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Featured Review: AKG N60 Noise Cancelling On-Ear Headphones

March 3, 2016 - Written By John Anon

A quick browse around the internet will easily highlight just how many headphones are currently available to buy right now. As consumers, there has never been a wider choice available and while this is a good time to buy, knowing which headset to buy can be tricky. Especially, as most of the current offerings all seem to come touting similar features. In fact, when it comes to headphones, it now seems a given that headphones must be Bluetooth-enabled and while there are numerous benefits to Bluetooth, there are still a number of reasons to stick to a good old fashioned wired set of headphones. One of the newer headphones to become available from AKG are the N60 NC headphones. These are wired headphones and these will set you back $250. Here we are taking a quick look at what you can expect for that kind of money.

In the box

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The AKG N60 are the first thing you will see upon opening the box. The headset is held in place by a foam insert and immediately is presented in a way which highlights just how flexible the headset is, with one ear cup bent slightly inwards. Beneath the insert, you will find a carry case which consists of a soft felt zipped case and is just big enough to house the headphones. A separate insert is included in the box which houses the two included cables, a detachable 3.5 mm (to 3.5 mm) audio cable and a 3.5 mm (to USB) charging cable. While underneath everything you will find a handy little flight adapter and the usual degree of paperwork

Specs

In terms of the specs, the AKG N60 NC offer a total output of 30 mW. This is along with a frequency response of 10Hz – 22kHz and a sensitivity of 123 dB. These are 32 Ohm headphones and come equipped with a 320 mAh battery. The AKH N60 NC are wired headphones and make use of an included 1.2 meter right-angled 3.5 mm jack connector to a 3.5 mm straight jack connector. Lastly, these are extremely light headphones weighing in at only 150 grams.

Design & Hardware

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In many ways the AKG N60 NC bucks many of the common trends that have emerged recently with headphones. Firstly, these are not headphones which come equipped with Bluetooth capabilities and therefore do require you to establish a physical connection to your audio device. Not to mention, these are not designed to specifically offer you the best possible listening experience or the most comfortable fit or the most durable build possible. This is largely because these are designed to be portable headphones first and foremost. That said, these do provide one of the best listening experiences, one of the most comfortable fits and a more durable build that you will likely find on any other portable headphones.

Being portable-oriented, the AKG N60 NC are really quite small headphones. These are on-ear headphones and therefore, are smaller in nature than you will find on more typical over-the-ear headphones. However, even by on-ear standards, these do feel a little on the small size. Not overly small, but certainly compact enough. The obvious benefit of this is that these are headphones which are extremely easy to stow away and carry with you when away from home. Their level of portability is further fueled by their design. The ear cups are designed to fold inwards to offer an even greater compact form and this is achieved by the small hinges in place on either side. On first impressions, the build of the headphones, more specifically, the hinges do feel somewhat flimsy, however, after weeks of testing, there does not seem to be any issues in this respect at all. The hinges are designed for continuous wear and tear and have held up well regardless of how much usage they have incurred.

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Moving to the ear cups briefly and these are again aspects which feel a little more vulnerable than they actually are. The cups are compact and make use of a textured metal back, which looks much like a grill in its appearance. The backing comes encompassed in an aluminium frame and overall do scream style. If you are looking for a good looking pair of headphones which are slightly less obvious in a crowded area, then these will fit the bill. They are understated, but in a classy way. The underside of the cups are very well padded and in spite of their size, offer an extremely comfortable fit. Due to the level and softness of the padding, even after prolonged levels of usage the N60 remained comfortable headphones to wear.

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The neckband is another aspect which comes with some slight padding, which does further add to their more durable build. The padding does also result in the N60 being more comfortable when carrying via the neckband. In between the band and cups is where you will find the metal hinges. As mentioned, although delicate enough to allow for the adjustments to the cups, these have proven to be extremely durable. Again, they do not look it, but they do seem to be hardworking and allow for adjustments to be made effortlessly and at no point seemed to suffer from either fatigue or stiffness after repeated usage.

The left ear cup is where you will find the only on-headphones control and this is the noise cancellation feature. Noise cancelling is simply turned on or off via a sliding switch. In the on position, a backlight can be seen which primarily shows green to show that the features is active. The color does turn to red as the battery begins to deplete.

Moving on and although, these are wired headphones, the cable is a detachable cable. In fact, there are two cables which come in the box and in terms of their design (and excluding the connectors), the two cables are largely identical in appearance. Both come equipped with a gold plated 3.5 mm jack plug on one side of the cable and the corresponding 3.5 mm jack socket can be found on the left ear cup (same cup as the noise cancellation). The cables themselves are woven cables which once again, do highlight a more durable build. However, the end connectors, although gold tipped do not feel the most durable. Especially, the USB cable. In view of keeping everything as lightweight and portable as possible, the USB plug is a little on the thin side. This does make it a little more awkward when trying to insert the USB side into a charging port which was disappointing. Likewise, the audio lead comes sporting a right-angled jack which again is a little on the delicate side and does seem to require a lighter touch when inserting, albeit not to the same degree as the USB on the charging cable.

Sound Quality & Performance

When it comes to a set of headphones which places its emphasis on portability, warning sounds might start to sound off that this is a set of headphones which is likely to suffer a little on the audio side of things. Thankfully, that is not the case with the AKG N60 NC. After all, these are AKG headphones and the assumption is the sound quality on offer will be excellent and in the very shortest of terms, it is. In spite of their on-ear nature and general smaller size, these are headphones which are able to deliver a very decent sound. In terms of volume, there were no overwhelming issues with the N60 able to deliver effortlessly at higher volumes. These do not suffer in any respect of distortion, cracking or otherwise.

Likewise, there were next to no issues noted with the general quality of the sound. The N60 NC do offer a wide enough frequency range to deliver across the spectrum and this does come through when listening. Tops hiss, base is surprisingly punchy and the general output is very well defined. In fact, the overall quality is certainly worth the price tag alone. When you then factor in the more portable design on offer, these suddenly become very powerful but lightweight on-ear headphones.

As these are also noise cancellation headphones, this does need to be commented on a little further. Overall, the noise cancellation feature does work extremely well and you can count on virtually all outside noise intrusion being eliminated. They are not 100% effective, but few are and comparatively speaking, the level of cancellation is very good. Another aspect worth noting is the common hiss that is often encountered with noise cancellation. The bad news is that there is a slight hiss. However, the good news is that it is a very faint hiss and certainly lower than what you will encounter on similar priced and similar positioned products.

One criticism which is worth briefly pointing out is that when tested the hands-free functionality was a little disappointing. These are headphones which are designed to offer hands-free calling, however, the volume for those listening did not seem to be too great. Whether this was an issue with the positioning of the microphone or just an issue with the headset (or the cable) we had, remains to be seen. However, while the feature is available, from our testing it was not the most effective. Another criticism which could be said is the general lack of controls that are on offer. The detached cable does include a control panel but this is a single button control and as such, the only option available is to either play or pause (or call answer/hang up). There is no ability to control the volume or skip tracks and in all respects, additional functionality is largely nonexistent.

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That said, overall there is very little to complain about in terms of the sound quality and performance. These are headphones which work extremely well in most departments. The range and depth of sound is excellent and is not compromised in any meaningful by their general size or portable nature.

Battery Life & Connectivity

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As already noted, these are not Bluetooth-enabled headphones and offer no means of wireless listening at all. However, the AKG N60 do come equipped with a battery inside and this is due to their noise cancellation feature. This is a feature which is enabled by the use of the battery and one which is said to offer up to 30 hours per charge. In truth, it was difficult to validate this higher-end figure during testing and it would be best to think of this as the utmost standby limit. With that in mind and during testing, the NC features was easily able to be used for about ten hours of continuous usage without any major issues noted. If left in the on position (but not connected) the charge remained for about a day and a half before complete depletion.

One downside of the NC feature (and connectivity in general) is that the NC feature is charged via the same port as the 3.5 mm jack socket. This was presumably designed this way to further enhance the portability of the headset (and likely also a cost saving aspect). However, this does mean that when you want to charge the NC battery, you cannot listen to anything at the same time. The cable used to charge the NC comes in the form of a 3.5 mm jack connector to a USB connector. Which does mean that you can charge the battery either directly off a desktop USB port or using a USB adapter wall plug. In terms of charge times, during testing the battery does recharge fully in under two hours. Either way though, the charging aspect of the headphones is only for the noise cancellation, these are fine to use regardless of whether the noise cancellation is charged as they are passive listening headphones. So if you are someone who has no need for noise cancellation, then charging will not be an issue at all.

Wrap Up

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The AKG N60 NC are headphones which are not designed for everyone. However, they are headphones which do have something to offer everyone. If you are after a good quality output, then these do offer that. thanks to their AKG signature sound. These really are good sounding headphones which produce nice and bright sounds consistently. Likewise, if you are after more portable headphones which are durable enough to take anywhere, then these will fulfill that need due to their extremely lightweight nature and their general design. Further still, if you are someone who often wants to drown out surrounding noise then the NC feature on the AKG N60 works extremely well. Although, this is a feature which requires non-usage charging, when used, you can be sure that (almost) all of the surrounding noise is cut out…at the very least cut down. So whether you are someone looking for quality or portability, the AKG N60 NC headphones are certainly an option worth considering.

Should you buy the AKG N60 NC?

If you are happy to compromise on size, then these are a great option to go for. They do ideally suit the traveler or those who are often away from home and not looking to carry an unnecessarily large pair of headphones with them. However, these do have a place for those looking for a new home pair of headphones due to the very good sound quality on offer.

Buy the AKG N60 NC