Zit Seng's Blog

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AKG K518LE Review

The first time I put on the AKG K518LE (Limited Edition) DJ headphones, I was immediately struck by the deep fat punchy bass. It was simply awesome. If you’re a bass head, you’re probably going to like these headphones a lot. It’s surprisingly good for a headphone in its price category.

Thanks to Omy.sg, IMS Marketing and AKG, I was provided with this pair of K518LE on-the-ears headphones, the Q350 in-ear headphones (read my review), the Q460 on-the-ear headphones (review coming up). I also had the opportunity to try out AKG’s flagship K3003 in-ear headphones (read my first impressions).

The K518LE is an on-the-ear headphone design. Although it is labelled a DJ headphone, you don’t have to be a DJ to use it, and there isn’t really anything particularly special about its design to make it more suitable for DJ-use than use for other purposes.

Packaging of the K518LE is simple and functional. The entire K518LE is visible from the clear cover, and the wires are neatly tucked into the back.

The K518LE comes in a total of 7 colours: red, green, orange, blue, yellow, fuchsia and white. I suppose AKG wants to make sure there’s something to suit everyone’s fancy. Not quite the 7 colours of the rainbow, but I’m sure you’d find something you like.

Inside the packaging, tucked behind the headphones, you’ll find a nice PVC carrying pouch with the AKG logo printed on one side. A gold plated 3.5mm to 6.3mm adapter is also included, useful if you want to plug the K518LE into a bigger audio gadget.

The wires of the K518LE run down from both ear cups, meeting at a simple Y-junction, then continues on as two wires suck together before terminating in the 3.5mm plug. It’s not my favourite style of cabling, but still perfectly functional.

The headphones are pretty light, weighing in at 150 g (without cable). There is quite a plasticky feel to the build. but they look to be quite rugged, not that you want to be careless and throw them around, but at least not something that requires careful attention when handling.

Comfort and Fit

The K518LE’s ear cups sit on a 360-degrees swivel and a unique folding mechanism, You can easily maneuver them to fit on your ears comfortably. Or, you can fold them into a small, more compact, form for storage. The ear cups fold in at a slightly opposing angle so they can overlap each other. Cushions on the ear cups are pretty comfortable on the ear.

While the ear cups themselves are comfortable, I found the grip of the headband to be too tight for my liking. I don’t have an unusually large-sized head, yet after wearing the K518LE for a while, I start to feel some discomfort from the pressure exerted on my head/ears.

The tight grip means, however, that the isolation afforded by the ear cups are pretty good. You’ll enjoy the music from the K518LE without much distraction from outside noises.

Sound Quality

The K518LE has a single dynamic driver. As I mentioned right at the start, the bass on the K518LE is awfully good. The first time you hear these headphones, you are going to be struck by the deep punchy bass, with excellent bass extension. Unlike some headphones that loose steam at the lowest frequencies, the K518LE continues to pack good punch down to about 20Hz. The bass is reasonably articulate and packs enough details, but I felt they were slightly boomy. However, considering the price of these headphones, the bass is really good.

I found the mids recessed. The highs, while presenting plenty of details, they do not sparkle. I would still consider their performance to be above average, again, considering the price category of these headphones.

The impressive performance from the bass sort of overwhelms and overpowers the mids and the highs. It’s not that the mids and highs performed poorly, just that they don’t measure up with the bass.

Being a closed-back headphone, sound from the K518LE felt up-front and its soundstage is narrow.

Although the K518LE does not need a headphone amplifier, I found that its performance is greatly enhanced when driven by a decent amplifier. I paired the K518LE with a Fiio E10 DAC/amplifier, and it sounded a lot warmer and richer than compared with direct output from either a Cowon J3 or MacBook Pro.

Conclusion

The K518LE is a good looking headphone, comfortable, and offers good isolation. Its tight grip is a little too much for me, but your mileage may vary.

The bass is really very impressive for any type of headphones, even compared with higher-end ones, and the overall sound quality certainly exceeds its price category.

The K518LE retails for $139.90, and you can find them at retail shops such as Stereo.

Pros:

  • Very good bass, good overall sound quality
  • Good isolation
  • Low-price

Cons:

  • Grip is too tight
  • Recessed midrange

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.

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