Login or Sign Up
Welcome, !
Logout
Join the HC Newsletter
Subscribe Now!

Flexible reference-quality headphones that are suited to a variety of applications

 

KNS-8400: $249.99 MSRP, $149.99 "street"; KNS-6400: $199.99 MSRP, $99.99 "street"

 

http://www.krksys.com/

 

By Phil O'Keefe

 

 

KRK Systems (more commonly known as simply "KRK") is a company that will be familiar to many recording aficionados; their studio reference monitors have long been regarded as some of the finest available. Now they've turned their attention towards making a new line of headphones; with the stated goal of creating accurate, multi-purpose  headphones that can be used to "record, mix, monitor and enjoy" music. Available in two different models -- the KNS-8400 (Figure 1) and KNS-6400, both feature circumaural ("surrounding the ears"), closed backed design with 40mm neodymium drivers and a rated impedance of 36 ohms.

 

 

8400-lg-1.png

 

Figure 1: The KNS-8400 headphones (Click on images to enlarge)

 

 

SOLID BUILD

 

The build quality of these headphones is very good overall. Like many headphone users, I appreciate light weight, but not at the expense of durability, and despite their low weight (around one half pound, not counting the cable), the KRK headphones have held up well under heavy use. The basic design doesn't allow for the headphones to fold up completely, but the ear cups can rotate 90 degrees, allowing the headphones to sit relatively "flat" for storage. (Figure 2) The headphone cable connects via a twist-locking plug, and attaches to only one "side", which most musicians prefer over a Y type cable design that connects directly to both ear cups. Another nice feature that both pairs of cans share is their serviceability. No matter how well made, things like ear pads and cables can wear out eventually. KRK designed both the 6400 and 8400 with user-replaceable parts. The ear and headband cushions, as well as the cable can be easily removed and replaced by the user as needed.

 

 

6400-lg-4-half-flat.png

 

Figure 2: The headphone cups on both models can rotate 90 degrees for flat storage - KNS-6400 model shown

 

 

KRK includes a screw-on 1/8" to 1/4" adapter, a 2.5 meter (roughly eight feet) cable, as well as a vinyl storage bag and user's guide with the KNS-6400. The KNS-8400 comes with the same accessories, but also includes a useful in-line volume control (Figure 3) that can be inserted in between the headphones and main cable and allows the user to adjust the volume without getting up and adjusting it at the headphone amp. Other optional accessories, such as coiled cables and extension cables are also available.

 

 

KRK\\_Large\\_volume\\_control.jpg

 

Figure 3: The KNS-8400 also includes a detachable, inline volume control module

 

 

COMFORT AND ISOLATION

 

Let's get right to it -- the KRK KNS-8400's are probably the single most comfortable pair of headphones I have ever worked with. The circumaural design means the ear cups fit easily and fully over the ears, and entirely enclose the outer part of the ear without sitting on it. Acoustic memory foam is used in both the ear cups and the headband cushions on the KNS-8400. More than a mere gimmick, it really is quite comfortable, and the soft leatherette covering only adds to that. The cushions conform to your unique head shape and you can actually forget you have them on after a while.

 

The KNS-6400 shares a similar design, but lacks the memory foam of the 8400s. Although the housing size of the ear cups is the same for both models, there seemed to be a little less "room" inside the ear pads of the KNS-6400, and they fit around the outside of my ears a little more snugly than the 8400's. Their light weight and self-adjusting yoke design makes them more comfortable than many competing cans, but their exceptional comfort definitely make the KNS-8400's the model to get if comfort is near the top of your priority list.

 

In a word, the isolation characteristics of both models is excellent, with up to 26dBA of ambient noise isolation from the KNS-6400. The acoustic memory foam of the KNS-8400 increases isolation and reduces leakage even further, and helps give them up to 30dBA of isolation. The combination of great isolation, low leakage and comfortable, lightweight design makes both models well suited to long tracking sessions.

 


SOUND QUALITY AND SUITABLE APPLICATIONS

 

These are very nice sounding headphones, and true to KRK's promises, they really are well suited to a variety of tasks. With very good acoustical isolation, they're a natural for tracking and overdubbing session use. The frequency response is full-range for both models, distortion is very low, the sound is very clear, detailed and defined, and fairly neutral and accurate in overall character, as opposed to being overly hyped like some consumer headphone models. Both models are detailed and solid -- again, not "hyped"; which some people may actually prefer -- in the bass region, smooth and non-fatiguing in the highs, and I was able to listen to both for long periods of time without experiencing ear burnout; all of which helps make them good reference headphones. I did notice some difference in sound between the two models, with the 8400's sounding slightly more open and extended in the highs, and a little lighter in the low midrange, and a touch deeper down low. The 6400s feel a little beefier in the low-midrange region, and have a similar sound, although they seem a bit darker overall. They're also slightly less efficient, with a 95dB SPL @ 1mW rating, as opposed to the slightly more sensitive 8400's, which come in at 97dB SPL @ 1mW. Both models can handle up to 500mW per side and can get plenty loud, so as always, use caution and monitor at safe levels to protect your hearing!

 

Can you mix on them? Well, I for one still prefer to use speakers as a major component of my monitoring system, but for those times when you can't crank up the mains, or when you're on the go and away from your monitors, you can actually use these headphones to get a lot done. You could, in a relatively short amount of time, learn to use them as your primary mix reference, although headphones - especially ones with such good isolation for the individual ears - will never offer the same stereo imaging and overall listening experience as a pair of good studio reference monitors will. Things like panning and stereo effects are still something you may want to double-check on speakers before signing off on your mix, but I was surprised by how well I was able to mix with these headphones as the main reference once I became accustomed to them.

 

Yes, after a couple days of burn-in and acclimatization, you can definitely use either of these headphones as a mix reference. While I'm not giving up on the idea of using monitors, these headphones make a great additional monitoring reference.

 

Their relatively light weight and solid "fit" makes them a good choice for on-the-go listening, although their relative lack of collapsibility and overall size may be a hinderance to mobility for some users. Still, I found them to be very enjoyable cans for personal listening. They were easily driven by my iPhone's headphone output. The outstanding comfort of the KNS-8400 model was especially appreciated when relaxing to some tunes after a long day, and their excellent isolation allows you to enjoy your music without disturbing others, and without being annoyed by the sounds around you.

 


SUMMARY

 

While I liked both sets of headphones, I was really knocked out by the great sounding, exceptionally comfortable KNS-8400. While their street price is 50\\% higher than the KNS-6400, the increase in comfort from the memory foam pads, as well as the increased sensitivity, isolation, inline volume control and more open sound definitely make up for the increase in price. If you're investing in a pair of headphones for personal use, I feel it's worth it to spend a bit more and get the KNS-8400 model. If you're on a tighter budget and need to buy several sets of cans for your studio, the KNS-6400 model retains a similar sound and excellent serviceability, and are still quite comfortable -- just not as exceptionally so as the KNS-8400. Both represent significant and noteworthy new additions to the pro studio headphone market, and would seem to indicate that KRK is just as serious about making exceptional headphones as they are about making first-class speakers. While monitors of any type are an extremely personal preference, everyone I asked to try the KRK headphones made positive comments to me about their detailed sound. That suggests that KRK got the voicing and features "right" for a broad range of listeners -- personally, I'd say they're definitely worth an audition.

 

 

KNS-8400 Specifications:

 

    •    System / Design: Dynamic
    •    Operating System:Closed-back
    •    Head Coupling: Circumaural (Isolating)
    •    Voice Coil: Copper-clad aluminum wire
    •    Driver Type: Low weight neodymium
    •    Driver Diameter:40mm
    •    Sensitivity/Efficiency:97 dB SPL @1mW
    •    Frequency Response:5Hz-23 kHz
    •    Harmonic Distortion: <0.1\\%
    •    Rated Impedance: 36 ohms
    •    Ambient Noise Isolation: up to 30 dBA
    •    Power Handling:(500mW per side as per IEC 60268-7)
    •    Earcup Rotation:90 degrees
    •    Headband Pressure:4 N (based on average head size)
    •    Headband Type: Adjustable / Spring steel skeleton
    •    Ear Cushion type:Acoustic memory foam
    •    Headpad Finish:Premium leatherette
    •    Headphone Finish:Black impact resistant plastic
    •    Volume Control:Detachable/Replaceable low profile inline HQ control
    •    Cable: 2.5 m, (8.2 ft.), 99.99\\% OFC detachable
    •    Connector:Gold-plated stereo 1/8" (3.5 mm)
    •    Cable Connection:Strain relief managed
    •    Adaptor:Screw-on 1/4" (6.3 mm)
    •    Weight without Cable:232 g (0.51 lbs)
    •    Net / Shipping Weight:850 g (1.87 lbs)
    •    Dimensions:245mm x 268mm x 94mm / 9.6" x 10.5" x 3.7"

 

 

KNS-6400 Specifications:
    •    System / Design: Dynamic
    •    Operating System:Closed-back
    •    Head Coupling: Circumaural (Isolating)
    •    Voice Coil: Copper-clad aluminum wire
    •    Driver Type: Low weight neodymium
    •    Driver Diameter:40mm
    •    Sensitivity/Efficiency:95 dB SPL @1mW
    •    Frequency Response:10Hz-22 kHz
    •    Harmonic Distortion: <0.1\\%
    •    Rated Impedance: 36 ohms
    •    Ambient Noise Isolation: up to 26 dBA
    •    Power Handling:(500mW per side as per IEC 60268-7)
    •    Earcup Rotation:90 degrees
    •    Headband Pressure:4 N (based on average head size)
    •    Headband Type: Adjustable / Spring steel skeleton
    •    Ear Cushion type:Acoustic cellular foam
    •    Headpad Finish:Leatherette
    •    Headphone Finish:Black impact resistant plastic
    •    Cable: 2.5 m, (8.2 ft.), 99.99\\% OFC detachable
    •    Connector:Gold-plated stereo 1/8" (3.5 mm)
    •    Cable Connection:Strain relief managed
    •    Adaptor:Screw-on 1/4" (6.3 mm)
    •    Weight without Cable:202 g (0.44 lbs)
    •    Net / Shipping Weight:820 g (1.8 lbs)
    •    Dimensions:245mm x 268mm x 94mm / 9.6" x 10.5" x 3.7"

 

 

 

Phil\\_OKeefe HC Bio Image.jpg

 

 

 

Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Associate Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard and Guitar Player magazines.

No comments
Join the discussion...
Post Comment
More Cool Stuff
News
  Protection Racket Launch Revamped Nutcases     They call thems...
Summer NAMM 2017 - Show Report Hot city, warm people, cool gear   by Craig ...
x
sign in
x
contact us
*Indicates required fields
Name *
Email Address *
Issue Type *
submit
x
message
okay
please wait