For many years I have been looking at the AKG K7* series
headphones with interest but until now I have not checked them out. However in
the past few months, since I have started reviewing headphones, I have had a
number of comments asking my opinion on them.
So today I’m looking at the AKG K712 Pro, which are an open-backed headphone with a 62 Ohm impedance and 105 dB SPL sensitivity dynamic driver. According to AKG these RRP for $499 however in the UK they appear to RRP for £220 and I paid £185 for these. It looks like they are a little more expensive in the US and are going for around $300 at the time of writing.
This is a rather competitive price point, a range that also includes headphones like the Beyerdynamic DT 880, Sennheiser HD 599, 58x, 6xx and even the 600 and 650. Not to mention several other fantastic models from other brands.
So that means the AKG K712 Pro has its work cut out to stand out from the pack. So does it do that? Lets get into it.
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I’ve been giving the AKG K712 Pro a test for about a month now. The headphone themselves they are a reasonably light 235g and have a suspension headband design. I’ve never been a huge fan of suspension headbands because you cannot adjust them to your own taste, they just sit on the head however they fall and you either like the way they fit or you don’t. In this case, I don’t mind how they sit on my head but I don’t find the leather suspension to be especially comfortable, at least not out of the box.
When I first started using these I found the pressure on my
head to be rather uncomfortable past an hour or so. This seemed to be due to
the stiffness of the leather itself not conforming to the head and causing
hotspots. But as I realised this is genuine leather, I figured it would break
in over time. But I wasn’t going to wait for that so I spent a fair bit of time
flexing the leather to break it in like a new pair of boots and it is now much
more flexible and much more comfortable.
The outer part of the headband are these two plastic rails or at least plastic coated. There is an incredible amount of flexibility to this design which will certainly help with comfort. I don’t know if there is any metal inside however I imagine they carry the wires internally as there is no sign of any wiring anywhere on these headphones. They really do have a rather clean design. However, rightly or wrongly, I do feel like I need to baby these headphones and they certainly do not feel like they could take a lot of punishment. This may just be my perception, however, I’ve talked previously about how well built the plastic construction of Sennheiser headphones are and how tank-like and bombproof Beyerdynamic headphones are. The K712 definitely feels a little less durable.
The earcups are large and round with big round earpads. The
pads are about as round as the ones on a Beyerdynamic however the foam is a
much deeper and a more firm memory foam, unlike the rather soft and shallow
Beyerdynamic pads. Personally, I find these pads to be exceptionally
comfortable. I should note these are removable and replaceable. I should also
note that the K712 pads are different from the pads for the other AKG
headphones of this style. The K712pro pads are an upgraded memory foam version
and replacements are around £80 for the pair.
Inside the earpads is also a layer of foam covering the
driver plate, to cushion your ears should they brush against the driver. If we
look inside we can see the drivers are not angled or anything like that.
Clamping force is quite light, much lighter than the HD 650
but more similar to the light force of the HD 599. The earcups have a decent
amount of movement over 360 degrees, not just vertically and laterally and
combined with the extremely flexible chassis, this allows them to conform to
your head superbly.
All-in, in terms of comfort, after breaking in the leather
headband, I find these supremely comfortable.
Included with the AKG K712 Pro is this fancy but rather odd velvet carrying pouch and two different cables. A 3m straight cable in an orange colourway and the usual terrible AKG 3m coiled cable which is a very stiff and plasticky feeling rubber. As usual, I’m not overly happy with either option on a personal level. I find 3m cables too long for listening at my desk, although this one is a rather nice and flexible cable, its also a nice touch making it orange to match the overall design. However, I wish AKG would redesign their coiled cable with a softer more flexible rubber. Thankfully the connector used is a mini XLR which means replacement cables are easy to come by. Also, both cables use a 3.5mm TRS mini-jack with a screw-on 6.35mm adapter which is my favourite configuration so AKG wins some points back there.
In terms of how easy they are to drive at 62 Ohms and 105dB
SPL they are actually not all that sensitive. I find I need a couple more
degrees turn on the amp volume knob than the HD650. This is definitely a
headphone that needs an amp to get the most out of it.
Moving on to sound and I really wasn’t sure what to expect
but spoiler alert I really like how these sound. Actually, I thought they
sounded remarkably similar to the HD 650, at least below 1 kHz. Although one
more obvious and immediately noticeable difference is in terms of openness and
staging. But I’ll go into this in a bit more detail in a moment.
A quick note on how I test these headphones. All listening
was done with a mix of Spotify and FLAC files from my PC through an O2 amp and
So let’s start out with staging, I think these might be my new favourite gaming headphones, at least for more casual titles as in terms of openness and staging they do have a rather open sound without sounding reverberant or spacey and disorientating. I’ve been totally blown away by their performance in games. My usual go-to for gaming being the Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro. The K712 I think has a more open and natural soundstage than the DT1990, which is no slouch in the staging department. In terms of musicality, this gives a much more natural and open staging that sounds just right, which is quite the contrast with the intimate staging of the HD 650.
In terms of imaging, I’m not feeling like I’m missing out on positional queues at all. I don’t think in terms of imaging its as good as the DT 1990, I find it more difficult to keep track of positional queues in competitive shooters. That may well be due to the much wider soundstage. I’ll probably continue to reach for the DT 1990 for the most competitive titles but for everything else the AKG K712 Pro is my new favourite gaming headphone. A good point of comparison should be the HD 599 but actually, I think staging is much better than on the 599 and imaging perhaps quite similar.
Bass is a bit light for my tastes which are closer to the Harman target. That is to say, I prefer a more full extension. I think this is a very similar bass performance to the HD 650 but with a little more extension and a bit more slam capability. Neither the K712 or the 650 extend particularly deeply and both start to roll off at similar points but the K712 does less so which is pretty good for an open-backed dynamic. But these are certainly not bass cannons and could be considered reasonably bass light. The K712 however, doesn’t sound quite as warm as the 650 and that seems to be due to less energy in the upper bass region between 100 – 200 Hz. Actually, on some tracks I think that leans towards a more detailed low end, with perhaps a more articulated bass performance.
In terms of midrange, the K712 is interesting. Up to around
1kHz this is very similar to the HD650, its nice and flat. In fact, as I said
earlier, copy and paste the HD 650 below 1kHz and I think that gets you fairly close
to how the K712 actually sounds.
However, in terms of upper mids and treble, things are a bit
weird. I don’t think they are quite as even as the HD 650. On a sine sweep, I’m
hearing a bit of energy around 2kHz on the K712 but not to the point that I
personally found it shouty. Also somewhere around 4kHz and a bit of a 1kHz, 3kHz
and a 6kHz recession and then again some more energy at 8-9kHz. So this is a
rather lumpy performance and that does seem to match up with the frequency
This doesn’t sound peaky or anything like that and this lumpiness isn’t especially audible in normal use. Overall I find the HD650 and the K712 to have a very similar presentation with a slight bright edge to the K712. However, this is certainly track-dependant so I’m going to go into that in more detail in just a moment.
Certainly, there are no points where I find the K712 too
bright or piercing but it’s fair to say the K712 is a little brighter in the
mid-upper treble around 8kHz region. However, on the whole, this is a rather
restrained and inoffensive sound that I have been really enjoying for just
about everything I’ve listened to. There has been no point where I’ve found the
K712 to sound poor, overly bright, muddy or just wrong on any track. Perhaps
one of the most well rounded and performant headphones I’ve ever heard.
I’ll go through a few of my reference tracks but first I’ll
sum up some of the differences between the HD 650 and the K712 Pro.
The K712 has a little more bass extension and a little more
slam ability, this is only noticeable on certain tracks. The K712 is not quite
as warm as the 650, perhaps due to less upper-bass energy and this is probably
the most noticeable difference. This also leads to a little more low-end
clarity, bass quality is a little more articulate. Timbre is very similar, nice
and natural but K712 has a slight more metallic quality than 650 on some tracks.
The electric guitar has a little less crunch on 712. Male vocals are perhaps a
little sweet as in slightly recessed and female vocals are quite present. K712
has a little more mid-upper treble sparkle than 650. Both roll off fairly
swiftly beyond 10 kHz. Both are excellently resolving but in slightly different
ways and track-dependent.
Ok so lets talk value. This is a very difficult one. On the
one hand £185 for these I think I could definitely recommend them for this
price. But at the more expensive US price of $300+? Ahh that becomes a bit more
of a difficult choice. Before I make a final conclusion, I’m gonna sum it up.
Overall for comfort, the K712 are a bit of a mixed bag. On
the one hand, superbly comfortable earpads and a nice flexible chassis, but the
leather suspension headband is extremely stiff out of the box. However, after
being broken in, I have found the comfort to be excellent. I would say more
comfortable than the HD 650 and when the leather is broken in, maybe almost as
comfortable as the HD 599.
In terms of build, they don’t inspire confidence with their
light and flexible plastic construction, especially versus competition from the
likes of Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic. However, features like the removable
cable and mini XLR connector are welcome. If you want durable, this ain’t it.
In fact, even at the cheaper UK price, I expect better. I mean for this price
you can get the well-built HD599 and you could get the built-like-a-tank DT
In terms of sound, well I think that’s what you’re paying for with the K712 Pro. The K712 pro are an excellently detailed, balanced and enjoyable headphone. On sound alone, I’d probably take them over almost anything else in this price category. Gaming performance is also truly excellent and these are definitely my new favourite gaming headphones. Would I give up my HD6xx for them? Probably not but I also don’t think I could go back to not owning the K712 pro.
Can I recommend them? Absolutely, especially if you already own an HD 6xx/650 or if you are really into gaming. But if you don’t own an HD 650/6xx and you have the choice of either paying over $300 for the AKG K712 Pro or just $200 for the HD6xx then it becomes much more difficult to recommend and I would say get the HD6xx instead. However, if you don’t already own an HD 650, are looking for an alternative and can get the AKG K712 Pro for a good price, absolutely, go right ahead, the K712 pro is fantastic.