After years of building up their name in the recording industry, AKG released a slew of consumer headphones, ready for us in the States to dabble with. I’ve had the opportunity to play around with both the K 340 and K 450 models, both portable, though in-canal and foldable respectively. After a week or so of listening to these phones it became clear that AKG is just as serious about their consumer headphones as they are about their professional grade equipment.
The K 340 In-Canal phones ($115.95), right off the bat, first impression, sounded pretty treble-heavy. Every crack and pop of a sub par MP3 became a disturbance, a distraction from the current tune. But the more and more I listened, the high treble seemed to melt away as the device became broken in. During my final listen, the K 340? became an entirely different pair of phones, even becoming bass heavy at times, though typically, well-rounded.
To AKG’s supreme credit, what I didn’t notice might be more important than what I did notice. In-canal headphones are often uncomfortable to the point of inwearability. Right from the get go I almost forgot that I had buds in my ears at all. Not over-taxing on the eardrum like most bud style phones, the K 340’s felt natural, the only reminder of them being being the pristine sounds seemingly emanating from within my head, coursing from the center, out.
I’d recommend the K 340’s for both casual listening and athletic activity. The device’s excellent in-line volume slider makes volume control a breeze, and actually sort of fun. Perfect for biking or working out at the gym. Since they don’t block out every nuance of background noise, they are perfect for mountain biking, as you’ll always hear approaching bears and mountain lions.
The K 450 over the ear headphones ($189.95) succeeded in being both above-average and underwhelming at the same time, if that makes any sense. While every level from pretty low-lows to the screechy highs sounded decent, none of the levels sound spectacular.
The phones themselves are very comfortable with a generous application of padding. But the sound is the true winner here. Even if none of the levels particularly stand out the 450’s were extremely listenable, rivaling that of my current noise canceling over-the-ear Bose pair. And the design is certainly better than the Bose.
The 450’s 3D Axis folding mechanism is the star of the show. Most foldable headphones feel like they are about to crack under the slightest touch. Not the 450s, which feel rather durable and solid despite their very light, convenient and compact design. They’re the kind of phones you can through in a backpack and not really worry about them cracking in half, while still providing some decent sound.
All in all, AKG has done a wonderful job with their newer consumer headphones. You can tell they have experience pleasing a tough crowd as their headphone’s offer a sweet mix between ultra-comfortable and clear sound. If you’re looking for a ultra-portable pair of phones, either one of these would do, though the K 340s are much better for the athlete, while the K 450s are sublime for just chilling out in front of the stereo.