Around this time last year I decided to invest in a compact on the ear style set of headphones which would slip nicely into a coat pocket – I took a punt at the AKG K450s. After a years’ worth of use, I’m ready to give them a review. Are they worth your hard earned cash? Read on to find out.
In the box
In the box you are provided with a case, two differently sized 3.5mm connecting cables and the headphones themselves.
Although solid enough, the case is a disappointment due to the design of the zip mechanism which is stiff and cumbersome to use. Mine actually broke on the second occasion it was used. Its also worth noting that the case is somewhat larger than the headphones themselves.
The two bespoke, detachable connecting cables supplied are super thin and small in length at just 60cm and 1m respectively. The 60cm cable is next to useless being too short, with the 1m variant just about being long enough. It would have been far nicer if AKG provided a 2m variant over the 60cm variant for times when you need that extra length. Being super thin does make the cables feel questionably cheap, but I guess it does save room when stored away. Others have complained of the durability of the cables with replacements running up extra expense. I have no such complaints with the cable still working perfectly fine after many hours of use.
Design and sound quality
From the initial disappointment of the poorly designed carry case zip mechanism and excruciatingly small connecting leads, the headphones are surprisingly well made, albeit with a mostly plastic construction throughout.
The cans are small and fit directly on the ear. The faux leather cushioning surrounds are very soft, but can ache the outer ear after prolonged periods of use (the clamp of the headband is marginally tight). The adjusting head resize mechanism does the job fine, but is not as smooth or precise as I’d have liked. There is welcomed padding on the inner side of the headband which provides an excellent level of comfort for the top of the head.
The overall portability of the headphones is great. The cans fold inward, twist and can easily be squeezed into most standard sized pockets. My pair have taken a battering but still look and function perfectly.
The sound quality of the AKG K450s is nicely balanced. Many modern day headphones (Beats!) tend to be biased towards inflated bass frequencies, which in my opinion can tarnish the overall quality of the sound. The AKG’s bass is punchy yet still warm and not overbearing. There is enough honk in the mid-range frequencies to distinguish most sounds, without sounding too harsh. The higher frequencies are not amazingly clear but do provide the clarity needed to allow the sound to breath.
The leakage from the cans is minimal, so you don’t have to worry about annoying fellow train passengers or embarrass yourself through your bad taste in music.
I’ve heard better headphones, but you’ll struggle to find anything better than the K450s under the sub £50 mark. It’s worth noting that the sound does improve slightly after the cones have had time to loosen up.
Originally, the AKG K450’s retailed for around £100. Nowadays, you can easily pick up a pair for sub £40 – a real bargain. From the multitude of headphones/earphones I have in my audio man drawer, the AKG K450’s are my first port of call when on the move. They are an excellent, portable sounding pair of headphones to easily rival more heavily marketed counterparts. I’m still scratching my head why AKG provided such, thin, short connecting leads.