The AKG K 414 P is the company's newest portable set of closed headphones. AKG recently split their consumer and professional divisions and their local distributor tells us the number of headphones will double as a result. Good news for us, then.
The K 414 P is an upgrade to the K 26 P, but on first blush it's difficult to tell what they've actually improved. The build is the same -- the same plastic, reversible earcups and pleather finish. Even the cord and scalp-scraping headset remain. It's likely that there is no difference -- just an updated model number. But either way, you can't get the K 26 Ps any longer
As we're big fans of the K 26 Ps, we were initially disappointed with what seemed a drab performance from their successors. Sons and Daughter's "Gilt Complex" from This Gift sounded overly boomy and lacked the band's caustic edge. When we put on a track with a thumping beat, however, we felt like we were in a late-night club.
Yes, these are bassy headphones, and depending on the music you choose to listen to they will either be revelatory or revolting. It's not that the AKGs obscure detail -- because they can be very revealing -- it's just that the sound is enveloped in a low-end fog that informs everything else. A very tight, authoritative fog at that.
We're not big believers in the "break-in" theory, that a speaker or headphones sound "improves" the more it's used, and feel that it may have more to do with your ears adjusting to the sound it makes instead. The same undoubtedly applies here, and the more we listen to to the K 414 P with any type of music, the more we like them.
However, closed-back headphones such as these aren't without their competition. Since the first version of the AKGs appeared, there have been some great advances in in-ear technologies -- earphones which can also block out external noise, and lack the sometimes overwhelming low-end.
The K414 Ps certainly won't be confused for a pair of hi-fi phones, they're rock-loving portables and proud of it. Partner them with a bright sounding player like a Sony and you'll love it.