AKG K121 Headphone Review:
Hi, this is my first headphone review ever, so I'm sorry if I'm missing something, or it's not too good.
A while ago, I needed a pair of headphones that were more comfortable, stationary, and with a longer cable for home use, I liked the neutral sound signature of my denon's so I decided to go with some AKG's that should be pretty neutral.. I went into a store.. and tried the K141.. which sounded good... the K240 MKII which sounded really good, but maybe a bit too harsh, and then ultimately, the K121.
checking the price tags, and considering I already had a headphone at home that sounded better than all these three, I decided to go with the K121 which costed less than the K141, but sounded just about the same.
asus xonar essence stx
Headphone type - semi-open
Frequency bandwidth - 18 - 22500 khz
Sensitivity - 114 dB SPL/V
Impedance - 55 ohms
They are mostly made of metal, even though they do look skinny and flimsy, they are very sturdy, and the headband metal feels very strong and durable, as so do the earpieces, the cable isn't detachable,but it's fairly long, meant for home use, and it's not the thickest I've seen, but it's thick enough, which can be good, b ecause too thick cables seem to be a bit more on the rigid end. over all I'd say for my taste, they are quite good looking, with the golden finishes, and a glossy amber-like background on the AKG 55 ohms logo, where the headband's metal connects to the earpiece. the headband itself, feels like it's real leather, but I might be wrong, because it's fairly hard, and durable, (not in a discomfortable way, as its very light on your head)
One of the main reasons why I bought these headphones. While they aren't over ear headphones, which you'd expect for comfort, their pads are really large, and will most likely fit your entire ear, with reeeeeeally reallly little pressure, the earpads are absolutely soft, and in a material that could be really well done pleather, because it feels really smooth to the touch, and soft on your ears. the headband is also very light, making these headphones on your head, almost like not having them on. they will however stay on your head pretty well, meaning it's an on ear design, that I however find comfortable, even for prolongued listening sessions. they usually take about 5 hours in gaming sessions to become uncomfortable, and it's not even that bad. comfort wise the nonexistent clamping force, and the lightness of these headphones, make them really nice. gets lighter and lighter with time too.
Now to the best part!
when I first tried these headphones on my home setup, I was REALLY disappointed. they sounded muddy, generic, not that good, the bass was absolutely awful, the mids were just okay, and the tremble almost sounded like mids, lacking that layer of detail, and disappointing me majorly.. the soundstage was also bad, they sounded exactly the opposite way than they looked and felt, light, airy, and open, while they sounded like two speakers on your ears, almost blocking out all noises, and with really little soundstage. after about 3-4 hours of burn in, I gave up on them, because I couldn't notice any improvement at all... but be patient with me guys XD I am new to the audiophile world!!! the highs were not that good, and lacked anything special just sounded artificial, like you'd find in any $10 headphone, the mids, were okay, just okay, but not really vocal, didn't really bring out anything, and sounded veiled, even though I guess detailed, the bass, was absolutely terrible, lacked punch, and just.. barely audible.
I don't quite know how it happend, I guess I just went with the bad sound of these headphones, and started to use them for games, videos movies, youtube videos, and these things quite a lot, because of the comfort and longer cable. I have to say, when I was playing some games, the soundstage in certain videogames (like dark soul) made me feel like I was inside a hall, or in an open field, which I got impressed, but mostly though I gave credit to the game developers. After using them for quite some time, I put them down, to use my denons again, striving for higher detail and sound quality, and left them on the shelf for a bit... I have now put them on after a bit of time... and actually listened to music through them... I could not believe how "burning them in" with movies games and videos actually changed the sound of these headphones. I had aproximately 40-50 hours of burn in and here's the real sound review:
-The soundstage opened quite a lot. it's still not as big as the beyerdynamic DT990's it's still very decent, they do movies, videogames, and classical music, quite well. they also work well with dolby headphone mode, which opens up the space quite a lot (doesn't do that well with some headphones). Soundstage: MUCH BETTER than most closed headphone.
-The sound, is much more detailed, layered, and the instrument separation is just wonderful, you can clearly make out different instruments, and multiple layered vocals in songs, without having a harsh sound, because of their warmer sound
-Warmer sound, even though they keep a quite neutral signature.. but they don't sound veiled at all, like they used to when they were out of the box. lossless audio files now sound great.
-The bass is still not that good, but much better, you can hear it, and clearly, it doesn't have much punch at all, and doesn't cover the instruments. Even though sometimes it can be a bit overpowering I can't still make out why I can hear the other instruments so damn well anyway. maybe it's that lack of punch, that makes it subtly go int he background even while it's being straightfoward. definately not good for electronic music, absolutely nice for jazz.
-The mids and highs, are MUCH better. I love how electric guitar sounds, the highs are slightly recessed, but very detailed, again, just to make the headphone, a bit warmer. I am listening to it right now, and I'm getting shivers at how nice the vocals sound. the instruments sound real, and it's just comparable to my other headphones now, definately love what they've done with this headphone. also, to explain why the highs aren't bad even though they're recessed, say someone hits a high note on a piano, if he's playing in a room, you can hear the faint echo and natural reverb the studio had, and the ambience is really room-like. still, they have yet to become harsh to me.
In the end.. I fell inlove with these headphones.. after I gave up on them, and had no expectations for them. I put them on, just because I was thinking about selling them, and let me tell you, I don't think Im going to sell them anymore, I'm enjoying their warm sound right now, xD and I will for a while. there's nothing bad with these headphones, they're a good all around headphone, and even though my Denons might have more clear details (almost harsh) and an unbeliavable instrument separation, I almost prefer these to my denons, as they do the job just as good, without being harsh, with that lovely warm sound signature. obviously the denons are better for other reasons, but I still think these compare, just in a different way. try them, for the price, after a bit of burn in, you'll be surpriced.
They sound great with instrumental music mostly, rock, alternative styles of rock, and band-music, classical music, jazz, vocal music, soul, south american music, slow paced songs, progressive music, etc.
what I wouldn't recomend them for is bass heavy pop, rap, electronic music (exept trance), and metal, even though theyre not too bad for metal, and you might notice details you haven't heard before there's just better headphones. folk metal and instrumental metal aren't too bad though, due to the nice soundstage.
I hope you found this review intresting, because I feel like most people don't value these headphones, because they haven't given them the proper burn in. I feel like my favourite genre to listen to with these is jazz, the overall neutral eq, with that warmth, makes them Really nice. I would recomend them to anyone, and I feel like these, would be a great beginning headphone, for their price, they're around $90, and for the fact that they show so obviously, how burn in can change something.
cheers everyone I hope this review wasn't too bad
Edited by Uppertaker - 7/12/13 at 9:10am