• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

AKG K271 Review (Closed Back Headphone)

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
37,482
Likes
157,108
Location
Seattle Area
This is a review and detailed measurements of the AKG K271 MKII closed back headphone. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $118 on Amazon including prime shipping.

I understand if you buy them new, you get two sets of pads. The sample I have only came with the "leather" one:

AKG K271 MKII Review Closed Back Headphone.jpg


The headphone is ultra light and feels quite plasticky. You certainly don't get a feeling that you bought something of value. The pads are quite shallow (maybe they are worn?) to the tune of 16 mm, the lowest I have measured on any over the ear headphone. As such, they pushed the artificial ear lobes on my fixture and my own ear. I did not mind it much though. As mentioned, they are extremely light:

lightest closed back headphone review.png


Note: The measurements you are about to see are made using a standardized Gras 45C. Headphone measurements by definition are approximate and variable so don't be surprised if other measurements even if performed with the same fixtures as mine, differ in end results. Protocols vary such as headband pressure and averaging (which I don't do). As you will see, I confirm the approximate accuracy of the measurements using Equalization and listening tests. Ultimately headphone measurements are less exact than speakers mostly in bass and above a few kilohertz so keep that in mind as you read these tests. If you think you have an exact idea of a headphone performance, you are likely wrong!

The K271 has a self-adjusting mechanism which makes it hard to put high pressure on the test fixture. I could see some air gaps when I fit it there and observed high variability in bass performance. So be mindful of this when you see the follow on measurements.

AKG K271 ohm Measurements
Let's start with our usual frequency response measurements:

AKG K271 MKII Frequency Response Measurements Closed Back Headphone.png


At first blush, this looks scary bad. But when you look past the kinks here and there, the compliance with our target curve in the critical range of 200 Hz to 3 kHz is quite good! Below that we have messy bass response but that could be due to measurement error as evidenced by green channel doing better (which I could confirm visually to be the case). At the highest frequencies we have a bit of excess energy but not much.

Here is our relative frequency response measurement:

AKG K271 MKII Relative Frequency Response Measurements Closed Back Headphone.png


The relative distortion graph looks really bad in bass because the response is dropping while distortion is increasing there:

AKG K271 MKII distortion vs Frequency Response Measurements Closed Back Headphone.png

AKG K271 MKII THD distortion vs Frequency Response Measurements Closed Back Headphone.png


Maybe the super light weight of this headphone and not so tight fit on the fixture is causing its body to resonate or something. We will circle back to this (sort of) when we perform our listening tests.

Group delay just confirms there are point frequency issues in this design:
AKG K271 MKII Group delay vs Frequency Response Measurements Closed Back Headphone.png


Of note, there is no fuzziness in mid frequencies yet as you will read in the subjective section, there is very good spatial effects.

Impedance is on the low side and somewhat variable:

AKG K271 MKII Impedance Measurements Closed Back Headphone.png


Sensitivity is a bit better than average:
Most sensitive studio headphone.png


Combined with lowish impedance, you should be able to drive the K271 with portable devices.

AKG K271 Listening Tests
While not perfect, out of the box tonality was close to what I expected to hear. My reference tracks immediately sounded (almost) right. Some equalization with substantial boost in bass transformed this headphone's performance:

AKG K271 MKII Roon Player Equalization EQ Parametric Closed Back Headphone.png


Wow or wow! This thing has incredible bass now and very nice spatiality. I ran the tests yesterday and today I am still listening to them! Track after track sounds wonderful.

As to bass distortion, I can't hear it unless I blast it and then it starts to rattle and such. But at any reasonable level, it sounds very clean counter to the measurements.

Was just listening to the track, Je Suis Une Fleure, from the album Best Kept Secretes Part 2 by Shigeru Umebayashi makes you think you have died and gone to heaven:


Conclusions
What is the old saying? Don't judge a book by its cover? So is the story of AKG K271. Out of the box it is mostly fine but not exciting. Add some EQ and this headphone transforms into jewel, something that is hard to find in closed back headphones. The large cups provide for very nice spatial effects. Combine this with the low price and you have a winner here.

I am going to recommend the AKG K271. With equalization, it almost earns a golfing panther! I would give it such if I was not worried about you all chasing me out of town that such a cheap headphone with seemingly messy measurements would achieve such. :)

-----------
As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

Attachments

  • AKG K271 Frequency Response.zip
    24.7 KB · Views: 121

_theLaughingman

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Jan 1, 2020
Messages
967
Likes
1,332
Location
Ohio
@amirm
Whoa!! The turnaround on reviews has been fast and furious lately. Wasn't expecting these to be good, color me surprised. This throws another wrench in my quest to find good closed backs, they are super cheap compared to MSRP on AKG' website. Will have to get these too.
 

sweetchaos

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
The Curator
Joined
Nov 29, 2019
Messages
2,652
Likes
6,998
Location
BC, Canada
To import this PEQ profile into 'Equalizer APO', use:
Preamp: -8.6 dB
Filter 1: ON LS Fc 60 Hz Gain 8.0 dB Q 1.0
Filter 2: ON PK Fc 640 Hz Gain -3.0 dB Q 4.0
Filter 3: ON PK Fc 2300 Hz Gain 3.0 dB Q 2.0
Filter 4: ON PK Fc 4600 Hz Gain 4.0 dB Q 2.0
Filter 5: ON PK Fc 9400 Hz Gain -4.0 dB Q 3.0
To import into your favorite PEQ app, enter it manually.
Otherwise, see my PEQ guide.
..................................................................................................................
For those who don't have PEQ-capable app, and want to use GEQs instead:
See my GEQ guide for 10-band, 31-band, and 127-band GEQ profiles.
 
Last edited:

KeithPhantom

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
May 8, 2020
Messages
561
Likes
540
Better than some of the other more expensive headphones. I would love for the value segment of the market to get more reviews.
 

KeithPhantom

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
May 8, 2020
Messages
561
Likes
540
This throws another wrench in my quest to find good closed backs
Depending on how they measure, they could be more surprises in the way. Let's see how they turn out.
 

edahl

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2021
Messages
352
Likes
284
Have a pair of these for the office. Was looking for something else, but might keep them and do some EQ!
 

Merkurio

Active Member
Joined
Jul 18, 2018
Messages
222
Likes
368
You're on fire with headphone reviews, big kudos for that!

Now that the DAC/AMP game is already solved, I'm really glad to see headphone reviews in a regular basis, very insightful especially after Tyll withdrew from the scene.

Regarding to the K271, seems like a fine alternative for a cheap closed back (despite not being manufactured in Austria anymore, as your review unit).
 

LTig

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
4,156
Likes
6,718
Location
Europe
I own the predecessor, AKG K271 studio. Bought them some 15 years ago for playing E-drums at home. First I had bought the Beyer DT770M due to its extra high (passive) noise damping. The damping was excellent (couldn't hear the sticks hitting the pads) but bass was horribly overblown, so after 2 days I brought them back and got the AKG. Tonality and bass were much better compared to the DT770M, but noise damping was worse, and SQ was no match for my Sennheiser HD580 precision.
 

Maxicut

Active Member
Joined
May 9, 2020
Messages
154
Likes
98
They look identical to the ISK HP-980.
 

Attachments

  • isk.jpg
    isk.jpg
    136.4 KB · Views: 91
Top Bottom