Pros: Price, sound (for the price), balanced sound, design
Cons: Cable may be too short for some
I've been looking for a good open headphone that I can use in the office instead of my IEMs. It proved a little tricky to find a portable open headphone, but I eventually narrowed it down to the following list:
- AKG K420
- Sennheiser PX100
- Jays V-Jays
- Koss Porta Pro
- Aiaiai Tracks
After much listening and comparison, plus a little thinking about my wallet as I don't need a flagship sound quality for this application, I settled on the AKG K420s.
The K420s offered easily the most balanced sound of those listed above. The Sennheisers came a close second, but for the extra money, I felt that they were limited to sounding good on bassy genres while lacking some space and resolution for more subtle acoustic tracks.
The K420s are fairly no-frills. Except for the denim coloured trim on the grey frame, there is no bling and they come with a simple, short (1m) cable and a simple carry pouch. For me, that's perfect because the cable is just long enough to reach my laptop without pulling or tangling.
The sound from the K420s is outstanding if you keep the price tag in mind. Clearly they're not going to compete with some of the $200-$300 offerings out there, but I can't find an option under $150 that comes close to their balanced, clean sound.
Bass is ample and responds well to a good EQ, mids are solid and clean, and highs are detailed and resolved to a good level.
In comparison to the PX100s and Porta-Pros, the K420s could seem a little bright at times and therefore may become fatiguing and high volumes, but haven't listened for long enough to know yet. For me, their ability to create space in the soundstage and resolve detail was what pushed them past the competition.
For less than $150-200 (perhaps more?) you will have a very hard time finding a better blanced sounding portable, open headphone. The PX100 would be my choice for a bass-oriented sound, but these win hands-down for balanced sound.