KRK is best known for its range of studio monitors. But they also offer a small selection of headphones. In this review, we check out the KNS 8402 and uncover what it offers and whether it is worth picking up.
KRK KNS 8402
The KRK KNS 8402 aims to mimic the sound of KRK’s iconic monitors. These headphones are reasonably priced and offer good performance. But for some, they won’t be analytical enough.
The KRK KNS 8402 is an enticing option with many good features. But in a crowded market filled with industry juggernauts, it faces some stiff competition. Below we take a closer look at these closed-back cans.
KRK monitors have a distinct reputation as some of the best-sounding monitors available today. But they also are not as accurate and precise as other options. This same sound profile finds its way into their line of headphones.
The KNS 8402 offers a warm and generous sound that is pleasing. If you are already a fan of the KRK sound, you’ll be right at home with these headphones. But while these are great for casual listening and tracking, they fall a little short if you need supreme accuracy.
The KNS 8402 features a wide frequency range.
The lows are rich and meaty with plenty of kick. Something inherent to KRK’s line of monitors and replicated well here. These headphones hit as low as 5Hz, which is impressive for headphones in this price range. These will be a good choice if you like a generous amount of bass.
Moving into the midrange, you’ll also enjoy a high level of clarity and precision. Once again, there is a warmness to the audio that is inviting. Typically a warmer profile might introduce some muddiness, but that is not the case here. Vocals translate well, and instrumental compositions sit nicely in the field.
The top-end does come across as a little bright. An indication of the slightly more consumer-friendly sound that has made the KRK sound so popular. It’s not harsh or grating but noticeably more forward than you may want for analytical listening. With a range topping out at 23kHz, these deliver in the top-end. I just wish there was a little tweaking at play to balance it with the rest of the range.
For a studio setting, these will excel at specific tasks. Tracking is enjoyable, and recording sessions are a breeze thanks to plenty of isolation. Basic mixing is an option, but for more detailed work, there are better choices out there. Editing of vocals is another highlight for these. Perfect for podcasts or media presentations.
The soundstage is a little cramped, but that is hard to avoid since these are closed-back cans. It is certainly not horrible, but if you want a larger spatial field, you’ll need to look at open-back options.
At 97dB sensitivity, these are adequately loud. Some may prefer more headroom but coinciding with the excellent isolation; I don’t see the need for more here. For reference, the max SPL is 123dB. At higher levels, distortion is minimal but noticeable. Especially if you are pushing these to their limits.
These are good headphones that perform well, and at this price point, it is hard to be overly critical. While not as refined as other choices, they don’t command a hefty price tag. KRK has struck a good balance and delivered a versatile and capable set of cans.
The comfort level of the KRK KNS 8402 is a bit of a mixed bag. Not horrible by any stretch but equally nothing overly impressive.
The ear pads are one of the highlights. They feature memory foam that acts like what you would expect from memory foam. There is plenty of resistance, and they take a while to return to their initial shape. This ensures that they easily adapt to your head shape and keep that shape.
The KNS 8402 features high-quality memory foam ear pads.
The only downfall is that this foam gets relatively warm quite quickly. Breathability is an issue for most closed-back headphones, but with the KNS 8402, it is even more noticeable than usual.
The cups themselves are spacious and offer plenty of room. The depth is equally great, ensuring that your ears won’t be hitting the mesh covering the drivers. This mesh is also worth highlighting as it is a significant improvement over the thin and flimsy coatings some other headphones offer.
The padding on the headband is also excellent. Just enough give for a comfortable fit without introducing pressure points. The clamping force isn’t overly tight, and the lightweight frame delivers a relaxed feel.
These are comfortable headphones, and extended sessions will not present discomfort issues. But if you work in a hot climate or your ears are prone to sweating, I’d suggest looking for cans that offer more breathability.
Restrained is not a word I often associate with KRK. The iconic yellow woofers from their studio monitor line are instantly recognizable. And while KRK has toned things back a bit with their recent lineup, they still offer a distinct and attractive appearance.
That is why I was surprised to see how much these headphones head in the other direction. There are no flashy bright colors to be found here. Instead, these headphones present a clean and sharp aesthetic. Black dominates, and there are no colored accents.
Refined design with good quality components.
I’m not a massive fan of overly gaudy headphones, so I appreciate KRK’s approach with these. The restrained appearance adds an element of class and professionalism. These are predominantly plastic, but the caps on the ear cups are metal. The matte finish is smart, as I feel a glossy finish would have ruined the balance.
Beyond appearance, the KRK KNS 8402 also offers a few other design decisions that add to the appeal of these cans.
The straight 8.2 ft. (2.5 m) straight cable offers ample length, but KRK has taken it a step further with an additional attachment cable. This cable provides in-line volume control, ideal for on-the-go listening but equally fantastic in a recording environment. No need to run about to change the volume.
These closed-back headphones also offer up to 30dB of ambient noise isolation. Once again, this makes these headphones a great choice for recording sessions. This isolation level is also fantastic if you work in a noisy environment, making these also an appealing option for DJs.
The earcups also rotate so they can lay flat along with a full flip for one-ear monitoring. But unfortunately, they do not entirely collapse.
The low impedance of 36 ohms is another notable highlight. Most studio cans work best or, in some cases, demand a good headphone amp. With these, you won’t have any issues driving them even if you run them through lower-powered devices like laptops and smartphones.
Once again, KRK has done a stellar job balancing appearance and functionality. Refined headphones that tick a lot of boxes, especially if you need a good set of cans for recording sessions.
The KRK KNS 8403 offers a good level of durability, especially when you factor in its price point. Headphones in this range can suffer from issues, so mitigating them is admirable.
The first thing of note is the heavy use of plastic. This is not uncommon for headphones, but the quality can vary significantly from one brand to another. The plastic here is rigid and dependable. Creaking is minimal, and it can handle the odd knock and bump.
Durable plastic and comfortable padding combine well.
Padding throughout is also good, from the ear cups to the headband. The padding is also replaceable, which scores it a few extra points. But the connection clips for the ear pads are a little flimsy, and I can foresee these failing eventually. How often you like to change your ear pads will play a significant role in whether this will be an issue for you.
These are lightweight at 0.54 lbs. (245 grams) but at no stage do they feel like they will break easily. A robust and dependable pair of closed-back cans that punches above its price point.
These headphones do present good value. They are not the cheapest headphones out there, but they also don’t suffer from the issues that come with lower-quality cans. There is a bit of competition at this price point, but the KRK KNS 8402 holds its own.
The KNS 8402 features a solid range of included accessories.
I’ve already mentioned the additional cable connector, which is a nice inclusion. You’ll also have a pouch on hand for storage and travel. It offers a little bit of padding, but I still wouldn’t feel comfortable throwing these into a packed suitcase. At best, you’ll have good protection from elemental damage like dust.
You could go out and spend more on studio headphones. And in many cases, the extra investment will be worth it. But if you want an approachable price without giving up too much quality, the KRK KNS 8402 is a good buy.
The reviews for the KRK KNS 8402 are generally favorable. The comfort level is mentioned regularly, and while some point out that they might not want to use them for mixing and mastering, they still enjoy the sound profile and appreciate the approachable price.
Sound Profile Preferences
One of the challenges when reviewing headphones is that, as a reviewer, I’ll have my own bias toward a sound profile that I find satisfying. Discarding that and trying to be as objective as possible is not always easy.
Everyone will have variations to the profile that they prefer. Some may enjoy a little more oomph on the lower end. Others will prefer more restrained and neutral bass. This extends to all frequencies. Some prefer mids to be warm while others lean towards a more dry delivery. Likewise, some like clear and sharp highs while others find them grating.
The KRK KNS 8402 features a familiar and popular sound profile.
Knowing what type of sound profile you prefer will help guide you in the right direction. And there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to this. While some standards like the Harman target are generally accepted as ideal, there is room within those confines for personal preference.
So while the KRK sound is noticeably skewed, it doesn’t mean it is wrong. If you prefer that sound, then enjoy what it is. And with an abundance of producers and casual listeners that swear by it, you’ll be in good company.
The KRK KNS 8402 is a pair of headphones that excels in a recording environment. But there is plenty of enticing alternatives out there for this task. Below is a quick overview of some other headphones worth considering.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro Review
One of the leading alternatives is the DT 770 Pro from Beyerdynamic. These closed-back headphones offer a similar price point to the KNS 8402 and are often at the top of many people’s recommended lists.
- A clean and accurate sound profile that is better suited for studio work.
- Super plush earpads offer a high level of comfort.
- While these are affordable, the high impedance means you’ll need an amp.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
Audio-Technica ATH-M40X Review
If you enjoy a more colored response the ATH-M40X is worth adding to your shortlist. Warm and engaging mids, punchy lows, and crisp highs deliver a satisfying listening experience.
- Vibrant and engaging sound signature.
- DJ-friendly features like swiveling ear cups and collapsible design.
- The all-plastic build is not the best, and the hinges do not inspire confidence.
Neumann NDH20 Review
For those that don’t mind spending more, the Neumann NDH20 is a premium closed-back pair of headphones. Expensive but worth every dollar, these are among the best.
- Highly accurate audio delivery that stays faithful to the source material.
- Rock-solid construction and premium components. Built to last.
- Substantially more expensive than the KNS 8402. Not for budget buyers.
Should You Buy?
The KRK KNS 8402 is an impressive addition to the list of studio headphones in this price range. The distinct sound profile will appeal to fans of the KRK sound. But even newcomers will enjoy the dynamic and rich delivery.
Despite a few accuracy concerns, these are still competent headphones that can do a lot of heavy lifting in the studio. When you combine this with a good level of comfort, dependable isolation, and better-than-expected build quality, it is hard not to recommend these. While not perfect, you get plenty of bang for your buck.
KRK KNS 8402