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 exible, 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 ourish, 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”