This article was written by Ali Pardiwala and originally published on NDTV Gadgets 360's website here.
Although a part of the Harman group of companies that also owns brands such as JBL and Harman Kardon, AKG has a legacy that dates all the way back to 1947. Established in Austria as a professional audio equipment manufacturer, the company is still based in Vienna and now specialises in headphones and microphones. It's a popular brand in the professional audio segment, but also has a strong fan base among everyday consumers.
Although AKG is predominantly known for its premium offerings, the company does not shy away from the more affordable end of the market. Today, we're reviewing the Rs. 2,900 AKG K52 around-ear headphones, which have a lot on offer for a very reasonable price. Find out just how good the AKG K52 headphones are in our full review.
Design, specifications, and comfort
The AKG K52 headphones have been designed with comfort in mind, with an around-ear fit that completely surrounds your ears. Additionally, the headphones also feature a self-adjusting fitting mechanism which ensures an ideal fit and holds the headset firmly but comfortably in place.
The rigid frame of the headphones is made of metal, but the ear casings are plastic. This keeps the weight of the headphones down to a comfortable 200g. The ear casings sit on a flexible base which allows them to move in all directions to ensure a proper fit. The closed-back headphones have a frequency response range of 18-20,000Hz and an impedance rating of 32Ohms. The design and features mean that the headphones can be used in a studio setting, but are equally at ease at home or while commuting.
The outer-facing side of the headphones has the AKG logo and model number on it, along with a statement that the headphones have been 'designed and engineered in Vienna'. Available in a matte black finish, the headset looks plain and doesn't really have much going for it in terms of attractiveness.
The cable is non-detachable, features an industry-standard 3.5mm plug, and is longer than usual at 2.5m. The design is extremely tangle-prone, as is the length itself, so it's best to keep the cable bundled up. Also included is a 3.5mm-to-6.3mm adapter pin, but no carry case.
We used our OnePlus 3 (Review) and a Windows laptop for our review of the AKG K52, and also tried it with a Chord Mojo DAC and our reference FiiO X1 high-resolution audio player. Focus tracks for the review were Daft Punk's One More Time, Pendulum's 9000 Miles, and Royksopp's Remind Me.
Starting with the lounge track Have You Kept Your Ticket, we found the presentation and sonic signature to be extremely open and clean, offering an excellent sense of space and a wide soundstage. Imaging is fantastic as well, with the headphones managing to separate and position various elements accurately within the virtual soundstage. The headphones are also incredibly loud, and manage to maintain the same level of detail at varying volumes without sounding too muddied or confusing. The vocals in the track sounded crisp and solid, as did the synthesiser elements and bass hits.
With 9000 Miles, we found that sound is even and unflinching through the frequency range, with everything from lows to highs equally represented by the headphones. The sonic signature of the AKG K52 is fairly balanced and neutral, retaining strong capabilities with bass, vocals and highs. When the bass kicks in, it can be felt ever-so-subtly, while also allowing you to clearly listen to the mids and highs. There is a bit of sparkle at the top-end, but it actually adds a bit of good flavour to the sound.
With Remind Me and the Chord Mojo, we noticed a significant improvement in detail thanks to the specialised DAC, but the increased amplification was a bit too much for the headphones at the highest levels. Turning the volume down to reasonable levels made these Rs. 2,900 headphones sound like headphones that cost five times as much, and showed that the headphones do in fact have some pedigree even in a studio. The general openness and airy nature of the sound was fantastic, and a breath of fresh air compared to most of the headphones we've reviewed in this price range.
The AKG K52 is among the best budget around-ear headphones you can buy today, and we're left wondering just how the Austrian headphone-maker has even succeeded at packing in so much quality for such a low price. It's comfortable, well-designed and has a sonic signature that is surprisingly balanced and tonally clean. Beginner audiophiles and fans of neutral headphones won't find a better option at this price.
Although there are plenty of competing options available at this price, AKG's brand name, design and performance together help it stand out in a big way. If you aren't too concerned about the lack of thump in the bass, or prefer your headphones neutral, the AKG K52 is something we would highly recommend.
Price (MRP): Rs. 2,900 (Available on Amazon.in)Pros