I have always been partial to the AKG headphones having used and loved my old K240s for over 10 years and part the reason has been simply the sense of quality. Though I have not test driven other popular headphones such as Sennheiser I have simply loved the sound of the AKG for my ears so have continued to trust them. My other monitoring headphones consist of AKG K240, KRK 8400, Sony MDR-7506. I also have a pair of Turtle Beach Z7even gaming headphones for games and testing mixes on consumer headphones.
Pros: Very comfortable, Great sound!
Cons: Delicate construction
Model: K712 Pro
As I said I have used the K240 (Version 1) for over 10 years and loved them. The only limitation I found over the years was a lack of low end reproduction which was a known limitation of the K240 even with the MKII (which appeared to use the same driver just new style). Reference headphones should be known to the buyer as not the most aggressive sound for your iPod but as a way to reproduce the audio as close as possible to the actual source without colouring it. This is what you want in reference headphones and to get very accurate results you need to be looking much higher up the scale. But at this price point you can easily make do with quality options such as this.
I use to use monitor headphones all the time until I actually put Monitor speakers in place which work much better for long sessions but now with young kids and bed times in my house even with my studio sealed up I still needed to rely on headphone mixing at night and the K240s were tired, starting to show age and I did often struggle to mix the low ends correctly so I started a years worth of research before landing on the K712 Pro.
The main reasons I decided on these headphones specifically was because I loved the AKG brand due to the good run I had, I love the headband arrangement (almost unnoticeable with long periods of mixing) and after researching I was pleased to see they had focused development on the low end of the frequency scale. I was keen to see how they compared to my K240s
Opening the box it is apparent these are AKG headphones with the distinctive suspension headband (my favorite design of all headphones). The ear cups were a soft felt padding instead of the leather padding I was use to but all components including the ear cups are replaceable.
Taking them out the box I was hit with how light they felt and also that they felt a lot more "plastic" than the older K240s. Funnily comparing both there really wasn't much difference but the K712 did initially appear more delicate. These are not a good option to throw in a bag and carry around as the cups are quite big but this is not their intended function.
Connectors, cables and build wise the headphones all seemed pretty good but possibly because of the different ear cups showing more plastic and the lack of leather cups I felt they were of slightly cheaper quality than older models.
It should be noted that AKG originally manufactured in Austria but now seems to offload manufacture of the headphones to different countries (Slovakia is where mine came from). They seem to have to compete with the flood of headphones hitting the markets now.
Here are the standout features of these headphones:
- Frequency response: 10-35800Hz
- 3m Detachable cord + Separate coiled cord
- Auto-adjusting headband
- Large semi-open over ear cups
- 3.5mm plug with screw on 6mm adapter
- Serviceable ear cups, cord, pads
- Improved low frequency response
In the box you get the headphones with a 3m straight cable and a shorter coiled cable and a 3.5-6.5mm screw on adapter along with a nice felt storage pouch and an AKG sticker!
Sound Quality & Comparison
The first thing I did was to open a track I had been working on that had a lot of low end and kicking drums to see how they performed. Instantly I could hear the bass much better than my K240s to the point I had to check my monitor speakers were in fact not enabled. The mids and highs were also very clear and that part of the mix which was already balanced sounded just as expected.
A test I like to do is open certain instruments (909 Kick, Bass line, Violin etc) and play solo to test the performance of the frequencies. This is where I noticed a defect in my headphones that would not have been found if just listening to music. The right earphone had a small buzz/vibration as if something was touching the diaphragm. This was disappointing but I sent the headphones back, received another pair and these did not have the same issue.
Comparing directly to the K240s I liked the sound much better and instantly wanted to make the switch. To my ears the K712 offered the same detail and quality but addressed the low end limitations I had put up with for so long.
Compared to my KRK headphones the AKG K712 sounded much richer and offered better low end also. The KRKs were suppose to be my next replacement for the K240s but I was not happy with the actual sound nor the comfort of them. They have a different sound so can be used to cross check the K712 and at similar prices I would have to recommend the K712 any day over the KRKs.
In regards to sound, these headphones have a low impedance (62 ohms) driver which translates to a lot of power transfer from most headphone amps. This means they can be driven loud on low output systems (such as an ipod). This is the same for most of the AKG headphones which is one of the things I love about them.
Value for Money
Looking at options you can spend easily $1000+ on a really good set of headphones or as little as $90. I believe these are right in the middle of the market and the sound and comfort is well priced. Of course if you can stretch the budget to the higher end there is always the K812 or similar but at a cost over $1K this may be reserved for the full professional. The other end of the scale you can pick up the K240 MKII for around $200 or the older MK1 can be found now for about $100 still new and are both great choices but do lack the lower end detail.
As with other AKG "K" headphones the self adjusting headband means they fit anyone's head straight away and simply cup over the ears with almost no real sense of weight. The soft velvet cups are very comfortable (more so than leather) and I found myself wanting to use them instead of having to use them. The addition of some new improved headphones and the new clarity of sound and detail I had missed in headphone monitoring made me excited to get back into production again. Even with the first pair having a fault I could still not recommend these enough and having used a number of headphones over the years the AKG still remain my favorites.
I still use the K240s (now with replaced ear cups and inner pads) simply to cross reference sound between different headphones. Just as there is no single one microphone that is "the best" there is no one single set of headphones that can do everything and having a few different options is nice to change things up. Worth a look in anyway.