Sep 27th 2013
Twenty years on I still know why these changed what I thought about headphones, they are outstanding. But they are huge and clumsy and being open backed, leak sound so badly they are nowhere near suitable for office use.So I just bought some AKG's. I was attracted to K452's as they are the android compatible update to the K451 which has received some very positive reviews. Closed back and highly portable and at £60 a reasonable price for “good” headphones.
Overall I am really impressed, they are very comfortable, have a pleasant sound, barely leak at all even at moderate listening levels and the nice travel case and replaceable lead (there is even a spare lead with no remote included) give the impression they will last a while.
Considering the “fashion” headphones at this price point and how terrible they sound in comparison ( yes I did try some Beats Audio cans for a laugh ), I think these are very good value.Some compromise had to be made though...There would be something very wrong if a pair of highly portable closed can travel headphones could compete with my beloved Sennheisers. But by golly the AKG's have a good stab at it. It's probably fair to say though that they aren't challenging enough to be a serious listening headphone.
Their character is completely different and perhaps somehow more neutral although there is a definite warmness which makes them very easy to listen to but might annoy some listeners.However I think for my intended application this is not necessarily undesirable and the absence of any significant leakage up to pretty reasonable listening levels combined with a nice level of isolation (you'll hear train announcements enough to pull them off but background chatter is significantly muted.) make them the ideal commute/office headphone.
The replaceable leads, Android compatible remote nice travel case and built in mic are all welcome additions. Though the owner is left to figure out for themselves how to drive the one button remote which I think is unfortunate.I deliberately tried some tracks I know can be challenging for headphone listening
Pristeen – Julian Cope
AKG's not as bright as the Sennheisers....very slight boxiness but only noticeable in direct comparison. Much easier to drive and go very loud on any source.
Alphabet St - Prince
The Sennheisers are ruthlessly accurate...every artefact of the recording has a pink hi-lighter drawn round it. Great when you have have great source material but they aren't very kind to mp3's. Moving to the same song on a vinyl source (the lovesexy album has to go down as one of the biggest digital remastering disasters ever) and the Sennheisers open up and sing into your ears in a way the AKG's could only aspire to.
AKG's are punchier at bass but a bit warmer and not as much detail comes through.
Ghosts and stuff – Deadmau5
This is actually more listen-able on the AKG's, there is a pace that is lacking on the Sennheisers and weaknesses in the recording are smoothed. The bass is more convincing (surprising for the smaller cans),
Track 4 – LFO
Asking anything other than a club system to properly render this track is a big ask, the Sennheisers completely lost their way....AKG's pump along happily trying to breathe bass which is so convincing here I had to actually take them off at one point to be sure I hadn't left my speakers connected.
BYOB – System of a Down
AKG's had me happily listening..Sennheisers open the track up maybe a bit too far but also make me wish I had a copy of this to hand at higher than 192kb bit rate.
Give up, remix (from the fixed EP) – NIN
AKG's do a good job but Sennheisers turn the track into the complete assault on your senses it should be.
Mad about You – Hooverphonic
The warm punchy nature of the AKG's actually pull this track together though some vocal detail is lost
Los Chicharrons / Chicharrons n Boogaloo
The roughness of the mastering on this track makes it actually quite hard to enjoy on the overtly revealing Sennheisers...AKG's had me hopping around the room.