It’s normal to see a reference audio headset retail for hundreds of dollars, but AKG brings high-fidelity audio to the modern man with the AKG K371. This is a standout set of headphones with its comfortable build, pleasant sound quality, and DJ-friendly ear cups. Without further delay, here’s why the AKG K371 is one of among the best sub-$150 USD headsets.
Editor’s note: this AKG K371 review was updated on September 22, 2021, to update the frequency response chart to match the current SoundGuys Consumer Curve and add technical information.
Who should get the AKG K371?
- Audio engineers should consider the K371 for its 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 will be able to accurately mix their episodes thanks to the accurate midrange response reproduced by the 50mm dynamic drivers.
- Anyone with glasses knows how hard it is to find a comfortable pair of headphones. I’ve given up for the most part and instead use earbuds, but the K371 fits snug and secure atop my plastic frames.
What’s it like to use the AKG K371?
This is one of AKG’s middle-tier professional headsets, but don’t let the reasonable price fool you: performance is great. Both ear cups allow for 180° 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.
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A metal bracket extends from the headband and holsters an AKG-branded adjustment piece, which is unfortunately plastic. The K371 proves 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.
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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, 10-foot straight cable, and coiled cable along with a 1/4-inch adapter—all of which terminate with 3.5mm TRRS plugs.
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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.
Is the headset portable?
For over-ear headphones, the AKG K371 is quite portable and compacts into a shape similar to the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x, but AKG’s headset is lighter and and less cumbersome. It doesn’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.
Can you wear the AKG K371 with glasses?
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 headset evenly distributes 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 of us with imperfect vision.
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 the idea of plug-and-play wired headphones still holds its appeal for many. Plus, if you have a library of lossless FLAC audio files or subscribe to services like Amazon Music HD or Tidal, the wired AKG K371 will reproduce your songs at full resolution.
How well does the AKG K371 block out sound?
Isolation is just okay as the earpads aren’t very dense and the clamping force is rather light. However, the return on this shortcoming is an uncommonly comfortable headset that you can wear all day. You may hear some external noise, which could degrade sound quality unless you’re in a quiet place. Fortunately, the ear pads are removable, so if this really bothers you, pick up a pair of third-party ear pads.
How does the AKG K371 sound?
The AKG K371 frequency response (cyan) closely follows our consumer curve (pink), with a slightly quieter output. Sub-bass notes are slightly louder than mids but not so loud as to generate auditory masking. This is a great frequency response that reproduces heavy metal, rap, and acoustic music pleasantly.
The frequency response chart illustrates ever-so-slight midrange under-emphasis, but that’s pretty typical of headphones in this price bracket. While these abnormalities appear wonky, they work well together: you’re able to register unusually low notes that might otherwise escape your auditory perception. The crests and valleys in the treble range (cyan) are strategic and mitigate distracting resonances within the ear canal. 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 own lead vocals.
This headset has its weaknesses because clarity isn’t as pronounced as you’d expect from more affordable open-back headphones like the Grado SR80e. While the open-back headset might sound better than AKG’s it’s not as portable. 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 565.
Should you buy the AKG K371?
Yes, the AKG K371 provides a fabulous bang for your buck. Anyone interested in a versatile frequency response should consider this. Now that the K371 has been on the market for a couple of years, you can frequently find it on sale for an even better value. Sure, there are headsets with even “flatter” frequency responses but, again, that requires a more forgiving budget and potentially more hardware like an amplifier. The AKG K371 isn’t perfect but, boy, is it close.
How does the AKG K371 compare to other headphones?
The AKG K371 holds up rather well against its main competitors, the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x and Sennheiser HD 569/598 CS. Additionally, it makes a compelling case against the longtime industry stalwart, the Sony MDR-V6 variants.
Audio-Technica’s headphones have a more industrial appearance and use circular, rather than oblong ear cups. Both headsets have 50mm dynamic drivers, yet the ATH-M50x has a much more consumer-friendly sound: bass and upper-midrange frequencies are amplified more and can introduce some auditory masking. Isolation is slightly better with the K371, but neither is stellar for blocking out the sounds of your daily commute. Unlike the AKG K371, the M50x rotates to lay flat against a surface but lacks the ear cup articulation that lets you feel like a DJ.
The AKG K371 headphones have one of the best frequency responses in this price range.
The Sennheiser 569 has oval-shaped ear cups and a different style than the K371. The former appears 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 isn’t very portable, because the ear cups don’t rotate or fold up toward the headband. It is, though, nearly as comfortable with glasses.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can get a replacement mini XLR cable for the AKG K371 headphones on Amazon; this model also includes a 1/4" adapter.
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, it doesn'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 built-in microphone. However, as of March 25, 2020, the Bluetooth version isn't available through Prime. You have to spend nearly $20 on shipping. The versatility may or may not be worth the extra cost depending on what you prioritize.
The AKG K371 headphones are very similar to the AKG K361 model. The K371 has 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 is able to perceive, so a more palpable difference is in weight. The AKG K361 wired headset is 219g, making it lighter than the 255g AKG K371. This is because the latter has more metal-reinforced components that make it more durable. If you're on a tight budget, the AKG K361 is a more sensible pick as its $70 cheaper than the K371 headphones.