The AKG K450 – The subtle alternative to the bad boy Beats bass-heavy range?
After reading Gary’s reviews of the B&W headphone range I thought I should join the fray with a review of my AKG K450s. I listen to music a lot and since the days when I bought top of the range Sony Walkmans (yes that of the cassette tape variety kids!) I’ve always upgraded the cheap and nasty in-box headphones for something that makes the most of the music capabilities of the device rather than strangle the sound at source.
Apple’s standard headphones are quite frankly a joke and I usually rely on Sennheiser to replace them with the incredible sounding, incredibile value CX300 fones that improve the audio quality no end. However, Beats by Dre have made over the ear headphones as much a fashion statement as a piece of audio kit and I’ve been keen to get my hands on some for a while now.
I was very tempted to join the Beats-bois and nearly pressed the ‘Buy Now’ button on more than one occasion but after loads of research and some testing I chose to spend my hard earned cash on a pair of AKG K450 headphones.
The consensus opinion in all the expert reviews (What HiFi – Headphones of the Year 2011), and many user reviews was that if you valued sound quality and comfort above style and branding the AKG K450 were the best headphones for around the £100 mark. Now I’d never heard of AKG – they apparently make super-expensive reference headphones for home use – so this felt like a bit of a risk. The fact I picked them up for £50, about half the original retail price, made the decision a lot easier.
First impression of the K450′s was that the design was good but not beautiful. The navy/grey finish isn’t particularly sexy but then you’re buying these partly because you value sounds over style. The headphones are nice and light – really important if you want to wear them for extended periods when travelling or crouched over a laptop for several hours at a time – but at the same time they feel solidly built and well engineered.
The clever folding design means the headphones stow away nice and snugly in the accompanying hard case which means they will survive a bit of a battering in a your gadget laden bag!
The biggest concern I have with the product design itself is with the cables. There a range of short and long cables included in the pack but they and particularly the connectors are all a bit thin and fragile. Most headphone connectors I’ve used in the past few years have an L-shape so that they are less likely to get damaged when attached to your iPhone in your pocket. The use of a proprietary bayonet style connector on the end which connects to the headphones also means you can’t replace them with a more sturdy Beats style cable.
In terms of sound quality the AKG K450′s live up to their billing. I’m no audio expert but I am fussy about sound quality. The K450′s sound great with all genre’s I’ve tried and my eclectic tastes shift from Bombay Bicycle Club to Nirvana, Gorillaz to Jay-Z and far beyond.
There’s plenty of bass, not Beats by Dre levels but more than enough, just the right spread of highs and mid. You hear all the detail of the track to which you are listening, whatever the genre. Importantly there’s no sound leakage meaning you won’t be annoying your fellow tube passengers when you crank up the volume.
I’ve tried them head to head with the Beats Solo headphones and in my opinion they sound far better for less than half the price (if you shop around) and perhaps most important of all you dont look like yet another sheep following the Beats flock.
So in summary, if you want good value but amazing sounding over the ear heaphones rather than a pure style statement the AKG K450′s could be for you – and at £50 they are a steal! A five star product even at full price.
What headphones do you rock? What’s more important to you – style or sounds? Let us know in the comments section below.