What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

For some time, AKG has been the king of a ord­able head­phones. From the K451 to the Y50, the com­pany has picked up a string of What Hi-fi? Awards in the past ve years. The AKG K52 is the lat­est bud­get pair to win us over. At £30, the K52s sit on the cheap­est end of a new line, fol­lowed closely by the K72 (£40) and the K92 (£50). The K52s are de­signed for home use. They don’t fold up, nor are there any in-line re­mote con­trols.

The over-ear de­sign is sur­pris­ingly sturdy, but light­weight. They feel durable, too, which is a rare thing for such a bud­get price. The head­band isn’t adjustable – in­stead there’s a Šex­i­ble, cush­ioned band that springs into place around your head. There’s plenty of give, but even with the large earcups the head­phones stay rmly put on your head. The am­ple pad­ding around them is soft, and doesn’t make your ears warm over long pe­ri­ods of lis­ten­ing.

Hit­ting the high notes

We start lis­ten­ing to the K52s and have to dou­ble-check these aren’t open-backed head­phones. They’re the most airy-sound­ing closed-backs we’ve heard at this price. There’s a great deal of space for the pi­ano notes in Birdy’s Shel­ter to Šour­ish, and you can hear the nu­ances in her singing, from the lilts to the way her voice strains when hit­ting the high notes.

The head­phones are so evenly bal­anced we could lis­ten to them for hours with­out ever get­ting tired. There are no bright edges or boom­ing basslines. The rhythm is ag­ile and full of en­ergy. There could be more to the way the K52s han­dles dy­nam­ics, but it’s en­joy­able enough.

Sure, in ab­so­lute terms, there could be more sub­tlety in ev­ery as­pect of the per­for­mance, but we strug­gle to think of any other head­phones at this price that per­form so ma­turely. For just £30, the sound qual­ity is well be­yond what you’d ex­pect – it’s en­joy­able, easy to lis­ten to, and there’s plenty of clar­ity, de­tail and agility. If you’ll be wear­ing the head­phones in­doors more than out, and are on a strict bud­get, the AKG K52s are one of the eas­i­est rec­om­men­da­tions we’ve made.

“The K52s are so evenly bal­anced we could lis­ten to them for hours with­out get­ting tired”

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