And now the second part: headphones over 5,000.

This is where the fun begins. At this price point, we expect decent soundstages, proper instrument separation and the like – of course, purists with 40K headphones will look down on pretty much everything at this pricepoint, but don’t let that put you off: good sound doesn’t always have to come with a humungous price tag.

For testing audio quality, we threw a variety of music at each headset– J-pop, rock, hip hop, metal, EDM and Lindsey Stirling (who we believe should be a category of her own) – in FLAC. The hardware of choice was a Nexus 5 running Viper4Android – a smartphone, because that’s what we generally use for these.

AKG-K-44AKG K44 Perception – Rs. 5,500

The Perception series of AKG is meant for both the home recording artist/musician at home and music fan. It can be powered by the output of a smartphone but for optimal sound, it’s better to connect it to a PC. Sound quality is detailed and accurate, if quite bright: no booming thumps but rather an accurate soundstage ideal for live recorded music or instrumentals. The adjustable headband keeps these cans securely in place.

Build quality is cheap. The headphones do a good job of noise isolation with their over-the-ear design. Be warned that a simple tap on the outside to one of the cups results in a loud reverberation to the listener.

Skullcandy Lowrider w/Mic – Rs. 5,500Lowrider

The Lowrider is aimed at the music fan on the go and it does so by being extremely portable.You can fold it up and store it in your pocket. It also has a swivel ear cup so you can listen with one ear, like proper DJ style headphones. A microphone is built in for you to switch between phone calls and your music.

Build quality is a tad fragile. Music quality again is mediocre to say the least. For the price, we expect much better – Skullcandy are not winning any awards in the music category.

Available at: Redline Technologies, Chelseys

K518AKG K518 – Rs. 5,990

The AKG K518 is another headphone with decent sound; it projects clean detail, though not an overly complicated soundstage, and does good work with the mids.  Although being of a fairly durable build, they fit a little too snugly for my personal choice and I found them to be a tad uncomfortable if worn for long periods. The good thing is that the snug fit means that the cans sit tightly on your ears and emphasize the bass resulting, which is good or bad depending on how you look at it. I would have preferred a slightly lengthier cable – or at least a detachable extension for the headphones to be used with a PC – but it’s clear that these are aimed at the music fan who has his playlist on his phone or iPod.

 

iDance Ibiza Series – Rs. 6,190iDance Ibiza

Named after the island in the Mediterranean Sea, the Ibiza personifies that lifestyle by being colorful (8 colors) and noticeable. Yudhanjaya owns a pair and I took it for a spin and I was actually quite happy with the music quality. It’s a noticeable as heck, but EDM and trance music aside, it does a surprisingly good job with other genres – a tad on the warm side, perhaps. A surprising turn of events for iDance and a decent all-rounder, comfortable for long periods of wear. It also has a built in microphone to answer calls

Available at: Takas.lk, Hi-Fi Center, Ace Com

CassetteSkullcandy Cassette – Rs. 7,470

The cassette is an unusual headset in that it can be completely taken apart and reassembled. From the ear cups to the dual 3.5 connector cable and everything in between, can simply be taken apart and then fixed again. Which makes it very portable-  and actually quite comfortable as well – it’s as light as a feather.

Unfortunately, it possesses the music playback capabilities of a feather as well. The bass is somewhat flat and the kick is almost nonexistent. Thumbs up for portability but a definite hands down for audio quality.

Available at: Redline Technologies, Chelseys

AKG K77 Perception – Rs. 7,500
K77_1

Another model in the Perception series. The K77s are over-ear, semi-closed headphones that provide a decent listening experience with a few bells and whistles of some high end headphones – leatherette ear pads,  a self-adjusting headband and so on. While a bit plasticky, the audio quality on these headphones is quite good –  they offer much more in terms of clarity and detail when compared to ye average set of cans, bringing real instrument separation and  a proper soundstage to the table.

Available at: Redline Technologies

Sennheiser HD429 Headphones – Rs. 8,000

HD429The HD429 is touted as an entry level pair of headphones that can trade blows with some of the higher end models – such as the AKG K67 Tiesto and AKG K121 Studio. Does it?

Definitely. The overall listening experience from these cans is amazing, and it absolutely blows everything else out of the water. We played a number of songs from various genres of music and the cans handled each one superbly well – good accuracy, detailed instrumental separation and clarity. It doesn’t look or sound like a 8K headphone:  we’d happily pick it over the Rs 15,000 Tiesto.

Build quality is where the 8K price mark shows. ‘Ware the cable – it’s too thin to our liking and looks like it might snag around something and break.

Available at: Redline Technologies

Skullcandy Hesh 2.0 – Rs. 8,500 Hesh

At first glance, it looks decent. It’s even endorsed by several athletes and so on and so forth. It does offer crowd pleasers such as a carry pouch etc. But in reality, it’s just overpriced. For a headset of this price range, it’s a disappointment. It’s not even a comparison – if you’re interested in music, skip this one. Skullcandy has a lot to do before they impress even budget audiophiles.

AKG K451 – Rs. Rs. 9,900

K451The K451 by AKG is aimed at the bass head. It has a number of interesting things going on for it: built in microphone,  a removable cable, swiveling ear cups, carrying pouch.

Although the only issue seems to lie in its main feature; the bass. Playing a couple of songs, it was apparent that the K451 suffers from too much bass. It is also a tad uncomfortable akin to the K518 in that is sits a little too snugly on your head and presses down on it. Not something you want when you’re enjoying your music. It also only apparently supports Apple devices.

Available at: Abans iStores (Kollupitiya, Race Course/The Arcade – Independence Square)

AKG K452 – Rs. 9,990

This is the successor to the K451 in every sense of the word. It includes an updated remote and microphone that supports any smart device (as compared to the Apple devices in the K451). Music quality wasn’t that much of an improvement but we did find that the bass levels were a tad more controlled than its predecessor. As with the K451, the newer model comes with a detachable cable.

Available at: Abans iStores – Kollupitiya, Race Course/The Arcade – Independence Square

AKG K619 – Rs. 9,990

K619Aimed at the budding DJ, the K619 has decent bass levels and a proper kick factor, which rears its head really well in trance and EDM music. It also has swiveling ear cups – which have come to be the standard layout for headphones for DJs nowadays – and feels fairly durable. They fit tightly around your head and ears – perhaps too tight for some. As for sound quality, it’s not crystal clear audiophile quality, but decent enough for a few DJ mixes and parties.

Available at: Abans iStores – Kollupitiya, Race Course/The Arcade – Independence Square

 

 

 

Honorable mention: iDance Blue 300 – Rs. 9,900

iDance makes an appearance once again with their Blue 300, a Bluetooth headset. They claim up to 75 hours of standby time and a continuous usage time of around 8 hours. They’re convenient and quite comfortable, though music quality drops – we’d place it around Hesh-like levels of quality, which is to be expected from a Bluetooth device. Expect a bit of distortion at times.

Available at: Takas.lk

AKG K99 Perception – Rs. 10,000

The last of the Perceptions that can be powered by your phone without needing a separate headphone amp. The K99 is an all-rounder: itK99_1
handles all types of music with equal flair, and offers a more balanced listening experience. The soundstage is detailed and instrumental separation clear. A dedicated sound interface with a Headphone Amp is recommended to get the most out of these cans – nevertheless, they do work well on mobiles and laptops too.

Build quality is sturdy and the headphones are comfortable to wear along with the adjustable headband which keeps them in place. Very little outside noise comes in when you’re wearing these, but again the hollowness in the cans – a design element, I believe – can be heard if one were to tap them. Though it may not be an issue to some, I found it particularly irksome with all three models.

OUR PICK?

The Sennheiser HD429

It may be billed as an entry level pair of headphones, but the Senns are by far they are the best in the price range we’ve listened to. The level of detail and accuracy present in them is unmatched for anything in the price range. In fact, the HD429 actually competes with top tier models and trades blows with them and even comes out on top on certain occasions. Well worth the money.

 

 

7 COMMENTS

  1. Great article! I’m interested in the AKG K452. I just checked the official site. It’s supposed to have an impedence of 32ohms. Will I be able to use it with a smartphone without an amplifier?

  2. You can use it with a mobile phone without issues although the output from the phone may not be enough. But its highly unlikely that you’ll have issues. Go for it 🙂

  3. Thank u for the review I may settle for the senns coz its far cheaper here in Doha like 2500 bucks cheaper thanks keep up the good work

  4. Great unbiased rveiew, I’ve been using the Bose QC3 s for the past year on my regular plane trips. Couldn’t be happier with the comfort and sound quality when using them on 9 to11 hour flights. Steve, your Bose didn’t come with the spare rechargeable battery in the packaging? I must give the AKG’s an audition. Great rveiew.

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