AKG K812

Discussion in 'Headphone Measurements' started by purr1n, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    AKG K812 Measurements

    The K812 is AKG's top of the line headphone. My two minute impression: Shrill, ouch. AKG's version of the HD800 HD700 or maybe something in between.
    [​IMG]
    s/n 0021XX

    Also, refer to Inner Fidelity measurements: http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/AKGK812SN001130.pdf which are largely consistent with the measurements here:
    • Small 2.5k peak
    • Higher 6-7 peak
    • Sharp 11k peak
    • Massive bass distortion
    • Distortion spike at 3.5k (Tyll's SN001130 unit seems to have its mid distortion plateau about 1kHz lower)

    AKG K812 Frequency Response and Distortions (Left + Right)
    k812l fr.png
    k812r fr.png

    AKG K812 CSD (Left + Right)
    k812l csd.png

    AKG K812 Impulse Response (Left + Right)
    K812L IR.png
    k812R IR.png
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    AKG K812 Subjective Impressions

    OK here's the deal: how these will sound will be dependent upon the recording. The K812 remind me of the HD700 and K550. Allow me to explain. The K812 has an overall warmth. By that I mean there is a slight broad elevation centered over the high bass area. (I tend to isolate regions when I describe tonal characteristics). However there seems to be shrillness, harshness, a bit of glare, a bit sibilance - a sign of a peak in the lower treble area. Not too unlike the HD800, but it seems higher up and more peaky on the K550K812.

    The K812 is like in HD700 in the sense that with the right recording, it can take on a warmish tone. For example, k.d. Lang's All You Can Eat and Natalie Merchant's Tigerlily, two albums which are on the bassy and laid back side, sound pretty OK on the K812 (see the sp[ectrum analysis below).

    k.d. Lang's All You Can Eat Maybe
    maybe.png

    Natalie Merchant Tigerlily Carnival
    carnival.png

    With the wrong recording (and we are not necessarily talking about bad recordings either because these two I am amount to mention sound perfectly fine on my speakers and other headphones), the K812 can be grating in the treble. Examples of such "wrong" recordings are Talking Heads (200X? remaster) Naive Melody and Cassadee Pope's Not Over You.

    Talking Heads Speaking in Tongues (remaster) Naive Melody
    naive.png

    Cassadee Pope Not Over You
    notoveryou.png

    Is the K812 as nasty as the HD700 when things are off? No, but the K812 can certainly be "difficult". I can also see lots of other folks not having an issue with the K812 because the broad high bass elevation can help mask the treble irregularities.

    I've attached some screenshots of the spectrum analyzer when the snare drum hits on these tracks. The exception would be the Not Over You recording which was snapshot of a harmonic of Ms. Pope's voice. Note that on the two recordings which work well with the K812 (k.d lang and N. Merchant), the lower treble region around 7-8k is 5-10db more laid back than the tracks that don't (C. Pope and Talking Heads)

    The K812 is like the K550 in the sense that it has the same kind of timbre and soft bass of the K550. It's sort of like an open K550, but with better technicalities in terms of resolving ability. Sadly, I don't think it offers that much more clarity.

    BTW, the K812 can be a great classical headphone for typical classical recordings (which as LFF has opined, tend to be too mid-centric).

    See the spectrum analysis for Beethovens #6 when most of the instruments in the orchestra are blaring (see below). In fact, the bass warmth and elevated peaky lower treble actually enhances many classical recordings.
    beet6.png

    VERDICT:

    Rather unimpressive for such an expensive headphone. Save your money.
    • Lower treble spikes limit use of recordings. Treble seems to get worse when turning up the volume.
    • Warmish high bass can be either good for bad.
    • Soft spongy bass lacking articulation or impact compared to the best (a symptom of high distortion).
    • Lacks ability to resolve micro-details from the best amps/DACs.
    NOTE: There is some anecdotal evidence that some units may be brighter or more shrill sounding than others. This would not be surprising because AKG has suffered severe inconsistencies with other headphones in their lineup like the K550.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2015
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Q&A

    No - they don't have that plasticky timbre of the K701. And I know exactly what you mean. K812 timbre is more like K550. As a side note: the K701's credit, I have found that the K701 can sound quite good when EQ'd though.

    The harmonic distortion spike of the K812 at 3.5K (the 2nd harmonic which corresponds to the 7 peak) is problematic. We can EQ the K812 FR irregularities (which is linear distortion). Unfortunately, non-linear distortion (harmonic) cannot be corrected for with EQ.

    I think part of it is that I'm being hypercritical these days in terms of tonal balance. Given that my current crop of headphones are the Joe Magnum (which I also use EQ), the Abyss (modded), Paradox, HE-500 w/ jerg pads (and no - none of them sound the same) - and considering my two recent speaker projects, I've probably developed a very narrow range of tolerance for what I consider proper tonal balance. If there are any spikes/peaks I can stand, they absolutely need to be in the 9-11k region, and no more a than 3-4db elevation from what's just below it - a smooth transition. You also have to remember that I went to the extent of modding the Abyss which all other owners find just fine.

    In the context of the treble "issues" of the K812, I don't want to run into another situation where I can only bear to listen to 60% of of what I have (as with any stock HD800, Maxvla's excepted). It's not like I'm screaming in pain with the recordings which don't work well with the K812, just that these recordings do tend to wear on me after several songs. And no, at this point in my "headphone journey", I'm not interested in continued forced listening to the K812 to accustom my ears to their peculiarities in the treble. I'm too jaded, I've lost all patience.

    All that being said, JRMC just moved to the next playlist track "Clapton Chronicles, It's In The Way That You Use It", and I'm like going "WTF is up with that snare and even with the higher registers of Mr. Clapton's voice." Again, I just don't want to deal with this sh1t anymore, especially from a "TOTL" headphone.

    And as I mentioned, the K812 starts to fall apart in the treble at higher volumes. I do know that I tend to listen louder than most people (but still not as loud as @OJneg ) So this could definitely be another factor. I also have a tendency (probably a bad one, again probably rediscovered from my recent resumption in speaker projects) to isolate bands (bass, mids, upper mids, treble) and listen for any issues. On a mental level, I'm not going to let the warm bass mask the treble issues.

    To me, in terms of technicalities (resolution), this headphone seems to lie somewhere between the K550 and HD800; but more toward the HD800.That's pretty good, but still not good enough for $1499. Especially since it doesn't sound as clean as the other flagships.

    If you asked me how I felt about them, I would squint my eyes and say "Well, they're OK. Some issues. I don't I think I can use them, but I think a lot of people would think they were pretty good." That's not TOTL. And no, the K812 is not nearly as bad as the HD700. The HD700 is very much a piece of sh1t; at least the three I've heard.

    Oh no, the K812 treble is not anywhere as bad as the HD700 or K550 (bad sample). With those two headphones, the treble could be painful - "razors". However, I do find the K812 treble difficult to deal with after 5-10 minutes with more marginal recordings which otherwise perform fine on better behaved headphones.
    As far as the [​IMG] assessment . I'm sticking with that. $1499 or whatever AKG is charging in unacceptable for that kind of performance (or product variation if such is the case.) This should be a $399 headphone, and even then AKG could still make money. If anything HF has done for the "community", it's to help escalate prices to completely absurd levels. I simply consider headphones like the HE-500+jerg pads and Slants to be better for far less money.

    High-end smartphones like the iPhone have gotten slightly cheaper with more processing power, better responsiveness, better screens, etc. Headphones seem to have quadrupled in price with the same ol' same ol' (some things better, some things worse).

    UPDATE: My initial listens were on the ECZD (with the older soybean caps, slightly tweaked, etc.). Just tried the K812 out with the ECP Black Diamond. The K812's treble is even more difficult. (This is not the fault of the ECP, the ECP is the simply the more honest amp and hardly one I would call strident or analytical).
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2016
  4. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    So here is my take on 'em:

    Sound

    I really like the bass these phones produce. I feel the low notes got more presence and overall better than my HD600s. The midrange was good. No obvious wonky stuff. The problem area for me is the upper mids and lower treble. It can be fairly glaring indeed. A quickie youboob Alizee track sort of brought that up to me:



    On the HD600 it's not too bad. On the AKG812 it can be a little painful. Tamborine recordings are perhaps best avoided when rocking with these cans. Other than that I liked what I heard. Wojciech Kilar's "Love Song For A Vampire" (and many others) was plenty nice w the AKGs.

    Comfort

    The metalish frame maybe a bit heavier than most other stuff I got here and there, but not too bad.

    Presentation

    They look really nice.

    Price

    Price sucks.

    Overall

    Fixing the high mids and lower treble issue would yield a Not sh1t thumbs up... but the price would still suck.

    Measurements

    Frequency Response
    akg812_fr.jpg

    CSD Left
    akg812_left_csd.jpg

    CSD Right
    akg812_right_csd.jpg

    Distortion Left
    akg812_left_distortion.jpg

    Distortion Right
    akg812_right_distortion.jpg
     
  5. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Yup, EQ can help with some problems.

    So here are the distortion results for 100 dB case with the AKG812s and HD600s

    AKG K812 Distortion 100db
    akg812_right_distortion_100db.jpg

    HD600 Distortion 100db
    hd600_distortion_right_100db.jpg

    It seems the AKG812 have cleaner upper bass. The HD600 seem to have cleaner high mids and treble. While the AKG seems to have a tad more presence (< 5dB) in the 4.5 to 12 kHz region in my rig, both cans seem to be tuned similarly.
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    OK following up on that comparing the "technicalities" of the K812 and the HD600. I had Ultrabike bring his HD600 over tonight. Will be succinct:
    • HD600 bass is more muddy than K812. HD600 bass sounds slower.
    • K812 has lower bass extension.
    • K812 does sound soft and compressed. HD600 hits harder and with more impact. Better attacks and less compression with the HD600.
    • HD600 resolves plankton way way better than K812. This isn't even funny. The K812 simply drops off huge amounts of low level information in tracks such as the Eagles Live Hotel CA, Pixies Brick is Red. Pretty much on every track, little details such as string decay, ambient cues, tape noise, etc. All gone on the K812.
    So in summary, the K812 (at least this one) has worse frequency response than the HD600, does not resolve microdetail as well as the HD600, sounds more compressed than the HD600, but has faster sounding and more extended bass than the HD600. Sounds like a mid-fi headphone to me worth no more than $350.

    Let's keep in mind that most people still do not recognize what a good headphone the HD600 truly is.

    P.S. K812 stage is wider than HD600 with a sometimes hole in the middle effect. The HD600 stage is more compact with without any gaps and good center imaging. Depth is rather poor on both headphones.
     
  7. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Dunno. Marv had a good "Hotel California" recording playing to test plankton (background, detail, and ambiance) retrieval. This particular K812 went blank on some of the more critical sections of the track, while the particular HD600 did a fairly good job. It could be the somewhat rougher treble FR of the AKGs, their somewhat higher nonlinear distortion in the lower treble, the current global warming situation, or all of the above, but it certainly felt like this particular AKG struggled with microdetail.

    Bass is IMO more extended and cleaner on the K812 though.

    I have a somewhat narrow head, so no comfy problems with neither set of cans.

    I suppose one could feed really old jazz and some old 50s to 60s music and things might be fine with the 812 ... since there is no significant treble on those. Modern jazz is out of the question.

    Poorly recorded music tend to offend faster on offending headphones (depending on the issues). It may take longer otherwise to properly asses an overpriced POS like this (maybe not a POS if it was like $150). The treble issues with well recorded music would eventually have me storing these somewhere in the garage until sold.

    Maybe you missed this, but I also heard the 812s against the 600s using a well mastered version of the "Hotel California" by the Eagles and others at Marv's before he released his impressions:

    http://www.changstar.com/index.php/topic,1482.msg39467.html#msg39467

    http://www.changstar.com/index.php/topic,1482.msg39470.html#msg39470

    The 600 in that comparo was mine BTW.

    Indeed, detail retrieval was abysmal.

    ... and I like Alizee's song, though IMO she can't sing live and the mastering of her song is awful. Such is life.
     
  8. Colgin

    Colgin Friend

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    I finally had the opportunity to listen briefly to the AKG K812. I own the Q701 and generally like the AKG sound so was interested to finally hear these.I work near the Harman Kardon "flagship" store in NYC. Unfortunately, this store did not have available for demo their "flagship" headphones for at least 6 weeks since I had first stopped by hoping to listen to them. The other week they finally had them in and one of the salespeople invited me over. All I had for a source was my Iphone 5s, but at least it had my personal test tracks albeit in compressed format. I asked if they could hook that up to an amp. The one salesperson said he could plug my Iphone into one of the H-K amps they had. He was clearly having some difficulty with this and finally another salesperson said "Oh, you can just use your phone; they will work fine." I didn't want to force the issue and was, in fact, interested in how they sounded out of a phone, but would have also like to hear them amped as well.

    I generally liked what I heard on my brief listen. They did not seem particularly neutral to me, but that did not seem to necessarily be a bad thing. They definitely had way more bass than my Q701, to the point that I think they went from an underemphasis to an overemphasis. Not that I didn't like it, but it just didn't seem neutral to me. The salesperson said they were going for more of "fun" sound with these as opposed to the "classic" K/Q7xx line. While I don't think he really knew much of anything I did personally agree that it seemed like a more fun sound, which surprised me because I thought they were trying to go for a higher (and higher-priced) reference sound. In that respect though, I did see how maybe what they were trying to do was have a sort of HD800 sound with a little more warmth and less demands made with respect to upstream gear. I know from actual experience that the HD800 is pretty unlistenable from a smartphone. But my impression with the 812 is that while it would probably scale somewhat I was getting a decent enough sense of what these cans were about just from my phone.

    The K/Q7xx line have a wide soundstage but it pretty much goes from far left to far right. I like it, but understand that others feel this is not natural. The K812 also had a very big soundstage but was very different. The best I could come up with was it was if I was wearing a large space helmet and the sound was being piped into the helmet and the sound was kind of all around me in a sort of globe shape around my head. Certainly a different and impressive (in the sense of making an impression, but not necessarily good) presentation. I am not sure if over time I would really dig it or just find it weird or fatiguing. But in my 20 minute or so listen I quite enjoyed the soundstage.

    I did try a bunch of different tracks in different genres. I was surprised that I did not find the treble exceedingly bright even on test tracks that I find somewhat painful on my Q701. Given what I had read I thought some tracks would be unlistenable but I did not find that to be the case. Sonny Rollins' St. Thomas, one of his great tunes, is hard to listen to on the Q701, but did not bother me on the K812. Now maybe it had to do with the weak amping of my phone. Or maybe the increased bass let me listen at a lower volume so any bright treble was less noticeable. I didn't notice any distortion that others have noted, but I am probably not sophisticated enough in these things to pick up on it unless really egregious.

    Comfort for me was less good than the Q701. I really like the auto-adjust on those and they fit my head really well. The K812 seemed a little loose and unsecure even on the tightest setting, and I don't feel like I have the smallest head either. Now, I was standing in a store. Perhaps, sitting in my home this would be a non-issue. And of course these are significantly heavier than my 701s.

    Overall, I enjoyed my short listen. As much of an AKG fan as I am though I think I would have a hard time paying $1,500 for these. The store said I could purchase and have a no questions asked 30-day return if I was unsatisfied. But I would not feel good about that unless I was really serious. At $1,000 +/- I might have as I could see these as potentially being a worthwhile upgrade from my Q701 in that they still have the same large (but different) soundstage, while adding the warmth that was lacking in the Q701 (and which for certain genres was not a problem, but for others is).

    Granted, I had a very short listen under very compromised conditions (see my prior post above), but really don't think the word "lifeless" applies to the sound. In fact, although there are undoubtedly main fair criticisms that have been leveled in this thread against the K812, I would be surprised if even the detractors thought it was "lifeless". IMO, the AKG K812 are designed to have a bit of a fun sound signature with both elevated bass and treble. The soundstage is wide, albeit kind of funky and may not be to everyone's tastes (I did not listen long enough to come to a firm conclusion for myself). To me those factors definitely make it lively. In contrast, I could see someone saying the very analytical K/Q7xx series is "liefeless", although I do not feel that way at all about my Q701. But the K812 is very different.

    My impression in this thread is that with the possible exception of Mike, who seems to think the excessive treble is eardrum piercing, the detractors think the K812 falls short in too many areas for the lofty price of $1,499 and might be considered decent to good at a lower price point. I do not want to speak for others so if people think this is a lifeless can then feel free to say so. But that characterization would greatly surprise me based on my short listen. But I can get not liking the sound signature and/or thinking these are way overpriced for a variety of reasons.

    Any particular tracks that people think exemplify the flaws in the AKG K812. Frankly, I am just not having the treble issues that some clearly are, but it could be a musical selection issue. I did listen to some of the tracks Tyll mentioned in his review as problematic and with the possible exception of the Pinback track (and even that was not too problematic for me) did not have issues. Keep in mind that I do not have a highly resolving DAC or amp so that may be actually benefiting me. I may perhaps also listen lower than others, although I don't think I listen as low as I probably should be doing. All in all so far I am hearing improvement in soundstage over my AKG Q701 and a much more balanced sound with smoother treble. For example, the great Somny Rollins track St. Thomas I find almost unlistenable on my Q701 due to piercing treble but it was fine and enjoyable on the K812.

    Also, Amber Rubarth track "Novocaine" which is a binauraltrack I like to use for soundstage testing can be painful on the vocals on any of number of cans, but played very nicely with the K812 much to my surprise given what I had read in advance.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 1, 2016
  9. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Received my K812 Last tuesday, gave them a few minutes of listening . I'm back to my headphone rig today , so I'm able to give more listening time ( 2 hours) to this K812 against my HD800 - Metrum Octave , Sonett Rig

    Currently Using some Classical, Tech House, Funk-Jazz and Folks/singers

    - Definitely Rough Treble. Not too bothersome for people who are not too sensitive in this area. I could easily live with that treble personaly. It Reminds me the best Ultrasone Trebles [​IMG] but the issue is obvious to my ears. especially with strings.
    - Something "Boomy"/ not clean enough in the Bass Area. More Noticeable with a Fiio X3 and Less with the Sonett. Despites specs, I think those headphones need a serious amp to control better bot bass and treble. HD800 bass is tighter but On some recordings it seems my HD800 give more bass quantity and sometimes less.
    - Good overall Balance. A bit less bright than my (unmodded) HD800. This AKG tends to me very slightly Fun/V-shaped.
    - The Soundstage is good . it shares some similarities with the HD800 as Marvey pointed before. Need more headtime to identify more precisely
    - Lacks of Dynamics IMO. it sounds a bit soft/polite while a HD800 sucks me more in the Music. A kind of AKG Home Sound
    - Extremely comfortable headphone but the clamp is too loose for my tastes.

    Overally. I Like this Headphone way better than a Beyerdynamic T1 for example although I definitely think that the Beyer does many things better ( Soundstage precision, layering, dynamics, energy/impact) I could definitely live with it but I'm maybe not as picky as other pyrates [​IMG]

    I'll see if my mind change in the next weeks. the final buyer waits the headphone.

    Someone else concludes like me to the lack of dynamics of this K812 ? Someone did try it on different amps ?

    It seems I need to crank up the volume all the time to try to find enjoyment and then the only thing I find is treble harshness. I'm currently listenin to Chick Corea's "the Vigil" and cymbals make me cringe a bit

    Despite Bass and treble issues , the K812 is enjoyable but a bit boring/Too polite? . Nothing terribly wrong ( apart maybe those treble issues) but nothing really impressive . Definitely not worth 1500€ IMO. Thoughts ?
     
  10. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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    Definitive impressions (compared to the HD800)

    - A bit warmer with a more downward FR ( This K812 has a close to perfect balance IMO)
    - Very good soundstage less wide and deep than the HD800 but as holographic. Imaging is not near as good as the HD800 though. Both soundstages share the same diffuse and laid-back nature.
    - Bass are less clean and precise than the HD800. That contrbutes to the warmth but the shortcoming is a slight boominess. very slight. I'm nitpicking here bit Hey we're talking about a TOTL 1500€ headphone.
    - More sub bass than the HD800 . I really like the K812 with Electronic music.
    - Issues in the treble. sometimes it's really annoying/fatiguing, sometimes not so. Depends on recordings. Overally I have difficulties with this treble and my mild Tinnutus increased after K812 listening sessions.
    - Serious lack of dynamics (macro and micro dynamics) so the K812 fails to suck me into the music compared to my Stax or my HD800. I always need to crank up the volume without finding What I look for except harsher trebl. Besides the treble it's the biggest flaw of the K812 imo.
    - Lack of dynamics induce a serious lack of resolution. K812 didn't offer me the same "true to life" feeling and level of engagement than my HD800 or even the Stax SR404.

    I used my Octave/Sonett Rig mostly.

    Not a bad headphone overally but not in the same league than the HD800 or my Stax SR404 and too expensive for what it offers. This AKG would be a very recommandable headphone at 6/700€. I place it on par with the Beyerdynamic T1 although I much prefer the K812 for my personal tastes. I prefered the Ultrasone Edition 12 to both despite it's technically inferior and the Ultrasone is overpriced too.

    Finally, I think that's a headphone for people who are focused on FR but forgiving about the lack of resolution and excitement and other more technical capabilities. This AKG has a kind of "Lounge" sound as we speak of lounge music. The perfect headphone for rich executives who are ready to spend lot of money in a classy headphone and who want to relax while they listen ambient music at low volumes directly from the HO of their macbook pro. I exxagerate but I hope that makes sense.

    Not a bad headphone . Just Meh for people who are mad enough to look for an absolute sound quality.
     
  11. Hands

    Hands Overzealous Auto Flusher - Measurbator

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    What a piece of shit. I even tried a couple quick mod experiments, and it always sounds like ass no matter what. (Though I must admit, stock, it didn't hurt my ears as much as I expected it to...)

    Quick measurement take of the left channel. That's all I care to do, and even that I was dragging my feet on.

    K812 Left.PNG
    K812 CSD.PNG
     
  12. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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    Oh whao. It seems like the opposite problem from my LCD-2. I pushed the upper mids and upper treble too hard, but kept the ringing to a minimum.

    This one is just like... too much ringing? I'm seeing resonance at... everywhere above 3KHz.

    FR up to 2KHz looks good, though.

    Admittedly, to my ears, at both times I heard the K812, the resonance caused a bit of harsh... or grainy kind of sound? But the balance was actually quite close to "neutral", whatever "neutral" means.

    Now it'd be good to see how HD600 measures by Hans. I'd bet... 3-4KHz spike, but we'll have to wait and see.
     
  13. wnmnkh

    wnmnkh Friend

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    My first preliminary impression on K812, in bullet points.

    1) Diffused sound, which gives a big soundstage and sense of air.

    2) The disadvantages of diffused sound are much less perceived detail, and it pretty much falls apart when a complex music is played.

    3) Overall frequency response is very good, smooth and neutral.

    4) There are some issues in treble area where it gives fatigue. After a while, my ears got used to it and I no longer have any difficulties, but this is certainly different with other people.

    5) Overall, K812 works really well with very simple music (i.e female single vocal with one or two instruments) but really bad with complex music (i.e large classical)

    6) It is not definitely worth it for 1400. With some reservations, I can say it is still probably the best-sounding AKG despite the flaw. But I may change my opinion on this. Still need to compare with K712 more.

    Basically I cannot feel any define "body" of the sound coming out of the headphone. The sound is completely spread out.

    For HD800... all I can say is it's magic indeed. Probably something to do with treble, but there are plenty of headphones with troublesome/harsh treble but small soundstage... so yeah. It's magic indeed.
     
  14. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    FWIW, the single entry cable sucks. Can't balance them easily.
     

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