AKG K812 Open-Back Stereo Headphone

Disclaimer: I asked Dale if he would be interested in reviewing the new AKG flag ship, the K812, for us and he sent in his review straight away. As far as I know Dale bought the K812 and it is not an official review sample. This is Dale’s first review on Headfonia. I hope you like it. Lieven.

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I’ve wanted the AKG K812 ever since it was first announced. It has a unique look that says ‘metal’ and ‘industrial’ – not in the musical sense, but just in the aesthetics. And of course, what color could be better than black (with a bit of chrome trim)? I love the K812, but as love affairs go it can be rough going at times.

AKG did something with the K812 that I never would have expected of a flagship open-back headphone – they set the impedance at 36 ohms and terminated the 3m cable with a standard 3.5mm plug, threaded for the included 6.35 adapter plug. I’m guessing they did this because of the many small headphone amps that people use which have 3.5mm jacks only. However, open-back headphones don’t play well in most portable situations, so playing in a hotel room etc. may be the only option for portable use.

Checking the sensitivity of the K812 with an iPhone5, the maximum volume isn’t sufficient for audiophile listening with nearly half of my music tracks, although the tone qualities and balance hold up as well as when driving more efficient headphones. In spite of the partial success with phones or other similar players, a good headphone amp is necessary for full dynamics to prevent clipping, and to reproduce all of the detail in most music tracks.

The most critical reviews of the K812 have noted harshness in certain music tracks, and since the K812 is a “full treble” headphone like the Beyerdynamic T1 or Sennheiser HD800, it’s critical to get a good matching amplifier and even the music tracks that play best with this headphone. A good tube amp would be best in my opinion, and although the only such amp I have on hand is the low-cost Bravo Ocean, a good tube amp should help. The magical thing that catches a lot of users by surprise is when they connect the K812 to the better tube amps (or possibly solid state if a good match exists), when they hear the harshness turn into instrumental details – the quality that’s generally referred to as instrument separation.

Personally, I wouldn’t be inclined to listen to most industrial goth, the brighter metal genres, or other treble-intensive music with the K812, unless I had my hand on the treble or volume controls, ready to turn it down in case it gets too hot. The K812 bass is similar to the Sennheiser HD800’s I think, although I no longer have the HD800 here for a direct comparison. I wouldn’t expect any bassheads to be attracted by the K812, but in that unlikely event, it can take some bass boost and still sound pretty clean. I don’t find anything to say about the midrange except for some forwardness, and that forward emphasis is mostly a function of the strong treble from what I hear.

The most critical analysis I’ve done is a direct comparison to the two similar headphones I’ve had recently – the Beyer T1 and T90. The T1’s bass isn’t as strong as the HD800’s as best I remember. The T90 is closer, and the K812 very similar. The treble is much the same for all 3 headphones – i.e. somewhat bright for my listening. In my comparisons, frequency responses weren’t a distraction from hearing the underlying sonic qualities. My analysis has the T1 sounding very smooth (ignoring any treble issues), and by comparison the K812 sounds rougher. That sound for the K812 might be described as dry or even grainy, and while I suspect that the main component of that difference is unevenness in the response, it’s possible that certain distortion issues noted in other reviews could be part of that. Listened to on its own, that sound quality doesn’t bother me at all, but there are recordings that will make you aware of it. On the other hand, the T1 can also sound harsh (if not grainy or rough) with some music.

It continues after the click

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70 Comments

  • Reply September 25, 2014

    ghost2031 S23

    Good Review,
    although it feels a little bit cut off at the end,
    theres no real summary (to me at least)

    • Reply September 25, 2014

      dalethorn

      I just got a message from someone in the U.K. who knows a high-end dealer who wants to stock the K812, but are having difficulty working with AKG on the dealer arrangements. Hopefully AKG will work with those guys and get some K812’s on demo.

  • Reply September 25, 2014

    Cotnijoe

    Hey im a bit confused one the comparisons. It was stated that comparing the T1 to T90 is obvious that T1 is superior but comparing the T99 to 812 isnt useful. Why is that?

    • Reply September 25, 2014

      dalethorn

      Actually I meant the K812 doesn’t have similar qualities to the T90, like the T90 has to the T1. The T1 and T90 are definitely the upper-end Beyer sound, while the K812 is really different. I tried to explain as best I could, but if there’s a specific question I could go into more detail.

      • Reply September 25, 2014

        Cotnijoe

        Im looking to upgrade my T90. From the looks of its frequenxy the T1 seems like a flatter T90. Hows detail and soundstage comparing the two.

        And then how does the sig differ between T90 and 812?

        • Reply September 25, 2014

          dalethorn

          If you have a good amp, and you probably do when using the T90, then if you listen to something you’re familiar with using the T1 for awhile, and switch to the T90 on the same track, you should hear a loss of quality all the way around – soundstage, detail, everything. I was amazed, and I still like my T90, but the difference is pretty significant. The K812 really is different from those, because it doesn’t have the smooth subtlety of the T1 – the sound is big and bold and some really critical people who probably have perfect pitch don’t think the K812 has as correct of a tonality as the T1, but some people who have heard the T1 think the same thing compared to the HD800. So a lot depends on how accurate you need, or how you perceive.

          You are going to need a lot more power with the T1 compared to the T90 (but K812 and T90 will use about the same amount of power). There may be some solid state amps that work well with the K812, but I’d recommend a tube amp as a better match for the brightness that can seem harsh on some tracks. I use my v-moda Verza DAC/amp with an iPod Touch and WAV tracks, and it works OK, but is a little edgy on some music. My low-cost Bravo Ocean tube amp resolves some of the high-frequency percussion better, but the overall fidelity isn’t a good match to the K812. I’ll have to get a better tube amp, but I can hear the difference already from using better amps with the HD800 I had for 3 years.

          The K812 needs a good burn-in time I think – 50 to 100 hours should work. I think I’ll do some research on amps for the K812, since the history on the T1 is already long and established, and you’ll find everything you need for the T1. BTW, discounts are appearing for the T1 and the K812 at random times and places, so it’s good to keep an eye out.

          • Reply September 25, 2014

            Cotnijoe

            Thanks for the input. Just one last thought. How do the three compare in terms of quantity and quality of bass.

            It sounds like the 812 is also the largedt in terms of soundstage? Ive heard some stories of how killer the imaging the T1 is

            • Reply September 25, 2014

              dalethorn

              I can’t say that my impressions of the imaging, or the descriptive terms I use, would match how other reviewers describe these. But here’s my impressions from a lot of listening and comparing. The K812 just sounds big, so maybe soundstage has other qualities like depth or precise location of instruments etc., and I can’t get into that since I didn’t have the time for it. But I’ve heard a lot of bad from some pricy headphones, and I don’t hear any real negatives on the K812 soundstage. But the T1 has what my senses say is more depth, or a sense of reality like live music. My caveat is that those things are variable, depending on how the upper highs and harmonics are reproduced, and your source and amp can make a difference. For bass, the K812 is warmer with greater impact, but it’s not a big difference (maybe 2-3 db at 40 hz), and the quality varies much more by amp and source and the music track than by headphone. They’re both excellent in bass quality. My notes on the HD800 says these are just as good in the bass department.

              • Reply September 25, 2014

                Cotnijoe

                Thanks again!

                Did u also mention that the 812 wont fit small heads well? Or was it the other way around? I didnt quite catch that.

                Either way the 812 will b on my radar

                • Reply September 26, 2014

                  dalethorn

                  My head size is average, and the adjustments I did with the locking adjusters on the right and left side of the headband can go bigger (for bigger heads) only about 10 mm on each side, which is not much. They can go only about 5 mm smaller, which is even less. Those adjusters (or sliders) seem to affect only the flex-band under the headband, so I doubt there’s a way to get a better range of adjustment unless you just cut off the flex-band and then pad the underside of the headband yourself.

          • Reply May 31, 2016

            lysingur

            Is Woo Audio WA7d Fireflies Duo a good match for K812? I’d really prefer not to get a tube amp if solid state can work just as well due to the cost.

            • Reply May 31, 2016

              dalethorn

              You can get a good solid state, like several that are reviewed here, as long as you have experience using the K812 with other solid state amps. What is your experience so far?

              • Reply May 31, 2016

                lysingur

                My experience with amps is close to none. I don’t even know that it has that big of an impact on sound until the day I purchased the K812 at the store and the manager let me try it with and without amp.

                The Concero HP seems like a good choice but from what I’ve read so far on Headfonia the K812 is a bit particular when it comes to the Amp/DAC department, especially if one wants a drastic improvement in all aspects.

                The problem is it seems any decent tube Amp/DAC costs close to a grand. The WA7d with all the bells and whistles can cost upwards of $1600. But I’m willing to go for it if there is credible evidence that it’s far superior than any of its solid state competition.

                Thanks for your help!

                • Reply May 31, 2016

                  dalethorn

                  I think the basic WA7 would be fine, but there are tube amps less than $500 that will probably be just as good. It isn’t so much that the K812 is picky about amping as it is that the strong treble in places can be irritating on some music. But your music will make the difference – it’s just a safer bet with a tube amp, that was my experience.

  • Reply September 26, 2014

    John123John

    I’ve been interested in the AKG but it’s hard to get past the price. It’s interesting that the 701 and 812 are imitating the HD 800. At the 812 price, why not just get a HD 800? I really like the look of the AKG though even though I’ve actually never had one on my head :p

    I wish all headphones came with oval earcups… It just makes more sense (in terms of ear shape not driver shape).

    • Reply September 26, 2014

      dalethorn

      I had the HD800 for 3 years, and didn’t use it much for the same reasons that David of headphones dot com listed in his famous 50 headphones review, or the reasons that Tyll listed at Innerfidelity. Technically it’s superb, and it resolves upper harmonic details without peer. But, there’s more to musical enjoyment than that, and unfortunately musical enjoyment can’t be measured or even explained very well.

      BTW, the K812 earcups aren’t round – the outer perimeters are round, but the ear openings are somewhat more ear-shaped. I love the way it feels around my ears – very comfy.

      • Reply October 3, 2014

        s. zorin

        “Technically [HD800 is] superb, and it resolves upper harmonic details without peer. But, there’s more to musical enjoyment than that, and unfortunately musical enjoyment can’t be measured or even explained very well.”

        That’s why T1 smokes these headphones when it comes to listening to music as opposed to analyzing recordings.

        • Reply October 3, 2014

          dalethorn

          I did an extensive comparison to the T1, noting Innerfidelity’s criticism of the K812, and a very revealing expose of the T1 on ComputerAudiophile by an astute classical musician, who noted the T1’s incorrect voicing of several instruments. So both are quite flawed, but both can be made enjoyable with some judicious EQ that addresses the anomalies only.

    • Reply September 26, 2014

      dalethorn

      BTW, while the HD800 price has been ‘maintained’ rigidly all these years, Massdrop for one example has the K812 at $1079 USD currently. They also have the Beyer T1 for $879.

  • Reply September 28, 2014

    Jeff

    These sounded pretty rubbish but I heard from some guys that this thing sounds great out of the AK240 so I tried and gosh, it’s much better than before.
    BUT I look at the price tag and it’s $1800. I wet my pants.
    I wish the soundstage was larger.

    • Reply September 28, 2014

      dalethorn

      The soundstage of my K812 is the biggest I’ve heard since the HD800 I had. Maybe it’s only me, but it sounds much better than the T1 or T90 I have.

      • Reply July 19, 2016

        Musikverein

        It’s not just you. I had the chance to listen to the K812 and compare it to the T1 and the TH900 last weekend. This with the high-end Violectric combo and for mobile the DF black/red. It blows both out of the water in terms of musicality, immediacy and a natural and very vivid soundscape. You get it for €830 new these days. Together with the Dragonfly I consider it the best hi-fi value on the market at this point as a personal audio stack at/below 1K.

        • Reply July 20, 2016

          dale thorn

          I believe that the K812 sound will always be controversial, mainly because the high end of its spectrum sits near the top of the brightness range of the top dynamic and electrostatic headphones (T1, HD800, Stax SR009, etc.) Since you know about the best amping options, you have that covered pretty well. But what a lot of buyers don’t know is how much quality AKG puts into their headphones, like the low-price K553 which has great build quality and excellent sound for the price. Another brand that I’m also very impressed by, for great build quality and sound, over and above the price, is Philips. I’ve had several of theirs as well as AKG.

    • Reply September 28, 2014

      dalethorn

      BTW – only $1079 on Massdrop.

      • Reply October 3, 2014

        s. zorin

        Massdrop price of 1079 dollars and with AK240 it would be around 4150 dollars and this should lead not only to wetting pants but to even worse.

        • Reply October 3, 2014

          dalethorn

          I’ve been using the K812 with an ipod touch and v-moda Verza DAC/amp playing WAV tracks, and it sounds spectacular. (Especially with the Audioforge player)

  • Reply October 1, 2014

    alexandrov

    this was the most useless review I’ve ever read in a serious place like this

    • Reply October 1, 2014

      dalethorn

      And why would anyone care about your opinion, since you actually didn’t state any facts? If you have something specific to say, to inform the other readers here, then you would be making a contribution instead of creating a hostile atmosphere.

      • Reply October 1, 2014

        alexandrov

        πŸ™‚ That’s my personal (and maybe hostile, sorry, it’s not facebook!) opinion. I’m a reader. I’m not pretending to be informative.
        But the authors of the reviews ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Review ) are supposed to be not so shallow. That’s the point of sites like this.

        • Reply October 1, 2014

          Headfonia_L.

          Chill guys. Yes the review is a bit different than when Nathan or myself would write it, but why not? I’ll definately ask Dale again to write something for us. It’s not cool to judge someone on just one review but I accept your opinion.

        • Reply October 1, 2014

          dalethorn

          The readers here are customers, and blasting a review with no facts or arguments is just insulting to the customers here. BTW, I checked your Disqus account and see that it was created new just for the blast on this review. BTW#2 – The point of sites like this is to inform and seek out others’ opinions, not make attacks that are devoid of any arguments. You say that the reviewer isn’t supposed to be so shallow, but you created an anonymous account with no history just to make a shallow (no facts) attack.

          • Reply October 2, 2014

            alexandrov

            In fact I’m not a hater πŸ™‚ I like this site very much, it’s on my favorites bar in Chrome. But this was the first review that dissapointed me. I have the rights to dislike something and to share it with people, right? πŸ™‚ I remind – it’s not facebook. We are real people with real opinions which are not always positive πŸ™‚
            Peace πŸ™‚

            • Reply October 2, 2014

              dalethorn

              Lots of people make posts that have some negativity or even hostility in them. Yours was not one of those. Yours was pure hostility. Your disclaimer doesn’t wash. If you feel so strongly as to create a new ID just to make your post, then say who you are.

              • Reply October 2, 2014

                alexandrov

                Pure evil am I πŸ˜€
                PS: If I have ever had other ID here, I’ve forgotten, sorry. Please, forgive me.
                P.S.S: Oh, I should be Pure Evil: DIE, DIE DIE!!!!

            • Reply October 3, 2014

              s. zorin

              Understand that this was Dale’s first review. What could have been better done is the way the review was [dis]organized. He should have started with ‘the physicalities’ like the appearance, materials used, comfort and so on and then move on systematically to other things, also go first from the objective facts to subjective impressions. Dale should have followed a ‘reviewer’s grid’ so to speak so that the review is less chaotic. A lesson for him but otherwise the review was quite informative. A slight problem is the review only hinted that there is a problem with K812’s treble; this should be talked about more.

              • Reply October 3, 2014

                dalethorn

                Actually a former review by me with photo and video is online in a dozen places, including the Amazon’s. This was not meant to be a comprehensive review repeating the same things – it was meant as a different view of the K812 written from scratch for Headfonia.

              • Reply October 8, 2014

                Geoffrey Defosse

                Well, Headphonia is pretty well known to be an over-enthousiastic website, it’s almost like they promote every product they test. Tyll Hertensen from Innerfidelity is much more accurate than Headphonia. When something is wrong with something, he talks about it. I’m still looking for the shortcomings regarding the K812 in here.

                • Reply October 8, 2014

                  dalethorn

                  In defense of Headfonia’s accuracy, look at these things from the above review: “Critical reviews have noted harshness”, “I wouldn’t be inclined to listen to….”, “Ready to turn it (the treble) down in case…”, “Forward emphasis is mostly a function of the strong treble…”, “The treble is much the same….somewhat bright for my listening”, “By comparison the K812 sounds rougher”, “I suspect that the main component of that difference is unevenness in the response”, “May be due to its peculiar colorations or the sonic roughness”

                  Now while Innerfidelity made their criticisms more absolute, I reported much the same, but I decided that they’re not absolutes – they’re relative to all the usual hi-fi factors. So I think this review is just as accurate, but it’s “evaluate by direct comparison” rather than “evaluate as absolute”. I think a lot of headphone users will find Headfonia’s methods (not necessarily mine) useful as an alternative to the other testing sites.

                • Reply October 8, 2014

                  Headfonia_L.

                  Thanks for the constructive post. (below comment is in general, not about the K812)

                  I agree Mike could really be enthousiastic about a unit. You like it or you don’t but a lot of people do like it.

                  Nathan and myself who have been running this site without Mike for about 8 months now aren’t enthousiastic at the same level and we actually address several negative points in all our reviews such as UI, price, cracks, build quality, sound, etc.

                  I suggest you stick around, read some of the “newer” work, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I have to admit it’s not easy to change a reputation, but it has changed for sure. I hope you can see that and share that message. Luckily the companies sending in samples believe in us. Do you think we’d get samples if we weren’t writing accurate reviews? πŸ˜‰

                  I wouldn’t say Tyll is more accurate. Don’t get me wrong, he is really good but I doubt you’ll find reviews where we basically don’t say the same things. Just like he does, we adress the bad points too. Or is that based on the fact he uses measurements?

    • Reply October 2, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      Thread cleaned up. Keep it nice please

    • Reply October 3, 2014

      dalethorn

      This is the most useless comment I’ve ever read in a serious review like this.

      Edit: Since the above comment is OK to stay, this should be OK too.

      • Reply October 3, 2014

        Patrick

        funny is also that he probably likes his own comment, srsly guy just post if you can make a critical but fair comment. Nuff said…

        • Reply October 3, 2014

          dalethorn

          Oh, I think a lot of people know who he really is.

      • Reply October 3, 2014

        Patrick Michael Graf Murray

        Thanks for the review Dale, and nice job I have not read too many reviews on the K812

        • Reply October 3, 2014

          dalethorn

          The majority of reviews I’ve seen on the K812 have been very critical, and I don’t mean to dismiss any of that. I’ve done my own tuning for it, which enhances my enjoyment greatly. In the best cases though, there may be some audible anomalies as Innerfidelity noted, but since they didn’t do a “best case” test, we still don’t know the final story outside of my evaluation.

    • Reply October 3, 2014

      Patrick Michael Graf Murray

      How was this useless, it gave his experiences with the K812 and other phones as a comparison that are in that price range. I thought it was very helpful.

    • Reply October 6, 2014

      Vaibhav Pisal

      the review that gives such a clear cut consensus cannot be useless.

      though if you don’t trust reviewer then its a different story.

      I personally trust can understand where Dale is coming from, being an owner of AKG K550.

      I personally have complaints with this site like speed of reviews, not quality.

      also almost all gear is reviewed by Mike and new staff have no idea how it sounds like.

      • Reply October 6, 2014

        Headfonia_L.

        allow me to reply

        1. Speed? Two reviews a week isn’t enough for you? oh my. We’ve been publishing more reviews than HFN has ever have. FYI, 2 a week is alot, and then I’m not even counting columns and other stuff. Maybe you just don’t visit often enough πŸ™‚

        2. Mike hasn’t reviewed anything in months. He’s ran off to his stores. I’ve been running the site with Nathan since february or so. Keep up man πŸ˜‰

        3. thanks for the support on the AKG review and the quality remark

        • Reply October 7, 2014

          Vaibhav Pisal

          hahaha

          • Reply October 7, 2014

            Headfonia_L.

            excuse me?

            • Reply October 7, 2014

              dalethorn

              Oh, I think he just has fun here. With all the new reviews he will have lots of reading to do. Maybe even buy a new DAC/amp for that K550.

              • Reply October 8, 2014

                Vaibhav Pisal

                ofcourse.

                i even ordered an opamp to swap in my audinst hud mini after reading about it here.

                • Reply October 8, 2014

                  dalethorn

                  I always need a better amp. It’s hard to wait for paydays.

  • Reply October 19, 2014

    bm

    Nice review but maybe I’m influenced by the fact that I agree with Dale, in fact, his review on his channel helped me decide to get them. I was put off at first because of Innerfidelity’s review. Re-reading Tylls review now having heard them I realise it’s actually very positive: “a marvelously musical headphone for small acoustic ensembles or when music doesn’t encourage stridency” … ….”truly world-class with music that has a simple, mellow treble.” That’s exactly how I found them – truly world class. Dale says here: “impressive soundstage and sense of detail”… ….”dry – even grainy”… … “I wouldn’t expect any bassheads to be attracted by the K812” – yes, I agree. They’re fantastic – for the types of music Tyll mentioned. I haven’t noticed the problems Tyll identified but then I haven’t played anything that “encourages stridency” with them.

    • Reply October 19, 2014

      dalethorn

      Thanks. I think most people understand that some headphones are more treble-centric than others, and sonic harshness on some tracks will be more irritating with treble-centric headphones, on average. I was surprised to read harsh criticisms of other comparable headphones like the Beyer T1, even though the T1 enjoys a great reputation. The mighty Sennheiser HD800 hasn’t gotten reviews that are anywhere near as harsh as the K812 or the T1 (as far as I know), yet from my experience and Tyll’s and David’s (the famous 50 headphone review), these reviewers don’t find the HD800 to be their favorite dynamic for music listening.

  • Reply October 20, 2014

    Adryan Wirasyahputra

    Maybe if you add some specific frequency where it peaks when calling all those words (bright, harsh), that would be really helpful.

    • Reply October 20, 2014

      dalethorn

      http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Akg_K812.jpg

      That’s a picture of the EQ graph I did, so where you see a dip here, it’s an emphasis in the headphone. This was the result of a careful comparison to a number of my best headphones. Two caveats though: Feel free to ignore the bass boost I did, and second – I tend to adjust the treble a bit dark, so the ~8 db compensation I applied between 9 and 10 khz could be less for some users. The strong emphasis peaking at ~4 khz** is the biggest problem, since it not only contributes to a hard and glassy sound, but such sudden and dramatic changes in volume from (in this example) 4 to 6 khz has a detrimental effect on the soundstage. At this point in time, very few headphone users are aware of just how much soundstage and naturalness they’re losing because of those changes, probably due to resonances that aren’t completely damped.

      **The graphs created by the Audioforge equalizer don’t have vertical lines for 300 hz and 3 khz, so they jump to 400 hz and 4 khz.

  • Reply December 14, 2014

    Arrgo

    These seem to be very nice phones but $1500 is too steep for the possible slight improvement in sound.

    • Reply December 15, 2014

      dalethorn

      The last Massdrop price was $1079, and they’ll offer it again pretty soon. But, as far as ‘improvement’ goes, it’s much more complicated than that. Out of the box, Innerfidelity’s review describes the harshness in certain tracks, due mostly (I found) to a very strong treble, like the Sennheiser HD800 or Beyer T1 and other so-called neutral headphones. BTW, I did a normalization of sorts between the HD800 and K812 response curves that Innerfidelity printed, and they compared much better than I thought they would. But let’s say for example that you bought the K812, and you liked the treble as-is, or you reduced the treble like I have. That doesn’t necessarily get you the ideal sound, because there’s some leftover graininess (I think that describes what I heard), and that might bother some users. That grain or whatever it is might be tamed a little bit by certain amps, especially tube amps, but don’t expect a miracle – the biggest factor by far is the recordings you play.

  • Reply December 30, 2014

    Nick Tam

    Any possibilities of a K712Pro review? That thing seemingly thrashed my HD700

    The newer AKGs really are deserving of some attention, nothing like the old K701 and Q701

    • Reply December 30, 2014

      dalethorn

      The K712 (which I no longer have) is a darn good deal at the latest prices around $350 USD, but Massdrop introduced (with AKG’s help apparently) a new model – the K7xx, for only $200 if I remember correctly. If that K7xx is as good as the K712, and they look very similar, it could set a new standard of value. Caveat: Massdrop isn’t an “Authorized Seller” for any brands as far as I know, so if the K7xx were released to someone besides Massdrop it might be more expensive.

      • Reply December 30, 2014

        Nick Tam

        From what I know the K7xx is based off the K702 Annie and the K712Pro is also tuned based on improvements to the latter. The K712Pro retails at $230 locally here and I was blown away at how much sound I’m getting for that price. Though to be fair I got my Senns at $650 when it went on sale last year it really doesn’t seem to have that wow factor I’m getting out of the AKG.

        I’ve bought the K712Pro a few days ago and I think I’m regretting it already :
        There’s something going on with the AKG that made me put down my Senns even though I love the Sennheiser house sound so much

        • Reply December 30, 2014

          dalethorn

          I posted a 712 writeup somewhere – search google. Anyway, here’s a curve I did – the actual sound (compared to an average of my best headphones) is the inverse of this EQ curve. As you noted, the bass is lean, but the rest is very smooth and good.

          http://dalethorn.com/Photos/Audioforge/Akg_K712.jpg

  • Reply July 20, 2016

    Musikverein

    That’s true, on the edge on the treble spectrum, but very natural and vivid which serves any classical and acoustic music perfectly well, some other stuff not so much. Soundstage of K812 feels more real – layered yet not dry or sterile – as is the tendency of both German ones. The ideal complementary headphone to cover all music could be a LCD 3 or Ether Flow – but that means expensive amping … On behalf of Philips I agree, underestimated as well. I had the L2 for a while, great and balanced sound for a reasonable(reduced) price. The X2 has some small flaws imho. Perhaps a next effort could be the real (mid-prize dynamic) thing.

  • Reply April 9, 2017

    Michel I

    Hello Dale and Lieven,
    2,5 years after your nice review, this big boy can be found for 850 Euros.
    When you compare him to the the new kids in town, is he still up to date?
    Regards

    • Reply April 9, 2017

      dale thorn

      I wish I were able to get a deal on the new K872 to compare them, but that won’t likely happen. The thing is, when a headphone is made to be highly resolving with big drivers and all, any aberrations in the response not only become more apparent, but they intrude on a lot of the music. And that’s a very strong clue as to why this has been so discounted – the first time I saw it on Massdrop for ~$900 USD was more than a year ago.

  • Reply September 17, 2017

    PETER JASZ

    Your subjective impressions are anything but clear -or expedient.

    This class of headphone demands more sophisticated analysis, the least of which would be a ‘reference’ frequency response graph and how the 812’s compare to the neutral reference response.

    High-resolution transducers will reveal flaws in anything downstream; amplification, source fidelity. Suggesting vacuum tube amplification to “tame” subjective brightness is just that without the necessary technical measurements.
    Perhaps this ‘brightness’ (HF elevation) referred to may be amplifier or source induced?

    Perhaps spilling less ink on perpetual prose and increasing technical facts/measurements could bridge the gap and offer readers and potential; buyer’s a far more accurate assessment of these very expensive cans.

    peter jasz

  • Reply September 17, 2017

    dale thorn

    That’s a myopic view. There is considerable freq. response analysis with this, using test tones, tone sweeps, direct comparisons to several other flagship headphones, etc. Us advanced audiophiles already are aware of the differences between free-field measurements (Sennheiser, HD800 etc.) and the dummy-head measurements by Innerfidelity, that produce the utterly useless freq. response curves with the very jagged treble lines. Do your ears, or anyone’s ears, have a big suckout around 5 khz, like you see on the Innerfidelity graphs? My ears don’t.

    But there is a lot more to testing than can be described in a short article. People don’t even hear the same in every place at every time of day. The human ear is a remarkable instrument with a dynamic range of one trillion (a million millions) to one. Testing as I do it is an iterative process that involves many steps that (after a few days) converges to a final result. And we’re not even getting to the sample-to-sample variances or how the headphone interfaces to various amplifiers.

  • Reply August 11, 2018

    Russ Myers

    The AKG k812 headphones sound phenomenal with the Questyle QP1R digital audio player. It also sounds great with the Lotoo Paw Gold Diana digital audio player, but I had to tweak the PMEQ a little bit.

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