I had the opportune few moments to try out AKG’s latest flagship in-ear monitors, the K3003, a couple of days ago. There is definitely an air of exclusivity and elegance surrounding the K3003, starting the moment you unbox it. It’s like opening a jewel box. There is no bling in the gray box itself, but the K3003’s stainless-steel shell almost seems to be sparkling, and the whole packaging certainly exudes a sense of premium quality.
Now, there are in-ear monitors, with varying performance and quality, to suit every budget. The K3003 doesn’t come cheap, and clearly it’s targeted at the more affluent music listeners willing to invest in top quality audio products to satisfy their listening pleasure.
The K3003 is a true 3-way design, one driver each for high, mid and low frequencies. Each bud comprises two balanced armature drivers and one dynamic driver, encased in a tiny brushed stainless-steel cylinder case, and capped off with interchangeable acoustic filters to suit your listening preferences. Six pairs (two each for small, medium and large) of slightly translucent white hypoallergenic ear sleeves are included.
The 1.2m long wire that come with the K3003 is, quite uniquely, made from two types of materials. The bottom end, from the connector to the Y-junction, is made with a fabric material, while the other portion from the Y-junction to the buds are made with a silicone material. I would personally have preferred to have the fabric material all the way. The wire is free from microphonics, and it is largely tangle-free. The wires are not, unfortunately, removable.
I did not listen to the K3003 long enough, and not in the best conditions, to speak about its audio qualities. I shall have to do this in another post. But here’s my casual first impressions, playing off a Cowon J3 player. The K3003 does not disappoint, performing with impressive crystal clarity and brightness, especially in the mids and highs. Bass extension is excellent, although I would have loved to have more punch (not that it is lacking, it’s just my preference). For a universal in-ear monitor, the K3003 is superb.
The three acoustic filters provided let you choose from neutral reference, bass boost and high boost. I personally don’t like my music tainted. However, just to test if the bass boost filter would satisfy my preference for a punchier bass, I gave that a shot. It does give the bass more support, overall warmth, but at the cost of slightly muted highs.
AKG says this is the world’s smallest true 3-way reference quality earphones. It’s definitely tiny, the smallest I’ve seen. They are also reportedly individually hand-made, and each set is uniquely identified by a serial number. Hence the air of exclusivity around it.
Oh, did I mention the price? It’s a cool $1599.
If you’re interested to audition the K3003, head down to Stereo’s outlets at Plaza Singapura (#04-06) or Ion Orchard (#B4-23/24).
This post was originally written as part of my participation in Omy.sg’s K3003 / The Sound of Luxury blog. I’m now reposting some of those posts, with some minor edits, on my own blog.