Under new ownership, AKG’s noise-cancelling headphone focuses on smartphone use. Read our AKG N700NCM2 Review.
KG was swallowed up by Samsung some time ago, along with Harman Kardon and JBL. But while Harman and JBL have retained their own identities and brands, AKG’s headphones seem to be promomted as an accessories brand to partner Samsung’s range of smartphones.
Samsung’s influence on this updated version of its AKG N700 headphone is clear, with a focus on portability and daily use around town. The battery has been extended to 23 hours, while SSC (Samsung Scalable Codec) for Bluetooth wireless audio has been incorporated. I’m surprised AAC for Apple devices is supported as well, but at this price it’s disappointing that there’s no sign of aptX. There is a decent set of accessories, though, including a sturdy carrying case, USB-C cable and charger, 2.5mm-to- 3.5mm audio cable and airline adaptor.
The highest setting of Adaptive’ noise cancelling is designed to block out noise on trains and planes, while Ambient’ lets in some background interference. There’s also a ‘Talkthrough’ mode that temporarily mutes music so you can talk to others without removing the headset. Given that many smartphone users like their big bass, AKG has dug deep to get the lower frequency range right down to a claimed 10Hz.
Despite Samsung’s emphasis on portability and wireless connectivity, the N700NCM2 works well as a conventional wired headphone. The deep bass is the sonic highlight and will appeal to those that like their dance and pop music with plenty of body. But, to AKG’s credit, it has kept it under control so that it works well with other types of music too – the
PRODUCT AKG N700NCM2
TYPE Closed-back, over-ear, noise-cancelling headphone
• Quoted battery life: 23 hours
• Folding design
• 1.2m cable
• Bluetooth with AAC; SSC
DISTRIBUTOR Samsung UK
TELEPHONE 03330 000333
1 Three noise-cancelling modes
2 Lightweight, folding design
3 Samsung codec for smartphones
deep electronics of Shadow Journal have a satisfying rumble that manages to avoid the exaggerated bass boom of many rivals.
The bass guitar intro on The Millionaire Waltz feels nice and taut, and the headphone reveals it clear and detailed mid-tones as the Queen harmonies come floating in. The pounding drums also have a really satisfying thud to them, so rock fans won’t be disappointed. If there’s a minor weakness it’s on the higher frequencies, and the reverberating Kate Bush a capella vocal on My Lagan Love has a slightly harsh edge to it that rather spoils the wistful, autumnal mood a little.
Noise cancellation is very effective when blocking out the drone of an aircraft engine, but less so with the ambient background noise of an airport. Even so, the N700NCM2 can match some of its more expensive rivals for noise-blocking efficiency, even if it’s Bose that remains the clear leader in that particular field