AKG K1000 Headphone Reviews

Manufacturer AKG Model K1000
Headphone Type Other Headband Type Double
Weight (g) 270 Driver Type Dynamic
Enclosure Material Aluminium Isolation (dB) 0
Impedance (ohms) 120 Cable Length (cm) 2500
Frequency Response (Hz) 30 - 25000  
Connector Other Street Price US$600
Buy from Amazon.com  
Average reviewer scores
Bass Extension 5.0 Bass Impact 7.7
Bass Quality 8.3 Mids Quality 9.0
Highs Quality 9.6 Soundstage 9.9
Detail 9.4 Portability 0.7
Isolation 0.1 Comfort 7.3
Durability 5.7 Improvement With Amplification 9.9
Value for Money 8.0    
Overall Score 8.0 Total Reviews 7

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Reviews by our members

Review by Senior Member dub on 11 Nov 12  14:44
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality7
Highs Quality10

This review is done with the following system: Goldmund SR-DVD (for CD, DVD, DVD-Audio and SACD), preamp Cyrus AV8, Amp Apertura RC50 + AKG selector — and AudioValve RKV as headphone amp

1) Bass extension: AKG indicates that the K1000s can do the 50Hz and begins to weaken at 40Hz
So, there’s a kind of urban legend (at least in France): the K1000s would be unable to let hear some bass. With which I disagree of course.
It depends, first, of the way you use it. The phones have to be set: near the ears, you’ll have more bass but less sound-stage, far the ear, you’ll have more soundstage and less bass.
It depends also of what amp is used to power these headphones: with the AudioValve, specially, I do not feel any lack of bass, even when I’m listening some Buxtehude’s or JS Bach organ music piece. Of course, you can’t have the first step of the organ (but who can?), and not even the second one — I can have the 40 Hz with one db less, but at 30Hz, you already have 6/7db less. But I don’t feel any lack of bass with that headphones.

2) Bass Impact: the best result I ever heard in that range of price — hearing some strings quartet (Beethoven’s by the Prazak quartet on Praga SACD), there’s no problem of confusion between alto and cello, even when there are played in pizzicati.

3) Bass quality: it modulates very well — and you can here everything. In one word, it’s very transparent: and that’s, I think, explains why I do not feel any lack of bass. Of course you can have more gain in the bass with a Sennheiser HD650, or an AKG K340, or a Beyer DT990 etc. But you won’t hear it as well as with the k1000s. But to hear it, you’ll have to be careful with the amp you’ll use. With a Rega Mira, or with a Nad, you’ll feel a lack of transparence and less bass quality (I think it’s the preamp section which causes that). But with a high-end amplifier (my Apertura has been chosen to drive my Thiel 1.5 — but I also tried Nuforce 8.5, Cyrus SmartPower, Goldmund SRM etc), or with a devoted tube headphones amp, as the AudioValve, it works.
One thing more about the bass question: if you love huge and large bass, and listen a lot of modern music, maybe you will prefer others headphones (Sennheiser HD650, AKG K601 or 701, Koss AAA, Beyer DT250 or 990 etc). But these headphones won’t be true with classical music.

4) Mids-quality: another urban legend — the mid quality would be deficient, and become easily aggressive with the K1000s… Which is true…… if you connect it with an amp or a CD player which is aggressive. For example, with the Atoll AM100 amp, or with the NuForce 8.5, and some others. If you use a Pioneer dv656 CD player, you will hear your CD player! But if you change it for a Cyrus CD7 (I only quote the ones I own or did own), you’ll be surprised. I had this problem — and I solved it by choosing the Goldmund SR-DVD and the AudioValve. I’ll soon receive the Jan Meier Corda EarTube: I hope it’ll be a good choice. Then: if you do not want to spend a lot of money and time with the amp-question, you’d better choose a Sennheiser 650 or else.

5) Highs quality: the greatest strength of the AKG K1000s — you can hear anything and it’s never too brilliant. I never feel tired of it. It reminds me the Sony MDR-CD3000 I once owned — but far better (since the Sony would sound probably a little bit aggressive compared with the AKG).

6) Soundstage: result of the design — the most surprising effect with this headphone. If you have tried the Jecklins, or the Ergo 2 headphones — or, even better, the Ergo AMT headphones these are the best headphones in my opinion to provide soundstage to the music. The K1000s is far way better.

7) Detail: you can hear anything — I often have to take the headphone out, to check if I forgot the cut my loudspeakers or not. Everything is said with one word: transparence.

8) Portability: you can’t and would not go out in the streets with it!…

9) Isolation: no isolation at all.

10) Comfort: very good and nearly perfect since it only press the temples (you’ll have to put it on books so that it’ll became it little more loose) — it does not press the ears at all — you do not feel any “injection-in-the-middle-of-the-brain” effect.

11) Durability: I can’t say — I bought mine 4 years ago.

12) Improvement with amplification: as said before, great differences between the amp — you can use the K1000s by connecting it directly on a power amp, or by using the AKG K1000 selector (which, in my opinion, is transparent enough to be used). But the best results for me where with a headphone tube amp: AudioValve PCL805. I will soon change it for the Meier’s Corda EarTube. You can also thing to the MG-Head (OTL version for K1000s) provided by Antique Sound Lab.

13) Value for money: I think it worths its price if you don’t pay it more than 800/1000€ - 1000/1300$ (in mint condition of course for a NOS) — and 7/1000€ for an old used set. It has to be searched on ebay (ebay.de) and on head-fi.

Review by Senior Member humanflyz on 12 Mar 07  22:14
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality10

This review is done on the following system: Stello DP200 DAC, directly driving FirstWatt F1 power amplifier, driving K1000 earspeakers

1) Bass extension: the K1000s are designed to have a roll-off starting around 45Hz, although good amplification definitely helps in this regard. Using tone-sweeps, I personally heard audible bass down to 30Hz, after which it's just silence. The bass roll-off becomes much more severe if they are underpowered.

2) Bass Impact: Impact is one of the best I've heard from headphones. It is fast, tight, and very accurate. Although there is a roll-off, the impact remains very forceful, as you can really feel the hit on the skin of the drum.

3) Bass quality: I feel the bass is very textured, devoid of any excess boom, although I can definitely understand people who complain that they just don't have enough quantity for bass-heavy music like electronica and hip hop. But for me personally, what's there is sufficient. It is very musical, and it gets the tone of bass guitars right.

4) Mids-quality: These have the typical AKG mids, which is to say, full-bodied but not shouty, smooth and not grainy. Out of all the headphones I've heard, only the Orpheus and the R10s have better mids than the K1000s. The midrange has a disappearing quality in the sense that voices literally appear out of a black background.

5) Highs quality: Definitely one of the strengths of the K1000s. The highs seem to extend forever, at least to my ears. The splash of cymbals have never sounded so realistic, and trumpets and horns are reproduced beautifully. If you love your high-frequencies, I can't think of any better choices.

6) Soundstage: This is probably the first thing that grabs most people who listen to them. They have soundstage like no other headphones. It is very speaker-like and avoids the "in-the-head" feeling of most conventional headphones, so listening fatigue is greatly reduced as a result. I have problems going back to regular headphones because regular headphones just can't seem to reproduce this kind of speaker-like soundstage.

7) Detail: It is very detailed and revealing, so bad recordings will sound like what they are: bad. They won't gloss over anything; but on the other hand, if your recordings and the rest of your system is good, you will hear exactly where your money went. You can rest easy knowing that the K1000s won't be the limiting factors in your setup, as I've heard improvements with each and every upgrade I've been made since acquiring the K1000s. I rated it at 9 instead of 10 because of the bass roll-off. With that roll-off, you simply won't hear the lowest of the lows.

8) Portability: Not really applicable, since it would be ridiculous to carry around a power amp to drive these.

9) Isolation: Virtually no isolation both ways.

10) Comfort: For me, these are great, because there is no heat build-up around the ears. But for some people, the temple pads can exert a pressure on the temples that becomes fatiguing. This is not a problem for me.

11) Durability: The pair I own is from the early 90s, and it's still going strong today. So from this, you can see that these are built very well.

12) Improvement with amplification: Amplification is a must. Under-powered, these headphones will sound like crap: excessively bright, no bass, and a collapsed soundstage. You really do need an amp for speakers to drive these optimally. Properly amped, these are one of the best headphones you can get.

13) Value for money: I rate the value as good, but it's good in the sense that it can compete with the best of the best (R10s, Qualias, Orpheus, etc). Sure, the headphones are out of production, so a NOS pair will have a premium, and good amplifiers for these are speaker amps that cost way more than your average headphone amplifier, and you'll also need a good source since these are extremely revealing. But in light of how much their competitors cost, the K1000s can be said to be a bargain in headphone hi-fi.

Review by Senior Member j-pak on 10 Mar 07  05:59
Individual review
Bass Extension7
Bass Impact9
Bass Quality9
Mids Quality10
Highs Quality10

The AKG K1000 is a completely open earspeaker. It scales extremely well with improving source and amp, I can say I've never heard a headphone that responds so well to the associated equipment. But you don't need to spend a huge amount to get them sounding great. I'm using a Lavry DA10 as source (DAC) with a Pass Aleph 30 poweramp; 30 watts of pure power in Class A. Many Headfi'ers have noted synergy with the Pass Labs amps. In order to absorb everything that the K1000 has to offer you need to listen in a very quiet environment. I'll go over my breakdown of points, and then expand more on the overall big picture.


Bass extension:
The K1000s weakest area. Claimed that it rolls off at 40 Hz, using bass sweeps I've noticed it rolls off at 30 Hz. In reality most headphones aren't able to reproduce anything other than a "mumble" below 25-30 Hz. The K1000 is just silent below 30.
Bass extension is very, very amp dependant. I've heard the K1000 on very poor (read out of a external sound card) roll off at 45 Hz. With better amps the K1000 can definitely hit the lowest of lows.
This only bothers me for classical, where bass extension to the lowest frequencies is required in order to get a sense of the concert hall size. For all rock, acoustic and jazz music, which makes up 95% of what I listen to this roll off makes very little difference.

Bass Impact:
I listen with the K1000 toed out approximately 1.5 cm (roughly 30 degrees). At this angle the K1000 has loads of bass impact. It makes the music more fun to listen to, and gives bass guitar and bass drums that palpable "real life" feel. The further out you move the earspeakers the weaker the bass gets. I listen to acoustic music with the earspeakers almost toed all the way out, since bass impact really doesn't matter much.

Bass Quality:
Very, very textured. I can get a real sense of the instrument's tonality, location, and "energy". Very important for jazz pieces.

Perfect. Not colored, natural, does absolutely nothing to offend. Male and female voices sound as real as I've ever heard on a pair of headphones and speakers (though my hifi speaker exposure is very limited, there is no doubt a pair of speakers out there that can make you feel like the performer is performing in your room). If I close my eyes on a very nice vocal piece I can imagine that the singer is a few inches away from me. Since I rate the K1000 midrange so highly it's only fair to say that the second best midrange I've heard was from the R10 (possibly HE90, not enough time spent with them)

Very extended, very detailed. Sibilant on sibilant recordings. Very revealing of poorer recordings and source and amp. When I first used these running out of a integrated external USB soundcard I couldn't use the K1000 for more than 2 hours at a time since they were so fatiguing. With the new source and amp, it's not uncommon of me to spend 4-6 hours on weekends just immersing myself in music with the only breaks being an album change. The Pass has some "tube qualities" to it there's no doubt about that, and it makes the K1000 treble more pleasant.

Again the best I've heard on a pair of headphones. The K1000 can be considered cheating since they have no pads to seal around your ears. The drivers sit at variable distance from your ear depending on placement. But given their complete openness and natural crossfeed, the perceived soundstage is enormous. Yet intstruments are never placed in the extremes, unless the recording engineer intended for that. Sounstage is very important in any pair of headphones for me since it's required to make jazz, acoustic and live rock come to life.

Micro and macro detail is incredible. The second best in micro detail I've heard is the SR-404, and maybe SA5000. But the K1000 presented details I've never heard in music that the previous headphones didn't show. Still detail isn't pushed in your face, it's simply there. But lets face it these aren't miracle workers, most low level detail still requires careful listening.

They really aren't portable. At all.

Nope none. The leakiest headphones ever.

I use the temple pads notched out 1 (on both sides) and I have no temple pressure whatsoever. I do have a small head though. Still my HD580 which has a very stretched out headband is slightly more comfortable in the short run. But once I have the K1000 on for a couple of hours, they just disappear.


Improve with amp:
The most amp dependent headphone I've ever heard.

Value for the money:
Getting more and more expensive used. And rated lower since it will cost more than a standard headphone if you want to get the most out of them. Also rated lower since $600 is not the street value (at that price it would be a great value, much higher rating)

In conclusion I think the K1000 is one of the best values in the high end market as a headphone alone. However building a system around them will not be cheap. I haven't found a headphone amp that can drive them perfectly, just adequately. Thus a poweramp or integrated (pricey) is usually the best bet. The K1000 has made me stop wanting a top headphone, and instead I'm now looking for side alternatives for very specific uses (portable, isolation, cheap, etc).

Review by Senior Member KrooLism on 09 Mar 07  05:06
Individual review
Bass Extension4
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality10
Mids Quality10
Highs Quality10

Bass Extension - 4 (I'm about to try with two small sub-woofers)

Although not having a lot of bass extension, the impact and quality of the bass is exceptional. 8 and 10 respectively.

Mids and Highs Quality - pretty much as good as it gets.

Soundstage and Detail - perfect 10's.

Portability - 1. Only amp I can think of is the RWA Sig 30
I dare someone to walk down the street with that setup. :)

I find these cans somewhat comfortable in their own unique way. 8

Not very durable though. Only gave a 5. The aluminium casing is no match for the Senn 650's tough titanium outer housing.

Amplification - 10. No way you can drive these headphones without an amp.

Review by Senior Member PsychoZX on 29 Jul 06  16:40
Individual review
Bass Extension4
Bass Impact8
Bass Quality8
Mids Quality9
Highs Quality8

Bass Extension - It is quite well known that these cans are rolled off steeply after about 45hz, but for me this is not even noticeable for 98% of the music I listen too.

Bass Impact – While the bass is rolled off the bass that is there is quite defined and has great impact.

Bass Quality – The Bass quality on these headphones is very good. The bass is tight and very detailed.

Mids Quality – Typical of an AKG headphone the mids are absolutely fantastic. There are only two headphones that in my opinion have a better midrange, the Sennheiser HE-90 and the Sony MDR-R10.

Highs Quality - The highs are very extended but can be a bit harsh on bad recordings.

Soundstage – No other headphone has a larger soundstage than the K1000, period. The imaging is excellent as well.

Detail – These are very detailed headphones and will not show mercy at all with bad recordings or equipment.

Portability – N/A, these were not designed to be portable at all

Isolation – N/A, these are about as open as a headphone can be.

Comfort – I find them to be very comfortable (especially when it is hot) although some users have problems with the temple pads causing discomfort after a while.

Durability – These headphones are built very well and feel quite solid to me.

Improvement With Amplification - These headphones require a good speaker amp to reach their full potential. Most headphone amps are unable to drive them properly.

Value for money - Although their retail price is quite high I feel these are an excellent bargain. The typical price for these used is around $700-800 and considering that I and many others feel that these headphones can compete with headphones such as the HE-90 ($5000-6000) and R10 ($3000-4000) that makes them really special IMO.

Review by Senior Member the terabyte on 28 Dec 04  15:34
Individual review
Bass Extension2
Bass Impact7
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality8
Highs Quality9

As I feel the aforementioned criteria are sufficient to determine the essential qualities of the K1000s, I will attempt to elaborate on why I selected the various scores I did.

Bass Extension - 2

It is well-known that these 'phones start to roll off at around 50Hz, but although this can be noticed with missing subbass notes in organ music, it isn't at all noticeable otherwise. In reality, the roll off is quite gentle until 35Hz after which nothing can be heard at all.

Bass Impact - 7
Bass Quality - 7

While they may not have the extension of other 'phones, what bass they do emit is extremely impactful and tight. Perhaps I've gotten too used to this type of bass, but many "high-end" headphone's bass now sounds flabby by comparison. It is only rated 7/10, though, because even though there is a separate category for extension, I believe that both the Impact and Quality are negatively affected when extension is limited as it is here.

Mids Quality - 8

The mids on these headphones can be amazingly smooth, or nasal and discomforting depending on what amplification is used. Paired with a powerful tube amp the sound is almost liquid. From my experience with various solid state (Grace 901 and integrated amps) they don't pair as well with the K1000s as tubes. I should note here that people are having good luck with the Tripath chipset amplifiers, but I have not tried those.

Highs Quality - 9

I really love the treble on these headphones. Unlike my previous Grados and Sonys, it's not at all fatiguing (with my amplifier) but at the same time extremely present and clear. Almost too clear. I say that because when you hear something from a distance, it usually suffers a bit of treble attenuation due in part to room absorption. These have almost too much to be believable with some recordings, but nevertheless it is fantastic. This could be in part to a 2Khz spike that some have measured as creating a bit of a metallic sound, as well. They do sound more natural with this spike removed, though don't do nearly as well with electric guitars.

Soundstage - 9

The best I've heard on headphones, anyway (second would be the HE90 which had better imaging, I'd say). I don't really believe in soundstage with headphones, but with the earspeakers "flapped out" one does get almost the same feeling that nearfield listening with speakers provides, but without the tangible imaging. Overall, if you want speakers but can't afford to use them (either cost or noise issues), these would probably be the closest you could get, although the Sennheisers try to replicate the speaker sound in a different way and so may be another option (which I won't get into).

Detail - 9

At least as detailed as my Etys and, from my memory, the HE90/Stax Omega 2 (although these were both heard under meet conditions so take that with a grain of salt). I'm not really a huge fan of detail as I tend to get caught up in the music too much to bother with that kind of stuff (I can't even listen to the lyrics, let alone whether or not I can hear the keys of the 1st clarinet hitting before a note is played). Anyway, if you're after detail, these will do just fine for you.

Portability - 1

I was unsure whether or not to rate these N/A or 1, but chose 1 because in theory one could use them portably. I would not recommend it, though, both because you wouldn't really be able to hear the music, you wouldn't get the most out of them without an AC power source or a big battery, and you would get laughed off the street (if you care about that).

Isolation - N/A

No other headphone is more open (MDR-F1 may give competition), they don't even touch your ears. End of story.

Comfort - 7

This is really not something that can be rated universally for these headphones (like anything really can, but I digress). For me, on my head, and in my listening environment, they are extremely comfortable. The CD3000 was much more comfortable in the short term, but got hot in warm weather, a problem these don't have. They are more comfortable with the earspeakers folded more inward as this helps to evenly disperse the weight over the 4 pads (the back two of which I have fully extended). Personally, I can listen for longer than most would consider healthy without ANY discomfort, hence the "Good" rating.

Durability - 7

They are certainly extremely well crafted, with nice materials (leather, aluminum, very hard plastic). There are two faults, though. For one, the plastic is so hard that its brittle and can easily crack if subjected to an impact. I know I have seen several K1000s with broken tightening levers for sale. Second, the headband is a self-adjusting unit, which means that of course the elastic will soon wear out. I opened mine to find it was actually rubber they used. Unfortunately, the rubber is built into the leather headband, which is locked into an even larger structure so replacing it will cost you a hair over $60 (quoted by AKG themselves).

Improvement with Amplification - 10

I'm unsure why this section culminates with "Perfect, as good as live" as I consider having to spend tons on amplifiers just to power these things a bit of a pain. That said, I rated it as such because they will NOT work without some kind of amplifier. They will function with even modest high voltage amps (they even work out of my Echo Indigo--on full volume) but you MUST have enough current to give the bass the much needed kick to make up for the missing extension. I would recommend skipping "headphone" amps and going to speaker amplifiers if you want to see what they can really do. That said, as mentioned above, people have great luck with the Tripath amplifiers, and whether or not this is just a fad will remain to be seen.

Value for Money - 7

This comes with a caveat and the reason I didn't rate them any higher. New, they could an almost unbelievable $750. Now, I would actually pay that for this sound if I had that much to spend on headphones, but alas I don't. Lucky for me, I bought them back when they were $200 less. Lucky for you, they go for around $400 used. I have to agree with those who say they are among the best deals in this hobby, if you consider the used price, as they are to me bettered only by headphones costing upwards of a thousand dollars more (and then only marginally and in few areas). There is the hidden cost of finding an amplifier that works well with them, but if the Tripath amplifiers work as well as people say they do, this may no longer be an issue.

I have owned these for well over a year now and have no intentions of "upgrading" either my amp or headphones (and haven't for a year, so I guess I'm doing pretty well). I would recommend listening to them before you buy, as they are decidedly different than any other headphones. I should also state that I did have a period in which I questioned whether or not I could go on owning them and whether or not I should sell them and switch no nearfield monitors. This all came out of the fact that while the K1000s are amazing headphones, they are almost speakers instead that just happen to be affixed to your head. This means they're decidedly inconvenient in terms of mobility and soundstage. Thus, at the time, I thought that they were just like nearfield speakers but without the advantages of speakers, and so I pondered selling them. Of course, couldn't bring myself to part with the K1000s as I was unable to find any powered speakers for less than $1000 that could come close to the involving sound my current setup gives me. And so I move onward, K1000s on head, smile on face.

Review by Member FLECOM on 05 Dec 04  19:12
Individual review
Bass Extension4
Bass Impact4
Bass Quality7
Mids Quality10
Highs Quality10

ok a few things, these headphones have 0 isolation, they dont even touch your ears... also they have a 4 pin XLR jack, and come with a cable to go to 4 loose leads, to hook into a power amplifier.... why a power amp for headphones? well these things are incredibly difficult to drive, and hardly qualify as headphones... you need at the very least 10 to 15 watts to use these headphones to their fullest... also they really drop off around 50hz, they have very weak bass, but it is very well defined until it rolls off... these are definately not bass cans... but if you want to hear every little detail and hear the clearest most amazing musical expierence ever... the K1k's are for you

AKG K1000
AKG K1000
AKG K1000