When searching for a new pair of wireless headphones, your checklist might include the likes of noise-cancelling, USB-C quick charge, an auto-off function, and app support with battery life information and EQ alteration. The AKG K371-BT headphones don't have any of these features and yet we’d urge you to keep reading this review.
AKG might argue that these headphones could be put to best use equalising your own tracks, in a home studio. But even for the casual listener, in a sea of wireless headphone propositions, these closed-back over-ears still stand out.
The AKG K371-BT boast a seriously impressive claimed 5Hz to 40kHz frequency response, largest-in-class 50mm drivers with pure oxygen-free copper voice coils, Bluetooth 5.0, and a whopping 40 hours of wire-free listening between charges (supplied via micro-USB charger). There are also three mini-XLR to 3.5mm jack cables supplied for wired listening, including a 3m coiled cable that some wireless headphone users will have seen only on old landline telephones.
The claim, of course, is a professional, studio-quality sound and a design you can wear for hours at the mixing desk, in the booth or on the bus, with the option of also going wireless. Can they deliver the goods both for pro music-makers and those who just want to listen for fun?
There’s something pleasingly enveloping about a really big pair of closed-back over-ears, and if it’s a design you enjoy you may initially rejoice here. Slip them on and your ears are fully covered, with plenty of cushioning, a healthy yet not overpowering clamping force and pleasing levels of physical noise isolation.
Type Over-ears, closed-back
Bluetooth version 5.0
Battery life Up to 40 hours
Frequency response 5Hz – 40kHz
Impedance 32 ohms
We also note during our testing that the K371-BT don’t leak much sound either – impressive in a design that still feels ergonomically svelte, and reassuring if you’re cagey about inflicting your music choice upon others.
If you’re worried they are too big to sling in your bag, AKG has tried to remedy this with a brushed aluminium slider mechanism on the headband that allows the substantial yet slender earcups to click up and down and swivel backwards all the way up into the headband for storage in the supplied fabric bag.
But this is where the problems start. Where the slider and the headband meet, there’s a weak point where it looks like the frame almost comes apart when the headphones are worn. This is an obvious pressure point and we wouldn’t be surprised to see the headband break in this area over time.
It’s out of character for AKG, a firm with a rich history in solid, spot-on designs – particularly when this product is billed as an all-day (and often long into the evening) professional mixing proposition.
The AKG K371-BT include Bluetooth 5.0 and support SBC and AAC codecs, but aptX or aptX HD are seemingly overlooked here. It’s a minor disappointment but hardly a deal-breaker – and of little consequence if you’re mainly plugging them in anyway.
The included microphone means you can take hands-free calls. And the hugely impressive claim of 40 hours of wireless listening rings true; we only have to charge the K371-BT once during our extensive wire-free listening.
The AKGs support gesture controls, which are all done on the left earcup. Success is erratic, though. According to the manual, double-tapping the touch-sensitive, AKG-branded disc on the left earcup should handle play/pause; swiping left or right is supposed to skip forward or go back a track; and swiping up and down ought to increase or decrease volume.
However, commanding the K371-BT this way works less than half the time during our testing. On one occasion, after several failed attempts at resuming playback, the headphones actually disconnect from our device.
We’re reviewing the AKG K371-BT primarily as a headphone proposition for the hi-fi enthusiast and music-lover, rather than a dedicated tool for professional recording and mixing. That said, both parties want similar things: transparency, neutrality, a sound that’s open, detailed, faithful and uncoloured by stylised tuning, lag or poor integration.
That’s exactly what you get with the K371-BT. Any initial brightness we might have heard melts away once these sizeable cans have been properly run in. We grab the coiled cable, plug it in to our MacBook Pro and listen to a hi-res file of Fela Kuti’s Zombie. Picked bass strings are textured, crisp and three-dimensional.
As the drums, shaker, saxophone and regimental layers in Kuti’s creation build, we realise that these cans are a dab hand at separation. There’s actually space around a cowbell and other metallic percussion instruments in the mix – sonic ingredients and entire musical passages that can be lost through lesser headphones.
Search for such sounds when listening through the more affordable, five-star AKG Y400, for example, and you’ll struggle. The presentation in the K371-BT is more open and also far more expansive through the low end.
Switching to wireless playback, we stream Stormzy’s Vossi Bop on Tidal Masters and discover that while these over-ears like to layer, they also love a vocal. Emotion, bite and intent is fed faithfully into our ears when Stormzy raps, with the AKGs revealing a remarkably clean, agile and weighty bass alongside an eager relaying of mixing effects.
We turn our attention to Prince’s When Doves Cry and notice the initial “yeah” vocal-loop as it trails from your left ear, behind your skull, and off via your right temple just before the funk riff kicks in.
In Sia’s Chandelier, meanwhile, the intentional compression, noise and grainy texture that helps dirty up Sia’s range later on is revealed, as the K371-BT continue to dig up more detail than you’d expect for the money. The treble is clear, sparkling and never harsh. While they could be a bit more upbeat in terms of timing, it’s a minor shortfall at this level.
Though you don’t get neat extra features, such as one-touch Spotify launch or USB-C quick-charge, the main job of a pair of headphones is to not get in the way sonically and, as such, the K371-BT do a very good job.
It’s not often we don’t equate good sound with a good review, but there are significant design flaws here that cannot be overlooked. The fragile build isn’t up to AKG’s usual high standards and the touch controls are unreliable. You don't get any of the usual user-friendly features here either, remember – the AKG Y400 and Y500 Wireless both offer auto-off functionality, an Ambient Aware mode and USB-C charging all for slightly less outlay.
If your budget currently maxes out at around the price of the K371-BT, know that they do offer compellingly good sound for the money. However, we cannot heartily recommend a product that is frustrating to use or could break before its time.
- Sound 5
- Comfort 4
- Build 3
Read our guide to the best wireless headphones
Read our AKG Y400 review
Read our AKG Y500 Wireless review