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AKG K240 Studio
May 13, 2019
Feb. 2022: $65 USD
110 x 190 x 200 mm
I’m always in search of a headset that’s easy to pick up and hard to put down, and find just that in the AKG K240 Studio. This pair of headphones descends from the original AKG K240, which debuted when bell-bottom jeans and Huckapoo shirts were unironically trendy. While the AKG K240 Studio retains that 1970s nostalgic design, sound quality holds up even today. Let’s see why people still champion this pair of headphones today.
Editor’s note: this AKG K240 Studio review was updated on March 1, 2022, to answer an FAQ about the Audio-Technica ATH-M30x and to include a disclosure box regarding outdated frequency response and isolation charts.
Who should get the AKG K240 Studio?
- Podcasters will benefit from the K240 Studio’s neutral midrange response and will be more or less unaffected by the underwhelming sub-bass.
- Musicians should consider these headphones because of their semi-open design. This is great as it allows you to hear what you’re playing from moment to moment.
- Budget audiophiles and audio engineers may want to get a pair of these ‘phones. Enthusiasts and audio engineers across the globe champion the K240 Studio headphones as being one of the best bang-for-your-buck options on the market.
What’s it like to use the AKG K240 Studio?
The AKG K240 Studio has an all-plastic build from the suspension mechanism to the ear cup exteriors. There are pros and cons to this: it decreases cost while increasing comfort, but it also means it’s less durable than metal-reinforced alternatives like the AKG K371. Seeing how this headset isn’t meant for travel, many listeners give the dubious durability a pass. During the AKG K240 Studio review period, I grew increasingly suspect of headband rails and plastic pivot points.
Start here: Ultimate headphone buying guide
Both ear cups have uniform vents, giving the headset its semi-open status. This gives the AKG K240 Studio a great throwback feel while also serving a function: you hear a more realistic representation of sound and ventilation is better than with closed-back headphones. For those unfamiliar with how open and semi-open headphones work, this goes both ways. Anyone near you will easily hear what you’re listening to. Don’t use this headset in a crowded office or while working in close proximity to your roommates at home.
The AKG K240 Studio has earned its keep as one of the go-to headsets among enthusiasts and professionals.
like the more premium Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X, The left ear cup houses a mini-XLR input. Unlike higher-end headphone models, AKG does not provide an assortment of cables or a protective case. Instead, you’re left to your own devices if the cable frays meaning you can either repair it or buy another when the time comes. The company does, however, include a 1/4-inch adapter to plug the K240 into a guitar amp or audio interface.
Is the AKG K240 Studio portable?
No, do not take these headphones out for a spin on the train: you and everyone around you will have a bad time.
The open-back build is great for listening in quiet, controlled environments, but your music leaks out from the back of the ear cups. If you listen outside or in a loud space, you’ll think this is a bad pair of headphones—which absolutely isn’t the case. Auditory masking is a heck of a phenomenon, though, and the louder sounds of your environment will massively degrade your ability to perceive any musical detail.
Can you wear the AKG K240 Studio with glasses?
The AKG K240 Studio is great for eyewear because of its lightweight build. My initial reaction was that these were to be quite painful with glasses due to the thin earpads, but that’s not the case at all. If you want, you can really splurge by spending $10 on a pair of velvet replacement ear pads.
How do you connect the AKG K240 Studio?
The included mini-XLR to 3.5mm cable feels sturdy because both terminations taper into reinforced stress-relief pieces. Long-term users have voiced otherwise, though, citing that their cables snapped or frayed within just a few months. If this happens, you can always get a replacement or reach out to an AKG rep and see if it’s feeling generous.
Since this is a wired headset, you can take full advantage of lossless audio files like FLAC. This means the AKG K240 Studio is a great, cheap headset for listeners who subscribe to streaming services like Apple Music, Amazon Music HD, and Qobuz.
How well does the AKG K240 Studio block out noise?
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, isolation is largely ineffective with semi-open back headphones like the AKG K240 Studio. This is more a feature of the headset than a detriment to performance, but only if the headset is being used correctly. You get to experience audio much differently than you do with standard closed-back headphones, meaning a realistic perception of space.
Hold up! Something’s different:
This article’s frequency response and isolation charts were measured with our old testing system. We have since purchased a Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test fixture (and the appropriate support equipment) to update our testing and data collection. It will take a while to update our backlog of old test results, but we will update this review (and many others!) once we’re able with improved sound quality measurements, isolation performance plots, and standardized microphone demos. These will be made obvious with our new chart aesthetic (black background instead of white). Each new mic sample begins with the phrase, “This is a SoundGuys standardized microphone demonstration …”
Thank you for bearing with us, and we hope to see you again once we’ve sorted everything out.
Does the AKG K240 Studio sound good?
The AKG K240 Studio’s dynamic drivers accurately replicate frequencies within the 100Hz-1.2kHz range. The headset under-emphasizes sub-bass notes. Anyone coming from Beats headphones may feel the bass is nonexistent, but listeners whose music libraries are laden with instrumental and vocal-heavy tracks will appreciate how bass notes kowtow to mids.
Related: How to read charts
Lows, mids, and highs
The Alabama Shakes’ song Rise to the Sun opens with a light drumroll, sans-crescendo, that’s soon followed by powerful drum hits. Since these hits don’t originate from the actual kick drum (sub-100Hz), they sound loud and clear. Cymbal hits sound slightly “distant” due to the under-emphasis from 3-5kHz but I never strain to hear them.
Brittany Howard’s low-register vocals sound excellent and stand out from the surrounding instrumentation. Harmonizing “Ohs” toward the end of the song (2:03) is hard to discern from the din of the electric guitar and drum hits, though. Clarity is great for a pair of cheap headphones, but it’s even better with the Grado SR80e or Monoprice Monolith 1070C.
Do you have to burn in the AKG K240 Studio headphones?
No, you don’t have to burn in the AKG K2240 Studio or any pair of headphones.
Should you buy the AKG K240 Studio?
The AKG K240 Studio has stood the test of time and will continue to do so because of its excellent sound quality-to-price ratio. AKG knows not to mess with a formula that works, which is why the K240 Studio remains relatively unchanged since its 1970s debut. If you’re looking to stay within an $80 USD budget and want all of that money to go to sound quality, the AKG K240 is the best headset for you.
AKG K240 Studio vs AKG K240 MKII, which is better?
The K240 Studio and K240 MKII are virtually identical, except the AKG K240 MKII has blue accents instead of gold ones. Besides that, the MKII version includes a coiled cable and more comfortable ear pads, which may be important if you listen for hours at a time. Rather than spending an extra $20 USD for a nominal comfort upgrade, you can spend $10 USD for a softer earpad material altogether.
The AKG K240 Studio and K240 MKII use the same drivers and have the same frequency responses.
Both headsets use identical Varimotion 30mm XXL transducers with a 15Hz-40kHz frequency response, making them sound nearly identical. Unless black and blue happens to be your favorite color combo, you’re better off with the AKG K240 Studio headset instead of the AKG K240 MKII.
What should you get instead of the AKG K240 Studio?
The Grado SR80e is a completely open-back headset and rests on your ears, instead of around them. This may prove less comfortable, particularly if you wear glasses. The benefit is they’re more compact and can be stowed away because the ear cups rotate flat. Grado is a well-respected brand among audiophiles, and if you only have $100 to spend, this is a great alternative.
If you want something iconic, the Koss Porta Pro semi-open headset is the only way to go. This stands as one of the most popular vintage options out there with its compact design along with its unique sound quality and style.
But wait, didn’t we say earlier that open-back headphones aren’t good for public use? Yes, glad you’ve been paying attention. Open-back headsets are usually intended for studio use, but the Koss Porta Pro is meant to be transported. The open-back design is advantageous because it allows you to listen to music while remaining aware of your surroundings—think of it as a safety feature.
The Sony MDR-7506 has long been a standard when it comes to audio production and mixing. It won’t bleed sound as much as open-backed headphones, making it great for tracking and recording. These headphones are also much more suitable for travel and portability compared to the AKG K240 Studio. Listeners who want something a tad lighter should consider the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO.
Frequently asked questions about the AKG 240 Studio
The Audio-Technica ATH-M30x directly competes with the K240 Studio, given that both headsets cost around $69 USD. Since the ATH-M30x is a closed-back headset, it reproduces louder bass notes than AKG’s headset. This closed-back design also makes the Audio-Technica headset a better option for commuting, so you can take it out of the house, though it’s a cumbersome thing. Sound quality is very good with either headset, but we do like the removable cable on the AKG K240 Studio, something the ATH-M30x lacks.