Espresso for the ear canals
High-end headphone sound that fits into a matchbox.
Really clean, precise and nuanced sound. Both for normal and balanced operation and for wireless use. Ultra nice design.
They cost a lot of money for something weighing only 11 grams! The sound is only optimal when the fit is perfect.
For most, in-ear headphones – ear plugs – mean tricks or cheap “use and throw” plugs that can be used to abuse random pop songs on and off.
But there are exceptions. Significant exception.
AKG N5005 is the company’s alternative to high-end in earplug format. The price is set to a nice and round number: $ 1,000. The model was presented in London recently, where Sean Olive, as the Acoustic Research Fellow of Harman (who is the motherhood of AKG), explained about the research behind the sound. Harman has conducted hundreds of listening tests on a large number of ear plugs to clarify what distinguishes a good in-ear headphone from a bad one. Besides that the tests showed that there was no clear correlation between price and quality (!) On the tested earplugs, the conclusion was – fortunately – that both trained and untrained listeners prefer earplugs with a flat frequency range, rather than models with a special “sound” “.
From this, it does not surprise AKG to strive for as smooth a frequency as possible in its new flagship model. However, if you want a little different flavor, it can also be fulfilled. We will come back to that.
The high-end is not just about facts, but also about emotions. When buying a product that is also priced in the heavy layer, it should preferably be accompanied by an emotional experience. This is comparable to eating at a Michelin restaurant: The food must be top class, but the staging and presentation of the goods must match.
Two floors with equipment
AKG has obviously put a lot of work into the “feeling of happiness” that meets one when packing out the 10,000-kroner expensive headphones. The box is large and divided into two floors, where an impressive arsenal of equipment for the adjustment of the earplugs is found. It all forms in molded recesses in fabric-clad foam.
Most importantly, the headset itself is made of high gloss black ceramic. Cables that are detachable are three of: a normal 3.5 mm cable for use with, for example, smartphone. A similar cable with 2.5 mm minijack connector for balanced operation. And last but not least, a short cable with built-in Bluetooth adapter, so AKG N5005 can also be used wirelessly. There is also a fly adapter, a cleaning brush and a USB cable for charging the Bluetooth adapter, which has a playtime of eight hours.
Seven ear plugs are given in varying sizes and materials. That way, it should be possible for most people to find a pair that suits.
Seven ear plugs are given in varying sizes and materials. That way, it should be possible for most people to find a pair that suits. And it is vitally important, because only when the headsets are completely clogged, the promised flat rate is achieved.
AKG has obviously put a lot of work into the feeling of happiness that meets one when packing out the 10,000-kroner expensive headphones. The box is large and divided into two floors, where an impressive arsenal of equipment for the adjustment of the earplugs is found. It all forms in molded recesses in fabric-clad foam.
Five units per capsule
So much about accessories. It’s about the inner values: The 11 gram light ceramic housing contains a total of five drivers, divided into three frequency ranges. A 9.2 mm dynamic driver takes care of the bass, while mid-range and treble are guarded by each pair of balanced luminaires. Impressive in a device that is so small that it can disappear in a shirt pocket.
Fine tuning of the sound
In the box there are also six tiny capsules with gratings on top, which resemble mini versions of the filter in a tap. The capsules (eight in total, when two others are mounted in the headphones) are used to adapt the frequency response to taste. If you find the pre-mounted “reference sound” too dull, you can change them with filters that give a boost in bass, treble or middle tone, and treble respectively.
There is of course a remote control on the cable to control playback on the mobile. There is also a switch that can choose between iOS and Android smart management. The cable itself is of a nice braided “audio file” type.
There are eight tiny capsules with gratings on top, which are similar to mini versions of the filter in a tap. If you find the pre-mounted “reference sound” too dull, you can replace them with filters that give a boost in bass, treble or mid-range and treble respectively.
The sound of AKG N5005
From all the talk about neutrality, the expectation was that the AKG N5005 would sound flat. And it is also in a special class free from stresses and maskings. But flat is by no means the same as thin. In fact, the bass is as deep and full-bodied as one could expect of a pair of good-looking over-ear headphones. However, not with the same sense of physical vibration in the skull.
What specifically impresses is the purity of AKG N5005. There was air in a way that I did not realize was missing earlier! It’s first and foremost singing vocals excellent. On the choir in the introduction of Right Hand Man from Hamilton, one can easily sing out the singing voices. And each voice’s distinctive character is clear and well-articulated – without interfering with the ability to enjoy the sound of the high-hat.
The lack of distortion also means that other joints in the chain are revealed relentlessly. Like the difference in CD quality streaming on Tidel or the same songs in the 192 kb compressed edition on Spotify.
When you get the sound right into your ear, there is no stereo perspective as with speakers. But on live recordings with two microphones (they are rare) or with arthodestereo (they are even less frequent) one will be taken to the event.
The AKG N5005 housing is made of a shiny black ceramic material that will be particularly resistant to scratches.
The extreme freedom of dyeing and distortion is something associated with professional monitor equipment. And the AKG N5005 also has the quality of monitoring, although I have difficulty imagining a professional situation where you choose to control listening through earplugs.
But fortunately not all. Time after time under test, I had to find out that I had completely forgotten to test – and instead “just” listened to the music. Because with such a short way to the events, it is easy to get lost. And that’s not a bad thing! That you can take the break all over the place, there is the AKG N5005 coming true to bigger headphones.
It is easy to find in-ear headphones that can compete for the price, but the number of direct competitors is limited. AKG has probably seen a bit for Beyerdynamic Xelento Remote, which also offers outstanding sound, but does not have the same possibilities for fine tuning – nor Bluetooth adapter.
The AKG N5005 is no meter, and the fewest will turn the expensive capsules into the ear canal. But for those who do, an experience that matches the hair-raising price awaits. It may seem absurd to give so much for so little when you can get awesome over-ear models for the same money. But these can, by virtue of their size, give you hello-end sound everywhere. The ability to fine-tune the sound of filters and, not least, the “free” Bluetooth adapter, makes them even better.
AKG N5005 Characteristics
- Principle: 3-way with 5 drivers
- Driver: 9.2 mm dynamic + 2 x 2 balanced luminaires
- Frequency range: 10 Hz-40 kHz
- Sensitivity: 116 dB (1kHz, 1mW)
- Impedance: 18 Ohm
- Bluetooth Version: 4.1
- Battery life: 8 hours
- Cable: 1.5m, 1.5m balanced, Bluetooth adapter
- Weight: 11.4 g (without cable)
Price: $1,200 –