If you’re searching for an ultra-compact, modern, and great-sounding on-ear headphone then look no additional than AKG’s Y500 Wireless. While AKG may not be a family title to some, this Harman International subsidiary (and sister firm to Harman Kardon, JBL, Mark Levinson, and Revel) is well-known in audiophile and recording circles. AKG additionally has a wealthy legacy within the recording studio world.
I’ve reviewed a number of AGK headphones through the years, together with the AKG N60 NC Wireless and N700 NC Wireless, and have all the time had an excellent expertise. The AKG Y500 Wireless is not any exception.
Design and first impressions
The AKG Y500 Wireless come superbly packaged. The headphones themselves had been awarded an iF Design Award in 2018. The headphone field proudly shows the iF Design Award brand on its cowl.
The Y500 are available your alternative of blue, inexperienced, pink, and black finishes with chrome accents. My evaluate pair got here in black.
The Y500 are a street warrior’s greatest good friend. With a 900mAh polymer li-ion battery, you’ll rise up to 33 hours of battery life for discuss and music playback on a single cost. The fast-charging characteristic provides you an hour’s price of play time with a simply five-minute cost. A full cost takes about two and a half hours.
Thanks to multi-point connectivity, you possibly can join two Bluetooth sources on the similar time. It’s excellent for folk who journey with each a cell gadget and a laptop computer, or who take heed to music from a high-res DAP and have to take a name on their smartphone.
The Y500 helps Bluetooth 4.2 and the AAC codec. You gained’t discover aptX, aptX HD, or LDAC codec help right here, and when utilizing the headphones wirelessly, I did discover increased than common hiss.
Under the hood, the Y500 options 40mm drivers with a rated frequency response of 16Hz – 22kHz. The headphones are very simple to drive with nearly any gadget. Their impedance is 32 ohms and sensitivity measures 117dBSPL/[email protected]
When I first unpacked the AKG Y500, the scarf jogged my memory of a child’s headphone. The arms are situated nearer to the highest of the scarf, as you possibly can see within the picture beneath. This makes the headphone appear smaller than it truly is, and the arms initially felt awkward to increase.
I used to be initially involved that my hair would get pinched within the headband, however that by no means occurred throughout the evaluate interval, and I grew accustomed to the shortened headband shortly.
The ear pads are properly padded with reminiscence foam. They sat comfortably on my ears—even after lengthy listening periods. The ear pads additionally did a surprisingly good job of passively isolating me from the surface world—that’s a characteristic you usually don’t affiliate with on-ear cans.
Let me commend AKG on their industrial design. I completely cherished the Y500’s easy and purposeful ergonomics. The proper ear cup has energy and ambient conscious, whereas the left ear cup has quantity and play/pause. Just just like the AKG N60, the buttons are completely positioned and contour to your pure hand placement on the ear cup. While inserting my hand on the suitable ear cup my thumb fell completely—virtually each time—on the ambient conscious button. The similar was true of the play/pause toggle button on the left. Discerning buttons by contact was a bit of cake.
Snug, customizable match
The headband’s arms are metallic and plastic. At this modest worth, headbands are sometimes simply plastic. AKG deserves a nod for making that strong design alternative. The metallic a part of the scarf has click-markers from 1 to 10 if you wish to be sure that each arms are evenly prolonged.
For on-ear headphones to remain on properly, they want a cosy match. The Y500 aren’t any exception. The ear cups pivot ahead, backward, up, and down, permitting you to fine-tune their match. I believe that relying in your head measurement, you may discover the Y500 a bit too comfortable at first—particularly throughout lengthy listening periods.
There’s a trick I observed whereas sporting these headphones that I assumed I’d go on for individuals who discover that the Y500 are too comfortable (or too unfastened): Pivoting the ear cups up relieved strain on the highest of my head. Pivoting the ear cups down made the match firmer but additionally elevated the strain on the highest of my head. As with any headphone, you should definitely attempt them out and see how they fit your needs.
Hear your environment with ambient conscious
I favored the truth that AKG included an ambient-aware characteristic with the Y500. Ambient conscious attenuates your music quantity so you possibly can yr your environment. On over-the-ear-headphones, this characteristic will play sounds from the surface by way of the headphones. The Y500 merely lowers the sound with a easy press of the button on the suitable ear cup.
The louder your playback quantity, the extra ambient conscious attenuates. I carried out some non-scientific measurement utilizing pink noise and an SPL (sound strain stage) meter. Ambient conscious diminished the headphone’s output by -18dB once I was measuring 71dB on the SPL meter. Ambient conscious, nonetheless, solely attenuated the amount by -8dB if I had the music enjoying at 59dB. Ambient conscious appears to decrease the music all the way down to round 52dB or 53dB.
What bothered me about ambient conscious is that if you activate/deactivate the characteristic, the headphones emit a piercing arcade sound. There’s no want for the sound to be so loud. Even worse, there’s no technique to cut back the amount. I’d prefer to see AKG tackle this with a firmware replace and on the very least, decrease the piercing sound on new fashions coming off the manufacturing facility line.
Music pauses robotically
AKG touts the Y500’s play and pause automation. This characteristic robotically pauses the music for those who take the headphone off, and resumes your tunes if you put it again on. This is a good characteristic that saves battery life and ensures you don’t miss a beat. Many premium headphones, such because the Bang & Olufsen H9i and the Bowers and Wilkins PX, have this characteristic. Play/pause automation labored as marketed—at the least most of the time. I discovered it to be finicky, as I’ll clarify beneath.
First off, there’s a one- to two-second delay earlier than the headphones begin and cease playback. The AKG Y500 appears to have a longer delay than the B&W PX or the B&O H9i.
Secondly, and maybe extra bothersome, was that the auto play/pause characteristic didn’t all the time work. If I opened the headphones extensive and allow them to spring again on my head, the characteristic labored tremendous. But if I used to be mild placing the headphones on, they wouldn’t begin again up. I’d must take them off and allow them to spring again on my ears. The B&W PX have a companion cell app to fine-tune this characteristic’s sensitivity, whereas the AKG Y500 doesn’t. You merely want to pay attention to this quirk.
If you don’t need this characteristic, you possibly can disable/allow it by urgent the voice-assistant and ambient-aware buttons on both ear cup for about 5 seconds. The consumer guide says auto play/pause is enabled each time you energy up the headphones.
I examined disabling the characteristic (which was simple sufficient), however then couldn’t re-enable it after a number of tries. Powering the headphones down didn’t work both. What made issues extra perplexing was that there was no sound or visible indicator to let me know if the characteristic was turned on or off.
After a number of tries and powering the headphones on and off, I lastly acquired the characteristic re-enabled (don’t ask me how). Those minor quirks apart, it was time to take the headphones for some prolonged listening periods, and that is the place they actually sparkled.
Great performances, particularly when wired
I examined the AKG Y500 in each wi-fi and wired modes with an iPhone XS with the Periodic Audio Nickel headphone amp and an Astell&Kern SR15 hi-res digital audio participant (evaluate forthcoming). I used Tidal as my streaming-music supply for each items, and a mixture of high-res tracks and ripped CDs on the Astell&Kern.
Bluetooth efficiency is strong, however the Y500 actually shines as a wired headphone. Moreover, whereas the Y500 will play simply tremendous on a cell gadget or a pc, you’d do properly to pair this seemingly modest priced headphone with excellent electronics. Played on the Astell&Kern, the Y500 had been reworked into an other-worldly expertise. I famous that the headphones got here alive extra with the Astell&Kern DAP, delivering higher dynamics and a way of musical involvement. The ethical of the story is that I observed a reasonably drastic change within the headphone’s efficiency based mostly on the supply that was feeding it.
The AKG Y500 Wireless ship an excellent, detailed, and clear musical presentation. For an on-ear headphone, it was uncanny how the Y500 created such a deep, layered sound stage. Whether it was Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, Ariana Grande, Adele, Daft Punk, or Diana Krall, the Y500’s musical copy was exhilarating.
The solely space that jumped out at me as a slight shortcoming was the vocal vary. Depending on the monitor being performed, I generally longed for a tad bit extra heat.
Nevertheless, the Y500 headphones had been at house with jazz, R&B, rock, and classical. Generally talking, the Y500’s tonal stability was glorious.
On some tracks, a bump within the higher bass tended to overpower artists’ vocals. instance was on Dido’s “Hell After This” from her new album, Still on my Mind, and on Sarah Barielles “Saint Honestly.”
But at this worth level, the AKG Y500 headphones are stellar performers and vital overachievers. I’d don’t have any qualmes pitting them up in opposition to headphones costing twice the worth.
Another winner from AKG
AKG has one other winner with the Y500 Wireless For the worth, these cans are positive to be a sweet-sounding, no-frills, audiophile favourite. The folding, compact footprint makes it a really perfect journey companion. The ambient-aware and play/pause automation are good options, although the latter might be quirky. If you’re searching for a compact, on-ear headphone for lower than $200, you urgently want to provide the AKG Y500 a hear.