If you’re serious about making music, you might be tempted to splash out on some expensive gear. However, you don’t need to break the bank to get a set of “studio” headphones – the AKG K72 (opens in new tab) are labelled as such and are available for a great price on both sides of the Pond. Customers on Amazon really do rate these budget headphones, and in the seven years since their launch, they’ve racked up a score of 4.4 out of five based on more than 13,000 reviews.
But are they right for your needs? In this review, we’ll give you the full lowdown on their design, features and sound quality, and also round up our pick of rival offerings to help you make the correct buying decision.
AKG K72 headphones review: Design
If you’re planning on using the AKG K72 headphones in the studio (and even if you’re not), you’re going to want them to be durable – and the these feel fairly robust for the money. The ear cups are connected by twin steel rails that are unlikely to tear in a hurry, while the back of each cup is clad with stiff vinyl.
These headphones are also quite comfy, which you’ll be thankful for during those long sessions at the mixing desk. Not only are they lightweight at 200g (7oz), but they sport a nylon suspension headband that automatically adjusts to the size of the user’s skull. The cups are large enough to fit even the most elf-like of ears, and while the pleather padding isn’t the most sumptuous we’ve experienced on a set of headphones, it’s pleasant enough. By the way, the pads are replaceable, so if you find yours starting to wilt after a couple of years, simply buy a new set and your AKG K72 headphones will feel as good as new.
A couple of other things worth mentioning: the AKG K72 are only available in matte black and they’re not foldable. The latter is unlikely to be an issue if you’re using them solely for studio work, but if you’re looking for a set of headphones that’ll fit neatly in your travel bag you might want to consider other options.
AKG K72 headphones review: Features
There’s a reason why these headphones have such big ear cups – they contain 40mm neodymium drivers that offer a 16Hz-20kHz frequency response. We’ll talk more about how that affects the headphones’ performance in the next section. What we will say here is that the AKG K72's closed-back design gives them a decent level of noise isolation. They won’t blot out sirens and smoke alarms (probably a good thing), but if you’ve got feral kids living next door, you won’t be able to hear them.
Another good thing about these headphones is you won’t need to memorise where the buttons are, as there aren’t any. On the downside, of course, that means they don't come with the high-tech features many sets of headphones offer these days, such as wireless pairing (they come with a 3m heavy-duty cable attached), voice activation, phone calling, active noise cancelling or even a volume control. In other words, they’re pretty basic – but that won’t matter if they sound great. Let’s find out if they do...
AKG K72 headphones review: Sound
The first thing to say about these headphones is they’re not lacking in volume. Their low-impedance design (32 ohms) ensures they can be heard loud and clear without a headphone amp, whether they’re being used with a phone, laptop or audio interface. We say loud and clear – the clarity isn’t always the best, and we noticed some of the detail got lost in the mid ranges. As for bass lines, while they were fairly taut, we would’ve liked a bit more oomph.
On the whole, though, the AKG K72 deliver a reasonably spacious soundstage that should provide a satisfactory listen whether you’re playing rock’n’roll or shoegaze. Are they nuanced enough for getting the best out of your studio recordings? Perhaps not, but as a budget option you could certainly do a lot worse.
AKG K72 headphones review: The alternatives
Dig a little deeper into your pocket and you can get your hands on the Meters NOVU-1 Reference headphones (opens in new tab). They top our list of the best budget headphones for music (opens in new tab). The legendary amp manufacturer’s headphones offer excellent sound quality, making them an ideal choice for those who enjoy plucking strings or tickling ivories – although their chunky design might put some people off.
Marshall is another amp manufacturer that has added high-quality headphones to its repertoire, and the Marshall Monitor II ANC Bluetooth headphones (opens in new tab) are, for us, the pick of the bunch. With active noise cancelling, a 30-hour battery life, voice activation and terrific sound quality, these headphones tick so many boxes.
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