AKG K142HD - Quick Foam Removal Mod
Hello, Head-fi. I usually don’t do write-ups like this because I’m still rather inexperienced in headphone-dom and I’m probably not qualified to make critical assessments other than personal impressions. But I wanted to share a small discovery I’ve recently made regarding a pair of K142HD’s, just in case someone else out there has a pair or one of its many variants and is disappointed with its sound.
I understand that the mid-tier AKG’s were never very popular, and I can see why. I’ve owned the K172, K272, and now the K142, and they don’t really shine at their respective price points. For example, the top-of-the-line K272 lacks both treble and bass extension, its soundstage is meh, and is trumped by the K550 or A900X in terms of, well, just about everything. Despite this, I really liked the K272 for a number of reasons. Mainly, it offered a very neutral, laid-back listening experience with a good amount of detail and instrument separation, without the peaky harsh treble or uppermid humps that seem to plague its competitors. (I haven’t heard the KNS8400 so I may be wrong here) The driver in the K272 had potential- it was tuned well enough. So when I bought the K142 on impulse from a refurb sellout for cheap, I was quite curious to see what the semi-open design would bring to the table, since the same driver is used for all of AKG’s mid-tier line-up.
The first thing I noticed was the punchy bass. Holy crap, coming from the K272, which literally has no bass presence, the K142 was a huge improvement. It also seemed to extend deeper, which basically solved my biggest gripe with the K272’s. And so I was quite happy with them for a few days.
But as I kept listening, I realized there was a congested sound that I hadn’t picked up on the 272’s. In fact, the lower-mids sounded like it was stuffed with wool. Instrument separation was nonexistent there, and complex passages sounded like a mud puddle. It reminded me of really bad resonance issues I had heard on other headphones, except only in the lower mids. At that point I realized the problem was with the plastic part of the housing- it was vibrating, almost buzzing with the lower notes. So when I peeked inside the gap between the metal and plastic halves of the earcup and saw something that looked like fabric, I took a gamble and pulled it out via a pair of tweezers:
What came out was an 18cm x 2cm strip of spongy foam. Of course I panicked at first, thinking that I had pulled out the inner damping, but it seemed to have made all the difference sound-wise. The congestedness was gone, and the plastic housing no longer vibrated. The headphones sounded more open, with better separation and wider soundstage. The bass also sounded cleaner- more reminiscent of the K272 while still keeping its punch. Basically, it turned into a fuller sounding, more-open version of the K272’s, which I am very happy with.
I know that some headphones tend to develop plasticky resonance issues without damping and I’ve been watching out for the past week for such issues and I can’t hear anything like it. The headphones just sound better. The only cons of this mod is 1.) increased leakage (comparable to the K702) and 2.) a bit of rattle when the earcups move due to no cushioning between the metal and plastic parts.
Considering the K142 can be had for $90 or less, they are quite the bargain with this mod. I don’t want to hype them, but I think they sound better than anything under $150 I’ve heard so far, including the M50 and CAL!. Just beware that this mod basically turns the headphones from semi-open to open design, so don’t expect any sort of isolation/leakage.
Will keep this posted if I notice anything else. Thanks for reading!
Edited by viralcow - 3/19/13 at 12:02am