AKG N40 £350
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