AKG k240 Studio Semi-Open Headphones Reviewed

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AKG k240 Studio Semi-Open Headphones Reviewed


AKG_k240_Studio_headphones_review.jpgMy history with AKG goes back a ways, as my grandfather had a pair of AKG K180s�that I often wore as a child. As a toddler, I was more enthralled with the massive K180's looks more than its sound, for when I had it on, it made me look like a rocket man or fighter pilot. That was some 25 years ago, and yet as I sit here typing this, I realize little has changed, for headphones are still as much (if not more) a fashion statement as they are a hi-fi one. It's not that I have a problem with headphones as fashion - I don't - it's just that many "fashionable" headphones do their best to appear studio grade, and they simply aren't. I've used my fair share of studio cans in professional endeavors and a lot of what passes for studio quality is anything but. Is that to say true professional studio headphones aren't stylish? If they weren't, why would the number one-selling headphone, Monster's Beats by Dre, try so hard to emulate their style, albeit of course updated? As I sit here staring at the pair of AKG k240 Studios (k240) before me, I can't help but think, why pop for a knock-off when you can have the real thing for a fraction of the price?Additional Resources
� Read more headphone reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
� Explore sources in our Source Component Review section.
� Learn about how headphones might be the gateway to audiophilia.

The k240 belongs to AKG's professional lineup of studio headphones and sits in the line a mere three spots from the top. Retailing for $165 the k240's near-flagship status among the famed manufacturer's lineup seems to qualify it as an unmitigated value. The headphones themselves are a decidedly retro-looking affair though clearly of modern construction, two elements that are big right now. The large, semi-open ear cups hark back to an era where the only headphones you could get your hands on were large spaceman cans, though the k240's cups are made of heavy plastics rather than the metal of the day. Still, the two-tone black-and-gold color scheme looks both old-school and badass at the same time. The heavily cushioned surrounds feel more like pillows and act as such, cradling your head in effortless comfort. The ear cups are large enough that they surround the ears rather than apply pressure directly to them, which aids in the k240's sound as well as long-term comfort. The self-adjusting leather strap ensures a secure and proper fit each and every time you put on the headphones. While the k240 is by no means a compact headphone, its weight is surprisingly light: a mere 240 grams or 8.5 ounces. In comparison, the famed Beats by Dre Pro edition headphones tip the scales at 9.2 ounces.

The k240 employs two dynamic transducers, using AKG's patented Varimotion design. It has a reported frequency response of 15 to 25,000Hz, with an impedance of 55 ohms and a sensitivity of 91dB. Total harmonic distortion is listed as less than 0.3 percent, with a maximum input power of 200mV. Standard connection is a gold-plated stereo mini-jack, although a gold-plated mini- to quarter-inch screw-on adaptor is also provided. The cable itself is plug-in-style and one-sided, as opposed to relying on a Y-like structure. The plug-in configuration makes cable adjustments and/or replacements easier down the road. It also cuts down on snarls, which can degrade signal quality and consequently sound quality over time.

In terms of sound quality, the k240's sound is more akin to that produced by a pair of near-field monitors than it is to a pair of over-the-ear headphones. Okay, maybe not quite the same, but the genuine sense of space and air that surrounds your ears does make for a much more realistic experience, rather than one contained within your own head. The k240's tone is the epitome of neutral and is as uncolored as I've heard form a headphone thus far. High frequencies are light, airy and above all natural, with tremendous air and breath. Midrange, especially vocals, feels organic and possesses good weight. Bass is articulate and textural, with solid grip and low-end punch - the k240 is a headphone with real, natural bass rather than relying too much on voicing and/or gimmicks. Dynamics are superb and come across in wholly realistic fashion. The same holds true with regard to the k240's sense of space and movement and placement within. Because everything about the k240 seems so effortlessly balanced, every texture, nuance and inflection are brought to the forefront in ways few headphones that I've encountered have been able to manage. The same is true of its power handling capabilities, for I found it near-impossible to overdrive the k240 and get it to distort in any way.

Best of all, thanks to its larger-than-the-other-guy ear cups and supreme cushioning, long-term listening sessions are non-fatiguing. After 20 minutes of use, I began to forget that the large studio headphones were even resting on my cranium. Not bad.

Read about the high points and low points of the AKG k240 on Page 2.

HTR Product Rating for AKG k240 Studio Semi-Open Headphones

Criteria Rating

Performance

5

Value

5

Overall

5

Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.


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AKG_k240_Studio_headphones_review.jpgHigh Points
� The k240's build quality is exceptional and its looks, while retro, should appeal to both young and old. AKG has saved the flashy color schemes for its Quincy Jones line (which shares a lot of similarities with the k240) , though for those who would rather walk softly, the k240 should fit the bill nicely.
� The cushioning, head strap and overall fit of the k240 makes it among the most comfortable headphones I've ever had the pleasure of placing atop my head.
� The easily removable, single-cable design employed by the k240 makes management not only easy but also ensures long-term reliably down the line, for it rarely snarls and can be quickly replaced should something go bad.
� The k240's sound quality is phenomenal and far superior, in my opinion, to many of the so-called studio headphones that try to emulate it. Its sound is neutral throughout, with real air and extension from top to bottom. Dynamics are superb, as is its ability to sound positively spacious. Bass is real and natural, while highs sparkle without any overt harshness. Vocals possess clarity and an organic nature that bodes well for music playback as well as dialog tracks.

Low Points
� I often criticize headphones for having too short a cable. In the instance of the k240, it may be too long. Thankfully, it doesn't become tangled and is robust enough that you can coil it easily, but for personal on-the-go use, it may be too much.
� Speaking of cables, the k240 has no level of cable-oriented controls of the kind that have become popular with headphones as of late, thanks to the proliferation of smart phones in our culture. Be advised.

Competition and Comparison
At $165 retail, the k240 isn't inexpensive, but compared to its direct competitors, it's a borderline steal. I'm talking about Monster's Beats by Dre Pro headphones, which at $449.95 retail should put the k240 to shame but doesn't. In fact, I consider the k240 to be superior. I also think it outperforms similar products from Sennheiser, as well as Audio-Technica and others.

For more on these headphones and others like them, please visit Home Theater Review's Headphone Review page.

Conclusion
The AKG k240 Studio headphones are nothing if not phenomenal overachievers. They manage to be good in the studio, as well as in the home, and do so in a way that is effortless and refined. Their sound quality is sublime and, despite their pro audio DNA, they manage to be fashionable in an old-school sort of way. While so many other manufacturers and headphones may be dead set on looking the part, the AKG k240 Studio headphones are the real McCoy - and my new personal reference.

Additional Resources
� Read more headphone reviews by HomeTheaterReview.com's staff.
� Explore sources in our Source Component Review section.
� Learn about how headphones might be the gateway to audiophilia.


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