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AKG K374 Review: Greatness, is in the details

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

Brand AKG

Model K374

Price $99

Type Universal Fit IEM

Spoiler ★★★★

 

What I own Shure SE535, AKG K451, AKG K374

What I used to own Klipsch S4i

What I've extensively listened to Sennheiser HD800, Sennheiser HD650, Shure SE215, NuForce NE-700M, Nocs NS600, B&W P5, B&W P3

What I've extensively listened to (loudspeakers) B&W 802D, B&W 804D, Paradigm Signature S8, Focal Electra 1028 Be 2, Tannoy DC10T, B&O BeoLab 5, B&O BeoLab 9

 

Preface

 

Before we jump in, I would like to sincerely apologize on behalf of the Head-Fi team for the lack of photography. The reason there are no photos is because the people behind Head-Fi think that as a new member, there is no possible way that I genuinely want to review something and that in fact i am surely a spammer. They also believe that any spamming tendencies I may have had when I joined, would magically disappear by my third post. Anyway, the review:

 

I'm planning to keep this review short and sweet so lets get the big stuff out of the way.

 

Sound Quality

 

AKG has an annoying tendency of on one hand making very average or even bad products. On the other hand, they end up making true greats like the K701/K702, K3003, K495NC, K450/K451, etc. Speaking of that last one, the K451, it truly is one of if not the best sounding headphones you can by new for its $150-ish price. To get sound that equals it, you're looking at a bill totaling around $300 - $400. However, they're sound isolation is next to none so I was looking for a good pair of IEMs around the $100 mark for use on my daily commute. The K451s are now used as portable "at home" headphones for when I travel.

 

The 374s do not sound as good as the 451s. They do however sound just as good as all the other top tier $100 IEMs of which there are plenty. Yes, like most other IEMs in this price bracket, they boost the bass a little. And yes, I would of liked them to be a bit more open and clear sounding. But on a noisy Toronto bus they sound fun, engaging, and very enjoyable. What more could you ask for?

 

For reference, I used my usual bevy of test music:

 

       Arcade Fire - Sprawl II

       Arcade Fire - We used to wait

       Beach House - Myth

       Beach House - Lazuli

       Beach House - Other People

       Bishop Morocco - Our Time

       Chromatics - Lady

       Death Grips - The Fever

       Dusted - Bruises

       Equilibrium - Blut im auge

       Flying Lotus - Putty boy strut

       Hans Zimmer - Time

       Herbert Von Karajan - Gustav Holst - Jupiter

       King Dude - Witch's Hammer

       King Dude - River of Gold

       The Knife - Heartbeats

       Lamb of God - Vigil

       Napalm Death - Nazi Punks F*** Off

       Neil Young - Heart of gold

       Phantogram - When I'm Small

       Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb

       Real Estate - Green Aisles

       The Secession - Yermo

       Tame Impala - Elephant

       This Will Destroy You - Threads

       TNGHT - Goooo

       Trust - Heaven

       The xx - Crystalised

 

Sound Isolation

 

One word, Excellent. Don't get me wrong, the other $100 IEMs have great isolation, but these have outstanding isolation. The first time i tried them, i was on my usual commute. I put them in, turned on the music, and immediately I learned what it would be like to be deaf and schizophrenic at the same time; only if the voices were replaced with music. Mind you, I've had this experience before with my Shure SE535s. However, those are lot larger, more cumbersome, fiddly, expensive, and definitely not something i would take with me everyday on the bus.

 

Fit & Finish

 

This is where the AKGs really pull out a lead. First of all, they're roughly the same diameter as most $100 IEMs but only half the length, so they barely stick out your ears. Next, both the buds and the plug are made from a combination of beautiful brushed aluminium and quality feeling plastics. Design wise, miles ahead of the competition. And finally, the cable is really very thick. I measured it as being almost twice as thick as the Nocs NS600, Klipsch S4, and NuForce NE-700M cables.

 

Conclusion

 

Great looks, build, and materials. The sound isn't perfect, but good enough for me not to call it a negative. Seriously recommended.

post #2 of 13
Where can you but these?
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Depends on where you reside. Amazon has them, but I got mine for a better price at a local HiFi/headphone shop.
post #4 of 13

Oh I see. When i googled it nothing showed up.
 

post #5 of 13
Thread Starter 
Ya they're not very common. At the time I'm writing this there are no reviews I can find either. Which is odd cause they're just under their top of the line K3003.
post #6 of 13

Which tips do you use? I just got these last night and I've found that isolation is just about average  (for example my Hifiman RE400s more isolating).  Like you though, I'm liking the sound.
 

post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
I may have been simply lucky that the medium silicone ones fit me perfectly. Round silicone tips don't always offer the best isolation. I would suggest getting a pair of comply tips. They make ones specifically for this model.
post #8 of 13

Hi, nice review... got one quick question - do the buds and cable weigh a lot? I use my earphones a lot for extended periods of time so needed some light weight ear phones that deliver decent sound and look good... most recently I was using a-Jays one+ (hence my username!) and found they were a bit uncomfortable after 20 mins or so because of the weight of the buds and the cable dragging them down.

post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by EarphoneNoob View Post
 

Hi, nice review... got one quick question - do the buds and cable weigh a lot? I use my earphones a lot for extended periods of time so needed some light weight ear phones that deliver decent sound and look good... most recently I was using a-Jays one+ (hence my username!) and found they were a bit uncomfortable after 20 mins or so because of the weight of the buds and the cable dragging them down.

The size and weight are light. In fact, you can sleep with in on your side. ;)

post #10 of 13

hello!

if this thread is still on, i would like to know a better in depth analysys of the sound?

i am interested in buying this iem, but i really have no ideea how it sounds like...

post #11 of 13
I'd say AKG K374 has a balanced sound signature. The clarity is very good. Sound stage and imaging are not bad. I'd rank it a class higher than Carbo Basso as the treble is cleaner, not as splashy as Carbo Basso.
 
The tips that come with it however don't give enough seal for me so I'll have to use other 3rd party tips.

 


Edited by rontant - 1/18/15 at 8:12pm
post #12 of 13

Hi,
Trying to help, I can only compare the headphones I own /tested. Please, bear in mind that what follows is just my subjective / personal opinion. Don't take it as advice. Always try to audition a pair of headphones before you buy it.

I listen to almost every genre of music and, to me, a good pair of headphones needs to deliver great sound for them all. Powerful and precise bass for electronica like Trance or Dubstep but also great frequency balance for Classic, Orchestral, Epic, New Age,…

 

I currently own:
AKG k375 (in-ear, same as k374 plus iPhone controls).
AKG Y40 (on-ear closed).
Creative EP-630 (in-ear), (I´m not sure but I think that they are this model).
Sennheiser MX375 (earbuds).
Sennheiser PX95 (on-ear open).


I also tested a pair of Sennheiser HD 439 (over-ear) a few weeks ago.

 

As I can only compare the sound between this models, let's consider a scale of 10 values for each parameter and try to classify them. 10 would be perfection.
Let´s not forget that some of this headphones are not much burned yet. In the case of Sennheiser PX95 they improved much in frequency balance after a few days and the K375 got softer (they were too aggressive the first days). I just don´t expect further improvement in any of them.

 

Sound clarity (definition of details):
AKG k375 = 8 (better than this, probably only in the $200 / $300 price range).
AKG Y40 = 7
Creative EP-630 = 3
Sennheiser HD 439 = 8? (Would need more audition).
Sennheiser MX375 = 5
Sennheiser PX95 = 6

 

Frequency balance (perfection would let you listen to all frequencies at the correct level all the time):
AKG k375 = 7
AKG Y40 = 8
Creative EP-630 = 3 (deep v shape).
Sennheiser HD 439 = 8? (Would need more audition).
Sennheiser MX375 = 7
Sennheiser PX95 = 4 (strong sub-bass, weak bass, weak middles, too softened highs).

 

Amount of bass:
AKG k375 = 10 (when correctly positioned and using the medium size buds, I almost always feel I don't need more and don't want less bass).
AKG Y40 = 9 (good quantity, less quality than k375).
Creative EP-630 = 12 (more than 10 means too much = fake / boomy).
Sennheiser HD 439 = 4 (the weak point of these, in my opinion. And yet, they are sold as being the most bass powerful of that line).
Sennheiser MX375 = 2 (lack of bass - the main problem with earbuds).
Sennheiser PX95 = 6 (plenty of sub-bass but weak bass).

 

Quality of bass (I don’t like fake or boomy bass but I like it (need it :-) precise and powerful): 
AKG k375 = 9
AKG Y40 = 8
Creative EP-630 = 3 (fake and boomy).
Sennheiser HD 439 = 9 (weak but clear).
Sennheiser MX375 = 5 (very weak but clear).
Sennheiser PX95 = 5 (weak and not very clear).

 

Amount of sub-bass (what you ear with subwoofers and, for me, the weakest point of headphones):
AKG k375 = 6 (quite good for headphones).
AKG Y40 = 5 (less than k375).
Creative EP-630 = 1
Sennheiser HD 439 = 2?  (I would need more audition).
Sennheiser MX375 = 0 
Sennheiser PX95 = 8 (only wish the other frequencies were equally strong. This headphones are amazing for watching movies or playing games because of the sub-bass they deliver but, unfortunately, they are too soft in the other frequencies and have low sound definition).

 

Quality of sub-bass: 
Only good on Sennheiser PX95, the others are too weak or non-performant in this frequency range.

 

Final thoughts:

From the bunch, my two favorites are Y40 and k375 because they have superior sound definition and better frequency balance than the others. Y40 are so comfortable and so well balanced that I would prefer them if they had the same sound definition / clarity as k375. They are almost there but not quite.

 

But then, even if I don't feel much comfortable with in-ears inside my ears, the fact is that k375 and EP-630, are the only models that let me listen to music laid down in bed with my head in any position. And I do this very often. EP-630 are the most comfortable for this because they are the smallest and are round shaped. I think all in-ears should have this size and shape. It's just perfect. Their rubber buds are also more comfortable than the silicone ones on the k375. That makes me wonder if Sennheiser mm 70 would have been my best option. If someone could compare the sound of AKG K375 with Sennheiser mm70 and post it here for us to know...

 

Finally, even if k375 are a little v shaped with stronger high middles than low middles, the fact is that this frequency shape gives more spark to many music tracks than that more balanced of Y40. 
So, putting all this together, between the ones I own, my current favorites are AKG K375.

post #13 of 13

thanks a lot!

i might be able to clean sennheiser ie8, which would make it be the best again! yay!

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