AKG N40 £350

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Awards 2018 -

The premium ear­phones mar­ket is a com­pet­i­tive space, but if you’re pre­pared to pay top price, the AKG N40s are the best around – tak­ing the Award for the third year in a row.

You’d ex­pect a £350 pair of head­phones to im­press upon open­ing the box, and the N40s don’t dis­ap­point. The pack­ag­ing acts like a pre­sen­ta­tion case, dis­play­ing the con­tents for max­i­mum ef­fect.

The N40s look smart, mostly plas­tic, but with a shiny sil­ver fin­ish. As a re­sult, they’re light­weight and com­fort­able, with fit­ted over-ear hooks keep­ing the buds se­cure and cre­at­ing an ef­fec­tive seal with­out any dis­com­fort.

There’s a se­lec­tion of ear buds in four dif­fer­ent sizes, plus a clean­ing tool, flight adapter, com­pact carry case and two ca­bles – one ‘straight’ op­tion and one with a mic and three-but­ton re­mote that can be used with ei­ther An­droid or iphone via a switch on the back.

But when it comes to sound, you won’t get the most out of these head­phones with a stan­dard smart­phone. They are in­tended for the sort of per­son with a phone full of hi-res tunes and a por­ta­ble DAC in their pocket.

Part­nered with a suit­able source, the sound qual­ity is some­thing spe­cial. Mar­tyn’s Body Mu­sic is re­layed with great en­ergy, while Roses Ga­bor’s Rush shows they’re equally adept with vo­cals. They suc­cess­fully con­vey the emo­tion in Ga­bor’s voice as well as the slinky smooth­ness of the track, with­out los­ing any edge to notes.

Need bass? You’ll get that too, the AKGS are ca­pa­ble of weight with­out swamp­ing the sound­stage. Rhythm & Sound’s brood­ing No Par­tial high­lights this neatly, with im­pres­sive low-level dy­nam­ics along­side a clear tre­ble.

The AKG N40s have got the lot. No won­der they’re a three-time win­ner.

You’d ex­pect a £350 pair of in-ears to im­press – and they do

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