AKG K371 Impressions

TLDR;

Comfortable, well enough built, decent isolation, easy to drive, sounds good as-is and great with EQ.

Build, Accessories and Comfort
Built entirely out of matte plastic and vinyl, the K371 doesn’t look or feel premium the way that my DT 1990 does. Even my HD58X feels a bit more premium with its glossy plastic and metal accents. Looks notwithstanding, the K371 has a pleasing heft without feeling heavy, and it does feel solidly made. The unique adjustment mechanism works well enough, though I’d like it to hold its size a bit better. The headband doesn’t cause any hotspotting and the pads are large and well padded enough to accomodate my ears without irritation. Clamping force seems just right.

The K371 has a single-sided headphone entry using a 3 pin Mini XLR connector. I’m used to this kind of connector from the DT 1990 and it’s probably my favorite. Being single sided keeps the cable away from my hands while working, the Mini XLR jack is more durable and secure than 2.5mm or 3.5mm connectors like on Hifiman but easier to plug/unplug than the connectors on my HD58X, and it’s easy to find affordable Mini XLR cables. Being only a single-sided 3 pin MiniXLR, it doesn’t allow for switching to balanced cables, which is no problem for me but something to be aware of.

The K371 ships with 3 cables, a short, a long and a coiled. The connectors on the cables seem sturdy and have adequate strain relief, and I appreciate the screw-on 1/4" adapters. The cables themselves do seem a bit thin and I worry about their durability. Thankfully they can be easily replaced if that becomes necessary.

Isolation
I haven’t heard a lot of closed back headphones. Before I got deep into headphones as a hobby I owned the Panasonic RP-HTX7-W1, but can’t remember much about how it sounded. Later I had the Sennheiser HD598Cs which I remember sounding better, but I rarely chose it over my open backs and it eventually got run over by a car. Compared with what I remember of those, the K371 isolates well. It doesn’t completely shut out the outside world the way that my Etymotic HF5s do, but it does a good job of blocking out people talking in the next room and makes it easy for me to listen at low volumes.

Amping
The K371 needs less power than my HD58X and DT 1990. The only bummer is that the low impedance doesn’t trigger the high output mode on my LG V20 so I have to trick it into doing that using something like this 80ohm impedance adapter.

Sound
In a nutshell, the K371 sounds good but not perfect, and it can be easily eq’d to sound great. For casual listening (movies, background music and such) I’m okay without EQ, but for focused listening I’d take an un-eq’d HD58X over this. With EQ, they’re both great.

Bass
Note - the K371 seems fairly sensitive to seal. I wear glasses and need to make sure to press on the ear cups after putting this headphone on to get a good seal. Thankfully it stays in place so I don’t have to keep my hands on the whole time I’m listening!

It seems like every closed back I’ve heard (especially the HD598Cs) has a scooped upper bass region that makes it sound hollow and echoey. The K371 doesn’t completely escape this fate, but it does better than the 598Cs for sure. It’s got very good sub-bass extension and I even find the sub-bass a little too much at times. It creates that sense of pressure that I get from something like the LCD2C but when combined with the hollowed out bass it sounds a bit artificial and detached. Daft’ Punks Get Luck and Rage’s Killing in the Name demonstrate what I’m talking about here–the bass lines create a lot of pressure and a little bit of punch, but they completely lack any of the fullness and warmth that I associate with those low frequencies. I think this is what people mean when they talk about “detached” bass.

Mids
The K371’s mids seem very well balanced. Listening to acoustic music like Joni Mitchell’s Little Green, the guitar and vocals are well balanced, clear and have a very natural timbre. They lack a bit of fullness because of the aforementioned issues in the upper bass, and the upper midrange can get a little shouty, which I can notice on female choral vocals like on R.I.A.S. Kammerchor’s Bach Motets and on trumpet like on Freddie Hubbard’s Red Clay, but especially at lower volumes this isn’t too bothersome.

Highs
The theme of good but not perfect continues in the treble. It’s well extended, fairly even handed and doesn’t exaggerate sibilance. Strings sound airy and cymbals sound realistic. If I were to nitpick, listening to something like Phronesis Eight Hours, cymbals sound a tad softer (splashier) than I like and piano sound a little less brilliant than I imagine it.

Imaging/Separation/Soundstage
The K371 sounds like headphones. As usual for me, crossfeed helps it sound a little more natural. Separation is good, even on busy stuff like Kleiber’s performance of Beehoven’s 5th. Some people say closed backs sound more claustrophobic than open backs. Compared to the HD58X and DT 1990, the K371 honestly sounds pretty similarly. My LCD2C sounds “bigger” but I think that’s mostly because it has much deeper pads.

Distortion/Volume Handing
I can turn the K371 up louder than I’m comfortable with and I don’t notice any grain or other problems that I do hear when cranking the volume on headphones like the HD58X.

EQ
I love to EQ. The K371 makes a great platform for EQ because the place it needs EQ the most is the bass, which also happens to be the easiest region measure and EQ. The mids and treble are pretty close to my idea of “right”, which is good because these can be tougher to tune.

Here’s what I’m running right now:

Low Shelf 40Hz Q1 -3.5dB - Brings the sub-bass pressure to a level that I consider more natural

Peak 65Hz Q2 +3dB - Fills in a dip in the bass to add some punch

Peak 153Hz Q3 +2dB - Fills in a hole in the upper bass to get rid of the hollowness

Peak 5900Hz Q5 +3dB - Brings up the low treble to add brilliance to piano and that “metal” sound to cymbals

(Optional) Peak 80Hz Q0.25 +2dB - Adds some warmth if you’re into a warmer sound. Works well in conjunction with crossfeed which tends to soften bass.

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Nice review @pwjazz!

I’ve had these for a couple days but haven’t listened to them for enough to really put it down into a lot of words yet. I did let a few people hear them at the Head-Fi meet last weekend and there was some good impressions for the price.

Generally, I think the Harman target is being put into good use with the AKG lineup of headphones (Galaxy Buds, K371 and the N700NC, with more to come). This one seems to follow it decently well. It’s sound profile is nice, but it is missing quite a bit of resolution, transients and dynamics and things I’d expect to hear in something that cost a bit more. That said, it’s $150 and the technicalities are on par.

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Great review @pwjazz. Full to the brim with detail and easy to follow. Plus you do some great work with your EQ and measurements.

One of the first headphones (other than iems) was the AKG 550mk2. I quite liked this and it served me well until my teenage son borrowed it for gaming and ended up destroying it. As he does with everything he touches. So subsequently he’s not allowed nowhere near my gear now.

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one minute’s silence … … … for your 550s … … … :pensive:

:wink:

I have to try the 371 - this could be a new recommandation for a cheap closed back hf under 150
at the moment I tell everybody to try the 770s… but the fixed cable is a bummer

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Haha thanks. Yes it does seem like an interesting proposition for the price. Though personally I don’t have the need for a closed back. The lack of removable cable on the 770’s would put me off too. I can’t see any positives for having a fixed cable.

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… not anymore in this century :slight_smile:

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I don’t know, I seem to live in the Bermuda Triangle! I have thrown IEMs in my bag to go to work only to realize I don’t have any cables at work (I usually keep a couple there) and sometimes when I am in a rush to go to rehearsal, I think a fixed cable on my basses would be a good idea!!

I even thought about gluing the TV remote to the coffee table!!

:smiley:

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Haha, now the remote control is a good idea. :blush:

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AKG K371 REVIEW

AKG recently released a set of lower-priced budget studio-oriented headphones, the K361 and K371. This review takes a look at the $149 K371 model, which I find quite interesting. Why’s that? AKG, which is part of Harman International (now owned by Samsung), has started using the Harman preference tuning curves in a number of their products including the N700NC active noise canceling wireless headphones, and the Samsung Galaxy Buds, which I praised earlier this Summer.

Package:

The new K371 comes in a standard AKG box but has a few little extras I wouldn’t have expected for a lower priced headphone. It comes with a drawstring sack that neatly fits the headphone in, but also comes with 3 separate cables. Each cable is terminated with a 3.5mm stereo connector and comes with a ¼ inch adapter. The three cables have different purposes: a simple 4-foot cable for portable use, a lengthier 10-foot cable, and finally a coiled cable.

The headphone comes in a rubberized texture that actually feels pretty nice despite looking a little plasticky. The headphone can contort itself and fold up very small, which also allows you to wear it in unique ways if so desired. I found the pad size to be comfortable fitting over the ears, but it is on the small side. The shallowness of the pads is comfortable for a bit of time, but longer listening sessions can introduce a little bit of pain as your ears start to hit the driver-side wall.

Sources:

· Hiby R5 and Astell & Kern SR15 Digital Audio Players

· RME ADI-2 DAC + Massdrop THX 789

· RME ADI-2 DAC + Woo Audio WA7 Fireflies

· Pete Millet Starving Student Hybrid Tube Amplifier

Sound:

The AKG K371 has a sound that follows the Harman Preference target which gives the bass and treble a slight bump giving it an overall U-shaped curve. I found the sound to be generally likeable however my first tastes of it was just “OK.” And that surprised me because I generally find the Harman targets to be very nice.

I found the resolution to be lacking on this headphone, however, I had to keep in mind that this is priced at only $150, and given that, it’s not too bad. The bass was always present, and this closed-back has pretty good sub-bass performance. I found that there is a reduced mid-bass, which eliminates muddying the midrange but it does lose a little bit of impact. Despite this, there’s plenty of bass response on this headphone.

The mid-range has a nice warm sound to it, that is also slightly forward and really focuses on the upper end of the mid-range. I found treble to be a bit bright at times though, and bordered on harshness for me. I never found it to be sibilant though. There was just some sort of brighter tonality to it that made it sound a little plasticky at times, at least on my solid-state setup with the RME ADI-2 DAC and THX789 Amp.

When I swapped over to either of my tube amp setups, I found that the treble tamed down a little bit, and the bass response thickened and this became quite an enjoyable listen. This more musical sound made me really like listening to the AKG K371 a lot, however the smaller cup size and thinner pads did wear on me after a couple hours.

Soundstage and imaging on this headphone was rather average. It does give a decently wider than average presentation but there’s just something about it where I didn’t feel like it does well in increasingly busier passages. This may have to do with the generally lower resolution than other headphones I’ve grown accustomed to however.

Overall:

Where the AKG K371 excels though is still its generally pleasant sound and that’s actually hard to find in a sub $200 headphone. I don’t think it does anything exceptionally well, but it doesn’t falter anywhere either. There’s some areas where it could improve upon for my tastes, but they aren’t deal breakers. You could do a lot worse at $150, and comparing it to some other headphones in this price range, it stacks up well with the Hifiman HE400i/HE4XX, and Sennheiser HD58X.

The former, beats it in resolution and speed, while the latter beats it in mid-range coherency. The AKG, however has a more even sound signature throughout, and I think that may appeal to many, despite lacking any major wow factor, outside of it’s surprisingly good subbass performance.

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@antdroid’s excellent, complete and concise, K371 review has been added to the main page, here.

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Excellent review! I’m very curious to try a pair. Could be the perfect work headphone for field recording/production.

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