In the darkest, seediest areas of Hi-Fi Audio AKG has waged a secret war. At an eye popping $1499.99 this K-812 headphone seems like an all star player. I have a few gripes but for the most part I enjoy the hell out of these headphones.

The Package and Design Elements

Inside your package, you will receive of course the stunning K-812 headphones wrapped neatly in protective plastic, a beautiful horse shoe shaped wooden Omega headphone stand with a special and unique grain and coloration designed specifically for AKG, a nifty detachable 3m cable with a gorgeous mini XLR 3-Pin plug and a very nice box with the typical company paper work. The cable adapter is a beautiful LEMO EGG series 3pin Mini XLR. Stunning! I must say, the wooden stand is vibrant and screaming high quality at every turn. A highly desirable presentation to most of us Audiophiles, who doesn’t have a weakness for the Woodie stands out there? Just as the headphone stand is of a higher quality, so too are the headphones themselves. They feel solid in the hand and on the head, a blessing and absolute pleasure to wear when compared to the likes of the heavy Orthodynamic headphones I’ve been playing with recently. The K-812 is light weight at 390 grams, functional and properly executed from top to bottom with absolutely nothing for me to gripe about in terms of comfort and fit. The clamp factor is average, allowing the headphone to be worn for hours with minimal fatigue.

For those unaware, the likes of the Audeze LCD-3 and other similar flagship headphones tend to be very uncomfortable, heavy and down right awful in terms of exterior design elements across the board. Such is not the case with the K-812 and I find myself for the first time in the past few years actually enjoying the multi-media experience as a whole. She is comfy, real comfy. Supple leather pads that are fully circumaural, a soft headband eerily familiar in design to the JVC HARX-700 with a mesh cloth and leather hybrid design and a single sided cable input all make for a physically fatigue free experience…thank the audio gods! Someone finally remembered headphones should be comfortable.

Unlike the heavy and bulky Orthodynamic headphones out there of similar pricing, I can and will recommend these headphones to studio engineers and mixers of various types. If you are sitting in a booth for 8-10 hours a day, you are going to appreciate these headphones a great deal. There aren’t many headphones out there that offer comfort like this along with a Summit Level Hifi sound quality. Usually, they tend to have some serious design flaw, but I can find nothing wrong with these K-812’s in the slightest when it comes to exterior design elements. Everything is in tip top shape and as it should be: light and comfortable, not bulky and not oddly designed in the headband, conforming to a human head and something that doesn’t make you look like the International Space Station or giant radar dish.

Click on next page for sound impressions…

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About The Author

Senior Reviewer

Self Proclaimed Musicality Guru, Photographer, Audiophile and part time Ninja. I started my audio journey back in 96' and haven't looked back. My ultimate goal in this life is to experience as many Hifi rigs as possible...because I am an audio addict.

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  • dalethorn

    Very much appreciated bro – saved me the sleepless nights.

  • Chris

    What an idiot. This is a parody of a real review, right? The K812 does improve upon the K712 by being less plasticy in the upper mids and increasing bass volume as well as texture and detail across the board, while retaining the large soundstage and good imaging K712 users are used to. HD800 not responding to EQ, good joke.
    The ‘famous’ K1000 is only revered because it’s no longer in production, which makes everything better, no? Towards the end of it’s production cycle they could barely even sell them brand new at around $400. Now they regularly sell used for over $1000. They suck at anything but soundstage.
    Your constant comments about liking warmth and fat bass instead of accuracy and recording-revealing treble say it all. Have fun with your one note bass LCDs and your very uncomfortable HE-6s (serious recommendation after your speech about 8-10 hour comfort?).

    • SergeyG

      Please accept my apology as English is difficult for me to type. My Sennheiser HD800 is a poor headphone with base when I use my amplifiers Base button. AKG sent me an K-812 months ago for demoing at my studio and I hear much better base when boosts are on. The HD-800 cannot achieve that. It is well known that the Sennheiser HD-800 headphone loses base quality and also that this headphone “response” to treble is painful at 6hz. Your comment has no basis on this. Author is right, you are wrong and your view is just a view, you are not law. Neither is the Author, but you need to respect opinions more because I share the same hearing. I hear low bass on my AKG K-812 and it is not as good as the K-712 I have on my head right here. You have personal bias for anyone who enjoys Audeze? You are silly. I adore my Audeze LCDs. Also. Author 24bit has not said to buy the Hifiman if you want comfort, and you make it seem like he has done so. Your comment on that is lies. Recommendation for good treble headphone was said about the HE-6. Nothing more. Learn respect, Mr. Chris. English is hardest language to type in. Sigh.

      • 24bit

        6Khz. 😉

    • Caliguy

      kid you have no idea what you are talking about. go back to headfi were the practice of insulting others for telling the truth is widely accepted, you snob. the 800 sounds like junk when you try to use a bass booster, you dont know that because you don’t actually have one but that is a common thing for guys like you to just talk about stuff like you have experience with it and it is so very clear that you are not a musician, you are not a sound engineer and you are not really at all experienced with the gear you are talking about. one note bass on the lcd3? you are absolutely nuts bro.

      • Chris

        I do have one, I am a musician, and I do have experience with all headphones mentioned, including bass boosting an HD800. I’m not a sound engineer. Whoops you got me! At least I can use my shift key at the beginning of sentences.

        • CantinaBandLeader

          Your comments are good for a laugh, Chris. I hope Marcus doesn’t delete them so people can reference how dumb you are in the future. Props to Headfonics for always telling the truth and never embellishing anything. Takes a strong gut to negatively rate an expensive headphone like the HD-800. Big middle finger to the rest of the reviewers out there on other sites, I love it! Amen to the truth. Personally, I think the HD-800 is a piece of $*** headphone half of the time and far too dependant on source quality. The headphone has an anorexic low end, so how the hell can it possibly be accurate to the bassy instruments and genres out there? The answer: It can’t and doesn’t. Most reviewers just follow the social convention that the more popular headphones are all great buys. It’s all about making sure their purchases are protected and their unwillingness to admit they paid for a $1499.99 headphone that is absolute TRASH for Rock, Dubstep, R&B, Gospel, Metal, Fusion and any track that is not absolutely pristine in quality.

          • 24bit

            I like the HD800, especially so with my Burson Conductor SL’s 1793 Dac chip. It’s really stellar for most things, but it does have a problem with bass moderate-heavy tracks in general. For those I turn to the LCD-3 or my JH16 Freqphases.

          • headfonics

            My philosophy is simple – its a free world and short of any libel haha we can say what we like and I am cool with that. Thanks everyone for visiting our humble site also 🙂

          • Chris

            When did this become about HD800s? All I commented on about them was in regards to EQ. Someone has personal issues.

          • Torrance

            Dipshit. ” HD800 not responding to EQ, good joke.” Who said this? Oh right you did and then you got defensive when a few users here called you on your stupidity on that comment and for being an all around douche.

    • 24bit

      I’ve never heard the term Plasticy before. What does that mean, exactly? I don’t think I ever stated that I don’t like accuracy in my review so I am not at all sure of what you are getting at. Maybe I wasn’t clear, if that is the case I apologize for your confusion. I prefer a little warmth on the low end. In some genres and with some instruments, there is natural warmth. Violins, cellos and similar are not obligated to sound neutral, some instruments vary in tone and texture, one violin can sound a bit dry, another perhaps velvette like and heavy on the low end. Many guitars are like this as well, some have a large body and low end, some have a mid bloom, some are twangy. Upright bass is a great example as well as some tones the violin can put out. Neither the sennheiser nor the akg can output the proper tone when it comes to these instruments and certainly cannot output the proper quantity.

      My personal preferences have nothing to do with the headphones inability to get it right when it comes to certain bassy genres or tracks. The HD800 is notorious for having a lean low end so how can it possibly output the proper bass quantity and tone in high bass tracks? I did say in my review that the low end of the K812 is better than the HD800, to me its more musical, more deep and more enjoyable. However, when you crank the bass up a bit, both headphones lose control fast. REALLY fast. Test it out for yourself sometime if you have the option to do so against the likes of the HE-6 or LCD-3. Foobars realbassexciter is free and lets you do lots of things to the bass experience. Toggle the output bar up 1 notch at a time and see which headphone starts to lose control first. The HD800 is a terrible performer with control and responsiveness to equalization. The AKG K812 did a little better, but neither do as fantastic of a job compared to the HE-6 or LCD-3. All of the above pale in responsiveness to the JH16 freqphase customs. You can crank that up to +10 all day long and the immense bass will never bleed into the mids, drop it to 0 and even -5 and you can see that the LCD-3 and JH16 are easily the most responsive to low end and EQ headphones out there, and that the HD800 and K812 are seriously lacking. A good headphone should do what you want it to do, not tell you its my way or the high way. You paid $1500 for it, you should be able to tailor the sound to your liking within reasonable measure and the HD800 and AKG K812 just can’t do this as well as the the others I mentioned. I hope that makes sense. Musicians and actual sound engineers don’t see headphones and musical enjoyment via technology like typical audiophiles, so I apologize for my personal preferences. I enjoy high musicality combined with great clarity and a spacious feel. I don’t care about the tone accuracy in a headphone, I don’t really care if its neutral, dry or colored in tonality. I do care about the headphones ability to put out the correct quantity of whatever instrument is in question. The HD800 doesn’t ever get dubstep, R&B, older rock, older jazz recordings and a host of other low end focused genres right, neither with tone accuracy in the instrument and certainly not with the quantity the instrument is actually putting out. Its a lean low end headphone, so it cannot possible correctly output the proper quantity in certain tracks with a low end focus.

      Having said all that ( my fingers hurt haha ) the K812 STILL DOES IT BETTER than the HD800 on the low end. And I did say that in the review…a few times.

    • morality1776

      Calling the reviewer an idiot, says a lot about who you are…… You don’t think the K1000 are worth 1,000?? They sold poorly cause they were hard to drive, and 1,000 for a headphone in 91 was huge.. And, if I remember correctly, no 1/4 connector.

      • Chris

        Could power with any speaker amp just like everyone seems to be doing now with HE-6, yet those are selling well. What’s your next excuse?

        • Torrance

          You avoided the core of morality1776’s statement against you. Haha.

        • morality1776

          Yes. But we are talking about 1991 (no online) to 2010 (online) Would the HE6 be selling well if there was no internet? Would we even know what an HE6 was?

          • 24bit

            Missed this retort, sorry. How does one find out about anything without publicity? It isn’t like products around the world being available were telepathically shared with everyone on earth before magazines, newspapers, tv or the internet. There were expensive electronics back in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and early 90s that made the HE6 price look like a dollar lotto ticket, yet they still sold via word of mouth or through small local dealers and happened to sound crappy by todays standards.

        • 24bit

          What does the HE-6 driving power needs have to do with the K-1000 from AKG…I thought that was the focus of your argument in that post. I’m so confused right now. I think that is an ego trip. Quality + 4 watts is more than sufficient to get the best out of the HE-6. Speaker Amplifiers are overkill for power needs in the HE-6.

  • dexon

    This is funny indeed. While reading I constantly had a feeling reviewer is 12 years old trying to make his Lady Gaga sounds good with an EQ on K812/HD800:)

    • 24bit

      I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it. As an electric Bass and piano player, the hd800 and the K812 can’t sound true and realistic to the actual instruments sometimes without proper EQ. This is very apparent in Dubstep and RnB where both headphones fall short of how the track was actually recorded and the quantity of low end actually present. I enjoy Gypsy jazz a lot and do play the style, I have a 10 years of experience with upright bass’s playing right next to me and I can safely say that it is physically impossible for the HD800 to output the same quantity of bass as the actual instrument did when they recorded it. You need EQ sometimes, not always, but sometimes. It is most apparent in Classical with Cello’s and Orchestral percussion instruments, both the sennheiser hd800 and the akg 812 fall very short of realism in quantity on the low end. Also, Lady Gaga’s original album was very well recorded, yet sounds awful through the hd800, but very nice through the k812. The Hd800 has a tendency to warp the image of some tracks, makes them lopsided sounding and overly stretched out and that is not at all a problem inside the k812 that always sounds nice and coherent no matter what is playing.

    • stan zorin

      ‘Lady Gaga’ never sounds good on any headphones.

  • deathBYGradosilverrecable

    24 bit has some of the most amazing headphone pictures I’ve ever seen before. I caught you on Deviantart a few weeks ago, you are an amazing photographer dude! I almost lost my shit when I saw your entire profile gallery was filled with excellent pictures, holy hell so many of those are wallpaper worthy. Hardly anyone else takes photos of their audio stuffs like you do. You took that one picture of the k712 in black and white and I use that as my facebook profile cover art. What camera setup do you use?!

    • 24bit

      Wow, thank you for the kind words. I use a Lumix G5 and Olympus f1.8 45mm lens for most of my images. If you check the DeviantArt profile I have setup, every picture has full details and specifications on the gear used, as well as all the general settings like ISO and shutter speed. The specs listing is on the right side of the page and if the image is large, you need to scroll down a little to view the specifications area.

    • 24bit

      Oh and also sometimes I use a Panasonic 300mm, but rarely use that for my audio gear since the focus range is blisteringly large at like 10 ft or something like that. But it is a zoom so I guess that make sense haha. I got your message on DeviantArt so I’ll send you the information you wanted but your contact wasn’t listed. Send me that and I’ll get the information to you asap.

    • 24bit

      Using a sony a6000 now with a rokinon 35mm and 55-210mm.

  • morality1776

    Headfi. One claims the reviewer gave a bad review so Headphonics would get more hits.. Another, can’t believe the reviewer because it was ‘poorly written.’ Just shows how hard Headfi has fallen.

    • BassHeadLarry

      But it wasn’t a bad review. The review was nicely written and has excellent pictures just like all of this authors columns seem to offer and what people are doing is grasping at straws and picking the negative points of the review, briefly skimming it and not reading it in full. Some people are infected with troll dna and jealousy. The only negative point in the entire review was the Treble, everything else was praised yet some people are crying that the author poorly rated the headphone. He said it wasn’t as good as the other three top flagships like the hifiman 6, lcd3 from audeze and the HD800 in SOME WAYS, BUT DID BEAT IT IN OTHERS. How can you guys not read a review and then slam it? The damn author said there are some qualities the 812 has that trumped the hd800! That is great news. Jesus Christ you guys, learn to read. ( not you morality, you are good, I was referring to some others in a general sense ) That stuff is common on head fi and why I dont visit that place anymore, its snobcentral. If you dont like what others like, you get eaten and made fun of. Don’t bring that crap to the smaller places like this who are willing to give you the uncovered truth of it without sugar coating it and without saying ZOMGGGG ITS DA BEZT EVARRRR. Nobody else was as detailed as this guy so far in their review. Nobody offered comparisons like that so sit down and shut it to all the whiners. Michael posted on headfonics facebook and totally blasted another dude for making shit up about his review here ) and i havent stopped laughing about it since I read that earlier today, because that is exactly what guys liek Chris and some others on head fi or similar were saying. “DERrpp, I cant read derppp, Imma skim dis review, DERPPP, Oh ill just assume he said bad things, DERPP, 24bit is awful DERPPPPP. And the guy has been super nice to some of the ass’s here about it? Wipe your mouths free of your drool and pat yourself on your sloping foreheads for a job well done and for skimming it over.

      • 24bit

        I dont mind a bit of heat. I do mind when people mislead others about things I have said or have not said. I really like the K-812. It is a very good headphone. It just doesn’t compare to the stereotypical best qualities the other flagships have that make them well regarded. It doesn’t have Audeze’s Bass quality, nor the Hifiman’s absolutely gorgeous Treble ( or JH16s ) and does not have the Sennheiser’s shocking realism in dynamics. But, that doesn’t mean it is a bad headphone. My thoughts are very positive and the problems are minor issues that AKG can tweak and revise with a K-812 v1.1.

    • DenonFanboy

      head fi = breeding ground for biased and elitists. the author is a decent writer, go read back on some of his stuff here, this one wasn’t really up to par with his usual stuff but at least is is brutal in truthfullness and he doesnt give a crap if the big boy companies oust him for saying the treble was bad

      i do have a question i would like to know the answer to, i asked on head fi but was ignored. how quiet is the headphone through your burson? I have the normal conductor and its a bit hissy sometimes with static when no audio is coming through, do you think that is an amp issue or the result of my headphone because i use a hifiman he-500 as my home headphone. id like to know how the k812 sounds compared to it if you can let me know that would be awesome

      • 24bit

        I can’t comment on how silent the K-812 would be through your Conductor, however I feel the K-812 to perform very nicely with regard to how quiet it is. I hear no background noise what so ever on my rigs, both portable and desktop. The HE-500 seems less harsh on the treble. I think the K-812 has noticeably more clear everything else though. Both are very well rounded and sound good pretty much everywhere you want to take them.

      • morality1776

        Headfi is all about ad spaming. Head Fi really was the headphone site to go to from 03-09. Headfi is no longer for the person who has a headphone hobby. It was bought out by the elitist in the industry, who see headfi members as sheep.

  • Andromeda844

    I agree. His pictures quality is unrivaled. I have a question. I’ve heard the K712 has detachable pads but you didn’t mention that in the review. Are they a pain in the butt to remove and reattach? What kind of attachment method do they use? -Dromy844

    • 24bit

      Ah, ya. You mean the K-812 right? Sorry for not mentioning that. They are indeed detachable and are very easy to remove and reapply. They pop right off and will snap back on with minimal effort. They have some bumps on the back that lock back into place onto the cups so I’d apply pressure with your thumbs around the circumference of the pads outer edge to make sure each one is properly aligned and snug.

  • boobio

    A lot of butthurt AKG fans here 🙂

    • headfonics

      I think Tyll slapped both cheeks also for a few so it might be red raw for a short while 🙂

    • 24bit

      AKG fans may be butthurt, but AKG is laughing to the bank and most regard the K812 as exceptionally well rounded, myself included. I’ll happily sacrifice some clarity all around for a true genre master like this, yet also one that is efficient, comfortable and is excellent for all media apps like movies, tv and especially gaming.

  • I re-read this since I’m still interested in it. But, a slightly weak bass, a colored upper midrange, and problems in the treble all sound like a disaster for $1500. I have a Beyer T1 with slightly weak bass (for me anyway), and a bit too much energy in the upper treble, but those are fairly simple to address with minimal EQ effort. The effort required with the K812 seems daunting from what I read here, and unrewarding too given the $1500 price. Even as a status symbol it suffers due to the critiques like this one.

  • I may have one of these coming if Massdrop delivers. The review here (BTW) has to be one of the best I’ve ever read in getting to the important details. But one thing that seems a little nebulous, in spite of a few comments about it, is how the bass responds (or does not) to a low-bass boost. Does it get muddy, is it obvious, or just loses firmness? It wouldn’t be the first premium headphone I’ve had that doesn’t play well with deep bass.

    • 24bit

      Thanks Dale, I appreciate that. The low end of the k812 starts out a bit muddy to begin with and I always keep it at +5 with foobars realbassexciter. This is a small boost and I really can’t hear any texture less, added mud or looseness. However, if you play with realbassexciter you might be able to discover optimal settings to achieve more db gain on the bass without sacrificing quality. Once you get closer to +10db gain on the bass, you will notice some quality loss: more flimsy sound, fluttery, a bit warped and out of control. Small boost boost gains will not be a problem, I consider small to be 1-5db extra, which the K812 responds to very nicely and is what I usually keep mine set at all times to anyway. 🙂

      • It’s tricky – the basic sound is warm, so I’d want to boost just the low bass. It’s funny how the big drivers should have more dynamic range for bass boost etc., but other factors get in the way. Anyway the main issue I found beside too much overall brightness is a very strong emphasis around 4 and 9 khz. I need to find the test tracks that showed up the problems with instrument separation, and see if my adjustments help alleviate those issues.

  • I went back to the Innerfidelity K812 review and snagged 2 of the ‘problem’ tracks – one by Tiger Okoshi (a beautiful XRCD from Japan) and the other by Pinback. I didn’t hear anything amiss in the Pinback track, although someone else mentioned ‘Time’ on the Dark Side of the Moon CD. That track is a treble percussion nightmare, but doesn’t have any real issues with the K812 outside of overall brightness. Tiger’s trumpet playing is a lot like Maynard Ferguson’s – very loud, crispy, with a lot of ‘squeal’ – and it can indeed overwhelm, but when the treble is adjusted to a user’s taste for the average music genre, Tiger’s trumpet sounds very natural. I’m going to seek out other users’ examples wherever I can find them, just to see, and add to my collection as well. I highly recommend the Tiger Okoshi XRCD.

  • pyktures

    This or elear?

    • headfonics

      Depends on your preferences, the K812 is easier to drive, more headroom and spacious sounding but has a shrill treble and not as much bass compared to the Elear.