On first impressions, the AKG K371 and the AKG K361 are remarkably similar in appearance and both look to be using the same driver. However, look deeper and a fair few differences can be found. So which headphone is the better choice? Let’s find out.
Both headphones employ a 50mm driver with 32 Ohms impedance and 115 dB SPL. This makes them both incredibly easy to drive. The AKG K371 weighs a reasonably light 255g and the AKG K361 weighs a feather-light 219g. Both headphones are said to be tuned close to the Harman target response.
Read on or check out my video here:
Build and Comfort
Externally both headphones share the same design, however, the K371 has a much more premium feel in the hand. The headband on the K371 is covered in soft rubber with a leather-like texture whereas the headband on the K361 is a simple soft-touch plastic affair.
Headband padding is very similar between the two, with maybe
a slight more padding on the K371, perhaps to counter the slightly higher
The logos on the side of the headband and earcups are cut
into the plastic and lined with a metallic silver leaf on the K371. On the K361
the logos are merely printed directly onto the plastic body. This gives the
K371 a touch more class and premium quality.
The earcup yokes on the K371 are made of metal but they are
plastic on the K361. The operation of the adjustments and folding mechanism
remains the same between both models. However, it should be noted that the
adjustments seem to be a touch stiffer on the K361 which means they hold their
position much better.
The earcups themselves appear to be the same with a nice little touch on the K361 as the lips of the ear cups are a polished plastic. Earpads, on the other hand, seem to be identical on both models. Both are superbly comfortable, soft and plush.
Clamping force between both models is good, plenty secure
but not too tight as to be uncomfortable. However, the K361 has a little less
force out of the box. This is not a big deal in the long term as the clamping
force of the K371 does give after a while. But it should be noted that the K361
is a tad more comfortable out of the box, especially as it is also the lighter
of the two headphones.
One significant change between the two is the cable
connection method. On the K371 the cable is attached with a mini XLR connector.
On the K361 AKG have employed a 2.5mm TRS connector with a proprietary twist to
lock mechanism. This is a bit of a shame for the K361, especially as the twist
to lock mechanism is not compatible with other existing headphone models such
as the Sennheiser HD598 or Audio-Technica ATH-M50x which also use a 2.5mm twist
to lock connector. For this reason, it may be difficult to acquire an aftermarket
replacement cable for the K361.
It may not seem like a big deal to complain about the cable connection method however, I was not entirely happy with any of the supplied cables with either of these headphones. On the K371 you are supplied with three cables, one 1.2m straight cable, one 3m straight cable and finally a 1.2m-3m coiled cable. I find the 1.2m cable too short for most use cases, the 3m too long. That is why I much prefer a coiled cable. However, the coiled cable supplied with the AKG K371 is made from an extremely stiff and plasticky rubber. The straight part of that cable holds the kinks and coils from being packaged tightly in the box and doesn’t look like its ever going to straighten out. What’s more the stiffness of the cable leads to it being quite microphonic and transmitting a lot of noise into the earcups.
There are two cables supplied with the K361, one 1.2m
straight cable and one 3m straight cable. As previously mentioned, I am not a
fan of either length cable, one is too short and the other too long. For this reason,
I would be looking to a third party to find a suitable replacement. This should
be easy for the K371 and its mini XLR connector. In fact, I am currently using
a coiled cable from the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro. This is a much softer and
more flexible rubber than the supplied AKG cable. You could even have a custom cable
made up in whatever length or braided colour you choose. However, with the K361’s
proprietary 2.5mm twist to lock connector, finding an aftermarket cable is going
to be quite difficult. It would have been much better had AKG decided to keep
the mini XLR connector for both models.
At least with both models, all of the supplied cables are
terminated in a 3.5mm TRS with a screw on 6.35mm adapter. This is something I always
like to see as it gives you the best flexibility and a secure connection
regardless of which size connector you are currently using.
Regarding the drivers, it appears that both headphones use
the same driver. However, there are some differences related to the dampening
used on the fronts of each model. The front baffle for each is drilled in a circular
pattern with three rings of holes. On the K371 the inner two rings are covered
in a paper dampening leaving the outer ring uncovered. The K361 has all three
rings covered with a light mesh however the outermost ring is covered much more
than the inner two. There are some other holes or slots in the front baffle surrounding
this that differ between each model too. I suppose it would be possible to
modify the baffle and dampening to tune this headphone yourself if you’re the
kind of person that likes to tinker.
All in the build and comfort of both headphones is about the
same and really quite excellent, with the K371 having a touch more of a premium
look and feel. However, the K371 does have a better cable connector which is
definitely a plus point for future cable upgrades.
In my previous review for the AKG K361 I stated that the K361 has a tendency to sound a little hollow and I stand by that statement. I also stated that I didn’t notice much of a difference between the AKG K371 and K361 in terms of their bass performance, despite what others have said. I also stand by that statement. Something else I said was that I thought both headphones sounded remarkably similar to each other. And now having listened to both headphones back to back I can say that I may want to slightly revise what I said. Whilst there may not be significant differences between each model in bass / mid / treble, and they both share a similar sound sig and timbre. There are lots of tiny differences between both models that in combination, I feel, leads to a fairly large difference overall. TLDR; I think the K371 is much closer to the Harman target than the K361 and thus to my tastes, more neutral.
Bass performance is excellent on both headphones. They are
both reasonably quick and articulate. Perhaps not to the same level as the HD650
for example but certainly more articulate than the DT 770 Pro.
According to frequency charts the AKG K361 rolls off in the
low/sub bass much sooner than the K371. However, for most of the upper, mid and
low bass down to around 50Hz, both headphones have a very similar performance. In
listening tests I wasn’t able to detect much if any difference in the bass performance
in either headphone. There could be a small difference in sub bass performance,
however sub bass does not tend to be too audible in most tracks on headphones. It
is possible that if you listen to a lot of sub-bass heavy music that you might
notice a difference. But for general listening for most genres this is not a
significant difference and therefore for the actual audible part of the bass,
both headphones perform pretty much the same.
Mids are the strongest point of the AKG K371, performing very similarly to the HD650. However, mids are not quite so flat on the K361. There is a small recession in the mids between around 200hz to 500Hz. This is no more than around 2dB so it should not make a huge difference. However, in combination with the emphasis in the upper mids between 1kHz and 3Khz, I think this is the main cause for the lack of warmth and the feeling of the bass being hollow. Some people have said that the bass of the K361 is much lighter than the K371, however as previously mentioned, I do not believe this to be the case. Rather, I think the reason for the bass sounding lighter is mainly due to the recession in the low mids. Any recession in this area has a tendency to make the sound much leaner and seem much lighter in the bass. It has a tendency to make it sound hollow. Unfortunately, this means the K361 has a tendency to sound a bit cold and sterile compared to the K371.
The K371 by contrast has a much fuller and warmer sound signature, not too dissimilar to the HD650. In almost all tracks I’ve listened to, the K371 sounds much fuller than the K361. On the K361 snare hits are more forward, female vocals a tad more shouty, distorted guitars a little brighter and piercing, pianos lacking in body and fullness. Whereas on the K371 that fullness and warmth is there. That’s not to say the K361 sounds bad, it does a pretty good job in isolation and much of this would be personal preference. However, I find them a little too cold and shouty for my personal taste, they just feel like something is missing.
Treble performance is pretty good on both headphones. In many ways quite similar to the HD650. I did not notice a significant difference in resolution between each model. I previously mentioned that there is a peak or two, particularly around 8Khz on the AKG K371 that can make some tracks sound a little bright at times. However, I did not find this at all problematic. The K361, on the other hand, has a few peaks a bit higher than the K371. This gives the K361 a much brighter treble and this can be a little too fatiguing on brighter tracks.
The only tracks where I didn’t notice this significant
difference was in bass heavy EDM that did not feature any bright synth leads. For
most other music, especially rock, the difference was much more obvious.
All in all, on the K361 we have slightly less sub bass, less low mid warmth, more upper mid shout, more treble brightness. All combined this leads to the K361 being a much less warm and much brighter headphone overall. For my ears this makes them much less enjoyable and much more fatiguing.
So, which one would I choose? Well for me it seems pretty obvious. The AKG K371 has the more premium look and feel in the hand. The K371 has the mini XLR connector for better cable compatibility. The K371 has a much fuller and warmer sound, much closer to the Harman target. For me, the K371 is the better headphone in every way. For a headphone to sound this good out of the box with no EQ is simply fantastic.
I do not feel like the AKG K361 is a bad headphone, I do think that for the money it is a really well-performing headphone. I have been using it during my video editing sessions for the past few weeks. However, I have been unable to really enjoy the K361 for general use or music listening because I simply find it lacking.
I’m aware of the irony that is my recommendation of the K371 over the K361 when I have given the K361 a higher score in their individual reviews due to the QC issues that are being seen with the K371. However, QC issues aside, the AKG K371 is the winner for me. I will perhaps revise my score of the K371 once it has become obvious that the QC issues have been resolved once and for all.
Well, that’s about wraps this up. If you liked this, please consider subscribing on YouTube and follow on Twitter @wheezyreviews
For my full reviews of the K361 and K371 check out: