Pros: [With screen mod]: Exceptional detail, open soundstage, excellent instrument separation, excellent dynamics, speaker-like sound, a pleasure to hear!
Cons: Sort of uncomfortable, bass weaker than I like, hard to drive properly, mids/bass slightly slower than the treble., slight incoherence of mids/highs.
I normally don't write long or extensive reviews, but this product has really exceeded my expectations!
I recently bought a pair of NOS AKG K340 headphones from a Headfi member in Austria.
I have been using a borrowed HeadAmp GS-1 amp, until mine arrives from HeadAmp next month, a Harman/Kardon HK3490 receiver, and Marantz CD5003 and CD5001 cd player with them.
I have been listening to a WIDE VARIETY of music, including live, acoustic, classic country, classic rock, pop, r&b, etc., on them.
They are definitely the bass light version.
At first they were thin, bright, with a somewhat constricted headstage, and had almost no bass.
I was rather disappointed.
I then took the stock plastic screens off, and replaced them with some fabric screens that came off my other modded K340's, with a dead driver, and WOW, what a difference this simple mod made!
The bass became deeper and more powerful, the mids and treble openned up, the brightness and thinness almost completely went away, and the soundstage opened up considerably!
The only drawbacks I am hearing from the fabric screens compared to the stock screens is the fact that it seems to takes slightly more volume to get the same sound level, and the lower treble seemed to recess slightly, which really is not a big deal at all to me.
These headphones are truly killer now.
They have the remarkable ability to sound both dynamic, natural, and organic, plus have remarkable speed, openness, clarity, and detail in the mids and treble at the same time!
They sound remarkably like my Paradigm Reference Studio 100 version 2 loudspeakers somehow strapped to my ears! The only real areas where the Paradigms surpass them is in the bass and imaging departments.
The treble, in particular, is outstanding.
The electret element is remarkably fast, clear, detailed, and open, and adds considerable "air", and spaciousness to the sound.
I really hate to admit this but I actually like them better than both my AKG K702 and my Sennheiser HD600 headphones in most areas! This is remarkable considering how old the AKG K340's are.
I feel they have better dynamics, naturalness, openness, spaciousness, and clarity than either of the newer headphones, and overall, the K340's just sound more lifelike than either. The top-end on the 340's is more extended and faster than either the K702 or the HD600, IMHO.
The 600's do have alittle more bass power and extension, and may have a flatter overall frequency response, and better coherence, but the 340 is superior in the other areas I named above.
The K702 rivals the midrange and treble detail of the 340's, and may even be superior in some areas, but the 340's don't have the slight peak in the upper mids/lower treble that the 702's exhibit, and the top-end is superior on the K340, in my opinion. The mids on the K340's are also richer, and seem to have a better, and more accurate tone, than the 702's.
Compared to my Beyerdynamic DT880's that I owned, the 340's are actually similarly balanced, except the 880's are slightly more recessed in the mids. The highs are actually similar, except the 340's top-end sounds slightly faster, and seems to have slightly quicker decay.
Another thing my particular K340's seem to display better than the HD600's, K702's, and DT880's is a sense of a 3-dimensional quality to the sound thats hard to explain or describe exactly, and an uncanny ability to separate instruments, and put air around them.
Another thing I like about my K340's is that different recordings sound alot different as far as equalization goes when they were recorded! I hear differences in the way recordings were mixed and equalized better on the K340's than I hear on the 600, 702, and 880. I can also occasionally hear strengths and flaws in familiar recordings, that I have not noticed as much before on the other headphones.
Are they the perfect headphones? No.
The weaknesses I hear with my K340's are a slight lack of bass power and extension, the electret element doesn't quite blend perfectly with the dynamic driver, and it is noticeably faster than the dynamic driver, which leads to some incoherence between the bass/mids/highs.
I also wish they were alittle more comfortable, and alittle easier to drive.
Needless to say, my K340's are getting considerably more headtime than any of my other headphones, and I love 'em!
I cannot imagine how good a Headphile modded K340 by Larry would sound!
I may send him a stock pair sometime soon and let him work his magic on them.
I have another stock pair coming in a few days that I will either use for spare parts, or have them modded.
I would absolutely love to see a MODERN implementation of this two-way technology in a new headphone, using a similar electret, planar, or a super fast dynamic driver for the highs, and a ring radiator driver or similar unit for the bass/mids, using modern computer modeling, advanced diaphragm materials, modern magnet systems, and advanced driver housings, etc.
Now that would be something to behold...and hear!