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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Worth Searching For!
AKG K702 65th Anniversary
Studio/Audiophile Headphone Review

“Special Edition Ensures Accuracy, Comfy Fit” 

Price: $649
Likes: very accurate, comfy
Dislikes: limited production
More info:  AKG K702 65th

by John Gatski

  For nearly 10 years. I have used either the AKG K701 or K702 as a reference headphone for open, accurate, smooth on-ear monitoring that enables me to hear deep into the mix of audiophile and high-resolution home studio recordings. They have been consistent, aural companions — offering superb sound and are as comfortable as headphones can get.
  Starting out as the K701 on the hi-fi side, the K701 morphed into the K702 series ($400 retail/$349 street) in 2009. An audiophile Q701 Quincy Jones Edition, based on the original K701, also is available from AKG for under $300. The K702 Series and the limited 65th Anniversary, reviewed here, are the pro-oriented versions from the K701 lineage.

  The K702 65th Anniversary edition is a limited version of the K702 with an expected higher price tag ($649 retail/$499 street price); it gets a bit of special treatment with a softer leather headband, and slightly thicker soft foam ear pads. The K702 limited also gets a “Titan” blue/gray finish that adds a bit more class to its already attractive appearance. The K702 has not been around for 65 years, but AKG is offering the headphone and a special edition microphone to celebrate Austria's number one audio company's 65th birthday.
  Like the standard AKG K702, the anniversary edition contains the Varimotion drivers, with flat-wire voice coils. According to AKG, the Varimotion technology improves high-frequency response and imparts a smooth, uncolored bass character.
  The leather headband and adjustable ear cups, combined with the cushy ear pads, make this one comfortable headphone, yet it holds securely around the ears. My Shure SRH1840, another highly recommended open headphone, has a similarly comfortable feel.

  In the audiophile headphone world, they are just as impressive. With 24-bit music, through a Benchmark DAC2-HGC DAC, connected to a Bryston BHA-1 discrete headphone amp, the AKG K702 65th Anniversary's music reproduction was superb.

  Other AKG-supplied features include a detachable 12 ft. cord, terminated with an 1/8th-inch jack; it also comes with an optional, 1/4-inch screw-on adapter. Typical of AKG, the high-impedance (62 ohms) design needs a compatible headphone amp to drive it to louder levels, but most pro and audiophile gear have the boost to do it, including numerous portables, such as my TASCAM DR-100.
  In the studio, the K702 it is a natural for recording and mastering pros. But categories don’t mean much anymore with Internet commerce. Audiophiles also have discovered the K702’s comfy fit, reasonable list price and accurate performance, which make the headphone an ideal mate for high-end headphone amps and hi-res music.
  Other than the slightly softer ear-pads and the more flexible headband, the K702 65th Anniversary is the same, wonderful, headphone listening experience that I receive with my trusty K701 and K702 standard model — a finely focused, accurate midrange, open top end and the welcome lack of low-to-mid-treble boost. And unlike many headphones today that overhype the midbass, the AKG has a nearly perfect blend of low/midbass without the boost. These characteristics make the K702 so much more balanced.

  With this accuracy, the K702 Anniversary (and the standard issue) are ideal for tracking, mastering and mixing for home and commercial recording studios. My 24-bit acoustic guitar and jazz guitar recordings sounded spot-on through my Trident mixer headphone amp, as well as through the latest pro/audiophile DACs from Benchmark and Mytek.
  In the audiophile headphone world, they are just as impressive. With 24-bit music through a Benchmark DAC2-HGC DAC, connected to a Bryston BHA-1 discrete headphone amp, the AKG K702 65th Anniversary's music reproduction was superb with incredible, but not exaggerated, separation. Man, could I hear the expanded sound of 24-bit, acoustic guitar fingerpicking and drum cymbal recordings — made with a set of Audio-Technica AT4051B microphones.

Act quickly
  The AKG K702 Anniversary edition, like its standard-issue K702, is a fantastic, open headphone that works for any high-quality on-ear listening task — from pro engineers to picky audiophiles. If you want the K702 65th Anniversary edition, you better order one now. They are limited to a few thousand units and will soon be out of production. If you can’t find the new one, go for the standard K702 (it is less expensive as well). I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Both models get an Everything Audio Network Stellar Sound Award.

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