Andy Jones finally gets hold of the AKG K812 headphones, said to be the ultimate reference headphones. Well, they should be at that price…
Price £1,099 +VAT
Contact Sound Technology, 01462 480000
For one reason or another, I was supposed to be looking at these ’phones a year ago, but it never happened – much to my disappointment. However, last issue I reviewed the new range of budget AKGs – pretty good, particularly the top-end ones – and just for the hell of it, I used a set of these to compare them to. So good were these that I thought I’d (finally!) share my thoughts, especially as these could be the ’phones you need to master your music…
AKG K812 – Let’s get ‘it’ out the way first
First up, the price. £1,300 for a pair of headphones. You have got to be kidding right? Well, no. We think nothing of spending that much (if not a lot more) on a decent set of studio monitors that offer accurate responses, so why not a set of headphones? More and more people mix on ’phones, so why not have a super accurate set on hand? I’m showing my age but at one time, music production was an expensive game. Now it’s cheap(ish), so spend more on what you listen to the results with! Secondly, these are actually streeting at around a shade over a grand (still a lot).
So, straight to the sound… and I compared these to the best of the cheap AKG range last issue and noted that it was the aural equivalent of taking the roof off at Wimbledon. You suddenly open things up, and by that I mean the space, the frequencies, the separation and the clarity.
It’s as if everything relaxes into a more musical space around your head when you compare these directly to something cheaper. Of course, I didn’t just compare these to cheap sets during my testing but put them next to ’phones by Blue, AT and KRK, too. What I noted is that they are accurate, but not accurate as in the Audeze flat-reference accurate. Whereas those could be quite harsh in my listening, these are more easy on the ear and more natural. Not coloured but pure, sweet and vibey.
Like switching to a better set of monitors, I was expecting to hear things I’d not heard before on previous sets of reference ’phones and while I didn’t quite experience that, I did find myself reaching for these ’phones more and more post-testing, and re-enjoying classic pieces of music on a new level.
For mixing, they are extraordinary. I’ve been mixing a lot on headphones of late and finding the results a little ‘scrunched’, with lots of fighting for a place in the mix. These seem to allow you to place things better, spread them out and allow mixes to breath more. Levels came down, I was less stressed and everyone in our house was happier!
AKG K812 Alternatives
We haven’t looked at headphones at this price for many years at MusicTech, so there’s nothing that I can recommend as a direct alternative. For a lot less, you can choose from our current list of top headphone buys (all from £200 upwards), including Ultrasone’s P880, Audio Technica’s ATH R or M70, KRK’s KNS 8400 and Blue’s Mo-Fi. I’d also add the Audeze EL-8s to that list, as they’re probably the nearest reference headphones I’ve looked at and the most expensive at £600.
These are the best-sounding ’phones I’ve used, bar none. So why no 10? Well, price will be an issue. I know I’ve said that money should be no object when you’re monitoring your precious music, but no matter how good these are, you try explaining £1,300 for some headphones to your wife. If you can, however, your mixes and masters won’t regret it.
AKG K812 Headphones – Key Features
● Open-back reference headphones
● 53mm transducer
● 3.5mm jack with 6.3mm adapter
● Frequency range: 5 Hz–54 kHz
● i/p impedance: 36 ohms
● impedance: 36 ohms
● i/p power: 300mW
● Cable: 3m
● Weight: 390g