Navigating the headphone market can seem like an impossible task. There are ways to segment the market (professional studio headphones, DJ headphones and consumer headphones), but even from there it was be difficult to determine whether or not a headphone is worth the investment. I got my hands on the new AKG N700NC over-ear wireless headphones to road test for the past week ahead of their release today.
The N700NC comes as part of three new wireless headphones being launched with Samsung (which owns them). It is the pricier and nicer over-ear wireless product, in addition to the on-ear Y500 and the Y100 wireless earbuds. We were able to try each one of them out briefly, but this will focus on the N700NC since we were able to live with it for a week. The headphone comes with adaptive noise-canceling technology, which means they can either cancel out the world or allow the sound back in with a press of a button. It has 20 hours of battery life, takes two hours to charge fully and receives calls.
Let’s dive into how the headphones have faired and if they are right for you.
Sound: The most important thing you are looking for in a headphone, maybe beyond price, is the sound. AKG has been known as an acoustics-engineering firm since its inception in 1947, so the reputation on good sound has been established over decades of quality work. They aren’t a company that was built through snazzy marketing, ad campaigns or celebrity endorsements, but through actual products.
The sound sounds crisp and clear across the full sonic range you would expect from a headphone that costs $350. Bass sounds deep and full, highs don’t sound tinny in the slightest and the mids don’t sound muddled. Whether you are listening to some deep techno or some indie rock, the bass will sound deep and have a nice punch, the snares crisp and the vocals clear all through the mix. When artists use panning well, you can really feel the sound move from side to side. Obviously if the original song mix is muddy, then you will hear that, but if you are listening to a professionally mixed song, then the quality will stand out on these headphones.
Feel on ears & head: This is where some issues emerge. They are slightly uncomfortable on your head after about two hours, but can be remedied for a short period of time if you adjust the positioning. It will take some getting used to the feel of these headphones. They wrap over your ears and the leather padding around the ears feel great. They can twist 90 degrees to the front to move with you and the top adjusts about an inch and a half to make the headphone taller. I have a tall head so that is very helpful.
Stability on head: I took these to the gym and they did not fall off or really shift much at all even through some high mobility exercises. They moved a little bit from doing pushups and being on the ground, but otherwise they are sturdy on your head. I did not run with these because running in New York with noise canceling headphones is a great way to die.
Accessories: The headphone comes with three additional accessories + a case. It has a cord so you can plug in to your phone, computer or any other device. If the headphones are dying and you don’t have a charge, this is vital. The chord is about three feet long, appears to be pretty durable and has a place to take calls. It has an adapter for airplanes, which is good for those long flights and you want good sound to mitigate the fact airlines treat customers like garbage. The last is the the charging chord, which is too short. It is about 20 inches long and just not long enough to place the headphones on a surface nearby if it plugged into an outlet. The case is sturdy and holds the headphones easily.
Look: Anytime you talk about over-ear headphones, there is the caveat that they will always look a little wonky because of how big they look on your head. Also being from AKG, which is designed for musicians, these are made to sound good first and then "look good" second. Just the fact they take up so much space on the sides of your face will mean they aren’t the most stylish option, but they make up for it in comfort and sound. Your ears aren’t getting smashed to bits, which can happen with some on-ear headphones. However, these still do look good. It is one of the more stylish looks they have had in years. It will take a little time getting used to the look if you are walking around.
Battery: The headphone has a battery life of 20 hours, which is about the standard for the industry at the moment.
Noise Canceling: It works. I was at the gym at night on Tuesday with the jacked dudes who blast their own music and benching twice my bodyweight and I still felt like I was in my own world. Walking around on the street I didn’t feel unaware of my surroundings, but you should still be careful walking out into very busy intersections with these on.
The headphones provide great sound, even for a wireless Bluetooth option. It is pricey at $350, so it will likely be out of the price-range for some, but at the high end of over-ear Bluetooth headphones; this has been the standard set for pricing. It is a feel you will need to get used to, but it doesn’t hurt your ears and has crisp full sound last a long time. There are a few minor drawbacks, but don’t have any reservations picking these up.
They are available to purchase now.