Thursday, January 19, 2012

AKG K518LE (review)

I got these pair of headphones as a gift from my best friend Anne. She asked what I wanted for Christmas and I said I want a new pair of headphones.

AKG has been in the business since the 1940s and was acquired by Harman International Industries in the mid-90s. They are known in the entertainment industry to produce high-end professional headphones and microphones. Also, many recording studios uses AKG headphones because of their high specifications.

What I have is the AKG K518LE, the LE stands for limited edition, although I really don't know how many of these headphones were produced. This particular pair is their entry level model and also their cheapest one with an SRP of 4,590 Philippine Pesos.

AKG  K518LE 01

The headphones are heavier than my previous Audio Technica pair, but they really feel very solidly built. When the Audio-Technica ATH SJ11 feels more like a high-end toy rather than a serious listening device, this pair feels serious, although the former is very ultra-light. It is a bit "plasticy"to one's feel, more rubbery. The foams on the ear-cups are harder then any pair I have owned and the cord is thicker too. The cord in this one is the shortest I have ever seen in a pair of mid-end headphones, it is just 1 meter long. The cups can be swiveled in many directions and can also be folded to be fitted to its pouch which is included in the package. The jack plug is gold-plated for maximum sound transmission from device to headphone. The jack plug is also sturdy enough to withstand the movement of the cord while traveling or commuting because it is tapered tight. The headphones also comes with an adapter for those big jacks that I have never seen in portable audio devices, which is also gold-plated. The headband has a stainless steel spine with is exposed at the middle of the band, where the brand name is also shown.

The design is simple yet it stands out from any crowd, however not that attention grabbing. It will turn heads but it is not as attention grabbing as those big and clunky headphones with bombastic and outrageous designs. This one is stylishly discreet. The brand is also not that popular amongst the many, thus, not many people will know you are sporting such an expensive pair.

AKG  K518LE 02

The sound in this pair is exceptionally clean, no overwhelming bass and no overwhelming anything. So whatever genre you play, you will likely to hear what is intended for you to hear in that particular song or music genre. To check on how powerful the bass is in this pair, I tried playing some R&B tracks I have, it is still not overwhelming unless I boost up the bass in my iTunes equalizer, when I did, I then hear what kind of bass this pair can deliver, not that powerful which also equates to not overwhelming, it is good in my book. What impressed me is the clarity and equality of instruments. Like the ATH SJ11, this one gives crystal clear audio. I can feel the bass and all the other instruments in Usher's Love in This Club Part II track, plus the instruments are not overpowering the vocals, clean, very clean indeed. On playing some post-hardcore tracks, this pair gives clear output to what post-hardcore music must sound like, I can still hear all the instruments in Underoath's Reinventing Your Exit, while when I switched to Silverstein's Discovering the Waterfront I can tell which is the lead and secondary guitar, I can hear the keyboard very well and even the violin. Knowing how noisy and loud as well as diverse post-hardcore music can be, plus the growling, it is very easy to mistaken all that loudness to just noise, unless one is using exceptionally clear output devices such as this one. To further test the clarity of this pair, I further listen to more post-hardcore tracks: Alesana's Ambrosia and Goodbye, Goodnight, for Good sounds exceptionally clear with bit rates at 320kbps; Fightstar's Paint Your Target at 232kbps (VBR) sounds great as well! Changing genres, I played two tracks from the Sleep Dealer: Nozumi (at 320kbps) and The Way Home (at 192kbps), both gave me goosebumps as I was listening, I don't just hear every instrument, but I can also feel it. Exceptionally clear headphones are essential when listening to post-rock or ambient music genres, because it is the instruments that give life to the music, given that this particular music genre doesn't have any vocals at all.

Sound leakage is at a minimal to almost none, it is excellent so that people nearby won't be bothered no matter how loud you play your music. Sound isolation is also where this pair excels a lot, unlike any of my previous pairs (both Audio Technica and Sennheisser), you can almost hear nothing but the music you are listening to, which is pretty dangerous when commuting.

AKG  K518LE 03

This pair is a bit tight and the foams are firmer than any of the previous pairs I have owned. Which is both great and a pain too. Great, because the external sound is isolated because of the tightness of the headband and it won't fall out of place when you bang or sway your head on those times you get carried away too much to what you are listening. The foams are designed to be firm (I guess) perhaps because of the model's rugged design approach. This pair can be pretty sweaty during long periods of listening and the tightness can be a bit annoying, so you have to give your ears some rest at some point.

I highly recommend this pair, specially if you want exceptionally clear sound output with a great ruggedly-solid built to match. The carrying pouch is a perfect add-on too! It also comes in 7 colors.


  1. thanks for this review canonista! very helpful! :)

  2. i liked it too.. Thanks for having me try it :-D

  3. This does not totally relate to your post, but you've got great photography skill! What camera do you use? I love your photos. :)

  4. @Ryan: I am using a 500D and thank you for the compliments.