlighting subtle nuances, such as on classical or acoustic tracks. On the other hand, they manage well in noisy environments.