AKG K371 Impressions

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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AKG K371 Review

Written by Chrono

Introduction

The AKG K371 ($149 MSRP) is a closed-back, over-ear headphone designed by AKG intended for studio use and audiophile listening. In the last decade or so, the Harman Audio Group (AKG’s parent company) has been researching and defining the “optimal” frequency response that–when measured at the ear-drum–results in a tonality that is the most preferable and natural-sounding to the majority headphone listeners. The frequency response that was borne of this research is what has come to be known as the “Harman Curve,” and it is the tuning that defines the AKG K371’s tonality.

Sources and Music Used in Listening Tests

The Amplifier/DAC used in this review was the ifi iDSD Micro Black Label connected via USB to my desktop computer. For the listening tests I used music from a wide variety of genres including Rock, Jazz, Classical, Acoustic, Hip-Hop, and latin. I played tracks from my own FLAC library as well as from Qobuz streaming service.

What’s in the Box?

For its $149 price tag, the AKG K371 includes a very nice suite of accessories. Included in the box are three 3.5mm to mini XLR cables of varying lengths. The first set of cables are both straight, and measure 1.2m and 3m in length. The third cable also measures 3m in length, but is coiled instead. Also included are a thread-on ¼” adapter as well as an AKG-branded, grey carrying bag.

Power Requirements

The K371 is a very efficient headphone at an impedance of 32ohms and a sensitivity level of 114dB (edit: 114dB/V and ~99dB/mw). It did not matter what device I was running it from or whether or not I used an amp; it sounded great on everything I tested it on, so I will not be listing a discrete headphone amplifier as a requirement.

Build Quality and Comfort

The build on the AKG K371 is for the most part very good, but there are some parts on it of which longevity I am slightly concerned about. The K371’s design is very compact and has a foldable ear cup mechanism that makes them easy to carry on-the-go.The build is composed almost entirely out of plastic, but it feels very solid and well put together; I don’t think that it will start to creak or break any time soon. The pads are made of a very nice pleather material that I do not seem prone to flaking, so they should also last a while. The parts that concern me are the inner headband and extension mechanism. The inner headband is made of rubber, and it seems to be glued on to the top. This worries me a little because I think that the rubber pad might start to peel off some time down the line, and it is something I have seen happen often on headphones sharing a similar headband design. Additionally, the headband expansion mechanism does not lock very tightly at each click, so I fear that over time it will start to get very loose.

Comfort is surprisingly good considering the relatively-small footprint of the K371. As a closed-back these isolated sounds quite nicely, and did leak much of the music out even at loud listening levels. The pads use a very light foam, and provide a pretty decent amount of room for your ears to fit in. Occasionally I did feel as though my ears lightly touched the driver, but it was not really all that noticeable. My only complaint for the comfort was that the clamp force out of the box was a little on the tighter side. However, they did ease up nicely after using them for a day or two.

Sound

As mentioned earlier, the AKG K371 is tuned to match the Harman Curve Frequency response target, and it does so almost perfectly. When measured, the AKG K371 measures essentially flat or “neutral” when its frequency response is compensated for the 2018 over-ear Harman Curve Target. My preferred tonal balance is very similar to that suggested by the Harman Curve, minus a few deviations that I will mention as we discuss the K371’s sound. As a result of their adherence to the Harman Curve, I personally find the K371 to be one of the most tonally-appropriate headphones I have listened to; and according to Harman’s research, that is also likely the case for most headphone listeners. However, tonality is not the only element in a headphone’s performance, let’s take a closer look at how the K371 performs.

NOTE: These headphones are intended for professional audio usage. Professional audio is an area I do not have experience in, so I am unable to comment on how they perform in studio or mixing applications. All comments made in this review pertain to my experience as someone who is listening to them solely for personal enjoyment.

Bass

The K371, to me, has one of the best bass tunings of any headphone I have tried in the sub $200 price range. The bass extends very evenly down to 20hz, and it has a Harman-styler up-shelf starting at around 100hz that gives the sub-bass a good level of presence. The only quirk I found with the K371’s bass is that it seems to have a very small bump at around 20hz or 30hz, but aside from that it did not have any strange mib-bass bloats, or upper bass bleed into the lower mids. For resolution, I found the K371’s bass to have a good level of articulation and I think that it was appropriate for the price that these retail for. Of the closed-back headphones in its price range, I only found the DT 770 Pro to be a slightly more detailed. Overall, I find the bass on these to be very clean, and enjoyable; this is a great option if you are looking for an affordable closed-back with deep and balanced bass.

Mids

The K371’s midrange is–like the bass–very good. They have a good amount of body in the lower mids, as well as an adequate amount of presence in the region between 2k-5k. Comparing back and forth with the HD 660S and HD 58X, I found the mids on the K371 to be very similar in their tonality and timbre to that of the Sennheiser’s; they have a very good balance and sound very natural to me. Resolution I think is fine for $149, although they did come across as a little bit grainier to me when compared with the ATH-M50X and DT 770 Pro in the midrange. Still, I personally preferred the midrange’s tonality much more on the K371 when comparing with those other closed-backs.

Highs

The treble region is very good on the K371, and I find it very impressive for a closed-back under $200 to have this accurate of a tuning. The highs on the K371 lean towards a warmer tonality, and have a very good balance to them; they are for the most part very smooth. The only slight deviation I heard was that at around 8.5K there seemed to be a very narrow peak, but it was very subtle. I only noticed it when listening to songs that had inherently sharp treble, such as Oasis’ “Wonderwall,” or The Beatles’ “What Goes On.” For my preference, I would have liked for them to extend a bit more into the air region above 10K, but the Harman Curve does call for less energy in those upper-treble frequencies. Resolution in the treble I think is fine for the price, as it is on-par with the ATH-M50X and only slightly behind the DT 770 Pro.

Soundstage, Imaging, and Layering

In these categories, the K371 is definitely not the most impressive headphone out there, but it did perform very well for its price and when compared to some of its peers. For a closed-back, the soundstage is not actually that bad on the K371. I thought it had a decent level of width as it was similar to that of the HD 58X, which is an open-back. I also found it to have a much wider soundstage than the ATH-M50X, but not quite as wide as the DT 770 Pro which is astoundingly wide for closed-back under $200. Imaging was also fine, I didn’t really have any issues telling the direction from which sounds originated. In my experience, it seemed to image a bit better than the HD 58X, but definitely was not as precise as the DT 770. Instrument separation was also surprisingly good. I found it very easy to tell apart the different elements that made up the tracks in the music I listened to, and it seemed to do so significantly better than the DT 770 and ATH-M50X.

Dynamics

Unfortunately, I was a little underwhelmed by the dynamics on the K371 as they do not add as much energy and weight as I would have liked them to. It does not really have a strong punch and slam quality. Compared to some of the other headphones in its price range, like the DT 990 Pro, the K371 did not really deliver a deep and satisfying physical impact.

EQ

Of the headphones I have listened to, I think that this is the one that I feel the most confident when I say that it does not require EQ. Nonetheless, I have made an EQ profile for the K371 that brings it closer to my personal target (only personal preference change I made was reducing the bass sub 100hz), as well as reducing that slight peakyness at 8.5K. If you would like to try this EQ profile out, these are the settings that you can input in your equalization software of choice:

Peak at 20hz, -2dB Q of 1.4

Low Shelf at 100hz, -2dB Q of 0.7

Peak at 8500hz, -4dB Q of 6

                        K371 EQ in Roon’s Parametric EQ

Conclusion

The K371 is a fantastic package that offers very good value and really hits all the marks that you would want in a closed-back headphone. The K371 has a versatile and enjoyable tonality, it offers competitive technical performance for the price, it’s easy to drive, it’s very portable, and it includes a plethora of accessories. At its price tag of $149 the AKG K371 has sincerely impressed me, and I think that–at least for tonality–it should be considered as a closed-back benchmark.

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Really Excellent impressions @Chrono. As a previous owner of the AKG 550mk2 in day’s gone by I am a fan of the company. I feel it lost it’s way for a while but now seems to be on track at least with the latest offerings.

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Great review @Chrono!

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Thanks for checking it out! This was actually the first AKG Headphone I’ve listened to, so I do not know much about how their other products sound; but these definitely had a good taste!

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Might want to note that that is 114 dB/V and not dB/mW. Good writeup

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Thanks for the heads up, I’ll add an edit now, as well as the conversion do dB/mw. Also, thanks for checking out the review!

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Great review!

Ideally, one of the cables would have a microphone for certain use cases.

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Thanks for checking it out. Also, yeah, that is a great suggestion; having a mic’d cable would have been nicer than two straight regular cables!

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Great job, Chrono. It seems as if you let the AKG’s break-in before you did your review, as I agree with everything you said about it’s sound signature. I tried out a pair a couple months back after seeing the review from metal571. I gave them several days burn-in before I made any decisions. The AKG K371 replaced my Senn HD1 as my work daily drivers, and I am very happy with them.

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I just got the K361 and i was impressed how it seems to cover all the basses fairly well for a 80$ headphone. IMO it beats everything at its price point. Is the K371 a big improvement over the K371? Zeos didnt seem to like it that much

Thanks for checking out the review! I haven’t tried the K361 yet, so I can’t really comment on how they compare :frowning:

Well done, Chrono. That was very well written review and pretty much echos my experience with the K371, which I use as my chillin’ in bed after 10:00 pm headphone. :slight_smile: Your’re a great addition to the Headphones.com YouTube channel!

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Thanks for checking it out, and I appreciate the kind words! :smiley:

My review of the K371 is now live on The Headphone Show!

Check it out here:

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Funny enough I just got those in yesterday my self,

I still prefer E-MU Purpleheart with OG Cal pads to K371 but reaslitcally K371 is a much more functional first headphone. Kinda of dry yes but mostly linear-ish, that little carrying bag AND TWO detachable cables is hands down fan tastic at this price point

I’ll also encourage you to hear the KRK KNS 6400, honestly I think it is THE most detailed and natural sounding closed back from like 100hrz up, it’s just a little [well a lot] bass shy so I’m often reluctant to mention it

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