AKG K702 Open Back Studio Reference Headphones
Build Quality & Design9.0/10
Long-Lasting Comfort & Ventilation10.0/10
As Studio Reference Monitors9.0/10
- Best Comfort In Its Class
- Great For Longer Mixing/Mastering/Listening Sessions
- Well-Balanced & Even Sound Profile
- More Wide/Spacious Soundscape Than The HD 600
- Genuine Leather Headband Self-Adjustment System
- Slightly Harder To Drive
- Uses a Mini XLR to 3.5 mm Cable
- Imaging Could Be Slightly More Focused
Are you looking for a quality pair of cans that you can use for mixing/mastering in the studio? Do you need a pair of well-balanced headphones that you can use for both casual and critical listening? Maybe you’ve taken a look at some of the competition and decided that these look like the best option.
You want to know if they’re durable, comfy and well-built. You also want to know how they sound, and what kind of playback you can expect. No matter how you plan on using them, these cans have quite a bit to offer.
Where do they stand out and where do they fall short? How do they compare side-by-side with similarly-priced open back reference cans? We’ll cover all of that and more below! Keep reading our AKG K702 Review to see if they have what it takes to be called the best open studio monitor!
Our AKG K702 Review
Features & Technical Specs:
- Circumaural (over-ear) open-back headphone design
- Features a genuine leather headband that automatically adjusts to the contour of your head
- Includes detachable mini XLR to 3.5 mm headphone cable
- Velvet-covered 3D ear pads
- Driver Type: Dynamic
- Frequency Response: 10 Hz – 39,800 kHz
- Impedance: 62 Ohms
- Sensitivity: 105 dB SPL/V
- Dimensions: 4.45 x 7.83 x 8.35 inches
- Weight: 8.3 ounces
Before you move on, take a quick look at the links below that you can use to navigate our review. Each section will provide an in-depth analysis of each individual performance aspect.
Here are the 5 most important performance features you’ll want to consider before making your decision:
- Build Quality & Design
- Comfort & Ventilation
- Are They The Best Studio Reference Monitors?
- Sonic Performance – How Do They Sound?
- Who Are These Cans Perfect For?
Now that you’ve taken a quick look at the technical specs, let’s start by examining two of the most important features – build quality and design.
Build Quality & Design
Sometimes, lightweight headphones sacrifice build quality in order to cut down on wearing weight. Since these are so lightweight (compared to similar models) you might be wondering if they lack quality materials. Do they manage to combine a lightweight build and quality, or sacrifice one for the other? Let’s take a closer look!
Open Back Ear Cups & Clamp
The open-back ear cup design contributes to a lighter overall build as well as helping to minimize the amount of weight pulling down on your head. The dynamic drivers housed in either ear cup are also fairly lightweight. If you look in the mirror when you’re actually wearing these cans, you’ll probably be happy to see that they don’t stick out too far.
(Sometimes open-back ‘phones stick out so far that you’re almost scared to walk through a doorway, or turn your head to the side too quickly.) Luckily, the headband clamp isn’t overpowering or too loose. It provides a nice balance somewhere in the middle.
Looking down, turning your head, or getting up to grab something doesn’t make them fall off or wiggle around too much. This is also partially due to the hybrid headband design that we’ll cover in detail below.
Why Don’t They Have Any Headband Padding?
As you can see in the picture above, there is no padding on the actual headband. This serves two purposes. One, it cuts down on the overall weight. Two, it adds to the overall wearing comfort, which we’ll cover in more detail below. When you’re holding them in your hands, you’ll notice that they’re extremely lightweight – weighing almost a full ounce less than the Sennheiser HD 600.
The HD 600 is known for their lightweight comfort (among other things) but these cans take a slightly different approach. They have a hybrid genuine leather headband that automatically slides to adjust to your specific head shape.
There aren’t any adjustment notches on the actual headband since it will automatically slide and adjust accordingly. If you’ve never worn a pair of headphones without padding on the headband, you might be a little bit skeptical. In the section on comfort below, you’ll see whether or not the hybrid design pays off.
Mini XLR to 3.5 mm Headphone Cable
The included 3-meter mini XLR to 3.5 mm cable is fully detachable and only connects to the left ear cup. If you ever lose or happen to misplace the cable, it can be more difficult to find a replacement, although they do exist and can be found fairly easily.
If you’re not the biggest fan of specialized or proprietary cables, it’s important to keep this in mind. The cable itself feels pretty durable and you do have the option to switch it out for a coiled cable if you prefer that style instead. In some cases, using a single cable connection can have a noticeable effect on sound quality. Before we look at their sonic performance, let’s see if their unique design paid off in terms of comfort.
Comfort & Ventilation
One of the most stand-out features these cans have to offer is their ultra-comfy and lightweight build design. Since they are open cans, they provide a significant amount of ventilation. The ear cups are also much bigger than most other similar headphones (open or not).
Memory Foam Ear Cup Padding & Improvements
The ear cup padding itself is made of what feels like memory foam. Each pad is covered with velour and provides a noticeably improved wearing experience. The material covering both ear pads is similar to the material used on the Beyerdynamic DT 770 (which are also one of the comfiest ‘phones in this price range). If you were to compare these against the AKG K701 – you would instantly notice how much more comfortable these cans are.
Any past issues you might’ve had with sweat or over-heating have been almost completely eliminated. Although the K701 and K702 are both designed to be used as studio reference monitors, there were quite a few complaints about the actual fit and feel of the previous model. The ear cups are circular (instead of oval-shaped) and are large enough that most ears will easily fit comfortably inside.
After longer periods of use (more than an hour or two), the memory foam earpads and open back design follow through on their promise of providing long-lasting comfort.
Hybrid Genuine Leather Sliding Headband
Since the headband features a hybrid sliding adjustment mechanism, you won’t need to make any manual adjustments. Instead of adjusting each notch until you find the perfect fit (like you would on most headphones) – the genuine leather strap will automatically adjust.
The leather strap is shaped more ergonomically than the HIFIMAN HE 400i and provides an above-average amount of even weight distribution. When you put these on your head right out of the box, the hybrid leather headband will let you know why these cans are consistently named as one of the comfiest headphones you’ll ever wear.
When you’re mixing/mastering tracks in the studio or just enjoy listening to music for hours on end, long-lasting comfort is absolutely essential. Now that we’ve covered that, let’s take a closer look at whether or not they’re actually the best studio reference monitors!
Are They The Best Studio Reference Monitors?
When you’re looking for a pair of reference monitors to use in the studio, most people prefer an even-keeled and neutral sound profile. For example, listening to the playback with cans that have a v-shaped sound signature can throw off your mix. Instead of hearing an accurate representation, the levels will be slightly off and won’t sound the same when you play the track on other headphones or speakers.
These cans have a fairly flat, clean, and balanced sound profile. They take a no frills approach in this area and don’t over-represent lows, mids, or highs. They aren’t exactly what you would call ‘exciting’ or ‘forward’. This is why they’re a popular choice for use as a reference monitor.
Are They The Best?
Are they the best? The answer will depend on a few different factors. As a reference headphone, they perform pretty much exactly as advertised. In the sub-$300 price range, there are very few headphones that offer similar sonic performance. Unless you want to spend almost twice as much, these cans are definitely a Top 10 studio reference candidate.
There isn’t much else to comment on (for using them in the studio) aside from the sound leakage concerns you might want to consider.
Sound Leakage – In The Studio & Walking Around
Sound leakage is always to be expected from a pair of open cans, but there are varying levels from headphone to headphone. The K702 allows a pretty significant amount of sound to leak out which is why they’re designed to be used in the studio – not as an everyday walk-around pair.
This isn’t to say that you can’t use them out in public, but you might attract some weird looks or questions about what you’re listening to. Their open design is also another reason why they’re aimed at being used as reference monitors, not during the actual recording process.
If sound can leak out, sound can also leak in. If you’re in the same room as the musician you’re recording, their playing or singing will interfere with the accurate playback you want to hear. Overall, they definitely perform best as reference monitors and not for recording (although this may vary slightly depending on your specific recording setup).
Next, let’s take a detailed look at how they perform for non-studio, casual or critical listening!
Sonic Performance – How Do They Sound?
If you don’t plan on using these for mixing or mastering, you probably want to know how they sound for day-to-day listening. Does their even-keeled sound signature make them ideal for critical listening? Do they have a wide and spacious soundstage, or is it condensed and narrow? Keep reading to find out!
Soundstage – Is It Spacious or Narrow?
One of the main reasons for using open headphones instead of closed is because we want our music to sound wide and spacious. We want the illusion that the music is playing around us – not being pumped directly into our ear canal.
The soundstage on these cans is noticeably wider and more spacious than the slightly narrow soundstage of the Sennheiser HD 600. This makes them excellent for monitoring or listening to a wide range of genres. It also makes it much easier to pinpoint any problem areas on a track that need extra attention or adjustment.
Detail Separation & Imaging Accuracy
Due to the wide and open soundstage, you can hear each individual element on a track playing around you. On certain tracks, vocals sound as if they’re slightly elevated above you. It creates an airy sensation that adds to the open back experience.
On most tracks, the detail separation is fairly clean and well-balanced. On tracks across a wide range of genres, each element that’s present gets fair representation (without stepping on one another). There aren’t any peaks or audible dips in the lows, mids, or highs – which is another reason why they’re such great reference cans.
Although the imaging isn’t quite as crisp and laser-focused as the Philips Fidelio X2, it provides adequate accuracy and separation. Most of the music you listen to will have a slightly warm tone that’s not too aggressive or laid-back.
Do You Need An Amp?
These ‘phones have been called power-hungry, which is a little bit surprising since they are lower impedance cans. This means that you’ll probably want an amp that can drive power-hungry cans fairly easily. If you decide to use them without an amp, it will be much harder to utilize their full potential.
If you don’t already have a quality amp – we recommend considering the Audioengine D1. The D1 easily drives most low/high impedance cans and works great as a compact desktop DAC/amp. If the sound card on your laptop or PC could use some improvement, it’s well worth the investment.
Now that we’ve gone over all the features in detail, you probably want to know who these cans are perfect for.
Who Are These Cans Perfect For?
These cans would be perfect for you if you’re looking for a sub-$300 pair of studio reference cans to use for mixing/mastering. They’re also a great open back option for you if you don’t want to sacrifice comfort for unnecessary features that add more weight.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who enjoys critical or casual listening – the well-balanced and neutral playback might be exactly what you’re looking for. If you’re a fan of more exciting-sounding headphones, you probably want to look elsewhere.
Overall, the main stand-out feature these cans have to offer is their ultra-lightweight and comfortable design. While there are other headphones that provide slightly more impressive detail separation and imaging accuracy – there are very few models that can compete in terms of comfort.
Take a look at the review table below to see the criteria we used to calculate our final rating out of 10. There, you can also see the most important pros/cons to consider before you make your decision.
Now that you’ve read our AKG K702 Review, what do you think? Do they have what it takes to be called the Best Studio Reference Monitor? What do you value more: comfort or extremely authentic audio playback? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below!
If you want to see more customer reviews and ratings before making your decision, click here!
If you have any questions about anything we covered here, feel free to ask below! We always do our best to respond as quickly as we can! Thanks for stopping by to check out this review, we hope to see you here again!
Sonic Elevation: Ride The Waves.