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KRK KNS-8400 REVIEW

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 

Hey guys this is my first time do a review for my headphone. It would be great if you guys can give me some feedbacks about the review and how the grading system works (Does the point system really necessary..etc). Otherwise, ENJOY : )

 

Preface:

KrK monitors have always been my favorite, and they are my go-to studio monitors for a long time in my music studio because I love how Krk monitors menifest the high frequency in a way that reveals all the details in the sounds. However, since now I live in a college dorm, I'm no longer able to use my KrK monitors as much as before. My needs for headphones have increased dramatically. I’m used to rely on AKG250 and Grados when it comes to headphone monitoring, but I always miss the super sensitive highs on the KrK monitors, so I decide to give KNS8400 a shot.

Construction/design/appearance (9/10):

My first impression of the construction is "cheap" when I saw it hanging on the Guitar Center’s headphone booth due to its primary plastic exteriors. However, after I opened a brand new KNS8400 and felt it with my hands, I was wrong; KNS8400 is certainly built to last and heavy-duty; the plastic actually have a nice robust finishing touch and its plastic is too thick to be broken easily. The leather pads on both the headband and ear cups are extremely soft. The metal inside of the headband is reinforced with another strip of thick plastic.

Detachable cable design is certainly a nice touch as well. The logo and metal ring at the front give KNS8400 a very nice appearance for the ear cups. Although this is mainly build for studio use, nevertheless, it will be great if it has a foldable design for using it on the go. This is not a big deal for me, but it maybe a factor for people whom like to use this size of headphone on the go.

 

Accessories (3/5):

KNS8400 comes with some nice accessorises but nothing fancy. One detachable cable and an additional volume control as an extension cable, and a poach bag with a cleaning cloth.

The cables seem durable and decently built, and the volume control is very smooth and nice for control volume in a very micro amount. It also comes with a nice 1/8” to 1/4” screw-in adapter. However, it will be great if they include another cable that is a bit shorter. The included cable is 2.5m (8.2ft) without the volume extension, which is kind of long.  But for studio use (such as vocal tracking and band recording, etc), long cable comes in handy. The poach bag is nice but could be made in better quality. (maybe real leather anyone :P?) If the bag has a spot to store the cables will be another nice touch, too.

Comfort (9/10):

Personally, KNS 8400 is really comfortable to me. The ear pads are nicely placed around my ears and its overall plastic design actually makes KNS8400 feel extremely light on my head. However, although I would agree with many other reviewers on the net, saying that the headband might get a bit uncomfortable on the head after hours of usage, I have a habit of reposition my headphones once in awhile (approximately around 15-30 minutes). Therefore, this is not an issue for me at all, but again, it maybe for some people. Also if you have big ears and using it in a hot environment (exp. In your bedroom during the summer with no AC), you might realize that wearing KNS8400 make your ears sweat a bit and feel a bit uncomfortable. Nevertheless, this issue does happen frequently for most headphones that cover your ears.

Isolation/leakage (9/10):

Generally, KNS 8400 has a pretty decent isolation, considering it doesn't use any kinds of noise cancelation technology. It isolates human voices and subway/traffic noises pretty well even when there is no music playing, but I can still hear some extreme high and lows noises (exp. police car siren). Although I haven’t used it on the plane yet, I think most likely KNS8400 won’t completely isolate the noise from the plane engine, but the noise will certainly be tamed by a huge amount, especially if you listen it at a moderate to loud volume. On the other hand, the leakage of the headphone is quite little as well. KNS 8400 may seem as a closed headphone, but in fact it does have tiny sound holes hiding above the ear cups. However, they don’t really leak out that much sounds. When I play music (moderate to loud volume) with the headphones being placed on the table, I can hear what’s playing from a pretty far distance away, however if the ear cups are closed, or is being used (on my head, per se) there is no significant leakage at all. Most likely, you won’t have problems using KNS8400 in the library and certainly won’t disturb the people around you unless you blast music from it without putting it on your head. When it comes to doing recording session, minimal leakage is also a huge plus.

Soundstage/Imaging (9/10):

For a closed (semi-closed) headphone, KNS 8400 surprisingly has a wonderful soundstage. Its soundstage is wide, engaging, detailed, and has great depth. I played some of my favorite symphonic orchestra recordings, and immediately I hear the nuances of the orchestra (the attack/pluckings of the strings, the breaths of the winds, etc…) The separation of the instruments are very clear as well. Same things apply to any busy pop/electronic music, but the difference is particularly clear when it comes to orchestral music.

Sound Quality (total of 50):

Highs (10/10):

The high on KNS 8400 can be described, as airy, crisp, shimmering, and revealing, exactly like the KRK monitors. However, because of its revealing high, some recordings with vocals that have strong sibilance, particularly rap, might sound a little bit harsh. On the other hand, low quality music files such as mp3 in 128kbs will suffer as well; the extreme high might feel cut-off, harsh, and unmusical. Nevertheless, with a well-mastered, good quality recordings, you will hear the breath of the vocalist, the nuances of Mile’s trumpet playing, the details in the orchestra, and the shimmering cymbals and crashes. To me, the harshness is mainly due to the poor mixing or sound quality of the recordings or when the amplifier is not able to drive KNS8400 completely (more on this in the Musicality/Versatility section). Thus, since the problem does not cause by the headphone itself, I give its highs the full score.

Mids (9/10):

The mids on KNS8400 are present and clear. To me, it sounds quite neutral comparing to its highs, but it still forward enough to keep up the energy of the music. However, when I first started using KNS8400, I felt immediately overwhelmed by KNS8400 forward sound signature when I put it on the first time, especially its shimmering highs just make KNS8400 sound like knife-stabbing-to-my-ears harsh, but most likely it was because I was so used to the sound signature of AKG, which is the warmth that is being brought out by a low-mid bump. Nevertheless, this stabbing feeling goes away after a week of frequent usage. Perhaps it is because my KNS8400 has burn-in a bit or it was just simply my ears get used to it. Forward Mids make electric guitar’s distortion sounds particularly vivid; tracks by Linkin Park or Rage Against Machine sound really nice on KNS8400.

Low-mids (7/10):

Low-mids are my least favourite part of the KNS8400. Compared to my AKG 240 and other bass-oriented headphones, KNS8400 really lacks any kinds of warmth. However, I can understand the reason why KrK decides to do this is because low-mids are often the spot of the frequency spectrum where it muddles up the overall sound of the music. KNS 8400 is built for analytical uses; therefore, too much low-mid frequency “coloring” certainly is not a good thing, since it might give you “false” information what you mix really sounds like. Yet, personally I think a little bit of warmth (like about 2 db more) will dramatically help “gluing” everything together and give KNS8400 just enough warmth. In terms of using KNS8400 as a reference headphone, I realize I have to be careful not to mix my music too warm, because if my mix sounds warm on KNS8400, it will sound wayyy too warm when I playback my mix on a warmer sets of speakers or headphones. However, constantly switching back and forward between KNS8400 andAKG 240, I realize this is no longer an issue.

Lows (8/10):

The lows of KNS8400 are good but not jaw dropping. Based on specs, it extends to 5hz. However, based on critical listening, I feel anything lower than 40hz, the sound distorts a bit. Yes, you will be able to hear all the lows on KNS8400, but they are certainly not powerful. If you are a bass-head, KNS8400 is probably not for you. Same as low-mids, a moderate bump on lows will probably help warm up the sound a bit and give the bass and the kicks in dance/hip-hop tracks a little more oomph without overpowering any other parts of the frequency spectrum.

Musicality/Versatility (13/15):

]

(This is how I usually use KNS8400 on the go (volume control+akg Q460 detachable cable that uses the same adapter as KNS8400 + 

FiiO L8 Line Out Cable) This set-up has much shorter wire length, more portable)

 

To me, KNS8400 sounds more analytical than musical, which is not a bad thing at all because it is designed as a reference headphone at the first place anyway. With that said, unlike many reference cans, KNS8400 is actually quite easy to drive. If you directly plug it into your Smartphone or your iPod, you will probably be able to enjoy your music more than any AKG, Grado cans, since these cans most of the time require more powerful amps than the built-in iPod amp.

However, amplification does make KNS8400 sound wider, make the bass extends lower, and improve the separations between the instruments as well. I have tried them on my arrow 3G, Practical Devices XM6, Digi 003, and mbox 3. Both arrow 3G and Mbox 3 extends the depth and the sound stage that KNS8400 is capable of, but XM6 does more than that. When its bass boost function is turned on, XM6 gives KNS8400 just the right amount of warmth, right amount of oomph for the kicks. And XM6 does a good job to smooth out the harshness of the highs that KNS8400 sometimes has without making KNS8400 muddy. (Note that arrow 3G also has the bass boost function but pairing with KNS8400 just doesn’t sound as good as XM 6 in my opinion.) KNS8400 with XM6 is almost a perfect pairing for my taste.

Conclusion:

Overall, KRK does a fantastic good job emulating their monitor’s sound signature into KNS 8400, and it is definitely one of my go-to headphones for studio monitoring, and for casual listening when it pairs with XM6. Although it is not perfect (particularly the lack of warmth), I love using it along side with my AKG 240K. With these two cans, I am able to focus all the different details in the specific frequency spectrum when I do mixing and mastering (KNS is more sensitive and emphasized high, whereas AKG240 has more low-mid emphasis). The wide sound stage, shimmering highs, nice isolation, durable construction, minimum leakage, and easily driven are certainly the fortes of KNS8400, and these elements certainly make the headphone worth its price (around 150$). However, if you only care about the big fat bass and the gluey warmth when you listen to music, KNS8400 will not be your favourite cans, and you might even hate it. But besides that, I totally recommend you to give KNS8400 a shot. Merely trying at guitar center’s headphone booth won’t give its justice though. Get it or borrow a pair from your friends and listen to it for a week to see its full potential. Need a pair of reference headphones and loves the sound of shimmering highs and breathy vocals? KNS8400 is for you.

Summary of KNS 8400 rating:

Construction/design/appearance: 9/10

Accessories: 3/5

Comfort: 9/10

Isolation/leakage: 9/10

Soundstage/imaging: 9/10

Sound Quality:  47 of 55

(Highs 10/10 Mids 9/10 Low-mids 7/10 Lows 8/10 Musicality/Versatility 13/15)

Overall Rating: 86/100 VERY GOOD

post #2 of 48
Nice review buddy! Love these cans. They definitely can compete with cans well beyond their price range IMO. It's hard to find a can that so detailed, easy to drive, analytical and musical at the same time.
post #3 of 48
Double post.
post #4 of 48
Thread Starter 

Well put man! You pretty much summed up why KNS8400 is so awesome. What do you mainly use it for? 

post #5 of 48

Thanks for the nice review! Not sure how on earth this didn't get many replies! I guess the KRKs always still fly under the radar a bit.

I pretty much agree with everything. I've found that when very well amped, the KNS-8400's highs aren't too fatiguing. Of course they're even less forgiving with poorly mastered stuff than my Q701.

 

I don't know about easy to drive. On my Sansa Clip+ and Fuze they need to be maxed almost. Probably 95% volume.

 

Even after trying both the 6400 and 8400 many, many times their sound signature differences still confuse me.

I do think i've decided the 8400 is a bit fuller sounding and more "musical" than the 6400 to some people. That's a guess. I don't really know if there's any who prefer the 6400 to the 8400.

 

I just ended up keeping both. The 6400 seems to have a tiny bit less treble, but not by much.

 

I'm glad someone else mentioned the soundstage. KRK got it perfectly right. Even angled drivers! What's strange is that my first KRK (a few days before their actual release!) had an awful soundstage.

The first pair had icicles in the ear like treble too. Second one I got a year later had a quite impressive soundstage with the right music. This first pair also had AD700 like bass. I had to have had a defect. Still sounded OK.

 

I've been perfectly happy with the bass on the 8400. Even in gaming it extends very low. Even more so than my HD-580, Q701 and HD-598.

 

I always thought people who loved the Q701 might like the KRK KNS-8400. I doubt anyone has both, but I know I do.

 

The 8400 is also a hidden gem IMO for competitive gaming I think. Skyrim is just flat out amazing with his headphone.

 

I have to admit I HATE the cable. It's microphonic somewhat and just feels weird. I think they improved it slightly. My first one came stayed nearly in the shape it came in for nearly a month I think. At times i've considered the coiled upgrade.

 

NOTE: for those that are bothered by the memory foam headband you can buy the softer 6400 headband piece.

post #6 of 48
I mainly use it as an at-home can. Just chillin and wanting to hear all the details of my music without needing a crazy powerful desktop amp to enjoy them. I like to keep things simple and these cans just do it for me. If there is any gripe I have with them, it's the wide headband. Wish it was more conforming so I wouldn't look like a satellite dish in public haha.

Tdock I agree with your impressions on the low-end. In contrast to what people say about the bass lacking, I find bass just fine - impactful with good extension while fitting in with the rest of the frequency. If there was any more I think it would sound a bit uneven.
post #7 of 48

BTW I think my favorite music for these is ambient electronica. Not bass heavy stuff, but the really simple stuff. I don't even know what you call it.

So far I like Helios, Boards of Canada, Loscil, Near the Parenthesis, Mum, Abbasi Brothers and Stars of the Lid. I basically try as many samples online I can to find something I like.

Sigur Ros has been interesting too, but that's not ambient, but pretty close.

 

For those I prefer a clear sounding headphone with tons of detail. None of them bombard me with tons of treble thankfully.

 

I only got into ambient a few months ago. I don't know how I didn't get into it sooner. It's kind of addicting. A lot of it is very repetitive and annoying though.

post #8 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

BTW I think my favorite music for these is ambient electronica. Not bass heavy stuff, but the really simple stuff. I don't even know what you call it.

So far I like Helios, Boards of Canada, Loscil, Near the Parenthesis, Mum, Abbasi Brothers and Stars of the Lid. I basically try as many samples online I can to find something I like.

Sigur Ros has been interesting too, but that's not ambient, but pretty close.

 

For those I prefer a clear sounding headphone with tons of detail. None of them bombard me with tons of treble thankfully.

 

I only got into ambient a few months ago. I don't know how I didn't get into it sooner. It's kind of addicting. A lot of it is very repetitive and annoying though.

 

 

 

Ambient music ROCKS ! Sigur Ros is Post Rock...freaking awesome too ! Fusion / Ambient / Chillout / Lounge are also my kind of music...Been listening to them for a decade now...and don't get tired of it. I

 

My favourites:

 

Buddha Bar, Gotan Project, Cafe del Mar, Hotel Costes, La Corporation, Theivery Coporation, etc...

 

I think u will like them...do listen so some....

post #9 of 48
Quote:

Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

What's strange is that my first KRK (a few days before their actual release!) had an awful soundstage.

 

interesting. how were you able to get them before they were released?

post #10 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by daveDerek View Post

 

interesting. how were you able to get them before they were released?

 

Everywhere online they had a pre-order release date listed. I went into my local guitar center one day and they had them for sale.

I think this happens quite a lot. Based on memory is was like 2 weeks before the actual released date listed online.

 

My third KRK KNS-8400 sounds the best. This one came inside the regular box but was in a clear plastic shell with no foam.

The first two had a white inner shell and a piece of square foam attached to the box flap. I remember at first questioning if my first pair had been used. Wasn't even in plastic!

 

It makes no sense but my first pair felt like a headphone with mostly just mids and treble. Probably like an AD700. No way this pair could EVER even remotely fit that description.

 

The treble does push my limits a little at times.

post #11 of 48

Nice review. Like the way you break down everything.

 

I'm starting to think the pair I had for a month was an early pair. Bass guitars seemed off on that headphone. The bass was loud enough, that wasn't the problem. It sounded like the bass didn't move through the air properly or bass players play with extremely dead strings every time they record. I play bass and live with a bassist so part of me thinks I should know what they usually sound like. 

 

Maybe I'll pick up another pair just to find out. I liked everything else about the headphones except the slightly microphonic cable.

post #12 of 48

Seems like a great headphone for gaming, when you need accuracy. This is on my list definitely, thanks op. 

post #13 of 48

Yo,

 

Good review. I use my KRK KNS-8400 with my Playstation Vita and it works well for this. I also use my T5p with the Vita as it's more efficient. 

 

I have issues with my 8400 at times such as the treble being pretty hot. I don't have a treble sensitivity at all so it's not irritating, but sometimes the treble itself kills the song. This headphone can be bright, brighter than the 250Ohm DT770 in fact. This brightness can butcher music, at least for me, and I like bright headphones!

 

If I had to describe the 8400 it would be bright, bass lite, and slightly shallow sounding. It's not a bad headphone but it really doesn't have enough meat on it's bones to satisfy me at times.

post #14 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

Thanks for the nice review! Not sure how on earth this didn't get many replies! I guess the KRKs always still fly under the radar a bit.

I pretty much agree with everything. I've found that when very well amped, the KNS-8400's highs aren't too fatiguing. Of course they're even less forgiving with poorly mastered stuff than my Q701.

 

I don't know about easy to drive. On my Sansa Clip+ and Fuze they need to be maxed almost. Probably 95% volume.

 

Even after trying both the 6400 and 8400 many, many times their sound signature differences still confuse me.

I do think i've decided the 8400 is a bit fuller sounding and more "musical" than the 6400 to some people. That's a guess. I don't really know if there's any who prefer the 6400 to the 8400.

 

I just ended up keeping both. The 6400 seems to have a tiny bit less treble, but not by much.

 

I'm glad someone else mentioned the soundstage. KRK got it perfectly right. Even angled drivers! What's strange is that my first KRK (a few days before their actual release!) had an awful soundstage.

The first pair had icicles in the ear like treble too. Second one I got a year later had a quite impressive soundstage with the right music. This first pair also had AD700 like bass. I had to have had a defect. Still sounded OK.

 

I've been perfectly happy with the bass on the 8400. Even in gaming it extends very low. Even more so than my HD-580, Q701 and HD-598.

 

I always thought people who loved the Q701 might like the KRK KNS-8400. I doubt anyone has both, but I know I do.

 

The 8400 is also a hidden gem IMO for competitive gaming I think. Skyrim is just flat out amazing with his headphone.

 

I have to admit I HATE the cable. It's microphonic somewhat and just feels weird. I think they improved it slightly. My first one came stayed nearly in the shape it came in for nearly a month I think. At times i've considered the coiled upgrade.

 

NOTE: for those that are bothered by the memory foam headband you can buy the softer 6400 headband piece.

 

Your welcome : ) Yeah KrK is definitely not a well-known brand in headphones. But in pro-audio monitoring field, they are one of the most well-known brand. I think KNS8400 is easy enough to drive because despite you need to adjust to a higher volume, it still sonically okay, whereas when I plug my AKG 240 or Grado directly into my ipod with volume maxed out, they still don't sound good to me.

 

I've read it somewhere (most likely on head-fi) that KNS8400 is a bit inconsistent pair to pair. (bad quality control maybe?)

 

Thanks for the tip on 6400 headband. I may check it out and buy one to see if there's a difference

post #15 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by roma101 View Post

I mainly use it as an at-home can. Just chillin and wanting to hear all the details of my music without needing a crazy powerful desktop amp to enjoy them. I like to keep things simple and these cans just do it for me. If there is any gripe I have with them, it's the wide headband. Wish it was more conforming so I wouldn't look like a satellite dish in public haha.
Tdock I agree with your impressions on the low-end. In contrast to what people say about the bass lacking, I find bass just fine - impactful with good extension while fitting in with the rest of the frequency. If there was any more I think it would sound a bit uneven.

 

Couldn't agree more! KNS is definitely not "bass lacking" but the bass is certainly not emphasize either.  I think KRK made a right decision to let KNS series have this kind of signature. This make KNS a very special pair for me.

If the signature has more bass emphasis, they probably will appeal less attracting for me because the "revealing" nature of the high frequencies will become distracted by the bass emphasis, making them less revealing to some degrees.

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