AKG K240 MKII Headphones

General Information

The K 240 MK II is a newly updated version of AKG's most successful headphones with Varimotion technology and XXL transducers. The K 240 MK II's semi-open ear cups have around-the-ear coupling to deliver solid bass, accurate mids and crystal-clear highs. Thanks to its lower impedance and improved sensitivity, it can be used with low-output audio sources to deliver its incredible sound. The detachable OFC cable has gold-plated plugs for optimum audio quality and exceptional ease of service.

Latest reviews

Pros: Additional Velour Pads and Coiled Cable, Detachable Connectors, Classic AKG Styling, A Laidback Reference, Realistic 3D Soundstage
Cons: Requires gargantuan power to really sing, Unnatural treble, May be considered "exciting" to some.
Do take note that this is solely my opinion and I don't represent the individual tastes of every Head fi'er out there. YMMV


The Infamous AKG "Sextetts". Courtesy of Whitney Dafoe Photography,

"It speaks for itself!"

AKG is an already established company that focuses primarily on the manufacture of radio equipment in Austria. Starting from humble beginnings, AKG started from the ground up, producing the D12 microphone in 1953 with the ability to pick up on wider bandwidths. Soon after, AKG started to amass a wider following amongst the radio-industry crowd. In the years to come, AKG would soon branch out into headphones, developing the venerable AKG K240 "Sextett" and other oddball renditions.

Fast forward to 2017, and AKG is now a subsidiary company under the Harman Audio group. Focusing primarily on pro-audio, with its reference grade headphones such as the K812, AKG is widely regarded as one of the industry giants. And yet, the K240 (do take note that this is a revised model) is still available for purchase to this day. In an already crowded low-fi market, models that serve as a low cost to entry are a dime a dozen, with competitors spitting out headphones on the yearly. Competition is stiff, and companies are eager to be the next big thing. Has the K240 aged well to this day or is it a cheap relic from a time forgotten?


Price:
I live in Singapore and I managed to snag a pair of the AKG K240 Mkii's at 99 SGD (approximately 70 USD) from Lazada Singapore. Do take note that there are no audible differences between the K240 Classic and K240 Mkii's (apart from differing color variants and accessories).


Package:
Right out of the box, we have:

1 X AKG K240 Mkii (Blue)
1 X Mini XLR Coiled Cable
1 X Mini XLR Regular Cable
1 X Velour Earpads
1 X AKG Sticker + Warranty Card



For 99 dollars, this is a pretty sweet deal. For such a low cost, we're pretty much set out for life with this pair! Overall, a generous package from AKG.


Build Quality/Comfort:


At 99 dollars, I didn't have any overblown expectations and I'm glad I didn't. I was pleasantly surprised by the overall build and comfort.

Weighing in 240 grams (without the cable), the headphone is ergonomically designed, fitted with the already signature AKG Styling that we've all come to love over the years. The rounded earcups sit snugly on the head with just the right amount of clamp. The self-adjusting vinyl headband allows the headphone's weight to be evenly distributed across the head.

The detachable connector on the left feels sturdy, showing no signs of loose pins. The build, while plasticky, feels sturdy enough for heavy usage. Every part of the headphone can be replaced easily, with a market of readily available parts. Do take note that the K240's are manufactured in China, unlike it's pricier counterparts (Q701, K712, K612). Do not let the aforementioned fact affect your judgement, the K240's are still a fine pair of headphones.


Amping:
Impedance:
55 Ohms
Sensitivity: 91 dB SPL/V
Maximum Input: 200mW


My pride and joy!

Make no mistake, AKG's are notoriously power-hungry beasts (ala the K240 "Sextett" with its power-sucking 600-ohm impedance). The K240's are wired to be more "consumer friendly" but even on my Aune X1s, the volume knob has to be turned past the 12 O clock region. Like Sennheiser, AKG focuses on Electrical Damping to achieve more nuanced movements on the dynamic driver diaphragms, with an ideal damping factor. My guess; it has something to do with it's large XXL Varimotion transducers.

Back to the topic at hand, the K240's responds well to a powerful amp section. More juice= More control. It clearly shows with the K240's. Paired with the Fiio K1, the K240 reaches ample listening volume but it doesn't exactly shine. When it's powered by my Aune X1s, the headphones really sing, with added control on the mid-bass section. Go for power with the K240's.


Sound Quality:
Source:

  • Spotify Premium (Highest Quality)
  • Aune X1s
  • Fiio K1
  • Denon DP300F Turntable

Tonality:
  • Liquid/Rich Mid Range
  • Rolled-up Mid-Bass/Sub-Bass
  • Extended Highs
  • Decent 3D Soundstage
After using the K240's as my daily drivers for the past 5 days, the K240's can be characterized as a mid-centred headphone, with layered mids and a phenomenal vocal range, the likes I haven't soon in a headphone at this price point. The somewhat forward treble is bordering on the threshold of sibilance without overstepping the "boundaries".

The highs are well extended, without the stiff peaks that accompany cheap headphones. The highs are a tad brittle, however, lacking shimmer for more excitement. These are most definitely tuned for the "studio engineer" in mind, with its lack of coloration

The main detraction, however, is its bass section. The bass leaves nothing to be desired. Its mid-bass punch is present but lacks the thick sub-bass to back it up. It's a flabby, sort of dry bass reminiscent of balanced armatures and their characteristic lack of air movement.

While the soundstage isn't going to win any awards, the K240's prove to have decent imaging. Picture your head as a 3D reference ball. Each instrument remains grounded in a circular soundstage. The soundstage isn't your typical "out of head" experience with an oval soundstage but rather, it is more in line with what you'd expect from a semi-open pair of cans.

Featured Track:
Jonny Lang- Still Raining

The perfect companion track, Jonny Lang's raspy howls paired with the reverberation of tube amp blues riffs perfectly compliments the mid-section of the K240's. The realistic imaging adds a layer of forwardness, akin to sitting in front of a live stage performance.


Are the AKG's a fine wine?
There are so many headphones to choose from today. But the K240's stood the test of time and are still considered to be an industry standard by many recording artists and studio engineers. Sometimes, you can't beat the old timers. I'd give the K240's my highest recommendation if you're looking for mid-focused listen.
Pros: Beautiful mids, instrument separation, detail retreival, non-fatiguing, light weight
Cons: Positional accuracy, small earpads. slight lack of punchiness (though this does make them an easy listen)
Introduction
I have owned these headphones for four years now. These were my first decent pair that I researched before buying. Before this I had just bought inexpensive headphones that happened to be in the shop at the time or used ones that were bundled with something. For me, the £80 (approximately) that I paid for them was a huge leap and they were basically my introduction to this hobby. As such, it pains me to give them three and a half stars as I am fond of them, however they have a flaw that not all people will necessarily encounter but it detracts from them significantly for me.
 
Notes
As this headphone has been around for some time, there is no shortage of photographs and descriptions of what is included, so I have forgone that part of the review. I will say that despite the plastic build mentioned by others, I have had no issues with durability. My original earpads are also in good condition despite many hours of use contrary to a couple of complaints I have found elsewhere on the internet about the pads cracking and the foam breaking apart. YMMV in this regard.
 
I have spent the majority of my time using the vinyl pads as de-fluffing the velour pads became tiresome. With this particular headphone, I personally found the sound differences from pad to pad to be relatively minor unlike with a closed back headset which I own where the sound changes completely between pads.
 
I purchased these headphones as a general purpose headphone. My hearing is quite sensitive, so the majority of my listening has been done at what many consider to be low volume. I have used them for music listening, movies, gaming and with guitar multi-effects units for silent practice. As far as sources go, I have used them in conjunction mostly with my PC soundcard which is a Sound Blaster Omni 5.1 surround (USB). I have also used them with a Mixamp Pro Gen 2, a Fiio X1, (briefly with) a Little Dot Mkiii (I'm currently awaiting its return) and my Galaxy S4. I feel the Galaxy S4 and perhaps even the X1 wasn't bringing out the best they have to offer. Despite their low impedance I found that they required only very slightly lower volume settings than the HD600s for the same perceived volume. As they are generally described as a neutral sounding headphone I will compare aspects of them to the Sennheiser HD600 as this seems to be the headphone most people use as a reference for neutral (with a hint of warmth).
 
Review
The first thing that struck me when I first used these was how pristine the sound was in comparison to a budget headset I had been using. At the time I was playing Killzone 3 and was in an area where it was snowing. I remember hearing the crunch of snow underneath my character's feet and how lifelike it sounded. I then switched back to the headset and comparatively it sounded as if it was being muffled under a pillow. I then decided to listen to some music.
 
Despite the huge improvement in clarity compared to what I was used to, they never sound harsh or sibilant. They will however expose a poor recording. They are brutally honest and will not sugar coat a recording unlike the HD 600s which are quite forgiving. I would definitely say they sound more like an open headphone despite their semi-open categorisation. Overall I would say it has a leaner sound in comparison to the HD 600s which is more full bodied, but I certainly wouldn't call them bright.
 
No one frequency band interferes with another and it is easy to follow individual istruments. The bass is taut and detailed, though slightly aloof. The HD 600s by comparison immerse you in its bass whereas you never feel like you are being engulfed in the same way with the K240 MKiis. While they can reproduce some sub bass, they don't seem to dig quite as deep as the HD600s. The mids are this headphone's biggest strength. Somehow they manage to be incredibly detailed and textured whilst simultaneously warm and smooth. I'm not sure how they manage to acheive this as I would have thought you'd have to trade-off warmth and smoothness for detail and texture, but apparently not. I feel that the highs may be slightly rolled off, but for me this isn't to the detriment of the headphones. There is enough up top that you don't feel it's missing but it never becomes unpleasant. This is a headphone that is very easy to listen to for hours on end. One thing that contributes to this can be viewed either as a pro or as a con. They aren't the punchiest headphone in terms of dynamics.
 
Here is the negative part. The positioning of audio cues is completely different to any of the other heaphones I have subsequently tried. In video games for example, this manifests itself by sounds that should be coming in from 45 degrees off centre coming in from somewhere around 50-55 degrees. In music, hard panned sounds actually sound as if they are coming from slightly behind me. Music that has panning effects where a sound moves from left to right can occasionally sound as if it is passing behind my head. With certain recordings it can actually make it sound as if the centre instrument/vocal is wider than it should be. Similarly, in recordings where there is nothing dead centre but two sounds slightly left and right of centre, it can create an empty sounding spot in centre where in other headphones the left and right share the centre with just a bit of stereo separation. This makes sparse sounding recordings sound incredibly sparse. On the other hand, this does make it incredibly easy to isolate instruments and follow them individually. The one issue this does present is that music isn't as cohesive as it is on the HD600s. So it is a plus for analysing music, but detracts from musicality and identifying directional cues in video games.
 
It took me a long time to identify what the problem is, but I think it is due to the way the headphones sit on my head in relation to my ears. Due to the small earcups, to accommodate the height of my ears I must have the tallest part of my ear dead centre (even then my ears touch top and bottom). This means that the driver sits further towards the back of my head instead of being positioned directly over my ear canal. Also, due to the lack of clamping force, I think the earcups sit in a position that don't angle the drivers towards my ear canal. Perhaps this wouldn't be an issue at higher listening volumes where more sound fills the earcups and makes the sound less directional (I'm speculating here), but for me personally it is an issue as I don't enjoy listening at high volume.
 
I have decided to give my K240 Mkiis to my mother as she is much less critical of the problems I have with them and positioning of audio cues is not as important for her usage. I've not measured her ears but it may not even be an issue for her if the cups fit her ears better than they do mine. Despite its many strengths, since becoming aware of the problems I have with this pair of headphones they are all I notice now when using them. I would love to try another AKG headphone in future (I'm interested in the K712 Pro) based on the strengths of this one, but I would certainly need to try before I buy.
 
I hope someone finds this review valuable.
Pros: Nice texture in mids to highs. Decent price. Exciting studio performance headphone.
Cons: Weak plastic build. Plastic components in ear cups will wear out, snowballing into further damage. Extremely bright.
I see a lot of reviews on here saying that they are "super smooth" in the mid range... Well I will tell you, the mid range is very interesting on these headphones... But it is definitely harsh. I always need to roll the volume back to accommodate this one peak in the mid range which dominates the spectrum. Don't get me wrong, they sound very exciting and fun to listen to, especially for music with reverbs. They show up due to the brightness. Bass is lacking, as is obviously inherent in using the term "bright". The best impression I can give is that they have a sort of "analog drive" to them which is very 70's sounding, and the I have a feeling that the mark 1's would have the better, more pleasing version of this. What I am saying is that in this sort of bright classic sound, an older original pair would hopefully not have the sort of sterility of a modern pair. 
 
I believe these were originally found in studios for musicians to perform with, and that makes sense, because they are very "exciting" sounding... They make your performance sound a bit more golden. DEFINITELY not neutral, as some reviewers have been saying. Neutrality to me would mean that each instrument coming through the speakers would be indiscernible from the actual real-life instrument. A truly neutral pair of headphones would give the impression that musicians were performing in the same room as you. This is not the case with the K240's. Physically, they are very comfortable but sound-wise, they could hurt your ears easily at. They are probably some of the more fatiguing headphones out there. That being said, even after 5 years of use I am finally putting them through an intentional burn-in period of loud use in hopes of softening them up.
 
Another consideration is their structural build... You would think that the headband would be a hollow tube with a wire through it, connecting the two earpieces... This is not the case. The headband itself acts as the bridge between speakers. The speakers are soldered to each end. At each cup, the headband splits open in sort of a "Y", which rests in a little plastic bed, and gets clamped in position between the speaker and the little round plastic piece with the logo on it. On the ends of this "Y" are the speaker connections, soldered. Don't get me wrong, I think the headband is really cool and a brilliant bit of design, if I can say that prefaced with the fact that I do not have a broad idea of what is "good" design - the headband is not actually in itself at fault. The problem is that the wire connections WILL break with use. The plastic beds on the "Y" will crack from twisting, leaving the cups to twist a little more than they should. When they bust loose like this, it leaves the extremely thin wires inside prone to constant bending and eventual snapping. I had to fix mine by taking them apart, gorilla gluing the plastic pieces back together, leaving it for 24 hours, then soldering the connections back on. It's just a design flaw which I encountered after about 5 years of ownership.
 
Hope this serves as a cautionary tale. By all means, I encourage you to buy these headphones, because they are a lot of fun, have an interesting sound, and will give you years of enjoyment. Not to mention being a staple in recording studios. I am just saying, make sure to send your warranty card in, because with this design, it is only a matter of time before the damage I mentioned becomes present. Thanks for reading.
 
JMak

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