Review: AKG K518 LE (Limited Edition)

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AKG has been around for quite some time, dabbling mostly in high end pro-grade headphones and microphones. Lately they’ve been rolling out consumer level headphones, one of which is the K 518 LE.

To start things off, the wide spectrum of color choice for the K 518 LE (Limited Edition) is great, guaranteeing you’ll find the hue that best suits you.  Our review unit came in green, and though it wouldn’t be my personal choice, there are 6 other eye-popping colors to choose from: white, red, orange, blue, yellow, and fuchsia.  The colors do well to accent the overall look, since the semi-exposed metal on the headband inscribed with AKG’s logo isn’t my favorite design choice. Nevertheless, when it comes to pure aesthetics, the K 518 LE will definitely grab attention, and is subtle enough to blend in seamlessly as well.

It has a 60cm (1.9ft) cable and connects via a 3.5mm (1/8”) jack, which is perfect if you’re using these headphones along with a portable device, since the cable length is short enough not to end up in a tangled mess. The earcups measure roughly 6.35cm (2.5 in.) in diameter and the K 518 LE floats in at 150g, making it ultraportable and light. But don’t be fooled by its lightweight, for they feel pretty solid and durable.

This pair of over-ear, closed-back dynamic headphones fit quite snugly and some people (such as myself) might find it a little bit too snug. After roughly an hour or two of use, I could feel a slight pressure or “squeeze” and some slight discomfort on the top of my ears. Moreover, if you wear hats or glasses, you may want to look for something else in AKG’s line up that fits a bit better.

However, the tight fit of the K 518 LE has a great advantage with regards to passive sound isolation. Simply putting them on effectively blocks out ambient noise instantly. So if you constantly find yourself in noisy environments and want to tune out the world, the K 518 LE will do the job, and will do it well.

It has a “unique” 3D-axis folding mechanism that’s touted as being easy to “fold and go”. On the contrary, they are a little tricky to fold up for transport. The earcups swivel to the left a full 360-degrees, but doesn’t go full circle when spun the other way around. They also flip up vertically at only one point and don’t rotate at all once they’re folded up. So in effect, you have to get the K 518 LE into the proper position before stowing it away, as opposed to simply bunching it up into a ball and throwing it into its carrying pouch.

Regardless of that small matter, when it comes to sound quality, this is where the K 518 LE truly shines, which is to be expected from AKG.

Advertised as having “fat bass”, these headphones definitely live up to the phrase, and just might offer the best bass response we’ve heard so far in a pair of cans in this price range, especially when compared to other products in its class. Low frequencies are warm and dip down to 16Hz, with a clear distinction between the “boom” and “punch” of kicks and bass.

High frequencies reach up all the way up to 24kHz, so details in vocals and hi-hats were tight and clear, although could use a little bit more crisp. Soundstage was excellent as well, with clear acoustic spacing and great panning definition. Additionally, with a sensitivity of 115dbL and an impedance of 32Ohms, the K518LE’s offer enough amplification to keep your portable device’s master volume at only halfway.

Since the K 518 LE is semi-targeted at DJs, I took it out on a gig just to see how it holds up in a live setting. The sound isolation was great during previewing and cueing tracks, and it held its own against a blaring monitor nearby. However, the cable was just a tad bit short and I found it difficult to quickly flip to one earcup.

However, the K 518 LE can still serve as a great a pair of cans for DJs who want something ultraportable with great isolation and sound quality. I believe that these AKG’s will shine most though when used with a mobile device, which is probably where most people will buy it for. In short, the K 518 LE is compact, has a great bass response, and will make any song in your playlist sound better.

 

What’s hot:
Lightweight & compact
Excellent passive sound isolation
Excellent bass response

 

What’s not:
Fit might be too tight for some people
Not so easy to fold up
A little pricey

 

Buy Meter: 9.0

 

Bottomline:

If it fits well on your head, the AKG K518LE is an excellent pair of consumer headphones. It’s compact, lightweight and offers great bass response.

 

Suggested Retail Price: Php 4,590

 

SPECIFICATIONS:
Type: Dynamic, Closed-back
Frequency range: 16Hz – 24kHz
Sensitivity: 115dB SPL/V
Max. input power – 2000W
Impedance: 32 Ohms
Weight (w/o cable) 150g
Cable: 99.99% oxygen free
Connection: hard gold-plated 3.5mm stereo mini jack