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AKG K812

100% Positive Reviews
Rated #112 in Over-Ear


Pros: natural sound, high resolution, great imaging

Cons: unforgiving, sometimes tizzy

Review AKG K812




Regarding the craftship and comfort I can just say: It is really top notch and compares to the world bests favorably. The aluminum parts look very nice and the design is a future classic. They look much better in real than on any photo. The only down side is the cable. While the Lemo connector on the headphone is excellent quality the rest seems to come from a 50€ can. Aftermarket cable maker will make a fortune. There is no chance to use a balanced cable without extensive mods. In short the cable is a shame for the asked price.


The headphone was burnt in with >100h and all comparisons were made after level matching with pink noise.


The focus of this Review will be a comparison to the standard recommendations in the >1000€ (or $) class. The main contenders will be Sennheiser HD800, Hifiman HE-6 (on a great speaker amp like my PASS Aleph J) Audeze LCD2 and my personal reference for a monitoring headphone the STAX SR-X MK3 PRO.


Regarding the reference phones not mentioned in the review I can just state that the Beyerdynamic T1 is clearly beaten. The Audeze LCD3 and TH900 are technically good they are colored while the K812 is a monitor with a flat frequency response and has better detail retrieval. It is even more neutral than any now in production Stax phone except SR-009. The sound has an airiness and resolution that reminds me a lot of my beloved electrostatics.


Even AKG claims, and many users restated it, that the K812 is easy to drive I don't agree. Of course the high sensitivity doesn't call for a lot power. Out of the iPhone, iPod, iPad, Centrance Hifi M8 I had the impression of a too bright can. Nevertheless out of the iPad its sound quality beats all over ears I have heard to date directly from an Apple device. But the K812 sounded much better out of the Bryston BHA-1 and Violectric V200. The soundstage just opened up and the slight sibilance became less.



The K812 is in this area simply world class. It is on par with good electrostatics and a well  driven HE-6. I can not get what Tyll heared here when he stated the the HD800 is is a higher resolving headphone than the K812. In my opinion the K812 wins quite clear.



Well balanced sound over the whole frequency range. It reminds me a lot of my Stax SR-X MK3 PRO and that is the most honest and sometimes even brutal revealing monitor I have ever heared. So AKG has really met the goal of a professional studio monitor. Only the highs are sometimes a bit harsh specially with not optimal recordings.

All instruments on the K812 sound very real and life like.



 More bass quantity and quality than the HD800. The picked bass notes of a contrabass are easily discerned. Nevertheless it is beaten by the bass of the HE-6 and LCD2. They go substantially deeper. Even with the Bryston BHA-1 the K812 the sub 30Hz bass is nearly non existent. And the deep tones of the orthodynamics are firmer and more on the dry side. Maybe this is the result of the measured high distortion in the K812 bass department.



The cleanest mids I have ever heared in a dynamic headphone. The mids are slightly less neutral than on the HE-6 and Stax SR-X MK3. But compared to the K812 the voices on the Hd800, LCD2 or Denon AH-D5000 are kind of too fat. They add a warmth that is not in the recording.



This is the first point for me to criticise.  The super heights >10 KHz are excellent. But the 8. Octave is not done well. It has a 6KHz peak like the HD800 but it is less prominent. And then there is a second peak in the lower treble (3-4 KHz). This might add to the impression of the extreme high resolution in the voice department. The K812 is also slightly sibilant, even more than other bright headphones light HD-800, HE-6 and AH-D5000.

I can get why Tylls' first impression was tizzy. With a little parametric equalization the Problem is easily solved. (-3 dB at 3.5 kHz and 0,3 oct. Bandwidth + -2dB at 6KHz 0,3 oct. Bandwidth) I used Beyonces ingenious 'Single Ladies' for those tests.



The K812 rules this category, it is simply on par with the best I have ever heared. Each instrument and voice has a well defined place and there is plenty of air around it. The only headphone I know of that is better in this is the pricey Stax SR-009.



 The depth is as good as the HD800 but it is much wider with the Sennheiser. Especially with symphonic music is the difference quite big. The Soundstage is  comparable with the HE-6.



The AKG shows clearly any change in the chain feeding it. I have never found a headphone that acts so sensitive to the change of the DAC and amp. Especially bright sources or amps like the Mytec DSD192 or the CEntrance Hifi M8 make the K812 even more sibilant.



The K812 lacks completely this attribute. It is a studio monitor and can sound brutally honest. Friends of the TH900 or LCD2/3 will always miss something with the AKG. Even the HD800 ads a more mellow sound to voices and the very neutral HE-6 sounds more euphonic. 

Recording Quality: The K812 shows merciless any mastering error.


A slight noise floor in the background will be revealed more than with any other phone except my Stax SR-X MK3 pro and that is the most revealing can I ever found until this day. Bad recordings are a torture with the K812.


Now a few comparisons with music samples



Beethoven Symphony 9, Leonard Bernstein, Ode an die Freiheit Like mentioned before I think the HD800 is better for big orchestral music. With the Sennheiser you have the feeling of watching the stage of the Berlin performance from the 4th row while you sit on the stage with the K812. But the tonality of the K812 and HE-6 is better here. The huge resolution of the K812 is really amazing. You can hear many details of the ten thousands in the audience like somebody sneezing another dropping something etc.


Miles Davis, Kind of Blue

I like the soundstage and imaging of the K812 better with this classical album. The smaller and more intimate presentation is more like the original setting (I know this recording nearly by heart with many stereo systems). To hear the slapping of the Bass, Evans piano strumming and Davis pressing of the valves is simply stunning. It is as detailed as the Stax SR-X MK3 pro. Only the sub bass of the LCD2 is quite a bit better and the piano sounds more natural with the HE-6.


Kodo, Heartbeat Drummers of Japan

The LCD2 is a force with this recording. You can nearly physically feel the size of the big drums and that is a quality you don't find on the K812. But all the details of the noises around and the sticks hitting the drum are really impressive. And the imaging is more precise than the HD800. With this album I see a draw between the K812 and my HE-6.                            


Kings of Leon, Mechanical Bull

This was the surprise of the listening session. The AKG was amazing good with this record when compared to the alleged rocker LCD2. The Audeze sounded slow compared to the K812. But the HE-6 made the guitars sounding more real.


Leonard Cohen, The Essential

Cohens voice is my personal standard for how real and lifelike a headphone sounds. Every can presents that rough voice in a different manner. The K812 presented his voice quite nice only the female background vocalists sounded sibilant sometimes. The HD800 makes the voices sounding more beautiful than they are by adding some weight to the 4-5 octave. The K812 is more true to the recording here. Nevertheless the HE-6 stays my favorite.



The K812 is in the sum of its attribute the best dynamic headphone you can buy new at the moment. It is a genre master as long as the recording is good.  He wins on the Bryston BHA-1 even against my beloved HE-6. But on a Pass amp the Hifiman flagship is still another beast and wins by a small margin. And my SR-X MK3 keeps the crown of the most accurate headphone.

I would not recommend the K812 as sole headphone. For bad recordings you would need something more forgiving like an Audeze, Denon D5000/7000, Fostex TH900/600, HE500 or a HD650.


But it is an excellent choice for those looking for a real high resolving can.


Pros: Organic, realistic, detailed and excellent imaging

Cons: Unforgiving of weakness in chain

I have owned the AKG K702 for a few years now. Of course, it is one of the most difficult to drive full sized cans around. If not properly driven, it sounds rather bright and is bass light. Feed it enough power, the sound you get out of it is rich and there some serious bass there. The K702 was under appreciated by the general public but a jealously guarded little secret of audiophiles who knew its true nature. It was also many years since AKG first came out with the K702 as its flagship headphone. 


We all despaired if AKG would ever rise to such heights again. Of course, AKG surprised us a few years back with the AKG K3003 which was a phenomenal little in ear monitor, with a soundstage like it thought it was a pair of full sized cans.


As to how I came upon the AKG K812, I have two good audiophile friends in Singapore to thank: Joe and Ken. When the AKG K812 was showcased in Singapore last December during Mook, I was laid up in bed because of a bad bout of flu. Immediately after that, I travelled to NYC for a few weeks. Hence, I did not hear about the buzz the K812 caused during Mook. However, separately, both of them swore blind that they thought it was the best dynamic in the market and that I would love it. Perhaps I should explain - the both of them almost NEVER agree on any iem or can. This had to be a first. I knew it was a sign... So, when limited stock arrived at Jaben, I made sure that I had one. Wilson and Claire were kind enough to set one aside for me. 


As a background, I have practically all the TOTL headphones: LCD 2 & 3, HD800, Beyerdynamic T1, Hifiman HE-6, HE-5LE, HE-500, Fostex TH900, plus all the higher end Grados (save for the PS1000) and the Abyss. 



Build Quality


The build quality of the AKG K812 is good. There is a nice hefty solid feel about them. It doesn't feel too heavy, certainly nothing close to the Audezes. I particularly liked the ear pads which was oh so comfortable and my ears fit nicely within.


The only downside is that the cable connection is similar to the old AKGs, ie. on one side only. Further, while the connectors that are used seem solid enough, they are not the common mini-XLR used in the AKG K702, which means that you couldn't rotate after-market cables between the two AKGs.



Comfort and Isolation


What I found with the K812 is that it was very well fitting for me. The clamping force of the headband was just nice and there is never any fear that it may just slip off. And yet when i'm wearing the K812, I don't notice it is there even if I wear it most of the day. 


As you may expect from an open can, the isolation is moderate at best. 



Music Genres


I have a very wide repertoire of music in my music collection: all the way from medieval church music to Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra to Diana Krall, Holly Cole, Stacey Kent, Rumer to classic music to modern pop.


What is enjoyable about the K812 is that it is at least competent with all genres. There are some in which I find I do enjoy tremendously and that would be jazz vocals, opera and acoustic vocals. I have even listened to Calvin Harris and Above & Beyond on these cans without any issue. 


I don't actually worry about finding particular genres to listen to when I am on the K812: I just pick any album on the JRemote on my iPad and just hit play with full confidence that nothing but realistic and organic goodness will fill my ears. 



Sound Quality


The K812 are very well balanced: the trebles are extended, the mids are full and have a lovely timbre, the bass is deep yet tight. On top of this, the K812 has a wide and deep soundstage while maintaining beautiful layering, accurate imaging and excellent details.


Of course, there have been reports of tizzy trebles, but to date I cannot say I have heard any. As for some critics claiming that its soundstage is not as wide as the HD800, whilst that is true, the depth and layering of K812's soundstage cannot be beat. And it does make for a much more organic and natural representation of the music.





What I will say is that next to only the Abyss, this is the pair of cans that has the capacity to take my breath away or move me so.


I currently run my AKG K812 with Toxic Cables Black Widow. I wanted a fuller and more detailed sound from the K812 - no change in basic sig of the can but something which could communicate more than the very sad stock cable. On a side note, AKG K702 owners will be glad to know that AKG didn't discriminate against the K702: the stock cable of the K812 is just as flimsy.


My desktop rig at home comprises of a modded Mac Mini (with external linear PSU), Bricasti M1 DAC and then balanced out to the Bryston BHA-1 and RCA to the Woo Audio WA2. I will say that I am particularly fond of the sweet organic sound, with a wonderful intimate soundstage, that the K812 produces with the WA2. Of course, I also run it off the Bryston, with which the soundstage opens up and the K812 is more dynamic.





In my cosy little musical universe, the AKG K812 comes only second to the Abyss in the pleasure it constantly gives me. This is a pair of headphones which are organic while being transparent  and detailed. AKG rises again!


Pros: spacious, good separation, natural and even across the spectrum

Cons: expensive

i've read a number of reviews around the net which criticize the k812's for harsh treble and limited bass - all i can say is that my experience with these 'phones does NOT bear that out. the bass criticisms appears to come from people who want to listen to dubstep. i don't know what dubstep is. the treble criticisms come from people who are listening to some types of pop music with which, again, i am not familiar.

i am using these phones sourced out of an ibasso dx90   i am listening ONLY to classical and jazz flac files, and the sound is wonderful.

for example, i spent time last night comparing 4 versions of schubert's "death and the maiden" - and the source and phones revealed significant differences among the performances. they revealed not only the obvious ones of tempo, phrasing, and expressiveness, but also differences in how the groups were miked and/or sound mixed/engineered.

the lindsays sounded as if they were recorded while playing in a warehouse, with an open, hollow and slightly distant tone, especially for the cello which sounded a little muffled or veiled. the alban berg quartet and the takacs had a better sound, very clean and present, while the melos recording made me feel like i was sitting amongst the players, and could feel the bows being drawn across the strings. the high notes in the andante movement were intense, expressive and clear- very much revealed by both the source and the headphones, without any sibilance or "tizziness."  in the melos version, the cello was rich and more present throughout in a way that i very much enjoyed.

i then spent an hour or two listening to jazz. charlie haden and pat methany's version of "first song (for ruth)" showed off haden's bass work. the bass notes were deep and rich, the sound of the strings being plucked very clear, while also being tightly controlled without any loose or blubbery sound. the piano on jacky terrason's "nardis" was very much present, not at all recessed or veiled, across the full spectrum of the instrument. some brazilian jazz-pop by maria rita carried the vocals forward. they were lively and caught her occasional slightly gutteral or raspy sounds.


through all the music, classical or jazz, the phones presented a spacious soundstage, with good separation of instruments, but with the size of the soundstage varying with the recording.  in the schubert, for example, the lindsays had a 180-210o wide soundstage, while the melos quartet was spread over only 120-150o.

bottom line: i'm very happy with these headphones.  i can't speak to their application for other forms of music, but for what i want to listen to, they're great.


edit- to add a note about comfort- i listened for several hours yesterday and there was no fatigue. they're extremely light and comfortable, so much so that i didn't even think to comment on it.


Pros: Big soundstage, good for monitoring

Cons: But not good for music listening. Very hard to drive.

This is the first time I give a lower than 5 star rate. The reason I say tha K812 is not good for music listening is because K812 seems to has it own way to illustrate music: it seems like K812 likes to confine every piece of music in a certain room with a stress of bass. This is good because that will ensure you hear something familiar every time you use K812. The strong signature is definitely for pros who do not want to waste time getting familiar with a headphone again and again.  But for those who are not basshead or those who want to hear "music free in style", this strong signature is a big big big problem. 


The sound is a bit dark, detailed but no way balanced. To much bass; imaging is good in a bad way (Clear, wonderful imaging, you can see everything but the singer seems to be in an awkward position: behind/is the drumer) treble sounds uncontrolled like hell if you don't drive it properly; sounds depressing as if I was listening via closeback phones




Bottom line:  Remember these are monitor headphones. Don't waste you time if you are not a pro. 



Pros: open, detailled, neutral, analytic


Now I correct the Google translate - I use http://www.dict.cc/ and my (small) knowledge of English 
I hope its a bit better now! :k701smile:
AKG K812 Pro
Type: open.back  dynamic headphones
Sensitivity: 110 dB SPL / V
Rated impedance: 36 Ohms
Max output power: 300 mW
Cable: 99.99 % oxygen - free with genuine LEMO connector
V- WCBV @ 94 dB SPL = 300 mV
Magnet: 1.5T
Net Weight: 390 g
More about: http://www.akg.com/k812-1308.html
My first impressions that can not yet be final. And, I accentuate always, these are my personal impressions without any claim to absoluteness!
High-quality packaging, covered with black cloth, hinged lid, fully molded tray, headphone stand made of laminated wood.
The essential parts of the K812 Pro headphone are made of high quality aluminum. By a gimbal mounting, the seat fits perfectly on the head shape.
The bracket can be adjusted by means of screening. The seat is good.
The K812 Pro is designed as an open headphone. The openness is not visible on photos, because the perforated back cover is additionally covered by a fine mesh, the driver is also protected by a fine mesh. In a way, in my opinion he is closer (in terms of openness) to the legend K1000 than the K/Q7xx series without its disadvantages. Of course, with newly developed 53 mm drivers of all previous innovations (eg, magnet 1.5 Tesla, lighter coil wire, etc. ) are included with.
The pads have approximately the same inner diameter as the K/Q7xx series but are constructed differently, include the ear perfectly and closed with a kind of lip to the head. The cover of the pads is velvety, leathery (a reference to which material they use, I dont found), comfortable to wear .
Tonal the K812 Pro are best headphones I had in the house to test so far. It is in any case to be classified (ranged) over the Denon D7000 (also ranged over the Beyer T1 as I could compare this with in the pre-test ). This refers to my test of pilot run model ( AKG ) and the first hearing impressions and does not constitute a finally statement.
As I recall, he is tonal ranged over the K1000 legend. Alone, the bass of the K812 Pro ranges noticeably down much deeper . The comparison with the K1000 regard to the openness of the stage I can not reproduce, since I have no K1000 available and memories I want to leave me any way.
The K812 Pro is neutral as it should be for a studio headphones, but also relentlessly against bad recordings, errors in the recording - which indeed corresponds to the actual purpose .
The audible sensitivity - my headphone amplifier WNA MKII with 15 Ohm output impedance is the difference in volume level for K712 Pro rather low, I just have very little to regulate (direction down) to the same volume to achieve.
First impressions sound to see with caution since no burning in period.
Sara K. " Hell over high water" SACD -DDD
Tend to track a noticeably brighter and richer in detail and better, finer resolution than the K712 Pro.
Neutral, profound, punchier but not over emphasized bass.
Liszt Orchestral Works , 2CDs , ADD
Berliner Philharmoniker , Herbert von Karajan , recorded in 1961 , 1968, 1976
Very high and fine, detailed resolution of sounds. Expansive deep bass, dry, without the boom in the mid- bass range (as sometimes occurs when Denon D7000) .
Comparisons and impressions regarding the spatial representations stage will coming soon, please be patient, I will check here some of my impressions after a few days again. Now I'm a few days so just listen and take notes. If I heard, "a block of my test pieces", I report. So far as I always did with my hearing test!
Photos will follow soon, I need to edit (examine, reduce resolution).
PS: Regarding the Availability, as far as I know,  next week the first copies go to the dealers and processed the pre-orders in order. The production in Vienna operate at full stretch. Please bear with!


and pics

Impressions Part 2

I am referring mostly to details of recordings that I know very well and have often heard with different headphones. I describe here my feelings here.

Pink Floyd, The Wall, 1979

A few highlights :
CD1 Track 1 , 1:40 to 1:50
Echo of the singer - right, left - precise, clear plastic

CD1 Track 3, finally
Helicopter - "I pulled down my head, in spite of headphones"

CD1 Track 4 - only Live can sound even better

CD1 Track 5 - finally, the cries of children, audible right outside the head in space

CD 1 Track 8, Mother, one of my favorites - with perfect "heebie-jeebies shiver"

CD 1 Track 7 , guitar strings sound metallic correct and not wrapped in cotton wool around - as if they were playing live in front of me.

CD 2 Track 6 , the door knocking sounds very realistic, live character.


At Pink Floyd music abundant background noise are perceptible, precise, plastic, spacious (some with 3D effect) reproduced. Between individual voices and instruments is enough space, they are reproduced clearly and distinguished from each other. The overall picture remains homogeneous.


Marianne Faithful , Blazing Away, AAD , 1990

track 1
Applause, clapping of individual hands are very good audible, it does not go below a noise floor .

Track 3 , 0:20 to 0:30
delicately battered drums brass, metallic and very authentic.

Track 8 , 2:50 to 2:56
The lightweight dab the drums brass with the stick very well resolved, metallic, authentically.

Drums - very detailed, individual cymbal well of each other audibly separated, highly differentiated as did the musicians.

Magic of Himalayas , Mystical Scent , xxrcd ( JVC , Japan Import )
The Ultimate bass test , this CD brings the most impressive bass my collection in itself , makes even the legendary Telarc recording " 1812 " and the Japanese drummers (such as Kodo ) in the shade.

track 1
The very deep rumble of the drums is very impressive place (for a fully open headphones).
Track 1 with greater volume, not overdriving the bass noticeable.

The rest of the CD, punchy , accurate bass, instruments delimited, with enough air between them, the sound still remains homogeneous. On this CD "walking" some individual instruments between right and left, back and forth, which is mapped from Pro K812 very well spatially .
The "black" deep rumble on some of the recordings will be played very punchy.

The stage is wide, spacious, the voices of the singers and instruments are staggered in space.



more about coming soon

AKG K812

AKG's K812

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