I fully understand that everyone who has listened to the K812's is entitled to their own sweet opinion but the hoo ha concerning these headphones only created uncertainty in my mind and I stupidly allowed myself to be swayed unduly by other people's opinions. I tried to get hold of a dem pair of K812's in the UK but sadly AKG UK had decided to place the sale of the K812's in the hands of a company who didn't believe in customer service and none of the sellers appointed by this company had a dem pair. Understandbly, the sellers informed me that they could not afford to stock a pair of headphones at this price range for dem purposes. Basically, AKG UK has gone about the marketing & selling of K812's in the wrong way and instead of getting that the real market for the K812's was in the very healthy audiophile marketplace, they have promoted these wonderful headphones to the "professional" customer (I wonder how many of this customer actually spent £1,000 on a pair of headphones for their work purposes?). I even tried to persuade the distributors to supply the Hi Fi Lounge hi fi dealership who have a dedicated headphone building but this wasn't allowed.
Sorry, I am expressing my frustration rather than telling anyone about my experience with the K812. I own, as so many do on head-fi, a number of headphones including HD600's (too slipper like for me), Grado RS2i (hell, I can't remember what they sound like, time I sold them perhaps), AKG K550's (great value, bought because I needed a pair of closed), AKG K702/65's (bought when the K812's first came out and I thought the K812's were too expensive, stupid me).
So I really like the AKG general house sound as I guess others like another headphone manufacturer's house sound? Anyway, although I was really enjoying my K702/65's I was aware of some shortcomings, I wanted more treble, more detail, a better quality bass so I thought I would ignore the "varied" reviews and I bought the K812's from Amazon thereby ensuring the UK distributor's sellers did not get the sale, a lack of co-operation cuts both ways chaps.
I love these headphones, absolutely fabulous sound (for me). I love the solid & extended bass, the spaciousness, the additional treble over the K702/65's, the lovely midrange. I generally listen to headphones with my Cowan Plenue 1 & Colorfly C4 Pro DAP's and the K812's are easier to drive than the K702/65's so this is a really useful aspect. One review I read talked about the K812's being compatible with iPhones etc on their own but who would drive a pair of top notch headphones in this way? But it is great that the K812's do not challenge my DAP's and the arrival of the K812's prompted me to buy an Audioquest Dragonfly v.2 and the combination is a great match.
The K812 is well made, like the mix of materials, not too heavy & comfortable for extended listening but I would have loved a 3ft cable as well as the 10ft one. Personally I have no use for a 10ft cable.
Have ordered a 3ft cable from Double Helix Cables but still have 2 months to go before it arrives, can't wait......
Now before everyone thinks I'm just an AKG fanboy, I want to say I'm in the 50-60 age range and it could well be that much younger ears would result in a different review. This is my review however and my best advice is to grab a well run in pair if you can and otherwise just buy the K812's like I wish I had done.
I PAID £938 IN THE UK, have converted this to USD 1400.
Me: I am a 21 year old student living in a small town in India. I would like to call myself a music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile. I was inspired by music since childhood, and as the time passed, the passion of music grew in me, and that subsequently led me to join Head-Fi. Eventually, I found the pleasure of listening to music mainly by the HD600 and recently, by the seductive LCD2 headphones, and realized the true components of recorded music. I usually like to listen to Indian Classical Music along with Bollywood songs. My main listening genres include classical, vocal, instrumental, jazz and sometimes pop. With time, my sonic preferences have very much grown. I avidly admire transparency, accuracy along with neutrality, & this has led me to review the AKG’s prestigious K812 flagship headphones. Intro: AKG Acoustics (Akustische und Kino-Geräte G.m.b.H) is well recognized, established & one of the oldest audio brand specializing in the area of audio & headphones. They are headquartered in Vienna, Austria. The ‘K’ series line is a very popular and long running headphone offering from AKG. They have a specific vision in making their products: Their products should last long and should employ quality engineering for precise and accurate sound reproduction, with state of art cutting edge technology. All the headphones are designed by their engineers in Austria. Few headphones are manufactured in China. The K812 headphones the flagship & best headphones AKG can offer today. K812 replaced K712 as flagship headphones in the year of 2013. These are studio reference headphones. The pair I will reviewing belongs to latest batch & current year manufacturing. The K812 is completely manufactured in Slovakia.
Founded in 1947 by Dr. Rudolf Görike & Ernst Pless. Originally, their main aim was to provide technical equipment for cinemas: loudspeakers, film projectors and light meters. Their business slowly expanded and AKG started selling car horns, door intercoms, carbon capsules for telephones, headsets and cushion speakers. The first AKG microphone was used by radio stations & Theaters. AKG developed its first patents, the moving coil technology and the principle of mass load membranes, allowing its products to have extended frequency ranges.
With the creation of the D12 microphone in 1953, AKG achieved international fame, setting the standard for voice transmissions. Being the world's first dynamic cardioid microphone, it possessed excellent sonic qualities for that time, making its way into radio stations and recording studios from across the world. In 1994, AKG was acquired by Harman International Industries, and they later setup AKG USA’s headquarters in California.
In 2010, AKG Acoustics received a Grammy Award for the work the company has done in the recording field.
Specifications of K812:
Audio Frequency bandwidth
5 to 54000 Hz
110 dB SPL/V
Max. Input Power
Screw-on Jack Combo (1/4" and 1/8")
Dimensions / Weight
Let us see what the K812 has got for us,
Packaging and Accessories: The K812’s arrive packed inside a very premium and heavy black cardboard box. The box has a magnetic lock. Once the box is flipped open, The K812 is seen resting on the Sieveking headphone stand, which provided by AKG in the box. Nothing fancy, basic accessories included. But each and every part has a premium quality and feel to it.
List of accessories in the box, which include the following:
Headphone Cable: About 2.5 meters long, terminating in 3.5mm.
Headphone Stand: Excellent quality universal headphone stand to display headphones when not in use.
¼” Screw on Converter: To plug in the K812 in the 6.5mm headphone jacks.
User Manual: Contains instructions to operate the K812 and other warranty information.
Design and Build: AKG’s K812 has a top notch build quality. It employs metal constructions in most of the areas. AKG K812 headphones use suspended headband which can be manually adjusted for precise fit, which ensures in least possible physical pressure on head. The headband has a foam-pleather base with ventilation vents, & is very accurately angled. It is attached to the main headphone frame which holds the headphone together.
The K812 has an extremely sophisticated build with high technology materials & latest scientific designs. The manual adjustment of headband distance can be adjusted by pushing he button and sliding gently as desired. The K812 is designed in such a remarkable manner, that clamping force is almost zero. This is the first time I have ever come across a headphone (along with Sennheiser HD800) which offers such luxurious design & engineering elements.
The K812 is a fully open headphone, hence has vents for air intake at either side of headphone. Driver shell rotates about its own axis to fit various types of human skulls. The whole headphone is supported on by the two parallel outer headband beams, which are flexible and adopting. These also carry wiring for opposite driver (right). The K812 carries all-new and latest generation top notch performance drivers developed by engineers at AKG specifically for K812 alone. This driver carries an extremely powerful 1.5 Tesla magnetic field capable magnet. The diameter is 53mm, one of the largest drivers ever made. The sound waves coming towards out of drivers are treated to ‘air’ by open mesh, allowing air to blend with sound waves for a very airy presentation.
Cable has a very good build. It is straight, flexible and does not get tangled. I could not notice the presence of any microphonics. Plug is straight and gold plated. The stock cable does a great job in transferring signals along with great transparency. The cable on headphone has three pins, and is configured for single end termination; balanced mode mode is not supported. Please note: While inserting cable plug into K812’s socket, carefully align to the indicating red line and gently push in. To remove the cable, gently pull out.
Comfort: K812’s are excellently comfortable to wear, even for longer sessions. These feel really wll designed as per human analogy. Clamp force is almost non existent, and ears have been given an excellent space to reside, do not touch anywhere. The earpads are made up of leather, are high quality ones. The Space inside the earpads is also great, great amount of depth and space. The earpads on K812 are designed such that, the area of contact around the ears or anywhere is made as less as possible, and clamp force is reduced to almost zero: This will result in an excellent comfort.
These ear pads are very soft & flexible in nature, which ensures in better comfort & adoption without compromising consistency, and also in durability of the pads themselves. The earpads can be removed to clean or replace with a simple anti-clockwise horizontal twist. These earpads are called as “Sound Sealer” by AKG. Hence, K812 ‘s earpads seal out & engulf the user’s ears, rather than sitting around the ears. Single downside in this department weight, as the K812 weighs slightly on heavy side with 390 grams (owing to its solid build) feels slightly heavy on worn on. But again the excellent design factor makes up for it.
Overall, The K812’s are one of the worlds most well designed and most comfortable headphones. Sound: The K812 has a vastly neutral “mesmerizing” sonic character. ‘Accuracy, Transparency, Details’ are the key terms. Emphasis is not given at any particular frequency range; all ranges are completely flat, making these truly spectacular reference headphones.
Burn in: These perform consistently, and I could not observe any major sonic change with burn in. I have heard these from right out of the box till few hundred hours.
Lows: are very accurate, tight and refined; has a strong impact. Depth is excellent, the lows go very deep with authority. They also have an appreciable amount of body & quantity
Mids: Neutral, very detailed & transparent. Special mention is about the naturalness and tonality. The mids of K812 are very neutral, but are presented in an extremely silky manner.
Highs: Very are clear, extended, airy & detailed. Very transparent & sensitive as per the given setup & recording.
Soundstage: The K812’s soundstage is breathtakingly airy, spacious, and fully circular 3D life like soundstage. Imaging is again spatial, with instruments placements very accurately positioned. Component/instruments are clearly and vividly separated and explained in a very detailed manner. According to my observation, these headphones are very neutral, and accurately represent the given recording. Given its transparent nature, I can say the K812’s are strictly not forgiving to poor recordings. Hence these are transparent, revealing and resolving. Comparison: Let us take a brief look at other popular top notch & excellent performing headphones available in similar price point.
I would like to compare the AKG’s“mesmerizing” K812 to Sennheiser’s “mighty” HD800 & Audeze’s “passionate” LCD-2F. All these three headphones are open backs, over ear. They are also very neutral by sonic response, but presented in different fashions. These are all top notch headphones and one of the world’s finest.
Sennheiser HD800: A Solid performer and a well established headphone, which is sonically extremely good performing. Sonically it is vastly neutral with no emphasis on any frequency range. But highs are very sensitive to the setup & recording used. HD800 definitely feels (and indeed is) Lighter than K812 by weight. The HD800 is also slightly more comfortable owing its design & comfort principles that is compatible with majority of users. After intensive listening, I could observe K812 was comparatively ahead in performance in the following departments: In rest of the aspects, HD800 is marginally superior.
Lows: The K812 audibly has a deeper Lows with more authority without compromising its neutrality. Accuracy, detailing is same on both headphones.
Tonality: The K812 delivers a very realistic tonality which feels very silky & is simply mesmerizing when compared to HD800, which has a relatively vast flat mids.
Soundstage depth & layering: This where HD800 is left behind by K812. The overall depth across depth offered in K812 is simply amazing & spectacular, the stage goes very deep. But when the matter comes to width & height, HD800 performs better.
Amping: HD800 is very sensitive when it comes to headphone amplifiers, and it promptly points out the different between various amps in a accurate fashion. Whereas the K812 is comparatively more steady and accommodating to amps, so it ‘goes along’ with amps without much fuss. Also the K812 is much more efficient & easier drive when related to HD800.
Summary: Both are extremely good performing headphones, and differ by final presentation delivered. Considering overall sonic traits, AKG’s K812 will sound slightly more ‘musical & enjoyable’ but without compromising its technical or reference deliverance aspect. Technically, HD800 is a more suitable headphone for critical listening and mastering purposes. But the K812 is more versatile & stable, proving to be great with mastering as well as music listening.
Both HD800 & K812 are top-notch reference class headphones & perform amazingly.
Audeze LCD-2F: Without a second thought, it offers the most accurate, linear & deepest lows of all headphones in sub 1000$. Mids are presented in a beautiful manner with ‘thickness’ and has a lovable realistic tonality. Highs although accurate, do not have enough details. Soundstage is very good and circular, but nowhere near the capabilities of HD800 & K812. Therefore the LCD-2F is not technically superior when compared to HD800 & K812. LCD-2’s strength elsewhere: In music listening. HD800 & K812 are reference level headphones whereas the LCD-2 is a headphone designed and aimed primarily for music listening.
The LCD-2 is one of the heaviest headphones (by physical weight), and this makes the LCD-2 to make a compromise in comfort department. Although , the LCD-2’s already have a very good comfort & ergonomics (when weight factor is excluded). The strong point for LCD-2 will be primarily music listening, LCD-2 presents itself in a complete opposite fashion than that of HD800 & K812. Hence, it is safe to say, if HD800 & K812 are on one bank of river, then the LCD-2 is on the other one. They are completely opposite& never meet.
The HD800 & K812 are superior reference level headphones whereas the LCD-2 is a headphone designed and aimed primarily for music listening. Amplification: These K812’s are rated at 36 ohms and are indeed designed to be power efficient, can be run comfortably by DAP’s. But since these are top tier reference headphones, the K812’s scale really well with setups, and an well performing amp/dac is strongly recommended for optimal performance delivery. The K812 very much appreciates amplifiers which are revealing or transparent with powerful current output. Ideal amp/dac with a good match/performance for K812 include: Objective2/Odac & Schiit Magni/Modi Stack, amongst few others. These devices are very much affordable and are easily available. Conclusion: The K812 headphones are phenomenal performing headphones. It is one of the few amazingly performing top tier reference headphones. The K812 is the flagship headphones from AKG, and the K812 is the absolute best which a renowned brand like AKG can offer. The K812’s deliver a breathtaking sonic performance. These deliver exactly what is fed into them, thus making the K812’s a technically ideal & extremely transparent headphones. Absolutely Mesmerizing & Marvelous pair of superior reference headphones by AKG.
Top-Tier Reference Sound quality: “Mesmerizing” Sound presentation here is vastly neutral, with excellent response from across frequency band, and is very much helpful for critical listening as well as for casual musical pleasure. K812 is very responsive, with great speed. With sheer amount of transparency & speed, the K812’s are simply one of the best top-tier performance headphones one can access get today. It performs extremely well and is neck-to-neck with HD800 by performance.
Top notch Build Quality: AKG K812 is very well engineered and designed. It is the showcase of AKG’s engineering. It is wisely built, by using cutting edge technology materials which provide a very durable life for the headphones. These are made in Slovakia with individual attention to each unit.
Excellent Comfort: Owing to their scientific & ergonomic design, including near zero clamping force & engulfing earpads, the K812’s feel very welcoming & comfortable.
Value: AKG K812 puts up an extremely good performance and it is definitely worthy for its offering price. This makes K812 a fantastic purchase for professionals & enthusiasts alike.
Weight: The K812 weighs 390 grams, which is slightly on the weightier side. But this factor is mostly not noticed while worn, and is very much comfortable owing to its well implemented & ergonomic design.
Pros - Organic, realistic, detailed and excellent imaging
Cons - Unforgiving of weakness in chain
I have owned the AKG K702 for a few years now. Of course, it is one of the most difficult to drive full sized cans around. If not properly driven, it sounds rather bright and is bass light. Feed it enough power, the sound you get out of it is rich and there some serious bass there. The K702 was under appreciated by the general public but a jealously guarded little secret of audiophiles who knew its true nature. It was also many years since AKG first came out with the K702 as its flagship headphone. We all despaired if AKG would ever rise to such heights again. Of course, AKG surprised us a few years back with the AKG K3003 which was a phenomenal little in ear monitor, with a soundstage like it thought it was a pair of full sized cans. As to how I came upon the AKG K812, I have two good audiophile friends in Singapore to thank: Joe and Ken. When the AKG K812 was showcased in Singapore last December during Mook, I was laid up in bed because of a bad bout of flu. Immediately after that, I travelled to NYC for a few weeks. Hence, I did not hear about the buzz the K812 caused during Mook. However, separately, both of them swore blind that they thought it was the best dynamic in the market and that I would love it. Perhaps I should explain - the both of them almost NEVER agree on any iem or can. This had to be a first. I knew it was a sign... So, when limited stock arrived at Jaben, I made sure that I had one. Wilson and Claire were kind enough to set one aside for me. As a background, I have practically all the TOTL headphones: LCD 2 & 3, HD800, Beyerdynamic T1, Hifiman HE-6, HE-5LE, HE-500, Fostex TH900, plus all the higher end Grados (save for the PS1000) and the Abyss.
Build Quality The build quality of the AKG K812 is good. There is a nice hefty solid feel about them. It doesn't feel too heavy, certainly nothing close to the Audezes. I particularly liked the ear pads which was oh so comfortable and my ears fit nicely within. The only downside is that the cable connection is similar to the old AKGs, ie. on one side only. Further, while the connectors that are used seem solid enough, they are not the common mini-XLR used in the AKG K702, which means that you couldn't rotate after-market cables between the two AKGs. Comfort and Isolation What I found with the K812 is that it was very well fitting for me. The clamping force of the headband was just nice and there is never any fear that it may just slip off. And yet when i'm wearing the K812, I don't notice it is there even if I wear it most of the day. As you may expect from an open can, the isolation is moderate at best. Music Genres I have a very wide repertoire of music in my music collection: all the way from medieval church music to Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra to Diana Krall, Holly Cole, Stacey Kent, Rumer to classic music to modern pop. What is enjoyable about the K812 is that it is at least competent with all genres. There are some in which I find I do enjoy tremendously and that would be jazz vocals, opera and acoustic vocals. I have even listened to Calvin Harris and Above & Beyond on these cans without any issue. I don't actually worry about finding particular genres to listen to when I am on the K812: I just pick any album on the JRemote on my iPad and just hit play with full confidence that nothing but realistic and organic goodness will fill my ears. Sound Quality The K812 are very well balanced: the trebles are extended, the mids are full and have a lovely timbre, the bass is deep yet tight. On top of this, the K812 has a wide and deep soundstage while maintaining beautiful layering, accurate imaging and excellent details. Of course, there have been reports of tizzy trebles, but to date I cannot say I have heard any. As for some critics claiming that its soundstage is not as wide as the HD800, whilst that is true, the depth and layering of K812's soundstage cannot be beat. And it does make for a much more organic and natural representation of the music. Pairing What I will say is that next to only the Abyss, this is the pair of cans that has the capacity to take my breath away or move me so. I currently run my AKG K812 with Toxic Cables Black Widow. I wanted a fuller and more detailed sound from the K812 - no change in basic sig of the can but something which could communicate more than the very sad stock cable. On a side note, AKG K702 owners will be glad to know that AKG didn't discriminate against the K702: the stock cable of the K812 is just as flimsy. My desktop rig at home comprises of a modded Mac Mini (with external linear PSU), Bricasti M1 DAC and then balanced out to the Bryston BHA-1 and RCA to the Woo Audio WA2. I will say that I am particularly fond of the sweet organic sound, with a wonderful intimate soundstage, that the K812 produces with the WA2. Of course, I also run it off the Bryston, with which the soundstage opens up and the K812 is more dynamic. Conclusion In my cosy little musical universe, the AKG K812 comes only second to the Abyss in the pleasure it constantly gives me. This is a pair of headphones which are organic while being transparent and detailed. AKG rises again!