AKG K275 Over-ear


Pros: Folding portability
Cheery frequency response yet accurate tone
Mini-XLR detachable cable
Easy to drive
High value for the money
Replacement pads available (round 100mm)
Cons: Slender sub-bass with only fair bass impact
Included pads seal poorly with glasses (but well without)
The AKG K275 will cheerfully perform in more use-cases than AKG will suggest.

Early comments on this AKG K275 were largely welcoming to this 50 mm dynamic closed-back headphone, featuring folding hinges for relative portability given the big circumaural pads. As a fan of my AKG Q701 that uses the same mini-XLR connector, I bought a set of the K275, hoping to maximize cable flexibility.

The K275 is billed as a “Studio” HP which fits its included, long (5m), coiled cable. But I have a shorter cable from the Q701 and I’ve acquired an adaptor that attached to the mini-XLR and accepts a 3.5 mm plug (the mini-plug typical for portable devices). Both options work great.

To try to give y’all a sense of these headphones (HP), I’m going to compare them to German Maestro DMP 8.35 D (GM) closed-back dynamic HP at the same list price ~$200 US; and my Oppo PM-3 closed-back planar magnetic HP, once at $400, since discontinued. The PM-3 (PM) is the closest I have to an acknowledged (by ears more professional than mine) “neutral” frequency response with excellent sub-bass extension, and a deliberate notch down in the treble at 5kHz to alleviate listening fatigue.

Overall: I’m getting more than I paid for with the K275 compared to the GM, but it doesn’t reach the capabilities of the PM, as one would expect (and hope) from their prices. There’s three sins of <$200 HP that make me very cross: tubby “in the barrel” bass; screechy treble that makes woodwinds sound like brass and splash cymbals all over my ears; and uncomfortable ergonomics. The K275 avoid all 3 sins and has some pleasant added capabilities besides.

Comfort: I like the Q701 suspension headband (except for the bumps, but that is readily solved). Not everyone does. For me, the K275 uses less expensive material but is easily as comfortable on my head (7.5” hat size with a bit of an odd shape, so no mean feat). Clamping is light.

Bass: There’s a distinct difference between the capable PM in sub-bass delivery, and especially its impact. The PM moves that air with a palpable thump; neither the K275 nor the GM can. Of the latter two, the K275 is better able to depict sub-bass, and EQ will help. Without EQ, the closed-back design of the K275 seals well without glasses, and so there’s a pleasant resonance in the bass that, for non-critical listening, compensates mostly for the lack of sub-bass. I agree with AKG that the bass that is present is well-articulated. The GM hasn’t ever sealed that well. AKG touts its new “slow retention foam” pad design, so kudos…except the new pads don’t touch the head and jawbone with a flat surface, but rather a rounded one. This means the stems on my glasses break the seal enough so that the bass is notably affected, degrading it somewhat. Brainwavz 100 mm round pads have therefore been an improvement when wearing glasses, as they seal better. Unfortunately, neither seal as well as the Dekoni pads I acquired for my AKG Q701, which I was hoping to test on the K275. But the pad attachment process is different for the Q701 versus the K275 which uses a "wrap around and squeeze" elastic band. Ah, well.

Mids: Extremely nice for the K275. Right there with the PM in rendering voice and woodwinds, whereas the GM add a slight metallic edge to woodwinds.

Treble: The K275 (and GM) come off brighter than the PM-3. Sometimes, as with the Q701, the compensation for this brightness is a sense of clarity and being able to “see into the music.” I don’t really get that sense with the K275. Accurate enough, pleasant enough, but not particularly revelatory. Some Head-Fi fans know themselves to be adverse to bright sound signatures, and I think they’d want to avoid the K275, particularly if they don’t like the K7?? series sound signature. However, I’m content.

Soundstage: I’m not particular about this, so take my comments with a grain of salt. I find the K275 soundstage to be quite good for a closed-back. It is certainly wider than the intimate Oppo PM-3. The K275 tracks nicely with the frantic psychedelic panning of Jimi Hendrix on the Cry of Love album, for instance. While the far edges aren’t “way out there” there’s little doubt where the guitar sound is coming from. On Amber Rubarth’s Sessions from the 17th Ward, the binaural nature of the recording is clearly evident. I suspect you’ll have to go to an open-back or a MUCH more expensive closed-back to do better in soundstage depiction.

Dynamics/Congestion: My “test of iron” for HP is Kunzel’s recording of Albeniz’ Fete-Dieu A Seville, wherein a quiet passage of trading woodwinds leads to a crescendo climaxing with ringing bells and seemingly every orchestral instrument known lending voice. Keeping coherence is that passage, so that it sustains a sense of music during the onslaught, is difficult. The Oppo PM-3 handle this very well; the GM gets slurry and overly bright; the K275 is pretty darn good. With repeated listening, I found the PM handles higher volume well, whereas the K275 does itself proud at less-than-truly-orchestral volume.

Studio Use Case: I don’t mix professionally, but I’d nonetheless advise that those of you on a budget could use the K275 for in-studio as AKG contends, although I’d suggest an EQ that boosts 32-64Hz about 3 db so you don’t unintentionally overwhelm with your mix bass level. You may want to EQ down at about 4-8 kHz too.

Walkabout Use Case: Ha! This is what I ACTUALLY bought the K275 for. I have a Fiio BlueTooth “clip on” receiver/amp and it drives the K quite satisfactorily. Of course, I don’t use the included cable, but rather the mini-XLR -> 3.5mm female adaptor, and a Monoprice mini-plug to mini-plug short cable to attach to the Fiio. Obviously, we’re not talking critical listening during walkabout with my dog, and so any minor drawbacks of the K275 recede to nothing, leaving a very enjoyable listening experience for a grand total under $200 (yeah, I’m a bargain shopper). And yes, the isolation is good with included pads (no glasses) considering it has no noise-canceling function. I’d say fairly close in reduction to my IEM using Comply tips. Good enough to satisfy me in my suburban neighborhood, but if you’re boarding a train or plane, you are in another use-case altogether.

Other use cases: Are you thinking about In-workplace (or in room or in bed), where you want to avoid disturbing others? The K275 will be very fine. Otherwise, not enough clamp for exercise; not enough isolation for noisy trains and planes.

Value: As I’ve suggested, I consider the AKG K275 an excellent value. It is a noteworthy improvement over any over-ear sub-$100 HP I’ve heard, well worth saving up. As I’ve described, it bests a competitor at about the same price. Doubling (or more) the cost will (usually) get you better HP, but you know what you can afford. The only folks I’d wave off would be those seeking a fat bass/avoiding a bright signature (say, desiring the Beats models of old or the B&W P5); and those who have use-cases that don’t fit the K275 capabilities. Otherwise, enjoy.
Thx for review, your the first one on internet far as I can tell. I'm looking at these headphones as I bought Beyerdynamic DT770 and send back three pairs of them (two 80 ohm variants, and one 32 ohm). My issue was bass distortion, on all of them in about the same place, but a bit less on 32 ohm variant. I likes sound on them overall, but bass distortion on studio grade headphones are unacceptable.

Have You tried DT770? Can You somewhat compare?
Which mini-XLR -> 3.5mm female adaptor are you using, if you don't mind me asking?