AKG Y40 headphones review

The ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ adage has never felt so apt

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It’s the age-old problem for reviewers: taking a product out of the box and judging it instantly is so easy to do. You hope to be proven wrong, but you don’t expect anything to shout about. Fortunately, AKG’s Y40 headphones did prove us wrong.

They needed to because the design doesn’t match the high-quality AKG signature sound we’ve become accustomed to. Our yellow test pair looked garish and, quite frankly, a bit cheap and cheerful. The black alternative version exudes far more class. Maybe we’re old-fashioned, but we’ll leave the colourful statements to the likes of Beats Audio.

Adjusting the headband is a simple task, but it uncovers an ugly metal fixing (for adjusting length) that looks like a tape measure. The headband itself does have a soft leather underbelly that gives the Y40s a very comfortable fit.

The earcups are covered in the same material and perfectly cushion your ears, although those with larger lugholes might look for a bigger cup. These are small on-ears after all, and very portable thanks to the 3D folding design, detachable audio cable and lightweight nature. Sadly, the in-line remote’s volume buttons did not work with an iPhone 6 listening to Spotify. Further investigation online suggested we’re not the only ones to suffer from this issue. Nevertheless, the play/pause button is well pronounced and gives a reassuring click.

So it’s a real hit and miss affair so far. Thank the audiophile gods then for the Y40’s sound quality. Dual 40mm drivers power the experience – bass is sturdy and mid-tones and treble are crystal- clear, but get slightly lost towards the top end of the 16Hz to 22KHz frequency range. There isn’t a genre that best fits the Y40s, suiting those with varied music libraries. There’s impressively very little leakage at high volume, although these miniature cans don’t reach ear-bursting levels. Noise cancelling is equally impressive. This is high- quality, well-rounded stuff for the price tag.

Overall then, a mixed bag. An improvement design-wise with a bit more attention paid to the finishing touches and AKG’s Y40s would be a steal. As it is, they’re the perfect companion for the Mac that never leaves your desk. 3.5/5