Some people just aren't fans of big headphones, but still enjoy the audio experience produced from them. They crave smaller offerings, and Harman, the makers of AKG products, insist they have the answer with this pair of headphones, named the AKG Y40 headphones.
They’re unquestionably minute in size, but boast rather large 40mm (hence their name) speaker drivers in each ear cup, so admirably they’re making the best of their compact size. Build quality is one of the greatest charms of them: each ear cup is solid in its construction and finished off with an attractive and robust black aluminium finish on all variations.
Metal sliders are used in combination with a plastic backing, produced in the soft-touch rubberised-feel headband, for adjusting the length of each ear cup. This should lead to longevity, as the ear cups won’t snap off with frequent usage. A 3DAxis allows the cups to swivel 90 degrees and fold into the headband for easy storage. In fact, these are absolutely no trouble to pop away into a coat or a large jean pocket (a stylish round carry case is included too) because of the flexible (available in red/blue/black) headband. It’s so flexible that it can almost be pulled out straight. This means they accommodate head sizes of all kinds, but can also put up with strenuous forces, making them brilliant as a run-around day-to-day pair of headphones.
The respectable in length 1.2 metre cable is removable and uses a 3.5 mm jack. AKG have made sure to provide a one button remote as well as a microphone, so you can control phone calls, music playback and other device functionality. We used the AKG Y40 headphones with various iOS devices with which it is completely compatible.
When wearing them, the AKG Y40 headphones feel just like you’d expect: they’re light, with a low profile and the swept edges make them look really good on the head too. After using the Y40s for around half an hour we were completely unconscious of their presence on our head. If you are one of those people who gets fidgety with over-ear or even larger on-ear headphones, these are really pushing the envelope for you to like them, even after using them for over three consecutive hours. Any smaller ear cups would have been subject to severe sound leakage on our heads, but the Y40s attempt hard to prevent this in the way the ear pads have been designed, allowing sound to come through the very middle of them, as demonstrated by our photos. This does a phenomenal job at preserving the sound for your ears, but oddly for an on-ear pair of headphones they’re not terrible offenders with regard to sound pollution. In fact, in a busy urbanised environment, the Y40s playing music at full volume do not produce noise pollution, and likewise you can’t hear the surrounding noise through your music either.
The AKG Y40s actually sound pretty good for their £69.99 price point. They’re not able to stare down the likes of bigger, slightly more expensive but also compact, headphones such as the Marshall Major FX, but do pull out some impressive grunt for their size and sound better than bigger headphones like the Urbanears Zinken headphones or the BiGR Audio Madison Avenue headphones. We were impressed with the low frequency bass levels; they’re boomy and have layers of depth too. This is well demonstrated by the song ‘What You Know’ by The Two Door Cinema Club. When such frequencies are jarred together with a mid-high range, the Y40s actually have a surprisingly decent soundstage, really not commonly heard with on-ear headphones in this league. Instruments, and some vocal arrangements, have air around them so the sound doesn’t seem like a gloop of noise. The mid-range (treble) frequencies are the poorest of all the ranges, often sounding polluted and muddy within the highs and lows. We think this is possibly because the amount of area the ear pads allow the sound to travel through can sometimes prove too small. Volume cranked all the way is loud; not too loud for us to tolerate and it doesn't reverberate.
The AKG Y40 headphones have met their objective to cover the ears of individuals who desire a stylishly ultra-compact, comfortable pair of on-ear headphones, with quality that can jump over bigger similarly priced releases from their competitors. The only real negative is definitely the occasional musty treble.