For those of you thinking that AKG is some newbie attempting to capture the wireless headphone market, think again.
AKG is a premium acoustics company with over 60 years of experience in the game. Located in Austria, the brand is now owned by listed electronics giant Samsung.
Basically AKG is, to Samsung, what beats is, to apple.
This is a pretty decent set of noise canceling headphones despite the fact that they do not have the reputation of a Sony or Bose.
You may remember that the AKG 700 NC headphones were released at IFA 2018 and even managed to win the best product award.
I will be honest from the get go, the Sony WH1000-XM3 and the Bose QC35II are a level above these, so if you have $350 to spend on a pair of headphones, Check out my review on the Sony WH-1000XM3 or the Bose QC35II.
However, they do deserve to be on a top 10 list, and are pretty decent set of cans.
When you first see the AKG’s you will notice that they are built really well. They really are a solid looking set of cans.
I kinda like the fact that they do not have the excessive bells and whistles of the Sony or Bose.
What I mean is that, even though the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose QC35II are the head of this category, they are very busy.
The AKG is simple and to the point. However, for this price point you do want to be wowed, and unfortunately that does not happen with the AKG.
The ear cups on both the left and the right side contains buttons on the outside to help you navigate and control the headphones.
You may have to play around with them a few times before you remember what is what.
You get the typical on/off button and volume up and down buttons, and a google voice button as well.
Fortunately the buttons are easy to find. I reckon that the volume up and center buttons in my view have very good tactile feedback.
I found the volume down button a little squishy for some or other reason.
When looking at the left ear cup you will notice the following buttons.
At the top is the volume up button, followed by the, answer call button and then the volume down button and then the 2.5mm audio Jack insertion.
The volume up/down buttons also double as a skip forward/back and fast-forward/rewind buttons.
The answer call button also functions as a pause/ play button for your music.
The right ear cup includes a micro USB slot for charging, the on/off button that doubles as a Bluetooth on/off button, smart ambient button and the LED charging light.
Holding the volume up button for 2 seconds allows you to skip forward to the next track. Whilst holding the volume down button for 2 seconds allows you to skip backward to the previous track.
The answer call button also activates siri.
The AKG 700 NC also includes a cable.
The remote in the cable also allows you to control your music and answer/reject calls.
I was impressed that the battery life is even better than the Bose QC35II in that with noise cancellation and Bluetooth on, the headphones can go wireless for 23 hours, whereas the Bose can do only 20 hours. But for this price range the battery life is average.
If you happen to be using the cable with noise cancellation then you can get up to 36 hours of playtime, which is roughly 4 hours less than the Bose (Yet they cost the same price).
Unfortunately these headphones do not come with quick charging, which I think makes them less competitive than other noise canceling headphones.
Note that the headphones cannot be used when they are on charging mode and the USB cable is plugged in.
The LED light will indicate the charging status of the battery. The LED light blinks slow red when the battery is low.
When the headphones are charging the LED light turns red, and turns white when the headphones are fully charged.
Like the rest of the features in these headphones the sound quality is pretty good, but just short of Phenomenal.
The bass is rich and assertive, but never does it become overpowering.
Very often some headphones can over do the bass.
For instance some headphones have the ability to make hip hop drums over power the artists voice.
But with the AKG 700 NC you can hear strong bass, but still hear the artist.
I also enjoy the crisp highs that do not get tinny and enjoy how clear my music sounds through these cans.
I like the fact that sputtering has not been an issue with these headphones.
AKG has worked hard on ensuring that distortion has been eliminated.
With the AKG app you can adjust the EQ on the headphones as well.
Keep in mind that even if you raise the base on these headphones all the way up, you will not get the kick that you are looking for.
These headphones are genuinely made for a neutral listening experience. I also noticed that the sound stage and instrument separation is quality.
The AKG700NC are flat fordable headphones designed so that they can be carried around anywhere.
When you first see the headphones, you will notice that the ear cups look a little smaller than the traditional over ears, such as the Bose QC35 and the Sony WH-1000XM3.
Even so they still fit comfortably over the ears.
If you happen to be someone with large ears, these are actually perfect.
The AKG’s come with a metallic slider. This is cool because it is strong and holds the headphones together.
You will notice that the headband has a padded strip of material which is almost suede like and that provides a lot of comfort especially if you plan to wear these over a long period.
My only criticism of these headphones with respect to the fit, is probably the fact that they are not made for all types of head sizes.
Now if your head is large then these headphones are perfect.
But for someone who does not have a particularly large head, well then you may struggle with these.
So, if you tend to wear large baseball caps, then these are perfect for you.
Anything less and you may have a problem.
The ear cups do swivel on the joints of the headband.
I feel as if the AKG’s were just made a little too loose instead of being made flexible.
When you do adjust the headband there is quite a bit of looseness, and there is a wiggle almost as if the headphones were not adequately bonded together.
The inside of ear cups/ear cushions are made of memory foam and finished in leatherette, ensuring a comfortable pressure free listening experience.
The AKG 700 NC come in at 261 grams, which is not too bad. Compared to the Sony WH-1000XM3 at 255g and the Bose QC 35II at 235g, this weight is not bad.
What’s in the box
The AKG 700 NC come in a large hard carrying case. Included with the headphones are a USB charging cable, 1 straight universal cable and an airport adapter.
The universal cable is a tangle free fabric cable with one button remote and includes a 3.5mm Jack.
The headphones can be folded and neatly packed into the case.
I am not a fan of the carrying case that comes with these headphones.
I can not believe how huge this thing is. In the modern world we want cases that are easy to carry and that are not burdensome.
The carrying case is not designed to accommodate the accessories carefully, and storing the headphones in the case is just a nightmare.
Audio and connectivity
By downloading the app you can control ambient aware mode and talk through mode.
This feature allows you to decide how much chatter you want to hear coming through your headphones.
The headphones make use of Bluetooth 4.2, which is generally fine.
However, since many Samsung devices use Bluetooth 5.0, you may have expected these headphones to be compatible with Bluetooth 5.0.
Unlike the Sony and the Bose (and many other wireless noise canceling headphones), these headphones can only be connected to one device at a time.
Note that Bluetooth is automatically switched off when the audio cable is plugged into the headphones.
I do not know about other users, but on my iPhone I did notice a little of latency, and found them undesirable to use with my I Phone and other apple devices.
The AKG’s come with a micro USB port for charging instead of a USB C port.
Now in 2018 we would expect USB C charging as most devices now are USB C compatible.
I am slightly disappointed with this, especially given that Samsung own the company.
I mean just think about it, If you purchased a galaxy device, you would not be able to charge the headphones with the same cable.
A nice feature of the AKG700NC headphones is the “perfect calls feature”.
In essence this feature allows you to eliminate echo, so that you can better hear yourself when making calls.
This ensures that you do not have to shout when talking to someone on the phone.
The active noise cancellation is adaptive, thus you can specify how much noise cancellation you want on these headphones.
Noise cancellation is activated when the headphones are on.
The headphones come with ambient aware mode, which is similar to the Bose ambient aware mode.
The ambient aware mode makes sure that you can hear certain sounds without having to remove your headphones.
With this functionality you can even have conversations and listen to your surroundings, whilst enjoying your favorite music.
One of the beautiful things about ambient aware mode is that you can set the function to ensure that you can walk down the street and hear oncoming traffic.
This is perfect for when you want to enjoy the outside breeze and the smell of fresh air but hate the chatter of other people and other additional ambient noise.
I found the performance a little mixed when attempting to block out different frequency sounds however.
I think it did not do a great job when attempting to block out low frequency sounds.
Which is pretty unfortunate as this is where Active Noise Canceling headphones are supposed to excel.
What separates good ANC headphones from great ANC headphones is how they handle random high frequency sounds like chatter.
I found that the AKG 700NC had a difficult time blocking out chatter.
The only issue with the AKG700NC is that it allows everything in when noise canceling is set to normal.
Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM3, and the Microsoft surface, which are designed to ensure that sudden sounds such as a police siren or a dog bark will not get your attention.
I do think that AKG should have made the headphones smart enough to ensure that you did not have to choose between the two modes.
It would have been nice if the ambient mode could react accordingly.
When it comes to the sound quality these headphones are made for people who are looking for a neutral sound signature.
I think AKG have missed the boat by pricing these headphones at the same price as obviously superior headphone brands such as the Sony WH-1000XM3 and the Bose QC35II.
I think these headphones are overpriced and should be trading for at least $100 less.
I think even the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 SE are a better set of cans and at time of writing the price was $100 less.
For the sound engineers and techies, I feel it would be worthwhile including the specs for the headphones.
The impedance on these bad boys is 16 ohms. Maximum input power is 30MW, the frequency range is 10-20KHz.
Should you buy the AKG 700 NC. I will leave this one up to you.
But here are my main reasons for and against the AKG 700 NC.
Noise cancellation is solid and the features are very practical.
The design is simple and the sound is clear and balanced and the build quality is solid.
They are however a bit boring and the noise cancellation is probably just a tad bit lower than the Sony 1000WH-XM3 and the Bose QC 35 II.
The problem is that the ANC headphone market is becoming increasingly competitive and AKG are going to have to do a lot more to get the consumers share of wallet.
Forum a design and build perspective they look and feel years behind the modern looking headphones.
Honestly speaking, I would rather recommend the Backbeat Pro 2 SE headphones which retail for $100 less and have pretty decent noise cancellation and over all features.
Reasons to buy
- Deep bass and rich mid range
- First class adaptive noise canceling technology
- Comfort fit ergonomics
- 23 hours of battery life with ANC and 36 hours without ANC
- Multi point technology allows you to connect to 2 devices at a time