If you're on a budget and looking for a time-tested pair of studio headphones that have proven their mettle over the years, the AKG K240 Studio and its successor K240 MKII might both be exactly what you’re looking for.
In summary, both of these headphones offer an industry-standard in sound quality for musicians, producers, and podcasters. They come with the same specs. Both would be equally at home for a mix-down or tracking session in the studio. The AKG K240 MKII does, however, has an updated design and a new set of cables and earpads.
The one I'd get for the peace of mind.
CAUTION: Before you read further, though, you should know that these are open-back, semi-open studio headphones that don’t isolate sound. They’re also kinda’ bulky and not the kind of thing that make you look sexy enroute work. For a more portable and convenient alternative to use with your devices for those everyday commutes or at home, check out the BOSE 700 instead. And if you’re an audio-pro looking for a pair of closed-back headphones for more isolation, have a look at the SONY MDR-7506.
The AKG K240 has been around for over three decades and established itself as a go-to choice for studio owners and audiophiles looking for reliable audio for mixing, mastering, and monitoring. The update on this classic, while not an ‘improvement’ in the strictest sense of the word, is a welcome tribute to timeless quality. Deciding on a pair of headphones for your needs comes with a list of factors you want to take into consideration. Here are some pointers to help you make your decision.
Design and Comfort
AKG K240 STUDIO
The aesthetics of the AKG K240 has been symbolic of an era where bell-bottomed trousers were synonymous with ‘cool.’ So what might come across as a ‘Retro’ design to the millennial is one that has actually been around as long as most of their parents have!
In spite of the plastic which most of it is built on, the adjustable head-straps and large earcups are comfortable enough for extended periods of usage. Albeit on a budget. So the durability of the materials used has been subject to some justified skepticism.
Higher-end models incorporating metal on the headband and suede materials for the earcups like the AKG K701 do offer a much classier feeling. That being said, these headphones are lighter. This helps in the overall comfort referred to earlier. So the trade-off feels fair enough.
This might be a good time to understand what ‘semi-open’ or ‘open-back’ earcups are and the pros and cons that come with them.
Long story short, the earcups on these won’t clamp around your head in a vacuum-like enclosure to isolate sound for you and away from the people around you. They let your ears breathe. The result is a perception of sound that’s organic in nature. The ventilation lets the air carry sound to your ears more naturally. They’re also more comfortable.
The flip side to this is that you can only use these in quieter environments where you aren’t disturbed by external noises. Inversely, the sound is easily audible for anyone around you. So don’t expect to make new friends if you’re using these in public.
The cable on the AKG 240 Studio is attached through a 3.5 mm input on the left ear. This can be detached and replaced if ever needed, which is a great plus. The other end of the same can be plugged into all your musical gadgets.
AKG K240 MKII
The AKG K240 is very similar in its build and design. In fact, the only two factors in which it really differs in this department are:
- Earcups: these come with velvet and leatherette options.
- Cables: It adds a 3m straight cable and 5m coiled cable. Both are detachable.
- The AKG K240 MKII has blue edgings instead of gold on its predecessor.
And that’s it. There are no other differences between these two headphones!
You can check here the complete specifications of AKG K240 Studio and K240 MKII.
The frequency responses on both headphones are identical. This is because the sound driver has not been changed. While some might be bummed at a ‘successor’ making no upgrade in this regard, others will be grateful that a timeless classic remains reliably familiar.
It is evident, though, that these cans were originally conceived at a time when basses were not as low and heavy as some more modern genres EDM or Hip-Hop have established as the norm. If you’re looking to fine-tune those sub-basses, we suggest you use a second pair of headphones or speaker system with a subwoofer. The response in that frequency range on these headphones is low. To a point where many modern producers might even label it ‘non-existent.’
For the rest of the frequency spectrum, though, these deliver really great results. From basses to low-mids to mids to treble, the sound is flat, neutral, and transparent. This is a fantastic piece of equipment for checking up on a mix where vocals, guitars, piano, and/or acoustic drums are the main characters. And the clarity it gives you is testimony to why it has established itself as an industry-standard over the years.
- Impedance: 55 Ohm.
- Sensitivity: 91dB/mW
- Frequency Response: 15Hz to 25kHz.
Both headphones come with 3m long cables that plug into your audio system via a standard 3.5 mm stereo jack connector which transforms to 6.3 mm via the included adapter. When connecting to audio interfaces or an amplifier, the adapter provided lets you convert to 6.3 mm. The MKII provides the additional cables mentioned earlier.
As aforementioned, neither offers any form of wireless connectivity. And that’s all we get!
At the time of this article, The AKG 240 Studio was priced at around $75 and the AKG K240 MKII at approximately $165.
Harman also offers refurbished AKG products which are restored to factory specifications and includes the original warranty protection.
In conclusion, this is how the AKG 240 Studio and AKG K240 MKII stack up against each other:
- Design and Comfort - Winner: The AKG K240 MKII. With the two different cables and the velvet and leatherette earpad options, it does have a slight edge.
- Sound: A clear tie.
- Connectivity: A clear tie again.
- Price: The AKG K240 Studio wins hands-down. At the end of the day, it offers the same functionality at less than half the price.