You could say that the AKG K371-BT headphones have a split personality. On one hand, they’re wired studio headphones very much like the AKG K371s. On the other, they’re Bluetooth (5.0) headphones designed for the “mobile lifestyle.”
Alas, due to COVID-19, the mobile lifestyle is pretty limited at the moment. But even if your farthest trips these days are from your studio to the living room, you’ll likely be intrigued by the combination of high-quality sound, dual connectivity and affordable price of the K371-BTs.
In the Bag
These headphones feature an over-the-ear, closed-back design, and AKG developed them for maximum sound isolation and superior bass response. The ear cups are made of memory foam–like material that contours to your ears. Whether you’re using them for long sessions or long flights, they’re quite comfortable.
In addition to adjusting up and down to fit your head, both ear cups swivel by 90 degrees, making the K371-BTs also suitable for DJ use. Not only that, they’re collapsible and can be put—along with their cables—in the snazzy, included cloth carry case.
AKG equipped the headphones with hefty 50mm drivers, making possible an extended frequency range of 5 Hz to 40 kHz. But it’s not just on paper that the K371-BTs are impressive. In use, they provide the professional-level sound quality one expects from AKG studio headphones.
Three different connector cables come with the package: 9.8-foot and 3.9-foot straight ones and a 9.8-foot coiled one. Each has a mini-XLR jack for connecting to the headphones and a 1/8-inch jack on the other end. An 1/8-inch to ¼-inch TRS adapter is also included.
Unplug the cable from the headphones, and the K-371-BTs transform into a high-quality Bluetooth headset. You do have to charge them first with the included USB-A-to-micro-USB cable. They take about two hours to fully charge, which, according to AKG, can yield up to 40 hours of Bluetooth playback time. You can tell the battery and pairing status from the color and behavior of a tiny LED on the side of the left ear cup.
When in Bluetooth mode, the outside surface of that ear cup also functions as a gesture controller. You can swipe up and down to change the volume and left or right to change tracks. A double-tap triggers play or pause.
AKG even built a tiny microphone into the left ear cup for mobile phone or VOIP calls. While it’s a handy convenience, it’s impossible get reasonable sound quality from a microphone that’s literally behind the sound source (your mouth). That said, it’s fine for phone and VOIP calls, which is all it’s designed for. Perhaps a detachable, headset-style mic that’s positioned in front of your mouth would have been a better option.
Learning how to access the K371-BT’s features was a bit of a pain, due to the sparse documentation, which consists only of a pamphlet-like “Quick Start Guide.” It’s one of those multi-language manuals that folds up like a map, with cryptic descriptions and pictograms. If AKG is going to bill the K371-BTs as professional headphones, they should produce a more informative manual. I would happily settle for a downloadable PDF with more in-depth descriptions.
I used the K371-BT in wired mode for both tracking and mixing and was pleased with the sound quality. The highs were crisp, the mids were clean and the bass was tight and not hyped. The over-the-ear, closed-back design gives them impressive sound isolation, which means less outside sound coming in and less bleed leaking out.
In theory, there should be a drop-off in sound quality when switching from a wired connection to Bluetooth audio. But listening to both, I didn’t notice much difference, although it’s impossible to compare them immediately back to back because it takes a moment to switch into Bluetooth mode. You have to unplug the cable and then turn the power on and wait for it to connect. But no matter, the headphones sound excellent in both modes.
In its product videos for the K371-BT, AKG shows people in recording studios with the headphones connected wirelessly. Sure, you could use them in Bluetooth mode for mixing, but why would you when you can plug them in? And you certainly can’t track through Bluetooth because of its inherent latency.
Having It Both Ways
Without question, the K371-BTs are quality studio headphones. Having Bluetooth capability makes them quite versatile. When Covid is more under control, and everyone gets back to traveling more, these headphones will provide even more value.
AKG also makes the less-expensive K361-BT, which is based on the K361 headphones and has a similar dual-mode capability.
PROS: Balanced sound with tight bass; 55mm drivers make extended frequency range possible; Bluetooth mode; ear cups swivel 90-degrees; extremely comfortable; excellent isolation; built-in mic and gesture controller available in Bluetooth mode.
CONS: Cryptic documentation; built-in mic sound quality.