For a while I have been using a pair of Sennheiser HD 218 headphones at my work place. I bought them for a few reasons. I wanted a pair of on-ear headphones, but didn’t want massive over-ear ones. I also didn’t want to over-spend, as they were to remain at my place of work and not really travel around with me. The fact that they were closed back appealed to me as I hoped it meant I would not interrupt my colleagues.
Having bought the Sennheisers, I have been pretty happy, but have been looking at alternatives ever since I have become aware of the wear on the audio cable which cannot be swapped. As a result I have kept an eye out for a set of headphones which would not be ruined should the connections in the audio cable go. I subsequently came across the AKG 450 and 451 headphones, and upon further research found out that the 451s won What HiFi’s best on-ear portable headphones in the £50-£100 price range (here’s the full 5-star review). I also noticed that there was a little-brother to the 451s – the 450s, which are a little cheaper than the 451s. It made me wonder how much the two sets differed, so took it upon myself to test the two headphones.
I would definitely say that there was a noticeable difference between the two. In general, the bass of both headphones was deep and rich. Not over-powering, and I was unable to pick a difference between the two sets. However, there was a really noticeable depreciation of sound quality in the mid-ranges. Nothing crazy, but the sounds were so much sharper on the 451s compared to the 450s. I was really surprised at how noticable the difference was – that the 451s were not simply a re-badge of the 450s.
The biggest disappointment of both headsets is that although it is possible to change the audio cable, the end which plugs into the headphones is via a proprietary connector (which locks into place, so there are advantages). The 451 features an in-line controller but only the play/pause button works – it is not possible to adjust volume on my Samsung Galaxy S3 or on the Nexus 5. That’s certainly a bit of a disappointment. They will work perfectly on Apple products, I do believe. This does not impair the ability to answer calls using the in-line buttons and the built-in microphone works correctly.
The headphones feel very weighty and sturdy – as though very well made. They fold down to a very portable size and come with a moulded case, which will be especially useful when travelling. I was also surprised to find that there were two audio cables supplied with the headphones; one with the inline control and another a standard aux cable to be plugged into regular devices.
Compared to the Sennheisers which I was previously using, I have found that the 451s do not easily fall off my head – a very frustrating problem on the Sennheisers. For example, I am easily able to walk around outdoors wearing them – something which is not possible with the Sennheisers.