So you would suggest UEs or the Sony's over the AKG in that they would have cleaner sound? Sony ones should be readily available for audtioning at the local Sony centre but still can't compare it to the AKGs.. The 1RNC looks great even though I've been a great fan of AKG's styling (and not much of a fan of Sennheiser's look..)
My budget is a bit flexible at the moment in the sense that the K490NC would be in the more affordable bracket and the K495NC being in the upper bracket. The K550 should be within the upper bracket, while the QC15s are inbetween the K490 and K495 prices so can definitely be considered. I have read about the QC15s to be very good. But they're around 4 years old now? Has things changed over this time? Also I've read they don't work without battery.. which makes them rather peculiar since I don't think I'd use the NC function for vast majority of the time so needing to charge up just to use them on a normal daily basis might unnecessarily drain the battery life quickly. I note the AKGs are built in USB charging.. which might also be a problem for battery life if I rarely ever cycle the battery charges. But so in your view the Bose would outperform both AKG models in their best state (either NC on or off)?
So it might come down to deciding between the K550 and NC sets such as 490NC or the MDR-1RNC? Not sure which I'd be more happy with
Thanks for pointing me to the HK thread. I've tried one store on the list (Mingo) and they said they don't have the K490/495 for auditioning. I've also walked around some of the smaller malls in MK.. appears like not many people know about the AKG NCs. One of the larger stores even said they didn't sell them.. only for me to see the K495s on display when I was exiting. Mingo used to have pretty much the whole range of AKGs for auditioning when I went around 1 or 1.5 year ago but when I went approx a month ago they've moved the store layout around and no longer had that little section for amps and AKGs. I might try out some of the other stores on the list. Are you located in HK?
As a salesperson in a Hi-Fi shop selling all of the mentioned headphones; my ultimate advice is to give them all a try before buying.
If you ask me, the QC15 is possibly the best noise-canceller, at the expense of being the worst sounding headphone. Definitely a no on my part.
The AKG's, particularly the 495NC's, are very classy looking and well-made/robust. Both it and the lower 490NC don't have the typical AKG house sound, but still remain in better balance than many headphones. They're a colored/ fun sounding AKG with a bit more midbass presencethan neutral. There is no noticeable hiss or hum when noise-cancelling is on, but it does make the sound a tad bit warmer. I'd compare the 495NC's sound a lot to the Bower and Wilkins P5; but you get a better overall package. 2 year warranty also makes the AKG my choice between the 4 brands.
The Sony's are beautiful and robust as well and very comfortable too. They are more mid-forward sounding but sometimes unpleasant near 2-4 khz. I was disappointed with the NC version as the noise cancelling does affect the SQ and for that, I would recommend the standard MDR-1R. At 400$ it's not the best purchase.
As for the UE9000, it's probably the better sounding choice, but I find the headphone appalling to look at personally. It's also a finger print magnet and very bulky. It has the most features, which is fun if you do like the idea of wireless, but I must advise you that the blutooth functionality is terrible (with my Iphone 5 and previous SGSIII). It will drop out and necessitate a reconnect a frustratingly high amount of times. Also, you cannot listen in passive mode while on wireless, but you can listen passively when wired...
That's my take personally; however, it should be you who decides what's best for you. The biggest seller for me is the Bose, but I usually don't argue if a customer wants Bose and is not open to other brands. My second best sellers are the 495NC's, but most of the customers are over the age of 20. Most people around my age and under 20 will get the Ulitmate Ears line (if they're not getting Beats/Monster/Bose); but it's not a great seller either. Unfortunately, the Sony's are not very popular here.
Edited by dleblanc343 - 4/20/13 at 11:13pm