AKG N60 review: on-ear headphones that sound great and make sense but fail to raise the bar
- Very comfortable to wear
- Battery life a little below par
- Noise-cancelling could be better
- No built-in mic
The N60 offers up simple and clean sound, and it’ll probably win them some fans who just want good pair of travel headphones and don’t care about equalizers or integrated apps that offer dynamic sound profile.
After quietly returning to the consumer space via a pack-in with the Samsung’s Galaxy S8, S8+ and Note 8 smartphones, the Harmon Kardon-backed audio brand AKG is now moving to position itself as a solid alternative to the Sonys and Sennheisers of the lifestyle audio world. However, this move doesn’t feel so much like a surprise as it does an inevitability. AKG has proved itself an enduring staple of the studio audio world for decades - an eventual consumer play just makes perfect sense.
Hovering around the midpoint of the company’s initial offering, the AKG N60 NC on-ear headphones sit nicely above the brand’s in-ear entries but well below their studio-grade N90Q headphones. They’re envisioned as a natural companion for those who spend a lot of time on the go, and priced pretty-competitively to boot. Again, a lot of sense-making here - even if there’s a predictability tied up in it as well. If you wanted to go after the big players of the lifestyle audio scene, this feels like the most conventional way to do so.
The AKG’s N60 NC headphones are a set of noise-cancelling on-ear headphones that can pull music from a smart device over Bluetooth or via a 3.5mm audio jack. Each earcup boasts a 40mm neodymium driver with a frequency range of 10Hz to 22kH. The N60’s boast 15 hours of music playback, charge via MicroUSB and come with a carry-case, detachable audio cable with universal mic/remote and flight adapter.
Going into reviewing the N60 NC on-ear headpones, I must confess - I was a bit of a doubter. Personally, I tend to oscillate between using lighter in-ear Bluetooth buds like the Samsung IconX (or Jabra Elite Sport) and more heavy-duty solutions like the Sony WH-1000X whenever I want noise-cancelling. On-ear headphones have always looked a bit awkward and uncomfortable to me. They just seem like frustrating half-measure that doesn’t deliver on the portability nor the fidelity available in some of the other options.
However, despite these expectations (and the lingering memories of attempting to binge-watch The Night Manager on a plane while wearing some truly terrible on-ear headphones), I came away pleasantly surprised with the super-comfy N60s. I was so astonished with the snazzy feel-factor on offer here that I do honestly feel like these headphones have actually turned me around on giving on-ear headphones much more of a consideration in the future.
Even if they don’t encompass your ears in quite the comprehensiveness as an over-ear headset would, the leather and memory foam ear cups on the N60 work relatively seamlessly to isolate you from outside sound without weighing too heavily on your ears.
They’re as clean as design as they are execution. When not in use, they snap closed to be carried inside a slightly-smaller-than-usual carry-case. Alternatively, they can be hung around your neck “collar-style” but, in truth, this isn’t a particularly comfortable option.
Unlike some other noise-cancellation headphones, you’re a little limited in when it comes to control. The right earcup bears a set of volume buttons, as well as a toggle for the noise-cancelling and one for skipping forwards or back through tracks. It’s simple - but it mostly works. All the same, I found myself mostly reverting to using my phone’s audio buttons. If you’re looking for an equaliser to mess with, you’re out of luck.
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