Pros: Top-Tier Reference Sound Quality, Top-Notch Build Quality, Excellent Comfort
Cons: Slightly Heavy
Me: I am a 21 year old student living in a small town in India. I would like to call myself a music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile. I was inspired by music since childhood, and as the time passed, the passion of music grew in me, and that subsequently led me to join Head-Fi. Eventually, I found the pleasure of listening to music mainly by the HD600 and recently, by the seductive LCD2 headphones, and realized the true components of recorded music. I usually like to listen to Indian Classical Music along with Bollywood songs. My main listening genres include classical, vocal, instrumental, jazz and sometimes pop. With time, my sonic preferences have very much grown. I avidly admire transparency, accuracy along with neutrality, & this has led me to review the AKG’s prestigious K812 flagship headphones.
Intro: AKG Acoustics (Akustische und Kino-Geräte G.m.b.H) is well recognized, established & one of the oldest audio brand specializing in the area of audio & headphones. They are headquartered in Vienna, Austria. The ‘K’ series line is a very popular and long running headphone offering from AKG. They have a specific vision in making their products: Their products should last long and should employ quality engineering for precise and accurate sound reproduction, with state of art cutting edge technology. All the headphones are designed by their engineers in Austria. Few headphones are manufactured in China. The K812 headphones the flagship & best headphones AKG can offer today. K812 replaced K712 as flagship headphones in the year of 2013. These are studio reference headphones. The pair I will reviewing belongs to latest batch & current year manufacturing. The K812 is completely manufactured in Slovakia.
Founded in 1947 by Dr. Rudolf Görike & Ernst Pless. Originally, their main aim was to provide technical equipment for cinemas: loudspeakers, film projectors and light meters. Their business slowly expanded and AKG started selling car horns, door intercoms, carbon capsules for telephones, headsets and cushion speakers. The first AKG microphone was used by radio stations & Theaters. AKG developed its first patents, the moving coil technology and the principle of mass load membranes, allowing its products to have extended frequency ranges.
With the creation of the D12 microphone in 1953, AKG achieved international fame, setting the standard for voice transmissions. Being the world's first dynamic cardioid microphone, it possessed excellent sonic qualities for that time, making its way into radio stations and recording studios from across the world. In 1994, AKG was acquired by Harman International Industries, and they later setup AKG USA’s headquarters in California.
In 2010, AKG Acoustics received a Grammy Award for the work the company has done in the recording field.
Specifications of K812:
Dimensions / Weight
Let us see what the K812 has got for us,
Packaging and Accessories: The K812’s arrive packed inside a very premium and heavy black cardboard box. The box has a magnetic lock. Once the box is flipped open, The K812 is seen resting on the Sieveking headphone stand, which provided by AKG in the box. Nothing fancy, basic accessories included. But each and every part has a premium quality and feel to it.
List of accessories in the box, which include the following:
Headphone Cable: About 2.5 meters long, terminating in 3.5mm.
Headphone Stand: Excellent quality universal headphone stand to display headphones when not in use.
¼” Screw on Converter: To plug in the K812 in the 6.5mm headphone jacks.
User Manual: Contains instructions to operate the K812 and other warranty information.
Design and Build: AKG’s K812 has a top notch build quality. It employs metal constructions in most of the areas. AKG K812 headphones use suspended headband which can be manually adjusted for precise fit, which ensures in least possible physical pressure on head. The headband has a foam-pleather base with ventilation vents, & is very accurately angled. It is attached to the main headphone frame which holds the headphone together.
The K812 has an extremely sophisticated build with high technology materials & latest scientific designs. The manual adjustment of headband distance can be adjusted by pushing he button and sliding gently as desired. The K812 is designed in such a remarkable manner, that clamping force is almost zero. This is the first time I have ever come across a headphone (along with Sennheiser HD800) which offers such luxurious design & engineering elements.
The K812 is a fully open headphone, hence has vents for air intake at either side of headphone. Driver shell rotates about its own axis to fit various types of human skulls. The whole headphone is supported on by the two parallel outer headband beams, which are flexible and adopting. These also carry wiring for opposite driver (right). The K812 carries all-new and latest generation top notch performance drivers developed by engineers at AKG specifically for K812 alone. This driver carries an extremely powerful 1.5 Tesla magnetic field capable magnet. The diameter is 53mm, one of the largest drivers ever made. The sound waves coming towards out of drivers are treated to ‘air’ by open mesh, allowing air to blend with sound waves for a very airy presentation.
Cable has a very good build. It is straight, flexible and does not get tangled. I could not notice the presence of any microphonics. Plug is straight and gold plated. The stock cable does a great job in transferring signals along with great transparency. The cable on headphone has three pins, and is configured for single end termination; balanced mode mode is not supported. Please note: While inserting cable plug into K812’s socket, carefully align to the indicating red line and gently push in. To remove the cable, gently pull out.
Comfort: K812’s are excellently comfortable to wear, even for longer sessions. These feel really wll designed as per human analogy. Clamp force is almost non existent, and ears have been given an excellent space to reside, do not touch anywhere. The earpads are made up of leather, are high quality ones. The Space inside the earpads is also great, great amount of depth and space. The earpads on K812 are designed such that, the area of contact around the ears or anywhere is made as less as possible, and clamp force is reduced to almost zero: This will result in an excellent comfort.
These ear pads are very soft & flexible in nature, which ensures in better comfort & adoption without compromising consistency, and also in durability of the pads themselves. The earpads can be removed to clean or replace with a simple anti-clockwise horizontal twist. These earpads are called as “Sound Sealer” by AKG. Hence, K812 ‘s earpads seal out & engulf the user’s ears, rather than sitting around the ears. Single downside in this department weight, as the K812 weighs slightly on heavy side with 390 grams (owing to its solid build) feels slightly heavy on worn on. But again the excellent design factor makes up for it.
Overall, The K812’s are one of the worlds most well designed and most comfortable headphones.
Sound: The K812 has a vastly neutral “mesmerizing” sonic character. ‘Accuracy, Transparency, Details’ are the key terms. Emphasis is not given at any particular frequency range; all ranges are completely flat, making these truly spectacular reference headphones.
Burn in: These perform consistently, and I could not observe any major sonic change with burn in. I have heard these from right out of the box till few hundred hours.
Lows: are very accurate, tight and refined; has a strong impact. Depth is excellent, the lows go very deep with authority. They also have an appreciable amount of body & quantity
Mids: Neutral, very detailed & transparent. Special mention is about the naturalness and tonality. The mids of K812 are very neutral, but are presented in an extremely silky manner.
Highs: Very are clear, extended, airy & detailed. Very transparent & sensitive as per the given setup & recording.
Soundstage: The K812’s soundstage is breathtakingly airy, spacious, and fully circular 3D life like soundstage. Imaging is again spatial, with instruments placements very accurately positioned. Component/instruments are clearly and vividly separated and explained in a very detailed manner. According to my observation, these headphones are very neutral, and accurately represent the given recording. Given its transparent nature, I can say the K812’s are strictly not forgiving to poor recordings. Hence these are transparent, revealing and resolving.
Comparison: Let us take a brief look at other popular top notch & excellent performing headphones available in similar price point.
I would like to compare the AKG’s“mesmerizing” K812 to Sennheiser’s “mighty” HD800 & Audeze’s “passionate” LCD-2F. All these three headphones are open backs, over ear. They are also very neutral by sonic response, but presented in different fashions. These are all top notch headphones and one of the world’s finest.
Sennheiser HD800: A Solid performer and a well established headphone, which is sonically extremely good performing. Sonically it is vastly neutral with no emphasis on any frequency range. But highs are very sensitive to the setup & recording used. HD800 definitely feels (and indeed is) Lighter than K812 by weight. The HD800 is also slightly more comfortable owing its design & comfort principles that is compatible with majority of users. After intensive listening, I could observe K812 was comparatively ahead in performance in the following departments: In rest of the aspects, HD800 is marginally superior.
Lows: The K812 audibly has a deeper Lows with more authority without compromising its neutrality. Accuracy, detailing is same on both headphones.
Tonality: The K812 delivers a very realistic tonality which feels very silky & is simply mesmerizing when compared to HD800, which has a relatively vast flat mids.
Soundstage depth & layering: This where HD800 is left behind by K812. The overall depth across depth offered in K812 is simply amazing & spectacular, the stage goes very deep. But when the matter comes to width & height, HD800 performs better.
Amping: HD800 is very sensitive when it comes to headphone amplifiers, and it promptly points out the different between various amps in a accurate fashion. Whereas the K812 is comparatively more steady and accommodating to amps, so it ‘goes along’ with amps without much fuss. Also the K812 is much more efficient & easier drive when related to HD800.
Summary: Both are extremely good performing headphones, and differ by final presentation delivered. Considering overall sonic traits, AKG’s K812 will sound slightly more ‘musical & enjoyable’ but without compromising its technical or reference deliverance aspect. Technically, HD800 is a more suitable headphone for critical listening and mastering purposes. But the K812 is more versatile & stable, proving to be great with mastering as well as music listening.
Both HD800 & K812 are top-notch reference class headphones & perform amazingly.
Audeze LCD-2F: Without a second thought, it offers the most accurate, linear & deepest lows of all headphones in sub 1000$. Mids are presented in a beautiful manner with ‘thickness’ and has a lovable realistic tonality. Highs although accurate, do not have enough details. Soundstage is very good and circular, but nowhere near the capabilities of HD800 & K812. Therefore the LCD-2F is not technically superior when compared to HD800 & K812. LCD-2’s strength elsewhere: In music listening. HD800 & K812 are reference level headphones whereas the LCD-2 is a headphone designed and aimed primarily for music listening.
The LCD-2 is one of the heaviest headphones (by physical weight), and this makes the LCD-2 to make a compromise in comfort department. Although , the LCD-2’s already have a very good comfort & ergonomics (when weight factor is excluded). The strong point for LCD-2 will be primarily music listening, LCD-2 presents itself in a complete opposite fashion than that of HD800 & K812. Hence, it is safe to say, if HD800 & K812 are on one bank of river, then the LCD-2 is on the other one. They are completely opposite& never meet.
The HD800 & K812 are superior reference level headphones whereas the LCD-2 is a headphone designed and aimed primarily for music listening.
Amplification: These K812’s are rated at 36 ohms and are indeed designed to be power efficient, can be run comfortably by DAP’s. But since these are top tier reference headphones, the K812’s scale really well with setups, and an well performing amp/dac is strongly recommended for optimal performance delivery. The K812 very much appreciates amplifiers which are revealing or transparent with powerful current output. Ideal amp/dac with a good match/performance for K812 include: Objective2/Odac & Schiit Magni/Modi Stack, amongst few others. These devices are very much affordable and are easily available.
Conclusion: The K812 headphones are phenomenal performing headphones. It is one of the few amazingly performing top tier reference headphones. The K812 is the flagship headphones from AKG, and the K812 is the absolute best which a renowned brand like AKG can offer. The K812’s deliver a breathtaking sonic performance. These deliver exactly what is fed into them, thus making the K812’s a technically ideal & extremely transparent headphones. Absolutely Mesmerizing & Marvelous pair of superior reference headphones by AKG.
Top-Tier Reference Sound quality: “Mesmerizing” Sound presentation here is vastly neutral, with excellent response from across frequency band, and is very much helpful for critical listening as well as for casual musical pleasure. K812 is very responsive, with great speed. With sheer amount of transparency & speed, the K812’s are simply one of the best top-tier performance headphones one can access get today. It performs extremely well and is neck-to-neck with HD800 by performance.
Top notch Build Quality: AKG K812 is very well engineered and designed. It is the showcase of AKG’s engineering. It is wisely built, by using cutting edge technology materials which provide a very durable life for the headphones. These are made in Slovakia with individual attention to each unit.
Excellent Comfort: Owing to their scientific & ergonomic design, including near zero clamping force & engulfing earpads, the K812’s feel very welcoming & comfortable.
Value: AKG K812 puts up an extremely good performance and it is definitely worthy for its offering price. This makes K812 a fantastic purchase for professionals & enthusiasts alike.
Weight: The K812 weighs 390 grams, which is slightly on the weightier side. But this factor is mostly not noticed while worn, and is very much comfortable owing to its well implemented & ergonomic design.