Reimagining a classic can be a risky affair. You either do justice and improve on a winning formula or let down your loyal fans. In this review, we check out the K271 MKII from AKG to see if this new version is worth picking up.
AKG K271 MKII
The AKG K271 MKII has a lot going for it. It offers an inviting price compared to other studio cans. Plus some features that set it apart from the competition making it one of the best recording studio headphones out there. Let’s check out the highlights before taking a closer look.
There is a lot to cover when it comes to the AKG K271 MKII closed-back headphones. So let’s not waste any more time and dive right in.
In this area the AKG K271 MKII performs well but not without some niggling issues. Some of which may be dealbreakers for some. With a frequency response of 16Hz-28kHz, these have plenty of reach in both directions.
First, let us cover the lower end. For me as a bass enthusiast these are unremarkable and a bit too soft. Definition and accuracy are here but they lack punch and power. For a live or recording situation, this is a benefit. But for casual listening to bass-heavy music, these left me wanting more.
The AKG K271 MKII offers excellent midrange performance.
The mid-range is the most impressive. Very accurate with plenty of life and clarity. Vocals and instrumental components translate clean. The rather expansive soundstage also helps bring the mids out with perfection. Quite the feat for a pair of closed-back headphones.
The highs are equally clear and crisp. Perhaps a little too crisp. These don’t border on tinniness but they are a little bright for my ears. But for accurate listening of highs, these perform very well. Lots of detail to analyze and enjoy.
This slight emphasis on the top-end is something I’ve been finding in AKG’s entire line. For what it’s worth some slight tweaking via EQ can resolve some of these issues.
For the intended purpose of live and recording applications, these do a stellar job. But out of the box for casual listening, they are a little disappointing.
The AKG K271 MKII is exceptionally comfortable. Plenty of intelligent and thoughtful design decisions that deliver.
The ear cups are large and spacious. It does give them a slightly bulky appearance but your ears will appreciate the room. Heat build-up is present but not as harsh as other closed-back headphones I’ve tried.
Speaking of heat the AKG K271 MKII ships with replacement and alternative pads. The leather earpads are comfortable. But the velour pads are ideal for warmer weather.
The wide headband provides high stability and comfort.
The AKG K271 MKII is also exceptionally lightweight which adds to the comfort levels. These don’t put undue pressure on your head. And this is one area where the K271 MKII impresses me the most.
The headband is fantastic. At first glance, it doesn’t look that comfortable. The padding is very minimal. But the headband self-adjusts and contours to your head with excellent precision. Fatigue and discomfort over long sessions are non-existent. A must-have feature if you spend hours upon hours in the studio.
If you want a pair of comfortable closed-back headphones the AKG K271 MKII is a worthy contender.
Appearance-wise the AKG K271 MKII appears very similar to other AKG headphones. The large headband and supporting rails are instantly recognizable.
Clean black styling with metal and blue accents does give it some life and pop. But there is a dominance of plastic that does give it a flimsy appearance.
These are nearly identical to the AKG K240 MKII headphones except these have a closed back as opposed to a semi open back.
The detachable cables feature a mini XLR connection point.
While very lightweight these are quite bulky and do not collapse. Not a great choice for travel. But that is not where these headphones belong. They belong in a studio or home setting.
Beyond aesthetics, the AKG K271 MKII also offers auto-mute. This is not a common feature among headphones and will appeal to certain people. A simple mechanism recognizes when you take these off your head and will mute the output. A handy feature in a recording environment.
These also don’t demand much power with an impedance of 55 ohms. You won’t have any issues running these with lower-powered devices like smartphones.
Passive isolation is also quite good. Enough to block out a reasonable amount of exterior noise to keep you focused on what you are listening to.
Bleed is minimal but is dependent on head shape and general fit. For live recording situations, you shouldn’t hear any bleed in your mix. But that is as long as you are not running these too loud.
In this department, I do have some reservations. Don’t get me wrong component quality is high. The headband in particular is very durable.
Likewise, the earpads seem robust. Plus with additional earpads included these should last you quite a while.
My issue is primarily with the quality of the plastic. It is rather thin and doesn’t inspire confidence. But it does lend to the lightweight nature of these headphones. If you are generally careful with your headphones you’ll unlikely run into issues. But if you tend to be a bit rough I could see these breaking sooner rather than later.
The heavy use of plastic does make the K271 MKII feel a bit flimsy.
The included cables are high quality and feature a mini-XLR connection. Detachable cables always earn a few extra points in my book.
You’ll have access to two cables. A long coiled cable along with a shorter straight cable. At 16.4 ft (5 meters) the coiled cable is exceptionally long. But the shorter straight cable still comes in at 9.8 ft (3 meters). I always appreciate a choice in cable as well.
So while the feel of the AKG K271 MKII is a little flimsy they are still quite good. Especially if you are not overly rough with them.
The AKG K271 MKII headphones offer reasonable value. There are plenty of more expensive headphones out there. Many of which perform about as good as these do.
The included accessories also add to the value package. But the lack of a pouch or case is disappointing.
Two cables and spare earpads are good inclusions.
If you want a reasonably priced pair of closed-back headphones for your studio these are a decent choice. But even at a lower price point than some competitors, these are still not exactly cheap.
The vast majority of people like the AKG K271 MKII. A good successor to a popular set of headphones. Plenty of praise for the mid-range but many do note the underwhelming bass response.
The Importance Of Midrange
As you move throughout the frequency spectrum there are a lot of nuances to be aware of. But arguably one of the most important is the midrange. This generally covers frequencies between 500 Hz to 2 kHz.
The midrange band of frequencies is critical to making clean productions.
The reason it is so important is this is the range that most instruments will occupy in your mix. It is also the range that catches the ear most. As a result, it is important to have maximum clarity in this range to make accurate mixing decisions.
Careful adjustment to bass tones can ensure your mix doesn’t exhibit a boxy tonality. Likewise, vocals benefit from tweaks in the midrange to avoid an overly nasal reproduction. Higher pitched instruments also need attention in the midrange to prevent them from sounding tinny.
A solid pair of studio headphones with a good midrange makes your job easier. High transparency and definition ensure you can pinpoint issues in your mix and make the relevant adjustments.
That is one of the reasons why the AKG K271 MKII is a popular choice among artists.
There is a lot of competition in the closed-back headphone market. Below are some alternatives to the AKG K271 MKII that are worth considering.
Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X Review
The Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X is another excellent set of closed-back headphones. They feature an excellent sound profile that is great for serious work and casual listening.
- Excellent balance across all frequencies and plenty of clarity and life.
- Very comfortable fit with superb ear pads.
- Much like the AKG K271 MKII, these are not cheap.
Beyerdynamic DT 700 Pro X
Direct Sound EX-29 Review
If you need headphones with lots of isolation the Direct Sound EX-29 is a solid alternative. Durable construction and replaceable parts also add to the appeal.
- No bleed and fantastic isolation. Perfect choice for recording sessions.
- Firm yet comfortable fit with excellent padding.
- The sound profile is not very neutral which makes these not the best for studio work.
Direct Sound EX-29
Shure SRH840A Review
The recently refreshed SHRH840A from Shure is an aggressively priced alternative to the AKG K271 MKII. Smooth styling and great sound.
- Fantastic clarity and impressive balance across all frequencies. Good for producers.
- More approachable price point while maintaining good build quality.
- Much like the Mackie MC-350, the clamping force is a bit tight.
Should You Buy?
As mentioned in the introduction it is a difficult task to reimagine a classic. But AKG has done a great job of refreshing this popular set of headphones.
Excellent clarity and precise mid-range delivery. This makes these a fantastic set of headphones for drummers, keyboard players, and vocalists. The build quality is also decent and the fit is very comfortable. A solid choice in the mid-tier price range and worth adding to your shortlist.
AKG K271 MKII