The monitor headphone market may seem played out, with what seems like every manufacturer offering at least one “studio monitor” in their headphone catalog. Hell, AKG offers a dozen. Such was the state of the headphone market when the AKG K182 landed on my desk – another boring monitor headphone in long string of boring monitor headphones. But when a coworker unequivocally told me about the K182 (“They suck.”), I was curious: Where does this headphone sit in the very saturated arena of monitor headphones?
The K182 is a mostly plastic thing, with a few aluminum parts here and there – thrown in, most likely, to add some weight and class to an otherwise cheap-feeling headphone. There’s a removable cable 3 meters (9.8 feet) in length, and a screw-on 1/4” stereo adapter. Inside the box, a lonely, slim pouch gives me the impression that these headphone are at least somewhat portable.
Given the build quality of these headphones, you wouldn’t beleive that they’re very portable at all. Such is the impression of the rigid plastic that comprises these headphones. The earcups swivel about 270 degrees, and feature plastic extenders. The earpads are pleather, and offer a deep cushion around the ears for some next-level isolation.
All in all, it’s a headphone that feels cheap, but still solid. The K182 has obviously been designed to offer performance on a budget, but just how well does it perform?
When I first listen to some classical music on the K182, I have to agree – this headphone sucks. The soundstage is compressed and notes are harsh on my ears. But would AKG really make a headphone that sounds this bad? I give it another listen, putting on some PJ Harvey.
The soundstage is still a little cramped, but the harshness I was hearing earlier is now more a case of articulation. Undoubtedly, this headphone is a decent performer when it comes to rock music. Hip-hop does exceedingly well with it, too. So I go back to classical music for a moment, avoiding intricate stuff and putting on a minimalist piano piece. Again, a decent sound.
The K182 isn’t a horrible headphone. Like most other closed-back monitors, it suffers from a compressed soundstage, leading it to sound very sub-par when stacked up against airier models. That being said, for the price point, it can still be considered a strong contender.
Should you pick one up?
If you’re a huge fan of a clear and articulate sound, and you don’t mind that slightly-compressed sound, pick one up and don’t look back. If you’re into grand, sweeping orchestral pieces, look elsewhere for a headphone that will give you a corresponding sense of space.