Austrian acoustics experts AKG have announced a brand-new premium, open-backed headphone model: the K812. These new cans sit at the very top of AKG's range, and have an accordingly high price tag of around ￡1000 in the UK.
One of the factors that makes these special is their unusually large diaphragm diameter of 53mm, which AKG say contributes to their having the highest dynamic range of any of their designs to date. Of course, the larger the diaphragm, the more force is needed to move it, and here that force comes from an AKG-made, custom neodymium magnet with a magnetic field of 1.5 Tesla.
Philipp Schulter, Product Line Manager for AKG's headphone division, apparently started experimenting with using large-diameter membranes for headphones many years ago, before he moved to the company's consumer-audio division. When, after a number of years, he moved back to the pro-audio side of things, he found that AKG's engineers had been experimenting with and refining his large-diaphragm headphone ideas, which lead to the development of the K812.
The K812s are intended to be both comfortable and robust. To that end, the headband system found on the company's K701, K702 and K612 models has been revised, so that instead of the cans resizing 'automatically' ― a system that required tension being applied to small rubber bands, which could eventually stretch and perish ― the user has to adjust the headband tightness (and, therefore, fit) manually, by locking the headband in place at both the left and right hand side. The headband itself, meanwhile, is made from a porous mesh, to prevent sweating during long listening sessions. Longevity is assured by the use of metal throughout the frame, including the hinge in which the ear cups sit and pivot, and all the K812's parts are field-serviceable and replaceable, should tragedy befall them.
AKG very kindly invited Sound On Sound to an advance preview of the new headphones, at Red Bull Studios in London. There, we were treated to a high-end listening setup comprising a Harman Kardon CD player, a Lehmann Audio Class-A headphone amp and, of course, the K812s. Although not a comparative test, our initial impressions were extremely promising: transients were reproduced very quickly, reverb tails clear and distinct, and the low end was handled with authority. The headphones were also extremely comfortable, with the metal construction really helping to inspire confidence in their durability.
The AKG K812s should be available imminently, and will ship with an attractive wooden headphone stand. Keep your eyes peeled for a full SOS review in an upcoming issue.