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AKG AKG N700NC
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AKG AKG N700NC
It’s hard to focus when surrounded by distraction, some of us turn to focus apps and others turn to gadgets. The AKG N700NC noise-cancelling headphones can be had for less than $100, making it a steal when it comes to raw performance. Let’s see how it holds up in 2020, and if you should strike a deal or invest in the likes of Sony and Bose.
Using the AKG N700NC
Based on design alone, this is clearly intended to be a premium set of noise-cancelling headphones. Don’t let the predominantly plastic build fool you. Its handsome finish complements the synthetic leather ear pads and velour headband, which looks great but isn’t very comfortable. While the plastic exterior keeps them fairly lightweight (261g), it also serves as a source of creaking when buttons are pressed. The ear cups, though, are comfy for bespectacled listeners. However, the lack of pressure placed behind the ears means excess pressure is displaced at the crown of the head. This is where a major hot spot forms after about an hour of wear.
The premium design sacrifices comfort, and a hot sport forms at the crown of the head after an hour of listening.
Frequent flyers should strongly consider the AKG N700NC because of how well they attenuate low-end frequencies. Engines, A/C units, and distant traffic rumbles are no match for this headset. You’re afforded other travel-friendly features like the ability to fold them flat or up toward the headband, and a hard zippered carrying case.
You may like: Sony WH-1000XM4 vs Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Generally useful on-the-go features include Ambient Aware and TalkThru modes. Ambient Aware allows external noise in, so you remain aware of your surroundings. TalkThru is a little different: it amplifies vocal frequencies and lets those pass through the noise-cancelling barrier. This allows listeners to hold conversations without removing the headphones, but doing so feels rude.
It seems just about every headphone manufacturer has its own app these days, and AKG didn’t want to miss out on the data collection party. I shouldn’t be too harsh, however, as the app is useful for anyone looking to make EQ adjustments or benefit from firmware updates. It also lets listeners remap the Smart Ambient button, located on the right ear cup, to enable TalkThru capabilities instead. The multifunction button on the left ear cup allows for access to your virtual assistant access and can’t be remapped.
How well does the noise-cancelling work?
Extremely well. Compare bass-frequency attenuation between the AKG N700, Sony WH-1000XM3, and Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700. Both Bose and Sony’s technologies are unable to combat frequencies below ~90Hz, but AKG’s ANC can hush 45Hz frequencies. Again the benefits are most noticeable during air travel. For day-to-day use, the Sony WH-1000XM3 does a better job at quieting conversational din.
Battery life and connectivity
Battery life is good: with ANC turned on, SoundGuys recorded 22.65 hours of standalone playback. This is plenty for real-world use and never posed an issue during testing. Something I did take issue with is the microUSB charging input. A full charge cycle of the headset takes two hours, and unfortunately there’s no quick charging functionality.
Learn more: Bluetooth codecs 101
Connectivity is reliable within a 10-meter range despite the outdated firmware, Bluetooth 4.1. What’s more, the headset only supports AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs. This is a disappointment for Android users as AAC performance varies across handsets. However, you can go the wired route with AKG’s provided cable, given your smartphone has a headphone jack.
How do the AKG N700NC sound?
They sound great: bass notes are emphasized and give each kick drum a bit more presence without lessening the audibility of mid-range frequencies. I listened to Anderson Paak’s album Oxnard with these headphones and enjoyed every moment of it. Paak’s vocals remained prominent throughout each song without being quieted by the collection of bass drops. These headphones are strategically tuned to please a majority of consumers without verging near blasphemous bass emphasis.
Should you buy the AKG N700NC?
The AKG N700NC are a great noise-cancelling solution for anyone on a budget. In fact, this is among the best active noise-cancelling performance you can get for less than $100, but these headphones are showing their age relative to the competition. These aren’t very comfortable relative to offerings from Bose, Sony, and Shure, and it’s difficult to look past the lack of aptX support, microUSB charging, and discomfort.
Consider the Shure Aonic 50 or Sony WH-1000XM4
The Shure Aonic 50 noise-cancelling headphones are the best around and the price reflects that. This headset successfully filters out nearly every important frequency, making it an even better pick for frequent flyers or people with noisy roommates. Shure included a full range of high-quality Bluetooth codec support (aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, AAC, and LDAC), so this is the audiophile’s choice when it comes to wireless headphones.
The Sony WH-1000XM4 use AI for extremely proficient noise-cancelling performance. If you want cutting-edge features, Sony’s headset is for you: it has speak-to-chat functionality, which automatically detects when you’re speaking. This pauses playback and amplifies outside noise so you can carry a conversation without removing the headset. It also supports Bluetooth multipoint, so you can connect to two devices at once. See how the Sony WH-1000XM4 compare to the Shure Aonic 50