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October 2011

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review KRK KNS-8400 headphones S By LUKE HARPER Owner Audio Altimeter Minneapolis After lifting a pair from a colleague, this reviewer felt the need to share his thoughts. o I've never been a KRK guy. Which is not to say that they don't have worthy and excellent products, I've just never spent a lot of time in studios that feature them. But they have a great reputation and are used by some of the best in the business. And this is why I grabbed a pair of new KRK KNS-8400 headphones out of a col- league's hands recently. You see, we all have our sub-$200 headphones that we love. Being human, we typically find a pair that's really appeal, then settle for, and then die defending. Like a lot of folks in our industry, my pair was the venerable Sony MDR-7506. I love these headphones. They gots the mad low-end, the reasonable mids, the slightly bitey highs and, arguably most importantly, the longevity. Plus, they're comfortable. So basically they sound predictable and great while taking a lot of abuse, which is about as high a praise phrase as there is in the world of headphones. Because we typically don't finish on head- phones — be us music, master or post engi- neers — we may refer to, enjoy on, or mess y ref WHY I LIKE THEM So being a longtime recording engineer, I look at $100+ headphones immediately by scoping out the left ear: that's where the wires come in. Is it solid? Are these gonna lose an ear in a week after four VOs and a mando- lin player? Well... no. The KRKs have a distinct feel, and it isn't cheap at all. Frankly, it's thick and firm. Yeah. So there that is. I don't think these are gonna drop or wuss out in the first six months of abuse. So the money has been well spent in the first place. Os and a mando- But, how do they sound? Fantastic. Seri- ously. They sound great. The spatial aspect is as good as any headphones I've ever heard under $800 (Grado, AKG, Sennheiser, Sony) and the bass is just right. under $800 (Gr So let's break that down… Spatial: these headphones offer a wider sonic field than I am used to in headys. I mix on Focal mids, which are notorious/glorious for huge spatial ranges. These headphones did not make me feel sad and/or mono-ish. They are just as wide as they need to be without feeling like they are trying to pull some weird phase/shift aural magic. around with headphone mixes. But, we don't start to finish on them. Why? Because physics don't favor the results. Tiny super-focused drivers do not a generally well-defined fin- 48 Post • October 2011 Bass: It's fun to bitch at headphones for being bass-wussy. Physics is immutable, though. The KRKs put out without being gimmicky on the subject. What should have been there was, and what would have been a lie was not. That is to say, they were per- ished product make. We pride ourselves on the results of our far mains, our mid-mains, our near-fields and our "bass-challenged real- world systems." We've done our sonic home- work dammit, here's your mix. Take it, love it, live it, thanks! All of which is to say, I wanted a new mir- ror mirror on the wall, and the KRK KNS- 8400s fell into my lap. So here's what hap- pened: They're great. Seriously. Go drop the suggested $150 and then call me up and yell at me to complain that you hated them. My number is 612-337-5697. I'm not super wor- ried about it. Why am I so blasé about random-stranger phone-calls bitching about headphones? Because the KRKs, as previously mentioned, are great. Being that they weren't thrust at me as an obvious review, I haven't even read any of the sales material as of this writing. They could be claiming them as the new inner- peace of headphones, it doesn't matter. The basic fact is they do what headphones should. VITAL STATS PRODUCT: KRK KNS-8400 WEBSITE: PRICE: $149.99 · wide sonic field · honest bass response · straight and rugged cord fectly fine on the mixes I put them through. Mid/High: The mids were fine. The high-end didn't try to eviscerate my ears in an attempt to prove a point. Everything worked in concert to reinforce the aforementioned spatial accuracy. So there's the nuts, and the bolts. I will happily post a six- and 12-month follow-up note to report on the longevity of the phones if my charming and brilliant editor is cool with it. Editor's note: she is. For now, I have to stand by my control pair of Sony 7506s, which average a good nine months of actual, real use/abuse. A principal differ- ence in design though is the cord: Whereas the Sonys have the classic curled cord, the KRKs have a straight and tough feeling cord. The tip is 1/8-inch with a 1/4-inch screw, so... pretty standard, and pretty damned convenient if you lose an adapter. Because I know that you probably have a 1/4-inch within reaching distance right now. FINAL THOUGHTS I was not given these to review. I didn't actu- ally know that KRK had headphones. But they do and they are great on all fronts, which is why I bought a pair, full price, and am enjoying them as we speak.

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