With so many people listening to music on portable devices these days, there are more headphones on the market than ever before. There's a big difference however between listening to music on the tube and monitoring in a studio, and for any kind of serious music work, you're going to want some proper headphones. AKG has really gone all out with the definition of “pro” with its new K712 Pro Reference Studio Headphones. Hitting the street at a price of around $499, they're not exactly an impulse buy, but can they live up to AKG's excellent reputation?
Before we get into the details, bear in mind that these aren't particularly competing with a $100 pair of cans you might use for monitoring while laying down guitar tracks, or working late at night when your neighbours are asleep. They are great for that kind of thing of course, but they're capable of far more. They are intended for genuine mixing and mastering applications, the kind of stuff where fidelity and accurate sound reproduction are crucial. Let's just repeat that: these are headphones you're supposed to mix on.
The build quality is excellent and the headphones are much lighter than you might imagine, weighing just 235 g so they are suitable for long periods of use. The headband is high-quality leather and most of the other components are durable plastic, with foam, over-ear ear pads. It comes supplied with two cables, one solid and one coiled for easier extension. Both have a mini-XLR connection to the headphones and a mini jack at the other end, plus a ¼ inch jack adaptor. The phones themselves are open backed, which makes for much more natural and accurate sound reproduction. The flip side of this is that they leak loads of sound into the room, so for tracking and late night working, a closed back pair might be good to have on standby.
Nice, aren't they?
The K712 Pros use a flat wire voice coil and have a bandwidth of 10 to 39800 Hz, a sensitivity of 105 dB SPL/V and an impedance of 62 Ohms. This means that they are incredibly precise, albeit not exceptionally loud in practice, even driven at full volume. But the key here is accuracy. These headphones are truly spectacular when it comes to precision, with astounding clarity and separation of frequencies. Listening to tracks I am familiar with, I could hear things in the recordings that I simply had never heard before, things that were not revealed by my own, high quality studio headphones or powered monitors. I would actually trust these cans with a mix or a master, they do such a good job of showing you exactly what's going on, with no coloration, excessive bass or boxiness.
Comfortable and almost unreasonably accurate, these actually made me want to listen to music to hear what I'd missed.
At the price, these are not going to be on everyone's Christmas list but they are superb, the most accurate headphones I have ever used by a mile. They are serious and professional, providing a flawless representation of whatever you play through them, and allowing you to get the best mixes and masters possible.