Customer Review

98 of 115 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Burn baby, burn..!, 6 Nov 2012
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This review is from: AKG K451 High-Performance Foldable Mini Headset with In-Line Remote and Mic - Black (Electronics)
I thought that I would add my tuppenny worth seeing as there are so few reviews for this product. I was a bit hesitant about buying these because of the lack of reviews but as they seem to be a newer version of the K450's which are very highly rated, I took the plunge.

I specified Superfi as the supplier because the default supplier when you click BUY on Amazon (caraudiosecurityuk) seems to have supplied some fake K450's according to some Amazon reviews.

My review is very subjective because I have not compared them to anything except freebies and the original Sennheiser PX200's which I was never happy with after buying them based on a What HI-FI review about 7 years ago... Golden Rule No. 1 - if you are serious about it, always, always, always listen to audio equipment before you buy! However, that is not practical where I live so I took a chance. Over the years I have spent a lot of money on hi-fi so consider myself a bit of an audiophile but these have been bought for travel/portability so I won't judge them based on home use.

They look good and build quality seems fine while they come with a substantial (if rather large) traveling case. Using the alternative iPhone cord with my HTC smart phone, the mic works and I can pause/play but not change the volume remotely. They seem slightly heavy for their size which adds to the quality feel.

I have had a quick listen with different types of music including classical and soundwise, plugged into my portable devices at home, they are much better than my PX200's. There is definitely too much bass lift but this will probably be beneficial on the plane and can be taken out with an equaliser. Otherwise, the sound without equalisation is fairly smooth. I would say the sound is good, rather than excellent. I am not, "..hearing instruments that I never heard before." but would expect to be spending £100-£150 on some bigger phones to be happy at home. The sound may improve after a few hours burn-in so I will try to remember to report back. Also, as they sit on your ear, positioning is important for sound quality and comfort. The most comfortable position may not be the best for sound. There is quite a lot of pressure from the headband to keep them in place which is less comfortable for me on one ear.

Summing up: Look good, nice build quality, no good for jogging, they press quite hard on the ears, not 'flat' sounding but for on the move and with personal equalisation, should do a good job.

Headphones are a very personal choice but I would recommend these.

UPDATE *** UPDATE *** UPDATE

Ok, it's now 2 weeks after I received these and my first reiew. I have a lot more things to add...

My first review was written within minutes of opening the box and I hadn't given these a sufficient audition and... I nearly sent them back! I should say that I am a critical listener, my current hi-fi having set me back about 10 grand. I like realism and a natural sound. I want to close my eyes and be in the studio with the musicians. I know that you cannot achieve anything close to audiophile performance for under £100 but as What Hifi's headphones of the year, they should be fairly good. I bought these as a 'cheap' travel pair although I still have not tried them on the move, resulting in a more critical evaluation at home.

I set the equalisation to flat on my high-end laptop and flicked thru a bunch of mp3s (ripped at 192 VBR using Exact Audio Copy)) on iTunes - mostly rock, blues and accoustic. The sound was extremely bass heavy and muddy in the higher ranges. So for 2 weeks I have been burning them in for 10 hrs a day with a variety of music plus the jslabaudio.com/burn utility (white/pink noise plus frequency sweeps) and I am relieved to say that they have now redeemed themselves. I guess that I am out of touch with 'consumer' headphones which seemed to be aimed at sounding good for non-critical listeners rather than audiophiles. Bass extension seems to be all that matters.

Rummaging through my drawers I discovered that I had more portable earphones than I thought... 12 year old Koss PortaPros (one earpiece detached but still functioning), Sennheiser PX200's , the original Bose In-Ears, Sennheiser in-ears (not sure which). To summarise in ascending order of sound merit:

PX200 - Just awful. These had a What Hifi award too and I have hardly used them
Bose In-Ear - just ok, but not really hi-fi
Sennheiser in ear - better but not outstanding
Koss PortaPro - Great value for money with a better, more refined and open sound but with an extended bass which doesn't go as low as the AKGs due to open-back design
AKG501 - best of the bunch but only after 2 weeks burn in...

To begin with, the AKGs were extremely bass heavy with muddy mids/highs. Two weeks burn-in seems to have improved everything. Now I would say slightly muddy mids and highs with an over-pronounced, but tight, deep bass resulting in a laid back and entertaining (rather than audiophile) sound if you can throttle back the bass. The damage seems to be at 125Hz. Cutting this by 3 small notches and increasing the 62 Hz by 1 small notch on my laptop equalizer seems to balance this out considerably.

I have also listened with similar results on my Creative Zen, iPod 3G, Sony CD Discman and driving through the headphone socket on a Harman Kardon hi-fi amp using the laptop/Sony Discman as source. With mp3s, a big amp didn't make much much difference so I don't think these a need a portable headphone amp. They seem easy to drive with most devices. I could hear the improvement over mp3 with the CD sources but it wasn't significant enough at this level of headphone.

I would give the AKGs 5 stars at the Amazon price if the sound was anything close to a flat bass response. Not that I use it now, but my Sony CD Discman only has a 3 position bass booster so it would be impossible to use it with these headphones.

If you are a bass-head who doesn't care about getting close to the original sound then these will be a high quality solution. For anyone else, make sure that your device has equalisation facilities.

On the subject of sound leakage. There is not much at normal listening levels although it gets worse if you crank them up. I would wear them on a plane but not sitting next to somebody in a quiet library.

I think that, soundwise, the Koss PortaPros are far, far better value for money at £21 (if they are not the fakes) and it seems that the only difference between the AKG451 and AKG450 (at £41) is an extra cable with contol and mic for an iPhone.

***** FINAL UPDATE *****

What a relief! After 3 weeks of overnight burn-in, the sound has got better and better. It is more integrated and balanced and with less bass exaggeration. I can now listen to some music with the equalisation flat. I have pushed up my rating to 5 stars and my only reservations are that they get a little warm on the ears which is to be expected with this type and the flimsy cables, which have not let me down as yet and can also be replaced. You just wonder how many times you can accidentally jerk or catch it on something which is pretty much unavoidable in normal use.

**** ADDENDUM *****

8-9 months into ownership and with very light use, the pin that connects the left earpiece to the headband broke. It was returned to the supplier, Superfi, who were very quick to send a brand new replacement after assessing the breakage. A big thumbs up to Superfi.
Although it is very subjective, the new phones without burn-in sound as good to me as the pair I sent back. I am wondering if any of the components have changed...
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Comments

Tracked by 5 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 28 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 19 Nov 2012 13:51:14 GMT
Hi, thanks for the review. I am considering these against a pair of Klipsch Image One's - You don't mention sound leakage? In your opinion, how do these perform regarding leakage? I plan to use them around others so I am looking for a set with minimal leakage?
Many thanks for your help

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Nov 2012 17:39:08 GMT
I have just updated my review, please wait for Amazon to publish it. They don't leak badly, but there is still a little at normal listening levels which could be heard at close proximity in very quiet environments

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Nov 2012 19:07:42 GMT
Thanks for the info and update, really useful - Although I am now torn...I am looking for a set of headphones that are decent allrounders, likely usage being movies on the iPad and music from my iPhone and iMac. Big ask in my price range but all things considered, I am still drawn to these. Thanks again

Posted on 1 Feb 2013 08:03:59 GMT
Mr. T. White says:
Really liked your review, thank you, and impressed that you could compare them with koss portapro which are truly excellent phones at a great price. Time to take the plunge then, and looking forward to hear how they compare with koss pp's and grado 60i...

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2013 20:26:35 GMT
Hey rickster thanks for such an informative review. U seem like a professional headphone listener.please Need your help for buying headphones. I have 2 budgets . One is around 100 £ and other is 500 £. Which headphones do you prefer for under 100 and for around 500. I want professional quality headphone. I have heard that brands like beats and skull candy are hyped can you suggest some professional quality one. I listen more to bass and rock music(dubsteps). I have researched and found this are some goodcompaniesSennheiser , Shure, Grado, Denon, AKG, Audio-Technica, Etymotic or Beyerdynamic . Please guide me. Thanks a ton

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2013 21:04:05 GMT
Last edited by the author on 12 Mar 2013 21:08:16 GMT
Hi Mr D. Thanks for the compliment.
I really cannot advise you on what to buy. Yes, these are all fantastic headphone companies but some of their products are better than others. You really must decide whether you want in-ear, on-ear, over-ear, open-back or closed-back. Then you have the problem that even though some headphones are generally considered better than others, some people still hate them...
The best method is to find a good hi-fi shop that has demonstrators that you can compare on the spot and make your own decision. If you must buy on somebody else's recommendation then you must sift through the reviews of 4-5 star products here and draw your own conclusions. It is a daunting task and you end up going round in circles.
I would not buy £500 headphones without hearing them first and you need to know whether that model benefits from burning in as most of them seem to.
Skull Candy and Beats look cool to some eyes but are not audiophile. Good luck in your search. Start in the hi-fi shops if you can so that you have a good reference point to start from and can see how others review headphones that you have actually tried.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Mar 2013 21:09:38 GMT
Hi Mr White, did you take the plunge..?

In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2013 14:12:08 GMT
Mr. T. White says:
Hi Rickster, I did and I have to be honest, I wasn't as impressed with the AKG 451's as I was with either the considerably cheaper but IMO better sounding Koss Portapro or, the far more expensive but even better sounding, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro phones. HTH.

Posted on 18 Jul 2013 22:12:00 BDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jul 2013 00:23:48 BDT
Thanks for reminding me of my stupidity, Mr Coombs!

1) Yes, one ought to spend several hundred quid on cans for a high end system. Couldn't agree more.

2) If you re-read just the 3rd paragraph of my 'overlong' review you will see that these phones were bought for travel purposes and reviewed in that context.

3) Not sure how you think you know the value of my gear but I can smile now I have an idea of yours... :-)

Hope you feel better after your holiday!
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