IFA NEWS: From headphones to match your car to 3g in-ear marvels – AKG has designs on your head
So it is that we find ourselves in the soundproofed calm of AKG's 'VIP Black Box', where we can look and listen at leisure to the Austrian company's 14 new headphone models – plus some previews of some intriguing in-car headphone options and next-generation Bluetooth designs.
First to those car headphones, which sadly AKG will not yet share pictures of (or allow us to snap). AKG has crafted headphones for Audi, Maybach and Mercedes owners, which will be available as options with certain models.
Each design is meant to suit the car in question – so the Audi headphones are a swooping, futuristic shape in different shiny shades, the Mercedes pair are solidly understated (bar the Merc symbol on each earcup) and the Maybach model is huge, ostentatious and looks perfect to be worn on the well-fed head of a Bond villain type. Or Simon Cowell.
Also on AKG's headphone horizon is Bluering technology, which will see both portable player and mobile phone controls being discreetly mounted on the earcups of a forthcoming range of solid-looking Bluetooth headphones. It certainly seemed a big improvement on the average iPhone headphones.
And talking of Apple's mobile phone, AKG's new 14-strong line-up is proudly iPhone friendly, with several models – including the ultra-compact over-ear K450, pictured above – available with a tiny Bluetooth adapter that allows you to take/make calls when needed, then seamlessly return to your music.
The closed-back AKG K450s are one of four folding over-ear designs. designed to combine ultraportability with comfort and performance.
The AKG 420 is the entry-level, semi-open model, featuring a collapsable headband to make it even more compact. The step-up AKG 430 is a closed-back design, followed by the Bluetooth-capable AKG 450 and then the flagship AKG K480 – a closed-back design that is both Bluetooth friendly and offers noise-cancelling capabiltiies.
If you find even compact over-ears too pocket-filling – yet burrowing in-ear 'phones too invasive – AKG has launched six new semi-open, ear-bud headphones, in a wide array of colours. The range kicks off with the K309 buds – an iPod/iPhone upgrade in brown or orange – and then gets even more colourful with the plum, smoke grey or lime K311 model, a 5g design that aims to offer bags of bass at any volume.
The AKG K313 buds – green or coral, these ones – offer a larger driver designed to offer superior sound, plus softer earbuds for longer listens, while the brick-red or black AKG K315 offers an in-line volume control, so you can keep your player tucked in your pocket.
Next up in the bud band is the K317, which AKG proudly claims offers 'near-professional music reproduction'. In a wearable lanyard-style white design, weighing just 5g, that also features a retractable cable and cable-winder.
The flagship AKG is described as having ''a high-end listening experience that equals live or studio music reproduction'. Not bad for another design you can hang around your neck and that comes with a suite of extras, from in-line volume control and cable-winding to a flight adapter and carry case.
AKG's efforts don't end there – it was time for our ears to be invaded. Its four new snug-fitting in-ear headphones include some real innovations, including sized buds for a better fit.
The K321 – available in blue and white – is a non-slip, stay-put design aimed at the exercise-mad brigade. It comes in small, medium or large sizes, so you can choose the best lug-hugger.
The K330 (yellow/black or grey-chrome) is an ultra-lightweight design – a mere 3g of earphone – while the K340 (black/titan or brown/champagne) adds an in-line volume control to a slightly beefier build.Finally, the range-topping K370 aims to bring professional-quality performance to frequent flyers.
The black/aluminium AKGs claim to offer high sensitivity, a wide dynamic range and high sound-pressure levels, along with a range of usability extras – from in-line volume control, an extension cable and a flight adapter, to a carry case that can also extend to hold your iPhone.
The 14 new models should be in shops within the next month, with UK pricing yet to be set. We'll be doing a more formal review of a selection of models shortly, once our ears, feet and sausage-overloaded systems have recovered from IFA.