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August 26, 2019
Coiled and straight cables: 3m cable
Straight cable: 1.2m cable (straight)
It’s normal to see reference audio headphones retail for hundreds of dollars, but AKG brings high-fidelity audio to the modern man with the AKG K371. These headphones stand out with their comfortable build, pleasant sound quality, and DJ-friendly ear cups. We spent over a week with the AKG K371 and find them some of the best over-ear headphones under $200.
Editor’s note: this AKG K371 review was updated on September 6, 2023, to update the charts and to add the Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X as an alternative.
Audio engineers should consider the K371 for their pleasant sound, portable design, and extreme comfort. The fit makes it easy to wear for hours at a time, which is necessary for those late-night editing sessions. Podcasters can also use the K371 to mix their episodes thanks to the consistent midrange response reproduced by the 50mm dynamic drivers.
What’s it like to use the AKG K371?
These are some of AKG’s middle-tier professional headphones, but don’t let the reasonable price fool you: performance is great. Both ear cups allow for 180 degrees of rotation, so you can articulate either ear cup as needed to hear surrounding noise — a must-have feature for DJs and sound mixers alike.
A metal bracket extends from the headband and holsters an AKG-branded adjustment piece which is, unfortunately, plastic. The K371 prove sturdy nonetheless and can withstand careless tosses into a crowded book bag. The ear cups feature soft memory foam ear pads that fully encompass the ear.
Both ear cups feature a refined plastic and are differentiated only by the mini-XLR input on the left side. There’s a small, flat divot in the otherwise circular input to lock the cable into place. AKG provides three cables ranging in length and design: a 4-foot straight cable, a 10-foot straight cable, and a coiled cable, along with a 1/4-inch adapter — all of which terminate with 3.5mm TRS plugs.
Among those provisions is a drawstring bag lined in a soft material to prevent scuffing. Although it’s nice to have a storage pouch for the cables, it doesn’t provide much protection to the headset.
For over-ear headphones, the AKG K371 are quite portable and compact into a shape similar to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, but AKG’s headphones are lighter and less cumbersome. They don’t compare to the portability of true wireless earbuds or even on-ear headphones, but the K371 affords better sound quality than the former and greater comfort than the latter.
How do you connect the AKG K371?
These wired headphones only have one way to connect to a source: by wire. In some senses, wired audio isn’t as convenient as Bluetooth playback, but plug-and-play wired headphones still appeal to many. Plus, if you have a library of lossless FLAC audio files or subscribe to services like Amazon Music or Tidal, the wired AKG K371 will reproduce your songs at full resolution.
How well do the AKG K371 block out sound?
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Isolation is okay with the K371 as the ear pads aren’t very dense, and the clamping force is light. However, the return on this shortcoming are uncommonly comfortable headphones you can wear all day. You may hear external noise, which could degrade sound quality unless you’re in a quiet place. Closed-back headphones are great at blocking out the high end, but not so great at blocking out low-frequency noise. Fortunately, the ear pads are removable, so if this bothers you, pick up a pair of third-party ear pads.
How do the AKG K371 sound?
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The AKG K371 frequency response closely follows our headphone preference curve. Sub-bass notes below 80Hz are slightly louder than the midrange, resulting in a frequency response we’re confident most people will like. The headphones reproduce all genres well, from heavy metal to rap and acoustic music.
The frequency response chart illustrates ever-so-slight midrange under-emphasis, but that’s pretty typical of modern headphones. This means you can register low notes that might otherwise escape your auditory perception. The crests and valleys in the treble range sound quite natural, since this mimics how we normally hear the world around us. We’ve observed similar frequency responses from various Sennheiser products, too.
Lows, mids, and highs
UPSAHL’s song Drugs sounds great with the K371: bass notes are easy to hear while Taylor Upsahl’s vocals remain clear during each verse. More impressive, vocals remain distinct during the din of the outro. Skip ahead to 2:30, Upsahl echoes the word “drugs” higher than her usual pitch. This is hard to discern with bass-heavy headsets like Beats but comes through surprisingly clearly with the K371 even when surrounded by synth noises, a kick drum, and her lead vocals.
These cans have their weaknesses because clarity isn’t as pronounced as you might get from more affordable open-back headphones like the Grado SR80x. If you’re looking for pristine audio reproduction and don’t mind the limitations of open-back headphones, you may want to look into something like the Beyerdynamic DT 880 PRO, Massdrop x Sennheiser HD 58X Jubilee, or Monoprice Monolith AMT.
Should you buy the AKG K371?
Yes, the AKG K371 provide a fabulous bang for your buck. Anyone interested in a versatile frequency response should consider this. Now that the K371 have been on the market for a couple of years, you can frequently find them on sale for an even better value. Sure, there are headphones with even “flatter” frequency responses but, again, that requires a more forgiving budget and potentially more hardware like an amplifier. The AKG K371 aren’t perfect but, boy, are they close.
The AKG K371 headphones are very similar to the AKG K361 model ($119 at Amazon). The K371 have titanium-coated drivers and a greater frequency response extending from 5Hz-40kHz compared to the K361’s 15Hz-28kHz frequency response. Both units extend well beyond what the typical adult ear can perceive, so a more palpable difference is in weight.
The AKG K361 weigh 219g, making them lighter than the 255g AKG K371. This is because the latter has more metal-reinforced components, making them more durable. If you’re on a tight budget, the AKG K361 are a more sensible pick as they’re $70 cheaper than the K371 headphones.
How do the AKG K371 compare to other headphones?
The AKG K371 hold up well against their main competitors, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x ($169 at Amazon) and Sennheiser HD 559. Additionally, they make a compelling case against the longtime industry stalwart, the Sony MDR-V6 variants ($79 at Sweetwater).
Audio-Technica’s headphones have a more industrial appearance and use circular, rather than elliptical ear cups. Both headsets have 50mm dynamic drivers, yet the ATH-M50x has a more consumer-friendly sound in the bass and upper-midrange shaping. Isolation is slightly better with the K371, but neither is stellar for blocking out the sounds of your daily commute and work. Unlike the AKG K371, the M50x rotate to lay flat against a surface but lack the ear cup articulation that lets you feel like a DJ. Both A-T and AKG’s headphones come in Bluetooth variants: Audio-Technica ATH-M50xBT2 ($198 at Amazon) and AKG K371 BT ($214.99 at Amazon).
The Sennheiser HD 559 (on the product’s website) have oval-shaped ear cups and a different style than the K371. The former appear slightly more mature and slightly less modern, but both remain attractive headsets. Again, you’re not going to find the same neutral-leaning sound with the HD 569 compared to the AKG K371: bass notes are emphasized. The Sennheiser headset aren’t very portable because the ear cups don’t rotate or fold up toward the headband. They are, though, nearly as comfortable with glasses.
If you can pony up the cash, the Beyerdynamic DT 700 PRO X are a well made, metal alternative, suitable for at-home use or monitoring audio. They’re chunkier and more costly ($249 at Sweetwater) but, they’re nice with velour ear pads.
Frequently asked questions about the AKG K371
The K371 are very comfortable to wear with glasses. The slow-retention foam is a pleasure and doesn’t place too much pressure on the temples. The headphones evenly distribute pressure across the adjustable headband to prevent hot spots. Finding a proper seal on the first try is tricky, but that’s generally the case for those with imperfect vision.
You can get a replacement mini XLR cable for the AKG K371 headphones at the usual suspects.
If you need extra portability, the Bluetooth version will serve you well. It operates via Bluetooth 5.0 firmware and supplies 40 hours of playback on a single charge. Oddly, they don’t support aptX, just AAC and SBC. This means Android users won’t benefit from reliable high-quality wireless streaming, but iOS users will. That said, when you’re doing serious mixing, you’ll likely opt for wired listening anyway. You can take hands-free calls with the AKG K371 BT ($214.99 at Amazon) built-in microphone.