Review - Drop Cavalli Tube Hybrid (CTH)

Review - AKG K371

(si prefieres ver esta review en español, haz click aquí)

(I apologize for the quality of images in this review, I accidentally wiped the photos I took of the K371, therefore I will post a couple of screenshots from the YouTube version of the review)

Intro…

The AKG K371 are a set of headphones that are marketed as folding studio headphones with accurate, neutral sound and extended frequency response. They have been around for a couple of years now and have become a common recommendation for budget orientated closed back headphones, along with their smaller (ie: cheaper) alternative, the K361. The K371 are currently available on Amazon for just over 100€.

To be honest, I haven’t had any time to do any music production lately and it has been a long time since I was in a studio (before Covid), so my review of these headphones is based solely on using them for music reproduction, for enjoyment, not as a tool which is what their main marketing purpose is.

Presentation…

The K371 arrives in a typical cardboard box with an image of the headphones on the lid and various specs and other information around the exterior.

Upon opening the box, we find the headphones sitting in a folded cardboard shape. There is a 3.5mm to 6.35mm adapter also in a cardboard cut out (well, really it’s just a hole) on the top level.

Below the top cardboard layer we find the usual user manual along with a fabric drawstring bag that contains 3 cables. The three included cables are one short straight cable, one long straight cable and one coiled type cable, all of which terminate in a 3 pin mini xlr at the headphone end and a 3.5mm TRS at the other.

The presentation is not anything special but including three different cables is a nice touch and while the drawstring bag will not protect the headphones from bumps and drops, it does protect them from dust when not in use and can also be used for transport, as long as you don’t let it bang around too much.



Build and aesthetics…

Let’s start with the aesthetics. These are plain looking headphones that really don’t stand out from so many other budget offerings, except maybe for the folding mechanism. They aren’t something that I would be attracted to but they are not really offensive in any way either, so I can’t really complain.

As far as build quality, here is where I have heard complaints from other people but in the week or so I have had these headphones, they have not had any issues (yet).

The folding mechanism is a different approach to many other folding headphones. In the case of the K371, they use a pivot to swing around on themselves and fold into the headband area. The same pivoting point is where the headphones slide up and down to adjust the length of the headband. The headband seems to be made of plastic (it is covered in a faux leather material so I can’t really tell) and the bottom extension arms are made of metal, which gives the headphones a bit of extra weight. As I said, I haven’t had any issues but I can totally see the pivot being the weakest link here.

The cups don’t have a huge amount of swivel or adjustment but it is enough, at least for me personally. The pair I have also do not exhibit any creaking noises that I have heard about from others. Again, this may appear with time, I can’t say.

As far as comfort, I don’t find them extremely comfortable. Of course this is personal but the padding on the headband is insufficient in my opinion and creates a hot spot on the top of my head.

The pads aren’t very thick either and with the current clamp force (remember these are still new) they compress enough to allow my ears to touch the drivers which are covered with a thin transparent material.

However, the weight is nice, they are not heavy headphones but they aren’t so light that they feel like they are fake.

One nice thing about the pivoting system is that you can fold one cup backwards and still have the headphones securely on your head. This is very useful for people like DJs, or just monitoring when you want to follow the track but keep one ear free.



Sound…

Let me start off by saying that these headphones are very easy to drive. With an impedance of 32 Ohms and a sensitivity of 114dB, they will run off anything. I have powered them from my phone, dongles, an M0 and also from the usual Atom and Heresy, all of which powered them with ease and did not seem to affect the overall quality at all (well, except maybe my phone which doesn’t sound great but that is not the headphones fault.

In comparison to the other budget closed back headphones that I have on hand, the AudioTechnica M40X and the Beyerdynamic Custom Studio, these (the K371) are much easier to drive in comparison.

The sub bass extension on the K371 is rather well extended, although it is not very smooth. It seems to have a step up as the frequencies get lower, sort of like having two bass shelves. It is not something that is too bad but can be noticeable in tracks that have a lot of movement around the sub bass area. The sub bass on the M40x is almost nonexistent in comparison and it isn’t really fair to compare the Custom Studio due to the different bass tuning options.

In general, the bass frequencies are boosted but they are not too exaggerated. I find them quite pleasing for a lot of music that depends upon bass, such as EDM etc. However, if the recording has a lot of bass, I do find that they can become a little overpowering for my tastes, but remember that I am not much of a bass head myself.

The quality of the bass is not amazing but is more than acceptable for a headphone in this price bracket. Things are not exactly highly defined but the smoothness can work well for many tracks that have simple bass hits, however, when talking about music that has a lot of movement in the bass areas, such as drop tuned metal etc. then I find them to become a little blurry as they struggle to keep up with fast bass lines. Listening to regular bass lines, such as those on “No Ordinary Love” by Sade, they don’t come across as very boosted but are again not as defined as I would like.

The transition into the mids is not at all bad, especially in this price bracket and the mids of these headphones are very pleasurable in my opinion. While the mids are slightly rolled off, they don’t lack presence at all and vocals sound very natural. I listened to the album “Graceland” on these and found that they do a very good job of portraying both Paul Simon's voice and the backing vocals. In general the mids sound very clean and I would say they are my favourite part of the K371.

In the higher mids, the K371 rolls off smoothly to a dip around 4kHz without actually boosting the 3kHz mark. In comparison to the M40x, this sounds much more natural. They keep voices present without seeming harsh.

The higher regions of the K371 are maybe a little darker than I would prefer but they are again not bad at all for a headphone of this type and in this price bracket. I did miss some of the shine and a bit more air on a great number of tracks but this is my personal preference and would probably not be something that the majority would look for.

As far as sibilance, I listened to the usual test track songs such as “Code Cool” and “Hope Is a Dangerous Thing”, both of which were presented without sibilance or harshness. I again found them to be a little darker than I would prefer but it is not a deal breaker.

Speed and definition is not the strongest point of these headphones and there are parts of busy songs where I feel that the 50mm driver struggles to keep up the pace but to be fair, in those tracks the M40x does not do any better (in fact it does worse) and the Custom Studio is only slightly better.

As far as soundstage, these are not very wide but are not overly intimate either. For a closed back headphone I would say that they are acceptable and for 100€, I would say the are pretty good. The placing of images inside this width is not amazing either but it is very smooth. While they don’t pinpoint a sound to the mm, the transition of the pencil from left to right in “Letter” is very smooth and doesn’t give the impression of any jumps.



Conclusion…

The AKG K371 is a headphone that is supposed to follow the Harman curve pretty closely, which is to be expected as AKG are owned by Harman (Samsung). The Harman curve is a tuning that is aimed to be pleasing to the majority of listeners, which I can understand the K371 being just that.

For my personal tastes, I would prefer to drop the bass a little and add a little more in the higher regions, making them sound a little brighter but I get tired of dark sounding headphones pretty quickly. I am not saying that these are very dark sounding headphones but they are just not quite bright enough for me personally.

In comparison to the M40x, I would certainly recommend these over the Audio Technica version. The K371 just seems to be better overall, everything is polished a bit better. In comparison to the Custom Studio, I would probably still pick the Beyerdynamics if I could only have one, but the possibility to change bass response is a large factor in that decision.

As the K361 supposedly has a lighter bass response, I think that I will give those a try and see what I feel about them in comparison to the K371, they may fit my overall tastes a little more.

At the end of the day, I feel like the K371 are a good option for anyone looking for a portable closed back headphone for general listening and doesn’t want to spend a fortune. They are a good set of headphones that will be liked by a large percentage of the general public that buys them. They would be a great choice for those looking to buy for someone who is not heavily into the headphone world.

SenyorC