Playback has reviewed quite a few headphones this year (click here to download our free 81 page Buyer's Guide), with a focus on well-known or highly touted models from major manufacturers. Continuing in this vein, we wanted to get the AKG K702 into the lab because it has a strong reputation and comes from a venerable manufacturer.
The K702 is a new addition to the Austrian manufacturers’ Pro line, though it is basically an improved version of the much-loved K701, the main purpose of which seems to have been to change the color so it shows less studio dirt. In the high-quality headphone market, the K702 claims uniqueness in its use of flat wire technology along with a patented Varimotion 2-layer diaphragm driven by neodymium magnets. In keeping with modern marketing practice little suggestion is made by AKG about how these things might impact the sound delivered by the K702s, other than to make a nod to accuracy, agility and spaciousness. One understandable feature is the easily removable cable, allowing upgrades or length changes as needed. The K702 also has several features aimed at ensuring comfort, an area where technology often offers more hope than reality–but which work in this case, as we shall see.
Like many other headphones, the K702 is an open back design—a feature that clearly makes them less suitable for use on airplane or in an office. Some listeners, however, insist that open-back headphones are consistently more natural sounding.
So, we have here a (slightly) new headphone based on a storied, time-proven design. But how does it fare in the rigors of the Playback lab?
Consider this headset if: you want headphones with an even tonal balance, just a touch of warmth in the treble and you want to avoid the edgy or harsh sound that often comes with headphones that emphasize transparency at the expense of sonic rough edges—rough edges that the AKG simply doesn’t have.
Look elsewhere if: micro-dynamic detail is at the top of your list of sonic desires, or if your musical needs demand the punchiest dynamics.
Ratings (compared to similarly-priced headphones)
The K702 offers a sound that manages to seem almost faultless to the casual listener. This is an important achievement, and one that bespeaks smart design choices that may work well for many listeners. Like every headphone we’ve heard, the K702 has its limits, but first let’s catalog some of its superb performance attributes.
The core strength of the K702 is the artful frequency balance that AKG’s engineers have delivered. The K702 sounds very flat from about 150hz up to around 10khz, which means that instruments in a band or orchestra are consistently reproduced in proper relationship to each other. Not only that, but also most instruments sound natural on an individual basis.