One of the most doubted aspect of the K1000’s performance is the bass section, due to the open air design. I was actually quite surprised to find how the K1000 delivers a very convincing, tight, impactful upper-mid bass. It’s not a bassy headphone for sure, but when the music calls for a punch, the K1000 delivers. The weakness, obviously is going to be on the mid and low bass section. One reason is the open frame design which makes it hard for low frequencies to survive, and the other I feel is the limited low frequency extension of the drivers. However, although the K1000 is rather limited in mid to low bass, I never once have the impression that the headphone is light at the bottom, or lean, or thin sounding.
It’s funny that the upper mid and treble frequencies happen to be the annoying part of the K1000’s reproduction. With well recorded pieces, you’re not going to notice it. However, with the majority of recordings I tried it with, the K1000 was just nasty on the upper mid. Not only was the upper mid harsh and unrefined (actually the entire treble to midrange spectrum is far from smooth), but the K1000 was so glaring in this area that I’ll gladly take a Grado SR325is any day of the week. Add this to the fact that the driver can barely resolve any moderately-paced modern recording, and you know that the K1000 only shines with laid-back, one instrument recordings like Mozart Piano Sonatas.
Overall, the K1000 has a straightforward sound presentation. Forward vocals, forward instruments, punchy bass, and a moderately good PRaT. The issue that I have is that everything lies on one flat plane. There absolutely is no layers on the music. Even with a deep-soundstage recording like Jazz in the Pawnshop, you never really feel the layering (in spite of the wide open K1000 soundscape). You can only imagine how the layering compresses to almost a point of singularity when given the average recording quality.
The nice thing about the open frame design is that you have no sweaty, uncomfortable pads to worry about. However, the cushions that hold the K1000 in place is actually very uncomfortable to wear, even for short periods of time. This aspect was very surprising to me, since I don’t remember ever having read about the uncomfortable cushion pads in any reviews. I went ahead and asked numerous people who’s had the chance to audition the K1000, including Yobbie who owns one of the K1000 I use for this review, and all of them agrees with me on this. The cushion pads presses really hard against your skull and it makes the K1000 quite uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.
How should I conclude this review? When you buy a K1000, along with the headphones you will get a nice black wooden box, a set of manuals, and an XLR to speaker taps cable for driving the K1000 off speaker amps. But more than that, the K1000 comes with a huge celebrity headphone status permanently attached to it, as well as all the limitations of its vintage drivers. The open frame design makes it unique among the sea of other headphones, and its performance may have been the best in its day. However, the glory days of the K1000 is long past, and it’s time to make space for the new.
Gear used for review
RSA Dark Star, WooAudio WA5, Minute 45, Rudistor RP010, 4-ch Beta22, Centrance DACport, KingRex UD384 & UPower.