If you’re a serious audiophile, a professional music producer, or an audio engineer looking to upgrade your toolbox with some serious arsenal, the AKG K812 and AKG K872 are worthy contenders for that position.
Mind you though, these are premium products, so they're far from cheap. If you’re on a budget, take a look at my AKG K701 vs K702 post instead.
In summary, these are AKG’s top-of-the-line flagship headphones. Though apparent twins at first glance, the AKG K872 is a later model with closed-back AKG K812 is open-back. While the K812 offers uncompromising clarity, the AKG K872 seems to offer a somewhat more pleasurable listening experience.
While mixing audio completely on headphones is still a somewhat debatable topic, having a good pair handy in the studio is essential if you’re serious about your mix.
Certain adjustments like panning and stereo-imaging are still best adjusted with the ultra near-field listening they offer.
When you’re thinking of investing copious amounts of capital into them as is the case here, you need all bases covered.
You want to make sure they are the perfect fit (no pun intended!). So let’s compare these two pairs to see how they add up to help enhance clarity on your decision.
Design, Build, and Comfort
In spite of the sturdy, metal construction, the first thing you’ll notice how comfortable these headphones are to wear. Both weigh in at 13.8 ounces each. Even those longer listening sessions feel a lot less fatiguing with one of these wrapped around your head.
While the design looks similar from a distance, closer scrutiny quickly reveals a different story. The open-back AKG K812 uses metal mesh under the earcups. The AKG K872, on the other hand, uses metal caps on the earcups for its closed-back design. Both models come with 53mm sound drivers with 1.5 Tesla magnets.
The headband is identical on both, though, as are the shape and sleek, black design, giving it a no-nonsense, professional look. If you like your hi-fidelity gear on the move, you should know that the AKG K872 includes a travel bag, which for some reason, is excluded on the AKG K812.
Check out the Service Manual of AKG K812.
If you’ve just presumed that the sound on both headphones is just pristine and high-end, then well, you’re absolutely right. That being said, here are some major differences.
The K812 offers more transparency and clarity. If you’re a mastering or mixing engineer, these will serve you well.
The AKG K872, however, sounds ‘sweeter.’ They’re a little more consumer-friendly and not just a work-horse for clinical discernment. If you want something to use for the act of listening to music just for pleasure, these are the ones you want to buy.
Additionally, I'm guessing the primary function for each is specific and different.
- The open-back design AKG K812 is great for using in a quieter environment for more critical listening. Great for use inside a console or your treated bedroom studio corner.
- The closed-back design of AKG K872, on the other hand, does an excellent job of isolating external noise. So for recording vocals or tracking acoustic instruments, they offer leakage-free monitoring for the performer.
Note: Neither are Noise-Cancelling headphones per se!
The specifications on both headphones are identical!
- Maximum input power 300 mW
- Audio frequency bandwidth5 - 54000 Hz
- Driver size 53mm
- Sensitivity (dB SPL/V @ 1 kHz)110
- Rated impedance 36ohms
However, on extended listening, it did seem like the AKG K872 delivered more bass. This is easily attributed to its natural noise isolation. Also, it did seem to color the sound a little. This may be a plus when listening to standard formats of consumer-ready music. But not that great when you’re still in the midst of creating the same.
You may check the complete specifications of K872 on AKG's website.
Both the AKG K812 and K872 come with a 3m long detachable stereo cable. One with a female jack (3.5mm) that converts to male (6.3mm) with the adapter provided. This is standard with most AKG headphones.
The cable on the AKG K812, though, is designed to make it more tangle-free, giving it a slight edge over the AKG K872. The ultralight, two-layer voice coil used on the cables helps provide high signal quality.
And that’s pretty much it! While the AKG official site describes these headphones as suitable for use with your devices as well, neither offer any form of wireless connectivity. However, when using with a standard smartphone, the quality of sound is fine.
Any mic, USB connectivity, or remote controls are absent as well.
AKG’s official site lists both headphones at $1,665.00. While street prices might differ depending on your dealer, it might be easier to find the older of the two (AKG K812) at lower prices.
AKG has an ongoing sale promo. Enjoy great savings on your favorite AKG products.
In conclusion, this is how the AKG K812 and AKG K872 stack up against each other:
Both headphones are a sound investment for pro audio folks. Depending on whether you need something to help you more with mixing/mastering (which is better served by the AKG K812) or recording/performing (better suited for AKG K872), these headphones are equally competent.