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AKG K374 Review: Greatness, is in the details

post #1 of 7
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 7
Where can you but these?
post #3 of 7
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 7

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

post #5 of 7
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 7

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 7
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.
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