AKG K52 Headphones Overview

Harman has always been an audio heavyweight, and owns multiple audio brands worldwide. One of the better known brands Harman owns is AKG – an Austrian professional audio equipment maker which sits at the somewhat premium end of spectrum and creates some stunning pieces of audio gear.

While most stuff by AKG is rather expensive, what we have on test here is an inexpensive set of over ear headphones by the brand which looks much more premium than what it costs. The AKG K52 is the most basic headphone in the company’s lineup and is priced at an incredible INR 2900. Does it have some surprise in store for those looking at exceptional value outside of the everyday brands? Let’s find out.

AKG K52 Headphones: Inside the Box

Since the pricing is so attractive, don’t expect any frills with regards packaging. The AKG K52 comes in a humble cardboard box with images and details about the product all around. Inside the box, the headphone unit is bubble wrapped and has a non-detachable cable which is unusually long at 2.5 meters. The cable is not tangle resistant and thanks to the extra length, can sometimes be a pain to manage, especially while travelling.

There isn’t any inline remote on the cable either. There a 3.5mm plug at the end, with a 3.5 to 6.5mm converter shipped free inside the package. There also a warranty card inside the box, and that’s pretty much it.

AKG K52 Headphones : Design and Construction

While the packaging isn’t something extraordinary, the stuff that comes out of it definitely is. For the rather small sum of money AKG is asking you for the K52, the headphone looks and feels pretty solidly built. The frame is made of metal and comprises twin metal arcs which have a plastic disc towards their lower end, bearing the AKG icon.

Straddling the two plastic discs is a vinyl band with elastic at both sides to fit any shape or size of head without the user having to make any manual adjustments. The setup works exceptionally well, and the headphone set fits over the head rather snugly. The soft vinyl material is foam-padded from inside, making it very comfortable too.

The back of the ear cups are made of plastic and bear the AKG lettering, the K52 model marking and an arc of letters reading ‘designed and engineered in Vienna’. The unit that covers the ears is rather large and moves in all directions to fit impeccably well around the ears.

The padding rings on the inner side are wrapped in a soft cushiony material and encircle a large space to accommodate even the largest ears completely. The fit and comfort of these headphones is quite extraordinary for the kind of price they are offered at.

I used these units several times during the test period, including a trip crossing over India from its Western to Eastern end. I used the headphones for five long hours including my commute to the airport and throughout the flight. During this entire period I felt no discomfort or heaviness of any sort, thanks to a light 200gm weight.

Sure, the K52 unit doesn’t look as fashionable or premium as some of the other (much) more expensive headphones would, but from a construction and design perspective these ones here are pretty flawless. They are rather large, though, and don’t fold up, so they’ll take a reasonable amount of space in your haversack. Also, that extra long cable is a bit of an irritant at times with its proclivity to tangle quickly.

AKG K52 Headphones: Sound and Performance

The closed back over ear AKG headphones have a frequency response range of 18-20,000Hz and impedance rating of 32Ohms. The specification and design of the headphones make them usable for studio as well as leisure setting.

We tested the AKG K52 on Google Pixel, OnePlus 3T, Huawei P9 and a laptop. We employed various types of software for playing the music, and unsurprisingly the sound notes were different in different settings.

From the relatively mellow tracks of Coldplay to the more recent popular party numbers, the AKG 52 delighted us with its nuanced, balanced sound delivery with a very open, airy sounding character, despite being a close backed unit.

The detailing is also pretty impressive with all the instruments crisply audible across a wide range. The highlight here is the refined, measured representation of sounds without letting any elements spike up. Right from the low frequency sounds to the bassy notes, everything is delivered in a calculated, restrained manner for a very polished overall experience. As mentioned before, I listened to music on this set for over five hours without feeling any strain or irritation in ears.

If need be, the K52 can get pretty loud, too and it does that with impressive aplomb. The sound notes remain largely undistorted even at high volume, and high definition music sounds pretty crisp and devoid of any warp even at the peak.

There is a good distinction between the instruments and vocals and the clarity of the individual sound elements makes the K52 come across as a unit with a much higher pedigree than its price suggests. Sure, we have listened to better units, but those ones would cost incomparably more, and yet the K52 wouldn’t fall too far behind.

There is a distinct sense of maturity about this headset in the way it delivers sound in an unpretentious, measured manner. There’s no artificial amplification of bassy notes or sharpening of the lower frequency sounds to impress the casual listener. The K52 has a self-assured understatement about its performance, which can be attributed to AKG’s decades of experience.

Above all, for the price of INR 2900, this headset exhibits a character which makes it too refined a unit for the segment it plays in. It’s actually so good, it might be bad for some buyers who look for superfluous sounds in their buys. Make no mistake, though, the K52 is a solid product which performs immaculately across the range, even if you put that price tag aside and look at it from a standalone perspective.

Verdict

At INR 2900 or Euro 40 or US $40 – this is a pair of headsets which blends in almost every aspect that matters in an astounding fashion. It bears a premium badge, is built solid, is extremely comfortable and performs flawlessly. Our only gripe is about that tough-to-manage, non detachable cable. We would also have liked to have an in-line remote.

If those two things don’t matter to you, it’d be tough to find a worthy alternative to this unit here for that price. A buy by all means!

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