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Review: AKG K 450

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 
I started getting a lot of requests to do a review of these headphones, stemming from a post I made a month or so ago: http://www.head-fi.org/forums/f103/a...d-true-458620/

Here it goes...


The Quest

After trading my Senn PX-100s a couple of months ago I began searching for a new pair of compact/supra-aural headphones. My search landed on a pair of K 450s. There were a couple of interesting reviews online, but not many. Since I had some success with a pair of AKGs in the past I figured I would give these a shot.

Immediate Sound Quality Impressions

After receiving them I immediately connected the longer headphone cable to the left driver and plugged them into my 5G iPod. I was amazed at the quality of the sound from a pair of $75 headphones! The sound was akin to my previously owned AKG K 240 MKIIs, but a little warmer.



The Listening

The following two tracks were played through an iPod 5G (Rockboxed with slight EQ, no crossfeed) fed via LOD to an iBasso P3+



Bobby "Blue" Bland - "Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City": This track opens up with a bass and lead guitar battling for supremacy, the separation between the two guitars is very good but the bass is what sounds the best. Bobby comes in after the 2nd bar. These headphones do a good job of reproducing the ambiance of Bobby's vocals (slight echo in the mastering of this track) and still maintaining descent separation between the vocals and the instruments. I don't notice any sibilance on this track.

Radiohead - "All I need": This song was made for these headphones. The opening bar is an heavily synthesized organ with a ton of reverb. The 2nd bar starts with a simple kick-kick-snare drum loop. The 3rd bar is another heavily synthesized bass-line, this is where these puppies shine. The 4th bar is where Thom Yorke starts in. His voice has been filtered through a good deal of plate reverb. This is where you start to see the coloring on these headphones. Artists with mid-to-high frequency vocal characteristics work well with these headphones. There appears to be a bit of a dip between the low-vocal to mid-bass range.

More Radiohead, AFI, Zero7, Jay-Z and Miles Davis (about a dozen songs in total): After a bit of listening I am firm on my descriptions above. I did notice some sibilance, but very little. I also noticed that some bass and drum-kicks and sound muddy. This happens when there are a lot of instruments together on one track. When this happens the separation between instruments becomes less pronounced and the low-end suffers a little bit, but I am being hyper-critical here. These are still very good headphones.



Full Review (1=poor characteristics, 10=excellent)

Bass/Warmth: 7/10 (Great attack, these hit hard with processed bass tracks - i.e. Hip-Hop, Electronica, etc. Non-processed bass kicks, i.e. Rock tracks, may sound just slightly muddy, but I am being very critical here.)
Mid-range: 8/10 (A slight dip in the lower mid-range.)
Treble: 6/10 (Accurate, but slightly flat.)
Sibilance: 5/10 (If you're being very analytical you can notice a slight bit of sibilance in the mid-high range, i.e. cymbals and high-hats.)
Sound Stage: 5/10 (Not great, but they are also fairly small supra-aural headphones.)
Separation: 6/10 (Good separation except in the low-mid range.)
Ambience: 7/10 (Very good for such a very compact headphone. The only reason I rated them a 7/10 is that I know that AKG is capable of much better. This is where the K 240 MKIIs shined.)

Quality

The quality is very good. The case is perfect and does an excellent job of protecting the headphones for travel purposes. In fact the only other case that I have seen that is as good is the Ultrasone Pro-series case and those are $250-550 headphones.



The detachable cables are thin but appear to be very strong. The connections on the cables are top-notch. AKG uses this ingenious system where the connection between the cable and the headphone needs to be turned about 90-degrees to lock it into place. Good thinking there! The pads are durable but plush. The plastic shell is seamless and appears to be from a very good molding. No creaking when being worn.



Design

I love the design of these. They look like miniature DJ headphones. Low-key with a lot of style.

Comfort

The comfort is great. The headband is well padded and the ear pads are plush and conform well to my ears. The clamping force is perfect for my head (size 7 1/4 hat). It's akin to my formerly owned HD 25-SPs but I think these sit on the ears a bit better.



Conclusion

If your taste in music is Pop, Rock, Jazz, Hip-Hop and/or Electronica and you are looking for a pair of warmly-colored travel headphones look no further. The fit and finish is superb and the sound reproduction is very-very good for the money. Don't expect them to be miniature HD800s, they are what they are; A very good pair of sub-$100 travel headphones (if you can find a good deal).
post #2 of 72
From what you're saying, these sound exactly like the K81. Same drivers?
post #3 of 72
Thanks for the review, they seem to be just what I was looking for. I sprung and bought a pair. They seem like a steal at $75, but what about at their retail price of $189?
post #4 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jp_zer0 View Post
From what you're saying, these sound exactly like the K81. Same drivers?
The K 81 is obviously a much larger headphone, but they may use the same driver.
post #5 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mariusz22 View Post
Thanks for the review, they seem to be just what I was looking for. I sprung and bought a pair. They seem like a steal at $75, but what about at their retail price of $189?
I my humble opinion if you can get these for less than $100 (which is very do-able) I would recommend them.
post #6 of 72
excellent review, thank-you!
post #7 of 72
I have a quick question about the use of an amp with these.

Have you compared how they sound with and without an amp? I currently use Sony X1060 which is supposed to have a good amp built in and am wondering whether there is any point in getting an amp to go with the Sony and AKG K450s.
post #8 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Szadzik View Post
I have a quick question about the use of an amp with these.

Have you compared how they sound with and without an amp? I currently use Sony X1060 which is supposed to have a good amp built in and am wondering whether there is any point in getting an amp to go with the Sony and AKG K450s.
The amp really isn't necessary, without it my iPod is at about 50% volume for normal listening. I just prefer the sound from my P3+ when using my 5G iPod.

Your X1060 is a VERY good DAP, you would be fine using these headphones without an amp.
post #9 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulSyde View Post
The amp really isn't necessary, without it my iPod is at about 50% volume for normal listening. I just prefer the sound from my P3+ when using my 5G iPod.

Your X1060 is a VERY good DAP, you would be fine using these headphones without an amp.
Thanks.

I have been using the two for a few days now and thought it was great, but wanted to make sure if there is any benefit in getting an amp, even one like Fiio E5.
post #10 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Szadzik View Post
Thanks.

I have been using the two for a few days now and thought it was great, but wanted to make sure if there is any benefit in getting an amp, even one like Fiio E5.
I would avoid the FiiO amps. It's one more link in the chain that isn't as good as the DAP.
post #11 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulSyde View Post
I would avoid the FiiO amps. It's one more link in the chain that isn't as good as the DAP.
One more quick question. Where did yo uget that nice headphone stand?

For my HD555 I have a Sennheiser HH10 but I like what you have there.
post #12 of 72
Thread Starter 
post #13 of 72
Thanks for the review. The pictures are tremendous.
post #14 of 72
Midrange dip: all supra-aurals seem to have it, must be due to them not covering earlobes. Same about ambience - whole ears have to be enclosed to transmit ambience correctly.
post #15 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoulSyde View Post
The K 81 is obviously a much larger headphone, but they may use the same driver.
You sure? the K81 are deceptively small if you've never seen them in person.
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