When you need headphones withextreme sound quality that are also suitable for tracking, the K 271 is an excellent choice. It’s extremely comfortable,and provides excellent freedomfrom noise and leakage. One veryconsiderate, and unique, touch: The headphones mute automatically whenyou take them off, thus making them“good neighbors” when others are inthe same space.
Given that the K 271 is $100 morethan the Audio-TechnicaATH-M50 and $175more than the ShureSRH440, some mightconsider “stretching” tothe higher cost if there’sa significant difference.Well, the extra bucks domake a difference; thehigh end is smoother and more dulcetthan the SRH440, and more definedand present than the ATH-M50. Basswas similar for all three phones, but the271 had a “rounder” quality than theShure. Overall, the K 271 has an extremely “sweet” response that is effortless to listen to for long periodsof time.
So given the price compared tothe K 271, is the K 702 twice asgood as something that’s alreadygood? Well, the K 702 headphones are remarkable. They don’t have a“headphone sound;” the experienceis closer to listening on speakers—there’s an open quality that’s big,full, and realistic. Also, the fidelity isbeyond reproach: The highs arecrystal-clear (I’d even use the word“silky”), there’s no peakiness to there sponse, and the bass is warmwithout being hyped; there’s atightness and ability to reproducetransients that makes these headphonesstand out.
Although the phones are circumaural,they have an open back that letssome of the sound “escape” throughthe back. While I’m not fully tuned into the science, one of AKG’s engineersexplained (I think I got this right!) thatthis prevents waves from bouncing around inside the headphone. Thedecreased isolation makes them lesswell-suited to tracking in noisy environments because a little sound can“leak” out of the headphones, but sowhat—get some other phones fortracking, because the K 702 is exceptionalfor mixing or listening. It’s alsosurprisingly light and comfortable,which I assume is a byproduct of theoversized earcups that also place thesound drivers further from your earsthan usual. This may also contribute to an extraordinary ability to pinpoint sounds in the stereo field.
Granted, these are the secondmost expensive headphones in thisroundup, so you’d expect them to begood. What you might not expect isvalue: I’ve heard speakers many timesthe price of these phones that don’thave this level of detail. These are honest, comfortable, transparentheadphones with a virtually non-existentfatigue factor.