AKG is among my favorite brands for studio headphones, and the K702 sits comfortably within their extensive lineup of options. It focuses distinctly on the audio professional and is ideal for music production. This review looks at where these headphones shine and where they fall a little flat.
The AKG K702 offers a spacious, inviting listening experience that encourages analytical listening. Despite its studio focus, it’s also a good choice for relaxed listening sessions. But despite its excellent sound quality, it does disappoint in a few key areas.
AKG has an illustrious history in the audio industry with a track record that dates back to the late 40s. The AKG K702 balances AKG’s aggressively priced entry-level options and top-of-the-line premium cans and provides a comfortable middle ground between the two. Let’s see how this mid-tier option fares in a crowded market.
The listening experience of open-back headphones provides numerous advantages over closed-back options. And in certain situations, open-back cans will always be the superlative choice. But some of the inherent design traits are also some of the most common complaints with open-back cans.
The AKG is no exception, with a distinctly underwhelming low-frequency response that rapidly falls off. It’s a symptom that many open-back headphones suffer from, so it isn’t surprising, but it seems more prevalent with these cans than with other open-back options I’ve encountered.
That’s not to say that the bass is inaccurate. There is ample definition in the upper bass and lower mids that will provide a satisfying representation, but as you creep into bass-heavy genres and sub-bass regions, there is a noticeable lack of oomph that might be a dealbreaker for some.
Excellent soundstage and engaging mids and highs.
But that is the only thing I can complain about about the sound profile, as the rest of the profile is spectacular. The mid-range is vibrant and lively, with outstanding definition and precision. From an editing perspective, the high level of accuracy in this range is exactly what you want to refine and tackle this prominent part of the frequency range.
The top-end is equally impressive, with a delectable level of detail and clarity that ensures maximum transparency. The top end isn’t overly bright or sharp, unlike some other studio-centric cans. This results in a pleasant and fatigue-free listening experience that is ideal for long stints in the studio.
Open-back headphones offer a generous soundstage that makes defining elements in the stereo field far easier than closed-back options can ever provide. But, the AKG K702 exceeds even my high expectations in this area. There is a wonderful sense of dimensionality and depth to intricately mixed compositions making both professional and casual listening sessions a joy.
These headphones are an instant recommendation if you don’t tackle bass-heavy audio regularly. Superb clarity, definition, and accuracy. But suppose low-frequency work is your bread and butter. In that case, I’d explore an alternative or ensure you have a second set of reference cans available for A/B testing.
The comfort experience is equally inviting but also frustrating. How can that be? It boils down to a few key elements that might not apply to everyone, so your mileage might vary from my experience.
The large cups accommodate the 45mm drivers and offer ample room for your ears. There is also plenty of depth to ensure that your ears won’t come into contact with the drivers. These cups also offer enough breathability to ensure that heat build-up is not an issue.
The ear padding is dense, and the velour material does encourage a comfortable fit with enough flexibility to adapt to your unique head shape. It’s also soft enough to ensure that people wearing glasses can enjoy a comfortable fit. Padding material often comes down to personal preference, so I would have liked to see an extra set of pads in the box to provide additional flexibility.
The velour padding is comfortable and breathable.
Velour pads also trap sweat and become dirty quicker than some might like. Replacement pads are easy to acquire, and you can explore alternative pad types, so it isn’t a dealbreaker but still worth highlighting.
The clamping force is noticeably loose and relaxed. In one way, this adds to the comfort level and eliminates the feeling of having your head locked in a vice. But it also means these are prone to slipping and sliding about if you happen to move around a lot.
In a studio setting, the loose fit will likely not be an issue, but I find myself bopping my head along to the music, so I prefer a little more stability than these headphones offer.
I might be nitpicking a little here, so I would like to highlight that these are lightweight and comfortable for long sessions. It’s just that after trialing so many headphones, I’ve come to have a defined idea of what I want from a set of cans that might not align with your needs. Perspective is everything, after all.
The leather band is a bit stiff at first and needs time to soften.
The last component I’d like to highlight is the headband. There is no padding on this band of leather, and at first, it is rather stiff. As with a good pair of leather shoes, they will soften over time and adapt to your head, so be aware that the initial feel will not be what it will feel like long term.
I have a shaved head, so I did find the band to be a little uncomfortable, but the lightweight frame and relaxed fit ensured it wasn’t a massive issue.
As mentioned at the start of this section, it’s a tale of both good and bad. Where you fall on this spectrum depends on what you desire from your headphones. But looking at the headphones holistically, they are far more comfortable than many other options on the market.
AKG has a distinctive style for their headphones which is instantly recognizable. The AKG K702 sticks to this tried and true design philosophy, which I don’t mind. I’ve grown accustomed to the appearance of AKG headphones over the years, so it’s familiar and welcome.
The combination of black and silver blends well with just enough flair to give these headphones a distinctive look while not being overly bright and outlandish. It’s a professional combination that will comfortably slot into a studio setting. But it is worth highlighting that while these are lightweight, they are pretty bulky. These are not discreet headphones; the earcups, in particular, will dominate the side of your head.
Looking beyond appearance, the AKG K702 studio headphones also feature some other notable design decisions you should be aware of.
The AKG K702 features signature AKG styling.
The impedance of 62 ohms means that these headphones are relatively easy to drive, but you will experience some drop-off in volume if using lower-powered devices like smartphones. I would suggest using these with a high-quality headphone amp to get the most out of them. With a sensitivity level of 105dB, these are loud enough for most applications.
These headphones are also open-back, so don’t expect isolation from the outside world. Likewise, these will bleed sound, so do not use them for recording sessions or in an environment where you don’t want people to hear what you are listening to.
The included cable is detachable and features a locking mechanism. This opens up the ability to swap out for different cables and ensures you don’t have to worry about accidentally unplugging the cable from the headphones.
The AKG K702 is a poor choice for travel due to the cans’ bulky nature and the fact that they do not collapse or offer rotatable earcups to lay flat. These belong in a studio setting, so if you need a portable set of cans, you’ll need to explore alternatives.
In this price bracket, I expect high-quality components and a durable design to ensure longevity. In this regard, the AKG K702 is adequate, with a robust level of durability.
The Patented Varimotion two-layer diaphragm drivers are superb. They are the reason these headphones offer such delightful performance in the mids and highs. The housing for these drivers is also rugged and dependable.
Good quality materials and fantastic drivers.
The quality of the pads is acceptable though they don’t feel as premium as some other velour pads I’ve seen on competitor models. The leather headband is also ultra tough and won’t wear quickly.
The railing and adjustable mechanism are reasonably robust but potentially the weakest component of the whole build. But even then, I can’t see these failing early. AKG headphones are renowned for consistency and reliability; the K702 is no exception.
The AKG K702 studio headphones are a mid-priced set of cans with some stiff competition. For the sound quality they offer, they are a viable choice for analytical listening, so it makes them worth it for a professional setting.
From a casual perspective, however, they are a little expensive. You can find a more budget-friendly set of headphones that will still provide an enjoyable listening experience.
The quality is pretty good at this price point, but the lack of accessories makes it drop a few points. I would have liked to see an alternate set of pads or an additional cable option. Likewise, the AKG K702 doesn’t come with a pouch or case.
The AKG K702 has been around for a while now, and in that time, it has picked up favorable reviews from industry experts and customers. Most highlight the accurate and engaging sound profile and the high comfort level.
Velour Vs. Pleather Ear Pads
Velour and pleather ear padding are the two most common ear padding varieties across headphones today. Velour is a knit fabric that feels fuzzy and is made from cotton, while pleather is a synthetic leather made from plastic to imitate genuine leather.
Velour padding is often more comfortable than pleather since it is a natural material and breathes more easily compared to pleather. The composition of velour also tends to provide a more natural sound. But velour earpads are much harder to clean as they easily trap dirt and oils.
Both types of ear padding have their pros and cons.
Pleather earpads aim to replicate the benefit and feel of leather. They are far easier to clean and provide a better seal for passive isolation. But the material will trap heat more than velour. The quality of pleather also varies dramatically, and poor quality pleather will rapidly degrade and flake sooner rather than later.
Both types have a role to play, and which one you prefer will come down to personal preference and intended application. Selecting headphones like the AKG K702 that allow you to swap out the earpads is always a smart choice. That way, you can try different ear pads to find your preferred style.
As mentioned throughout the review, the AKG K702 faces stiff competition. Below is a sampling of other open-back studio headphones that might better match your needs.
Neumann NDH 30 Review
The Neumann NDH 20 offers pure clean sound that is a delight to listen to. These headphones will especially appeal to people that want a richer low-end response.
- Neutral sound profile for accurate mixing and mastering.
- Rugged construction that can handle the rigors of daily use.
- Substantially more expensive than the AKG K702.
Neumann NDH 30
Sennheiser HD 560S Review
The AKG K702 studio headphones do have a relatively high price tag. If you need a set of cans that are a little more wallet-friendly, the HD 560S is worth considering.
- Polished frequency response that is neutral and features minimal dips and peaks.
- Lightweight and comfortable with excellent ear and headband padding.
- Much like the AKG K702, the bass response is a bit lackluster.
Sennheiser HD 560S
Shure SRH1840 Review
One of the closest direct competitors to the AKG K702 is the Shure SRH1840. It comes at a similar price but has a less bulky profile while maintaining a high comfort level.
- Excellent detail and an engaging and spacious soundstage.
- Comes with an extra set of pads, an alternate cable, and a case.
- While great value, these are not budget-friendly.
Should You Buy?
The AKG K702 studio headphones get the important stuff right. The excellent detail and transparency across the mids and highs are ideal for critical listening. Confidence in your cans is integral to a smooth workflow, and these tick that box with ease.
The old-school aesthetic might not appeal to everyone, and they are undoubtedly bulky. But with a high comfort level and decent build quality, these are an excellent choice for extended studio sessions where appearances don’t matter anyway.
If you are looking for a set of mid-tier headphones for detail-orientated studio work, the AKG K702 is worth adding to your shortlist of options.