Fairly recently AKG released a number of new closed back studio headphone models. Let’s take a look at the one with the highest number of the bunch, the K371. “Luxury feel and AKG Performance” states the K371 website. Let’s see how they deliver!

Pros
  • Class leading comfort
  • Good build quality

Pros list with Sonarworks Reference calibration

  • Neutral sounding high frequencies
  • Extended sub bass response
Cons
  • Worse adaptiveness than some of its rivals
Use cases Best use case:
Podcasts & radio
Tracking
Recreational listening
Tech specs Type
Closed back, Over-ear
Impedance
32 Ohm
Frequency response
5 Hz to 40 kHz
Connector
3.5 mm straight jack
Adapter
Screw-on 6.3 mm adapter
Weight
255 g (without cable)
Require headphone amp
No
Cable
1.2 m straight, 3 m straight, 3 m coiled
Build quality

While there are a few metal parts, most build is plastic, but solid, reassuring plastic. The materials used in most recent over and on ear studio headphones, including K371 are way more nice to touch and more premium feeling than say Audio-Technica ATH-M50x or Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro, which seem to be more concerned by function alone. The padding-less silicone headband cushion is another trend that’s on the rise with newer models. The outside of the headband is wrapped in really nice faux-leather. That paired with the gentle and soft ear pads gives some weight to the “Luxurious feel and AKG performance” slogan. For this price segment, they do feel luxurious.

With the cable detached, K371 can be neatly folded to save some space in your backpack. A waterproof carrying pouch is also included. They’re very portable for their size.

A short segment of the wire that connects both ear cups is exposed which is not ideal as it makes it vulnerable, however, of all the headphone designs that opt for the external wire routing, K371 provides perhaps the most protection for the wire by routing it in between the metal ear cup holders.

Sound

K371 manages to keep the mid-range neutral in vast bandwidth of about 100 Hz up to about 1 kHz beating even the Shure SRH1540 in this regard. However the higher frequencies get a boost, not to a point that makes cymbals and high hats ear-piercing but definitely makes the sound bright. For recreational listening many will find this coloration pleasant, but this is something to keep in mind while working on audio. The bass response is elevated for most of the measured pairs, somewhat like this particular one shown on graph, but most pairs are lacking sub bass extension. Either way, even for the pairs with increased bass, the boost is conservative and is not overbearing.

Channel balance

Sadly, channel balance isn’t great. On two of the four pairs measured, there were either left to right deviations of about +/- 4 dB throughout the spectrum, or about 3 dB bass response disbalance. It’s not that this issue will destroy the stereo perception for the listener, but if you’re unlucky and get one of the worse pairs, dialing in the stereo field might get confusing, especially if you’re cross-referencing against speakers. The remaining two pairs were with more minor issues in this regard. Of course we’ll never be able to measure all of the headphones out there and with the limited sample pool it’s impossible to tell how common this disbalance is, but if you’re working with K371 and struggle with your stereo decisions translating well to other systems, it’s possible your headphones are misleading you.

Comfort

Comfort is K371 forte. The silicone headband is great at balancing out the pressure and ear pads are nice and soft. The closed back design paired with the pleather-wrapped ear pads inevitably lead to heat build up inside which after some time wearing them most probably will lead to sweaty ears, but other than that, no issues came up among our testers. Overall, these are one of the most comfortable options on the market today, in its respective price bracket.

Value

AKG manages to pack in considerable value for a relatively affordable price with the K371. They’re well put together, can be worn for an extended period of time and feel nice in your hands. And you get 3 different cables! Other than Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro’s or Beyerdynamic Custom series, there aren’t really other closed back headphones in this price category that can challenge K371 comfort.

 

Observations on how headphones perform after applying Sonarworks Reference calibration Total Harmonic Distortion

K371 performance in terms of low THD is very good. As long as you’re listening at sensible levels, there will be no perceivable harmonic distortion to worry about. Only when you’re really cranking it up to borderline painful sound pressure levels the sub bass clarity begins to suffer, and only marginally.

How accurate and consistent is the correction effect among different listeners?

As with most AKG models, adaptiveness is worse than some of its rivals. This leads to different listeners perceiving a bit different frequency response. Big factor that contributes to that is that the perceived frequency response changes noticeably depending on the position on the listener’s head. This is the downside of the comfortable ear pads that allow you to wear headphones in a relatively wide range of positions without losing comfort. Unfortunately calibration accuracy suffers.

How much do they differ pair to pair in terms of frequency response?

There’s about +/- 3 dB spread in bass response among the measured pairs. Rest of the spectrum has some narrow bandwidth differences but nothing severe. Manufacturing consistency is not the best we’ve seen in this price segment, but it’s not the worst either. 

Rating

5.8 / 7.1 / 7.9

Sound rating is a weighted average of Frequency Response, Adaptiveness, Harmonic Distortion and Channel Balance scores, with Frequency Response and Adaptiveness having the greatest influence.

5 / 9 / 10

The flatter the frequency response – the higher the score. When evaluating the frequency response score with the Average calibration profile, the pair to pair consistency of the given model is taken into account – if we have measured a considerable frequency response inconsistency among multiple pairs of the given model, the score drops, as the profile loses accuracy. Individual calibration will grant perfectly flat frequency response.

5.5

Adaptiveness shows how capable these headphones are at delivering the same perceived frequency response to any listener. Headphones with high score will sound nearly identical to everyone.

8

Harmonic distortion – the lower the Total Harmonic Distortion (THD) figure, the higher the score. Headphones with prominent 3rd harmonic distortion above 100 Hz will score lower.

7 / 10

Channel balance – the closer to identical the frequency response of both channels, the higher the score. Individual calibration delivers perfect channel balance.

8

Comfort – shows if headphones can be used for long listening sessions comfortably. Every model is tested by at least a few individuals.

7.5

Build – evaluates how well the headphones are put together, the materials used and indicates the expected longevity. Easily replaceable (and easily available) parts will boost the score. We don’t do any stress tests and very few models are used for longer than a couple of days, so this is a fairly subjective score.

8

Value – indicates the price-performance ratio of the given headphones and how they stack up against the competition. High score means that you won’t find more neutral sounding alternatives for the price.

Conclusion

Few headphones can compete with the frequency response of K371 and the build quality is great, but perhaps where these headphones excel the most is comfort. However, all the good traits of this model are undermined by poor adaptiveness that hurts the accuracy of the perceived frequency response. Result of that is that you won’t be able to entirely trust that what you’re hearing will translate well to other playback systems and you can’t even be sure that other people wearing the same headphones will hear the same that you’re hearing. Sadly, this makes it hard to recommend these otherwise great headphones as a professional monitoring tool for mixing and mastering. But for applications where comfort is more important than accuracy, K371 are worth consideration.

Final Rating

7.2
With Sonarworks Reference 4
Calibration Enabled
6.1
Without Sonarworks
Calibration

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