Even before I listened to the AKG K812 headphones I knew they were pretty special. First, they're so incredibly comfortable that after a few minutes it was easy to forget I was wearing a world-class headphone. One reason for that is with the K812, you never feel like you're cut off from the outside world -- you can hear everything around you. Once I started listening to tunes, that spacious quality remained and stereo imaging was wider and more outside my head than what I get from other headphones. Closed-back designs are always 100 percent closed, but open-backs … Read more
BERLIN -- American audio veteran Harman Kardon and its subsidiary JBL showed off a raft of new home audio gear at the IFA show here today.
Harman's new Esquire is both a wireless loudspeaker and a teleconferencing system with built-in mics. It connects to your phone via Bluetooth. Its tricks don't end there -- with three USB ports, you can charge three devices at the same time. It has its own 10-hour rechargeable battery, too. The Esquire is out next month for 249 ($330, £210).
Also new from HK is the Onyx wireless speaker system, which is … Read more
A new pair of headphones is the best way to get everyone to notice your impeccable taste in fashion and design. Take a look around any metropolitan area and you'll see the colors of the rainbow perched on people's heads. Too many of today's models, though, sacrifice sound quality for sartorial flair.
AKG's latest K545, K845BT, and K323XS headphones challenge shoppers to demand excellence in both with three flavors for wired, wireless, and earbud options.
The K545 is arguably the least exciting of the three, though it's likely your best bet if you're shopping … Read more
Most of the headphones I've tested over the years weren't designed to have a neutral balance of bass, midrange, and treble frequencies. Manufacturers are well aware that most people like bass, and that buyers tend to favor one headphone over another based on how much bass it produces. I think that's obvious, but a recent study cited in Brent Butterworth's blog countered that assumption. "The Relationship between Perception and Measurement of Headphone Sound Quality," a paper by Sean Olive and Todd Welti presented at last October's Audio Engineering Society convention found that a … Read more
Great-sounding headphones have never been more affordable. Even the least expensive headphone model on this list, the Panasonic RP HJE 355 in-ear, has oodles of detail and decent bass punch. For me the most important thing when evaluating headphones is sound balance; no frequency range should call attention to itself, so I don't like overly bassy headphones, or ones that overemphasize treble. Headphones should sound clear, not muffled or fuzzy. I prefer spacious stereo imaging over sound that's stuck inside my head. Headphones that allow music's soft-to-loud dynamics to bloom are better than ones that constrict dynamics. … Read more
Audio-brand awareness in the mainstream is mostly limited to Bose and Beats by Dr. Dre, but now it looks like Harman, the parent company of AKG, Harman Kardon, JBL, Mark Levinson, Lexicon, and Infinity is starting to flex its muscles. I spoke with Chris Dragon, the senior global marketing director of Harman, to learn more about the campaigns.
JBL's "Hear the Truth" ads will feature many of the world's top musical … Read more
Have a peek at AKG's two new pairs of noise-canceling headphones, the $349.95 K 495 NC and $249.95 K 490 NC.
AKG is highlighting that these both are on-ear models that fold flat and have built-in rechargeable batteries that charge via USB. Unlike a lot of noise-canceling models, including those from Bose, these can play sound when the battery dies or if you simply want to turn off the active noise cancellation.
The marketing line on the higher-end K 495 NCs is that they "deliver high-quality audio defined by a clarity of sound across all ranges, from crisp highs to deep lows." They feature brushed-metal parts, leather earcups, and an adjustable leather headband, and ship with a small carrying case, two audio cables, a USB charging adapter, and a flight adapter.… Read more
If you're tired of fiddling with tangled cords, the AKG K830 BT wireless headphones offer a simple solution using Bluetooth technology, if you're willing to shell out $250 and don't mind the plastic band audibly flexing while they're on. We put these headphones to the test, and while it's nice to shop in a supermarket and ride a crowded subway train without worrying about a cord yanking them off your head, we take issue with its delicate build and subpar sound quality.
We can't blame AKG entirely for the latter, since a Bluetooth connection … Read more
Austrian headphone-maker AKG, now owned by Harman International, is getting into the wireless headphones game with two premium new models--one Bluetooth, and one based on Kleer wireless technology--the K 830 BT and AKG K 840 KL. They list for $249.95 and $299.95 respectively.
For its Bluetooth model, AKG is targeted "the constant jetsetter who takes calls on the run yet enjoys listening to tunes on the train." That model is compatible with any device or smartphone that supports stereo Bluetooth audio streaming and has a built-in mic for taking calls. Its rechargeable battery is rated at … Read more
I've known my share of audiophiles who own lots of speakers, amplifiers, etc., but Wayne McManus has 40 high-end headphones. He's slowed adding to the collection, and now mostly concentrates on out-of-production classics--Sennheiser HE90 electrostatics, Sony MDR R-10, Sony Qualia 010, AKG-K1000, Audio Technica L3000, Grado HP-2--because each one has its own distinctive character and feel. McManus thinks speaker-only audiophiles are missing that aspect of the hobby; they're stuck with one sound. For the price of a pair of high-end speakers you can buy a healthy selection of the world's very best headphones. McManus has invested around $50,000 to date.
McManus bought a motor home three years ago, and now spends every April through August exploring the U.S. and Canada. He's semiretired and takes a small selection of headphones with him on the road.
At home he uses a very impressive hi-fi outfitted with MBL 101E speakers, MBL electronics, and a VPI turntable, but headphones have superior detailing. He put it this way: "You may have heard the same album a hundred times over speakers, but you pick up on new stuff over headphones, and when you move up to IEMs [in-ear monitor headphones] you hear even more of that microscopic effect. But you lose the sense of being at a live concert."
So I was hardly surprised to hear that McManus owns a Smyth Realiser A8 processor that makes headphones sound like speakers. He thinks the Realiser A8 makes it almost impossible to distinguish between the sound coming from headphones and speakers. It improves the stereo localization of all of his headphones.… Read more