When I hear the terms “professional”, “monitor” or “studio” headphones, I usually imagine models where the main focus is on technical and operational characteristics rather than, for example, design. At the same time, the well-known Austrian company AKG , which produces various high-end audio equipment, tries to combine professionalism and style in some of its products.
Even earlier, overhead, closed AKG K175 headphones were released – headphones for real-time monitoring and mixing. This model also features a neat and discreet design. I note that today the choice of models for working with sound is quite wide and depends, rather, on the personal requirements of the sound engineers themselves. Since I am not engaged in professional sound, I do not undertake to think about the correspondence of K175 to the studio segment. Therefore, in this review, I will rate the K175 as headphones for listening to music.
- Construction type: closed;
- Driver type: dynamic (40 mm);
- Resistance: 32 Ohm;
- Sensitivity: 114 dB;
- Frequency range: 18-26000 Hz;
- Removable cable, twisted, plug (3.5 mm) straight gold-plated;
- Weight: 250g
The AKG K175 headphones come in a thick cardboard box, which is much larger than the headphones themselves. The box is quite informative. In addition to the main photo, the name of the model and its purpose on the title part of the package, all other faces also contain this or that information: technical specifications, description of ergonomic features, etc.
Non-lyrical digression. On the packaging of the AKG K175 headphones, I first saw a sticker with a scary inscription that made me think. It was a warning about the risk of cancer and the impact on the reproductive system. Agree, for headphones somehow unexpectedly. So I decided to find out what it all refers to. This scary sticker had a web link to the California Office for Environmental Health Risk Assessment. This organization, according to some 65th Regulation, requires companies to indicate in their products substances that can adversely affect human health. Now the theoretical part has become clear to me, but the main question – where are the headphones (?!) left here.
Intuitively, I understood that, probably, one of the components of the headphones was made of harmful material, but what exactly and how much he was in contact with a person was still not clear. A search on the website of the organization mentioned above turned up nothing. Then I carefully began to examine the documents enclosed in the box. And I found the answer! It turned out that the internal connector for connecting the cable to the headphones contains … lead. This is reassuring, since the connector does not come into contact with a person in any way, and lead, first of all, is dangerous in a volatile state, which cannot be achieved during normal use of headphones.
Inside the box, the headphones are placed on a cardboard tray with a separate triangular insert between the cups. Although it is not foam protection, the fixation of the headphones in the middle of the package is reliable.
The kit includes a twisted cable with a miniXLR connector for connecting to headphones and a straight 3.5 mm plug for connecting to an audio source. Separately, there is an adapter on the thread from 3.5 to 6.4 mm. The plug and adapter are gold-plated. AKG claims that a twisted cable is capable of stretching up to 5 m. I don’t know, I don’t know … The cable in the unstretched state is about 130–140 cm long and during testing it was possible to stretch it somewhere up to 3 meters (standard for a number of twisted cables) . Further stretching already looked dangerous, with the possibility of damaging the cable itself. If you need a length exclusively up to 5 m, then it is better to check this beforehand. The cable is a little stiff, which sometimes causes a microphone effect.
A soft case is also included in the kit – the structure of the material resembles velor, and the case itself is on a locking puff. That is, the kit has everything you need – a replaceable cable, an adapter and a case.
Design and ergonomics
The appearance of audio devices is, of course, a subjective thing. But for me, the design of the AKG K175 turned out to be one of the most stylish and seasoned in its price range among professional studio headphones . The main color is black, the company’s logos are applied on the cups and headband in silver paint. The cups are small, the ear cushions are made of eco-leather, soft and with foam. Inside, on the fabric that covers the speakers, large letters R and L are applied to indicate channels. The outer surface of the bowls is made of a matte plastic that is pleasant to the touch and does not collect fingerprints. Both the right and left ear cups can be placed horizontally and fold inward (towards the headband), making the headphones compact and conveniently hidden in a case.
Clip-on cable connects securely to left earcup. The headband has an automatic adjustment mechanism similar to the full size Meze 99 . AKG K175 are on- ear headphones , but they covered my ears completely and the passive noise isolation of the model is at a high level. The described features have a positive effect on ergonomics. The whole design of the headphones is not massive, neat and comfortable for me. The earphones fit well on the head and do not fall off when worn.
As I already mentioned, AKG K175 are professional studio headphones. The box says that together with the AKG K175 we expect a well-balanced sound. Now it remains to test it in practice.
Let me first talk about the sources. Specifications AKG K175 (resistance and sensitivity) look quite friendly to low-power sources. At the same time, it is better to use something more powerful with headphones – it is in such a bundle that the sound acquires density. Since the headphones are intended for studio equipment, the main description of the sound is made in conjunction with the FiiO K5Pro desktop DAC / amplifier.
Headphones with closed acoustic design and the size of the stage does not differ in its width, but has a good depth. The music is delivered in a collected and purposeful way, helping to concentrate on the sound.
In some AKG models, the amount of bass is clearly not enough for me. So the AKG K175 is fine with this part of the range. The bass is heard everywhere and sounds quite dynamic. It is not fast, well controlled and is able to give a noticeable impact. Bass plays naturally and realistically.
I did not notice any micro-detailing, sometimes necessary for studio headphones, in the K175. MF are served in full, holistically and pleasantly. Vocals are transmitted naturally and convincingly. Sometimes female vocals may lack lightness and length. The sound is not devoid of emotionality, which is definitely a positive thing for listening to music.
AKG K175 is not the best model for monitoring and analyzing high frequencies. HF is not inherent in a special lightness, airiness or length. I would say that their smooth and melodic presentation is preferred. However, the treble fits seamlessly into the overall sound concept of the K175, which makes this model interesting for anyone who is sensitive to high frequencies.
In this price range, AKG has a model K171 MKII relating to the professional segment. These headphones are more massive than the K175 and differ greatly in sound delivery. The stage width of the K171 MKII is superior to that of the K175, although it lacks depth. The K171 MKII has a lot more high frequencies, a very small amount of bass. All this will influence the choice of K171 MKII, since the headphones can hardly be called universal, and for listening to music they are not suitable for everyone.
Another well-known Sennheiser HD 25 model belongs to the bill of lading designed for professional monitoring. In my opinion, the HD 25 is inferior in design to the K175, but the ability to replace all the main components in the HD 25 adds to their practicality and durability. Sound-wise, the HD 25s are more V-shaped, with an emphasis on bass and treble, which some might find a bit harsh. Compared to the HD 25, the K175’s sound is quieter, less bright and less emotional.
AKG K175 turned out to be quite an interesting model, combining professional purpose and stylish appearance. As an on-ear model, the headphones have a detachable cable with a miniXLR connector, a folding design, and a comfortable fit. In terms of sound, the K175 turned out to be quite seasoned and balanced. These features can make this model a good choice for listening to music both stationary and mobile.
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