The Sennheiser HD598 currently has the reputation for being the most affordable high definition headphones. Often being sold for less than $200, the 598’s have become an entry-level choice for many people in recent years. Often hailed as the undisputed gateway headphones for people looking to acquire high fidelity sound for the first time, they have remained utterly unrivaled and unchallenged in attracting new members of the audiophile community.
AKG released a new pair that is also trying to gain some ground on this specific demographic. The AKG K92, an even less expensive pair of headphones, is trying to attract the same userbase as the HD598’s, though at an even lower price. Does it have what it takes to compete?
What comes in the box
The packaging of the K92 is standard affair. The cable length is 3 meters long, which already implies that indoor environments are what AKG had in mind with these headphones – more on that later. AKG also included a 6.3mm screw-on adapter, so that anyone who wants to plug in the K92 into an amplifier or a device with a larger input hole can do so. The headphones are fairly light, only weighing about half a pound or so. The earcups are circumaural, meaning they completely envelop your ears, as opposed to pushing against them. This combined with the light weight makes for a very comfortable piece of equipment.
The color and styling of the headphones is quite appealing. The black and gold combination gives it the look of a luxury item, but isn’t flashy or shiny enough to be considered excessive or over the top.
AKG’s K92 doesn’t have any mind blowing specs that will intrigue audiophiles right off the bat, like with a much more expensive pair such as Beyerdynamic’s DT 990. The K92’s impedance is 32 ohms, which is fairly standard. This means they don’t need much extra power at all, and do not require external amplification from a dedicated headphone amplifier. Again, this is a technical detail that already heavily hints at the kind of consumer AKG is aiming for with these headphones. The K92s will work no problem by being directly plugged into virtually any device that plays audio, including phones or tablets.
There’s a couple of things that need to be gotten out of the way before we continue. For its price range, the quality of these headphones are pretty good. With the exception of some of Grado or Audio Technica’s cheapest over-ear headphones, the K92 does demolish a lot of the cheap brands that sell for similar prices like Skull Candy. But does the K92 offer a sound that’s as impressive as, say, the ATH-M20 or the SR-60e, which are just outside the K92’s price range?
For starters, the noise isolation on the K92 is adequate. While external, ambient noise is not completely blocked out, as you can still hear sounds when no music is playing, the noise reduction is perfectly fine as long as you have music playing at a decent volume. This is important as these are closed-back headphones, which means they prioritize noise isolation over characteristics associated with sound quality, like soundstage or imaging.
And how is the K92’s soundstage? It’s okay. Again, these are budget headphones, and that must always be taken into account when trying to compare different headphones, otherwise the only pair anyone would ever recommend in any situation would be the Sennheiser Orpheus. So compared to unknown brands one might find in a department store or HMV, the K92 will give the listener a taste of what the phenomenon of soundstage is like. You will be able to slightly detect different instruments coming from different directions. However, soundstage is a quality best experienced via open back headphones, and as such it is still quite limited on this pair.
It also isn’t the most suitable pair for being an all-rounder on the frequency spectrum. It manages to portray mids perfectly fine. Bass is mostly good and gives a noticeable vibration of a punch to low end frequencies without succumbing to any irritating hissing or buzzing like some cheap headphones do on strong low end frequencies. Vocals and voices in general are not too great, as they are often a bit too drowned out by other instruments. This won’t be a problem if you mainly listen to instrumental music. Having a music player with decent equalizer settings will be ideal if you purchase the K92s.
The treble is fairly weak, regardless of what genre of music is played. A brand like Grado is well known for having cheaper pairs with great treble, which is good news for fans of rock or metal. The K92s seem to be better suited for genres such as hip hop, rap, electronic, and various styles of pop that don’t take advantage of the entire scale of frequencies.
Who should buy these headphones?
While these cans fall short in some ares, it must be said that they are much better than your typical sub-$100 headphones. If you are on a very tight budget and are only used to something like Apple earbuds, the AKG K92 will satisfy your needs. However, if you’re already used to something that is in a higher price range or are simply willing to spend twice the amount of money, you’d be better off with some of the other items previously mentioned in this review. They’ll also work perfectly fine if movies, television or gaming is what you mainly will use them for.
The AKG K92 are a solid effort at delivering a value product for its price range and certainly are the better decision compared to many other cheap brands. Despite its flubs, its a reasonable entry into the ever growing list of gateway headphones that help introduce more people to the world of high definition audio.Check Current Price on Amazon