• AKG 451 / AKG 450 Comparison Review

    akg 415For 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.

    Practical Considerations:

    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.

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4 Responsesso far.

  1. Stefan says:

    Thanks for the review, just bought the 451’s and am glad you mentioned they are better than the 450’s.

    • Duncan says:

      Thanks for the comment – I hope you enjoy the headset. I was more than surprised at how obvious the difference in audio quality between the two models was. I am very glad that I was able to try both before settling on the 451s though as I felt happier that I was not over-spending.

  2. Patrik says:

    Bought AKG 451 a couple of months ago. At first they didn’t sound good. After 40-60 hours of playing they got better. Now I’m pleased with audio.

    For money they are good. Nice design, carrying case and two cables. Not so comfortable at first but after some use they fit well.

    You can buy more durable cables (not original from AKG) at ebay from China.

    • Duncan says:

      They certainly do settle down over time. The headphones I tried out had been given the time to settle and when purchasing mine, I was assured that they too would improve over time. I’m glad that they are improving for you.

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