A new benchmark for in-ear headphones

AKG’s lightweight N40s pack a mighty punch

AKG N40 headphones, £350
AKG N40 headphones, £350 | Image: Hugh Threlfall

I’m surprised how often I return to the products of Austrian audio manufacturer AKG. I say this because it is not one of the high-end makers whose name is always on my mind. But in its quiet way, it has been a star part of this column. Last year, its brilliant over-ear noise-cancelling N60-NCs were the third AKG headphones I had covered in five years.

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Well now, here come the fourth. These are its new in-ear N40s, and again they’ve been a pleasant surprise – first and not least, because in-ear headphones can be a very tricky fit; my ears are fairly compliant, but occasionally I come across a pair that just aren’t comfortable. Designs like these, with a stiffened piece of wire to wrap around each ear, are often even more awkward. Yet the N40s feel terrific. They’re exceptionally easy to put on, stay put marvellously – they really don’t budge – and you barely know you’re wearing them. The sound is the second delight: cool, crisp, supremely natural. I loved it. Highly recommended as part of your suite of headphones (and every music lover needs a suite). One caveat, though, the N40s are pointless without a good source. Invest in a quality player and download some HD tracks, then enjoy. I’m confident you will. 

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