AKG K240 STUDIO PROFESSIONAL HEADPHONES
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AKG has been in the business of making professional and home audio electronics for decades. AKG is a brand that I trust. Today I shall be reviewing the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones. Because they share a very similar name, the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones are sometimes confused with the AKG K240 MKII Professional Headphones. There are many similarities between these two sets of headphones, but there are also differences as well, including the price. I shall today only be discussing the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones. Read on and see if these headphones sound like a set of headphones that you would consider auditioning the next time you are visiting your local musical instrument store or electronics store.
The AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones have a list price of $165.00, but they can be relatively easily found selling for a discounted price of $99.00, and I even saw them recently selling for $79.00 on sale. Thus, it can really pay to do a little shopping before making a purchase. AKG K 240 headphones have been around for a long time, and they can be found in semi-pro and pro studios around the world. They are arguably the most commonly used headphones to be found in studio use. Of course that does not mean that they are the best sound headphones on the market. The reason the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones are so popular is because these headphones have a very accurate sound reproduction capability, and they sound quite good, especially when one considers the price.
The AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones are semi-open headphones with a circumaural design. This design has both advantages and disadvantages. Semi-open headphones fall somewhere between completely closed back headphones and open air headphones. Fully closed-back headphones provide the best isolation from hearing unwanted sounds from outside sources, and they also are very effective at preventing leakage of sound from the headphones from getting out. Semi-open design headphones allow for some leakage of sound to occur, both letting some sounds in and letting some leak out. The AKG K240 Headphones also have a circumaural design. The term circumaural is a descriptor that indicates that the ear pads of the headphones completely encircle your ears, and form a seal. In the case of headphones which have a semi-open circumaural design, a person who is wearing them can still get a reasonably good isolation of sounds, while at the say time still being able to hear a bit of what is transpiring in the environment that they are listening in.
Headphones that have a semi-open design are sometimes appealing to people who are in the broadcast industry, or for singers who are doing overdubs, as it permits them to hear some of their natural voice without the necessity of pushing the ear pads off of one of their ears. Personally, for recording applications, I always prefer a closed back design when I am in the vicinity of a live microphone and doing overdubs, as I do not want any leakage of sound from the headphones getting into the microphone, but then again everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Personally, I would never consider using these headphones or any type of headphones that are not closed back in design, for any type of situation where there is a live mic present. Another advantage of semi-open headphones is that they often have a very good low frequency response, and the AKG K240 Headphones are no exception. In general, I have always felt that over the ear headphones will render the most accurate sonic reproduction. Thus, they are a good choice for listening to music that is being played back, or for assistance in the process of mixing sounds.
Although the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones are circumaural in design, and enclose the listener's entire ears, they feel comfortable to wear, and they do so without feeling too snug or too tight. The headset and earpieces feel comfortable to wear, and the overall weight of the headphones are a mere 8.5 ounces. The AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones have a frequency response of 15 Hz. to 25,000 Hz. The listed frequency response of a set of headphones delineates the range of sounds or frequencies that can be reproduced by the headphones without distortion under normal listening conditions. I am sure that a number of readers may be asking themselves why would any one need a set of headphones that has a frequency response that goes both above and below the range of hearing for a normal healthy human being. The answer is that headphones with a wider frequency response will lessen the likelihood of distortion under normal listening conditions. Thus, when listening to musical sounds that usually will range from about 20 Hz. to 20,000 Hz., or less, there is a significantly decreased likelihood of distortion being heard at normal listening volumes. One does not have to be a professional sound engineer to understand or know that distortion free listening conditions are always desirable, especially in a studio or professional situation. That is one of the reasons why these headphones have been a studio standard for so many years.
The AKG K 240 Studio Professional Headphones have a sensitivity rating of 91dB and an impedance of 55 Ohms. That is actually about average for a set of headphones in this price range. In general headphone sensitivity is measured by supplying 1 milliwatt of power to a set of phones and then measuring the number of dB in sound pressure level (SPL) that is delivered at the ear piece. The higher the sensitivity rating a set of headphones has, the better they will perform at different power levels, and the louder they are apt to be. These headphones are about average in their sensitivity rating. The AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones have an Impedance rating of 55 Ohms. Although this makes them low impedance headphones, they are far from being the lowest available on the market. Why is the impedance rating of a set of headphones important? All else being equal, the lower the impedance, the louder the sound will be in the headphones, because they are able to draw more power. Many headphones that are considered appropriate for use with portable listening devices, such as MP3 Players, will have a rather low impedance rating, such as 16 Ohms, as this can make the sound of the music louder for the listener. However although the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones come with a stereo mini-jack, they are not the best choice for some portable players because of their impedance rating. I could easily see that some people might find fault with the AKG K 240 Studio Professional headphones for this reason, and complain that they are too low in volume. This would not usually be a problem in a studio setting, as many studios have headphone amplifiers. It would also not be a problem for home music listening, if one is going to be using their stereo receiver, as one could just crank up the volume to achieve the desired level. As such, before purchasing these headphones for use with a portable device, it would be advisable for a potential consumer to check out the volume levels that can be attained with these phones.
One of the features that I find attractive about the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones is that they come with a detachable plug-in cable with a mini XLR connector. This is a desirable feature because if the cable gets damaged, all you need to do is detach it and plug a new one in. There is no need to replace the whole set of headphones, just simply replace the cable. Regarding the cable, it is 10 feet long. Clearly people who are thinking of using the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones exclusively with a portable listening device, like an MP3 Player are going to find this potentially annoying because these is so much extra cable to deal with. On the other hand, those of you who may be considering using these headphones for studio reference purposes or who plan to be plugging these phones into their home stereo, will welcome the few extra feet of cable, as it will afford some mobility for the listener as well as allowing the listener to not have to be seated immediately next to their stereo tuner or amplifier.
While we are on the topic of plugging the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones into a listening device, it is good to know what type of plugs or adaptors they come equipped with. The cable has a stereo 1/8 inch mini jack, with a screw-on gold platted 1/4 inch stereo phone plug. This makes it easy to use the AKG K240 Stereo Professional Headphones with just about any listening device available, from an MP3 Player, computer, or a home stereo.
Well how do the AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones sound, and who are they best suited for? Well when AKG introduced the K240 headphones back over 20 years ago, they had an impedance of 600 Ohms. That meant they would have been virtually impossible to use with today's portable listening devices without the assistance of a headphone amplifier. The new AKG K240 Studio Headphones have an impedance of 55 Ohms. This makes them much more user friendly for those who would consider using these headphones with an MP3 Player. However, the volume is still not as loud as some listeners might like, as many of the headphones that are commonly used with these devices have impedance rating of about 16 Ohms, as a lower impedance rating makes these headphones louder. As regards their sound, these headphones are great for reference purposes in a studio setting or for someone who wants a set of headphones with a very true sound. These headphones permit the listener to hear subtle aspects of a recording that might go unnoticed over a pair of room speakers, or some lesser quality headphones. I have done some late night mixing with these headphones when I was tired, with the intention of doing a proper mix over the speakers with fresh ears the following day. There have been a few cases where the mix in the phones was done so well, that very little tweaking was necessary the following day to get the mix the way I wanted it to sound. To me, that is quite impressive.
However, these very same accurate sonic qualities that I find so appealing about these headphones, might to some other potential listeners be a turn off. The AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones were originally designed to be used for reference purposes, and as such these headphones have a relatively flat and unsweetened response. For critical listening purposes, such as in a recording studio situation, a person will usually want a set of headphones or speakers that will have a flat frequency response, so that one can compare and adjust the levels of the musical instruments and the vocals with a good degree of accuracy. One does not want to have a set of headphones that will accentuate one set of frequencies at the cost of another. Many consumer headphones will accentuate the bass frequencies or the high frequencies in order to make the music sound more exciting or lively. The AKG K240 Studio Professional Headphones have a sound that is relatively flat, and that is one of the reasons why I like them. To my ears, the sounds of the different instruments are clear, clean, distortion free, and truly accurate sounding. However, listeners who want an accentuated thumping bass are going to have to raise the bass response on their listening devices. That is not a very hard thing to do, and these headphones are sonically capable of delivering a relatively accurate flat sound, while at the same time they are responsive to the tweaking that individual listeners might need to do to get them to reproduce a sound that is more appeal to them or that suits their individual tastes.
The bottom line for me is this. These are not the best headphones I have ever used for studio purposes or for listening to music for pleasure. However, that being said, it would be hard to find a better pair of headphones for studio use in this price range. I can recommend them without hesitation for the average home recording enthusiast, as well as for anyone who wants to hear what an accurate sounding pair of headphones sounds like.
Well I would like to thank you for taking the time to read my review, but now if you will excuse me, I must get back to my practicing. Good luck, and good listening.
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