Pros: Comfort, light weight, wide stage, smooth and firm Bass
Cons: Odd headband design, neutral tone, upper region
The AKG K-712 drivers are not the same as the previous K-Series headphones. I feel better having said that. Fhew. I don’t want to bore you with more specification information in the beginning of this review, so I will start off with the Conclusion first. You can read the details afterward. That is just how I roll…#likeaboss
The End Credits
AKG has created a mini masterpiece in my opinion. I enjoy this headphone a great deal and it will become my go to reference headphone for the time being. She is slick, sexy, well balanced and crazy comfortable. Top that off with an unpicky nature when it comes to amplification and you’ve got yourself a real winner. I consider this headphone one of the best multi-media headphones produced lately. I can’t believe I am saying this, but this AKG headphone can sound great with rock and moderately bassy tracks. If you are a fan of the Hifman HE-500 or HE-400 but are a bit troubled by their fatiguing sound and weight, grab yourself one of these K-712′s or at least attempt to demo one. You will not be disappointed. The K-712 is buttery smooth and soft on the low end with more quantity than the previous K-Series headphones in the past. AKG has done a great job and this headphone is a gorgeous testament to how well a headphone in the mid-tier price range can sound.
I realize it is hard for people to accept the possibility that an AKG K-Series headphone can produce a solid low end. I know…crazy right? I was pleasantly surprised to hear the K-712 output very nice low end quantity with proper EQ functions in the mix. Certainly a few steps up in quantity over the K-701 or similar models. Don’t expect a Denon D-1100, D-5000 type low end or anything basshead worthy, but do expect a more than sufficient, well balanced and divinely executed low end. It seems the K-712 is a bit voracious when it comes to voltage despite its lowly 62ohm Impedance rating. I’ve noticed that with more power on a higher gain, the low end will reveal it’s true nature. Directly fed by my ALO International on High Gain, the experience is sufficient on the low end only with proper EQ of my portable source. Without it, the headphone sounds like a typical AKG headphone: lean on the low end and a bit thin overall. However, driven by my Burson Conductor SL the experience is exceedingly smooth and more than plentiful for me in sheer quantity so long as my source is capable of pushing solid low end. Broad and stark neutral, this headphone is a great contrast to something like the Audeze bass experience, which is much more focused and in your face, less broad sounding and much harder on the slam effect than the K-712′s softer tone.
No one quality in this headphone stands out from the rest. V-shape is totally absent from this headphone, which to me is a great thing. I hate recessed midrange or either of the three major quality factors ( Bass, Mids, Highs ) appearing more prominent than the other two in a physical sense. This is a very linear experience throughout the spectrum, very flat and well balanced sounding. Exceptional for multimedia usage and gaming in general. Dare I even say this is one of the best gaming and media headphones I’ve heard in many years.
Vocals seem a bit loose and panicked in their upper most areas, nothing serious and for the price I consider them very well set up. Not too relaxed but also not truly forward. This is not a common trait for a headphone with a stereo image that tall and wide, typically this type of sound stage experience results in a more relaxed and pushed back vocal experience. Somehow, AKG avoided that and pushed the mids upward just enough to blend seamlessly with the Bass and Highs.
Tracks like Jamie Foxx’s – Why off his album titled Intuition result in an unexpected smooth and balanced sound signature that I was not at all ready for. Upon first listen, I expected this headphone to be a clone of the K-701 with some minor tweaks, but was pleasantly surprised when that midrange and low end seemed more powerful and tonally balanced together. Certainly not as aired out or separated as the previous models before it, however the K-712 seems to produce exceptionally smooth and buttery bass along with the majority of the midrange. My only gripe is that the upper most area of the midrange seem a bit nasal to my ears, producing a little too much bite and hiss on notoriously sibilant tracks you might have in your collection. If the track is sibilant, the K-712 will sound sibilant. It is not at all a forgiving headphone when it comes to the upper midrange and above.
The major flaw of this headphone is certainly the upper region. I find it too unforgiving and too true to the track. It will sound sibilant and harsh if your track happens to sound that way, so do not expect a forgiving experience and soft natured upper regions on his headphone. Despite that, the highs are very responsive and require an excellent amplifier to properly tame. Properly tamed by my Burson Conductor SL using the 9018 chip, a Dac Chip that is one of the most beautifully dynamic and forgiving on the upper regions piece of equipment I’ve ever experienced, the entire K-712 journey on the upper region ends up inverting itself into a relaxed presentation. Summed up, use an amplifier known for stereo imaging qualities and very smooth, forgiving highs and you will be rewarded with a highly dynamic and tonally balanced experience throughout the entire audio spectrum. Beautiful. So beautiful in fact, I stopped using my Sennheiser HD700 completely. I have no desire to use it now, as I enjoy the flavor and overall balanced sound signature of the K-712 even more.
Bonus: Can’t do better than the Burson Conductor SL in my opinion, the amplifier literally made my ears melt with its sheer awesomness and ability to mesh with anything I tossed at it. From the LCD-3 to the K-712, the Conductor SL made everything sound great. Everything.
I can easily consider this K-712 a drastic improvement over the last generation of K-Series headphones, it really does seem more precise and more solid sounding than anything before it. With that, the stereo image separation takes a nose dive and turns into something more focused, more realistic and less splashy as the prior K-701 sounded. There is such a thing as having too large of a sound stage, as with that large stereo width comes the potential of the image sounding overly thin, stretched out and with a looming sense of ” something just isn’t right “. Thankfully, the K-712 fixed all of that and improved the sound stage quality in general, but lessened the overall width and separation by a fair degree. Expect a very nice stereo width with good separation qualities and good height, a solid low end combined with a solid midrange makes this headphone fairly well rounded. In fact, it might be the only well rounded AKG headphone I’ve ever heard.
The K-712 sounds a lot like the Sony MA900, which itself is a fantastic value, one that I consider better for movies and media in general due to being feather light and more noggin’ friendly with respect to it’s simple headband. Liked the MA900? You are going to love the K-712. Despite the MA900 not having the excellent pinpoint accuracy and less clarity all across the board vs the K-712, it still remains, in my opinion, the best all purpose headphone ever produced.
This headphone still sounds like a typical AKG set of cans with regard to the overall coloration and presentation flavor, which is somewhere between natural and studio monitor. Hard to say what the real sound type is here because the sound signature drastically changed when I swapped my Burson Conductor SL’s 9018 chip for the very warm 1793 chip, which itself is an upgraded dac chip similar to the one in the original Burson HA-160. Depending on the headphone, you’ll want to swap out. No question the 9018 is more clear, dynamic and solid, but the overall warmth and coloration of the K-712 almost took on an Audeze house flavor with that 1793 chip in the mix: Natural and a bit warm on the low end. Where as with the 9018 chip, the K-712 tended to sound more like the Hifiman headphones. Nice to see this K-712 responds marvelously well to different amplification sound signatures. At 64ohm impedance, the headphone is very easy to drive and functions very nicely off my iBasso DX50 even on low gain, but I suggest trying to acquire a better source with regard to bass output to do the K-712 justice on the low end.
For some reason, more power and driving force equates to a better bass experience. Taken from an already smooth and lean low even via just my DX50 and ALO Internation for example, to one of the smoothest low end experiences with plenty of quantity that I’ve heard in years with the Burson. The bass quality rivals the Hifiman HE-500, which in my opinion has one of the most pure low ends in it’s price tier. I think the K-712 with proper amplification and dacs can achieve stunning clarity on the low end and mid range. Again though, watch out for that upper region as it is very unforgiving. Thankfully, the Burson really tamed it and toned it way down.
No doubt about it, the K-712 is a real winner in my book. I’ve been using it a lot with online gaming and movies in general. Recently, a petition appeared in some online gaming communities to have me banned from playing on my favorite servers. I can hear the enemy from so far away and with such precision due to that wide stereo image, that I often get kicked out of the game by the server owners who think I am hacking. I admit, on some instant replays after I get my easy kills, it does seem like I had some type of foresight to know exactly where said enemy will be appearing behind, popping up out of or jumping over. As a gamer, I’ve never been happier. I consider the K-712 one of the best overall gaming headphones to date and have enjoyed every second of usage with it online. The headphone is very pinpoint accurate and due to it’s light weight design at around 240grams, it can be worn indefinitely and easily for hours if need be during your late night gaming sessions.
Bonus: Borderlands 2 is an Audiophiles playland in digital format. If you are an audio junky, do not miss this game. It has some of the most dynamic and professionally rigged audio in all of gaming history. Highly immersing, highly engaging and accurate. Bullets, explosions and character interactions are beautiful and recorded with extreme love, affection and detail and the entire Borderlands pilgrimage is nothing short of stunning with the K-712.
Keep an ear out for movies with poorly recorded upper regions, as bullets, explosions and screams are just too painful on the K-712 to begin to bare for me in some bluray and dvd movies. Without the Burson or a good receiver in the mix, I tread carefully when it comes to media usage in general. No fault of the K-712, it is certainly the fault of the films sound editor failing to do his job properly most of the time. Sometimes, the treble can get too hot, so be careful with those action movies or Shia LaBeouf incessant screaming scenes.
Despite the lightweight design, AKG still hasn’t learned that the giant halo design is undesirable. The K-550 has a beautifully designed and simplistic headband with a similar sized earcup design, so I see no reason for reverting right back to the Dark Ages of Audio when headbands were designed the way most AKG headphones are. The upper region is too unforgiving and unreflective of it’s price tag and require a dac or amplifier that can tame it. However, all other sonic qualities remain gorgeous. The K-712 is beautiful, boasting exceptional smoothness on the low end, a highly immersing stereo image and is something that will make online gamers very happy. AKG will be releasing the K-812 very soon and I am certainly willing to fight someone over a pit of acid and spikes just to be among the first to hear or review it.
8.5/10 Great Job, AKG!
Headphone type open
Audio Frequency bandwidth 10 to 39800 Hz
Sensitivity headphones 105 dB SPL/V
Max. Input Power 200 mW
Rated Impedance 62 Ohms
Detachable cable yes
Cable Length 3 m
Earpads Replaceable yes
Type Screw-on Jack Combo (1/4″ and 1/8″)
Interface Finish Gold
DIMENSIONS / WEIGHT
Length 113 mm
Width 199 mm
Height 212 mm
Net Weight 235 g