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Harman AKG K830BT Wireless Bluetooth Headset (Black) review:

Harman AKG K830BT Wireless Bluetooth Headset (Black)

AKG provides detailed instructions on how to pair the AKG K 830 BT with any device with an A2DP profile, and coupling is easy enough: just hold the multifunction button until the LED on the bottom quickly flashes green and blue to indicate the device is in pairing mode.

This should make the headphones visible in a device search on your music player, and the two should pair once you designate the headset as a listening device. Once you set up a connection, the headphones will automatically remember and connect the next time you turn both devices on in close proximity.

We were able to make phone calls and listen to uninterrupted music from the advertised range of roughly 33 feet from the access point before audio started cutting out. The distance is standard for a modern Bluetooth connection, but unfortunately so is the audio compression, which ultimately lowers the value of the AKG K 830 BT headphones.

Our tests also verify AKG's claims that the battery life can last for up to 8 hours of continuous playback before petering out. Using just the USB power cable and a laptop, we were even able to eke out several days from the unit over multiple listening sessions before the LCD indicated a need for a charge. As long as you don't forget to hold the multifunction button down long enough to power it down in between uses, you'll be satisfied with the battery power.

It makes sense to pair Bluetooth headphones with smartphones since most handsets already come Bluetooth-ready, but all Bluetooth-powered audio accessories suffer from the same audio issues; they can send only unidirectional audio signals from the source to the device, which means you lose serious stereo quality in the audio compression process.

These AKG Bluetooth headphones are no different. The output quality is nowhere near what you'd hear out of a hardwired headphone connection, although it's still a step up from the stock earbuds included with modern MP3 players and smartphones. The compressed audio files lock your music into a defined sound stage, making it difficult to separate individual instruments and harmonies. Sound reproduction across all genres is significantly skewed toward the muddier end of the spectrum, and every song seems to take on a gritty edge that does little justice to the artists and their intended production.

Although we'd normally overlook the limitations of sending audio signals over Bluetooth in favor of the convenience of cord-free operation, the AKG K 830 BT headphones' inflated $250 price tag is disappointing, especially when alternative solutions like Kleer technology in the TDK WR700 wireless headphones boast much cleaner sound quality and a universal connection to any device with a 3.55mm audio jack all for a fraction of the price. Until AKG finds a way to boost the sound quality of the AKG K 830 BT headphones, your dollar can go further with TDK.

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