AKG K451

Tested at £130

Product of the Year, Awards 2013. Not only do they look good, they’re excellent sonically, too


I've had these phones now for 5 weeks and they are fantastic. Those people finding these are not of good quality sound maybe need to look at their equipment, their connection, the quality of their source file or maybe just get their ears washed out. I have compared these to a set of B & W P5's, tried exactly the same source file in MP3 320kbps, WAV and FLAC, also different music genre's and on various units from my trusty mobile phone to my Marantz CD player and the quality is outstanding. As the music file was changed the depth of the sound and improvement sonically could clearly be heard. Also, the carry case is great, and after wearing these after a few hours they are so light and comfortable, you just forget they are there. Don't compare these to a £300 set of phones, cos they are not £300, however for a £50 set they are superb and even if they were still at the original £180 they are superb......maybe after more time my opinion may change, but i doubt it.

I have also just bought a pair of these new on amazon Jan 14, I can't belive how poor they sound.

I am use Ibasso 55 as main source, mid / treble very vague, i thought that they would be a big improvement on my old (5 yrs+) Bose noise cancelling head phones, the bose produce

an incredible detail sound in comparason, most of the music i have been listening to was from cd's ripped on a Naim hdx, with the Bose headphones I can only describe the sound as amazing, so far I haven't enjoyed a single track thru these AKG cans.

Can the dear WHF team advise me on a DAC to go with these headphones? I purchased them recently and now would like to add a DAC to it. Which one you think would pair best with AKG's , HRT Micro Streamer or new CA DacMagic XS? Any other suggestions? I mainly listen to Alternative and Indie music (flac mostly). Million thanks in advance.

If you can stretch to it, we would go for the HRT.

After reading these reader's remarks I get the inpression that those with better quality source material (i.e at least full lossless 16/44 & not 'empty3' rubbish) have ears accustomed to better quality sound and therefore dislike the sound of these 'phones. But the ones defending the 'phone's sound quality are the one's whos ears have been decimated by over indulgence in 'empty3' rubbish.

It seems that, if generally, you only play 'empty3' stuff via your 'phones, then these 'phones sound better to you; that they can improve the sound of 'empty3' material. But if you have ears trained to hear better quality source material than 'empty3' then these 'phones are a big disappointment.

Sorry to disagree with you ManWhoCan but I've listened to CDs, 12" records, and even .wav and .flak (i.e. lossless) files on my mp3 player - and the sound quality on these headphones is excellent.

Sorry tintoy, but these headphones are the best I've ever listened to. I'm not sure what is wrong with your pair.

I purchased mine from Richer Sounds for £50. I had to make a couple adjustments to the equaliser on my mp3 player, as you would with any pair of new headphones, but I've had no issues so far. They are perfect, and the sound is amazing.

The good thing about the AKG451's is that they include a case for you to put the headphones and cable in to. I can put the case in my bag and not worry about the headphones getting bashed!

Another good idea is that the cable is a separate unit to the headphones. I've owned three sets of Bose Tri-port in-ear headphones and they've all stopped working because of a loose connection in the cable. With the AKG451 if there's a loose connection in the cable through wear and tear you just need to replace the cable and not the headphones.

The sound is amazing - from classical music to comtemporary music. It's a pleasure to listen to my music to and from work in the way the artists would have wanted us to hear them.

I honestly can't understand how these headphones won any kind of award.

I just picked up a pair from Richer Sounds for £50, a bargin i thought given the list price (I'm assuming they are not fakes, given the vendor). I bought them as an alternative to my sound magic e10 in-ears, partly becuase i'm fed up of stuffing things into my ears in the office every day, and partly becuase i wanted something a bit more capable of reporudcing the subtle low end in some of the stuff i listen to most (electronic mostly), whilst still delivering decently textured mid and highs.

Perhaps my expectations were unrealistic, but the AK451's are sadly far from an improvement...

The K451's are (very) muddy in the mid and high's, far too bass heavy, boxy and echoic, present a cramped-to-the-point-of-claustrophobia sound stage about as big as a postage stamp and are nothing even close to transparent or detailed. I have a pair of £25 koss porta pros that make these seem over priced. My (admitadly much more expensive) Bayerdymanic p50t's make these look just plain silly.

I'm hopping that the rumor of them improving with extensive burn in is correct rather than just some sort of desperate self-confirming rationalisation on the part of many a disapointed buyer. I'm going to try them again after running white noise through them for 48 hours. They'll have to improve considerably if they are not to end up on ebay, or in the bin...

Perhaps they are terribly subject to batch variation, or they have somehow changed the drivers since this review. This can be the only explanation for such an apparently misleading award? Perhaps one for WHF to persue with AKG? :-/

UPDATE: I just some comparison listening between theses and the 5 other pairs of headphones i own. No amount of burn it will improve these to an acceptable level - they're awful. I'm returning them. Sad

First I must address the "these are the best/worst headphones".

My view changed depending on what bit of kit I used the phones with.

i soon learned this was because of the 6.35mm adaptor - people with a sound problem, try pulling the 3.5mm plug out of the adaptor a little. Sound becomes super again (magic!).

This in turn is why I'd say these cans are 4 out of 5 in my opinion.

The negatives being the AKG adapters quality and the shortness (1m) of the lead.

Postives though are plenty, sound (most important) is excellent, as good as my Senny IEMs IE80s with custom moulds, headphone quality is excellent, cord quality is superb and overall the value for money is a no-brainier.

So, they lose a couple of points on some minor points, but overall I'm happy coz I forked out less than £60 for these (RRP £130) A GREAT BARGAIN! (Maybe not the best though, but then you'd need to pay more). 


My first review - needed to be said!

I'm amazed to find people that have been disappointed by these headphones! I purchased them from Superfi for £62 (an absolute steal, if I'm being honest) and I was sold by their exceptional sonic talents within minutes of a test listen.

Through extended listen, these headphones always manage to put a surprise on my face. Whether I'm listening to Depeche Mode or The xx, these headphones always manage to present the music in a balanced and musically enjoyable way. WHF are right - they sound brilliant even with lower res files but feed them a WAV and they will impress.

I listened to the B&W P3s and pound for pound, these AKGs wipe the floor with them. Sure, you don't have quite the same luxurious look that the B&Ws have, but they are over £100 more expensive.

These AKGs really are the gift that keeps on giving.

Very disappointing! I also considered, if my set was faulty. Simple vocal music recorded in a studio sounds decent but not great. Listening to live concerts that sounds great on in ear headphones like Sennheiser CX300 is like being in a traffic accident - it's painful to hear good music treated this way. Furthermore these headphones are not sound isolated, so if you commute you still get a lot of background noise (especially high frequencies). I would choose cheaper in ear headphones without hesitation...

Distinctly disappointing as new. Sounds shrill, lacks depth and quickly becomes very tiring even painful. But do I need to burn them in - and if so for how long? 

I see the WHF review said nothing about burn in - so do I have a faulty pair? Bought from a nationwide retailer (Superfi) so should be the real thing.

The same CD that sounds awful through these headphones plays fine through the attached amp & speakers. Both earphones also appear to be equally bad - so no clue there about what could be wrong.

Bought these for £62 at Superfi as they seem to be good value and use them at work connected to a computer. 

In the box:

Comes with a moulded carry case 6.3mm adaptor and an extra cable with inline microphone/remote (all plugs are gold plated).  The cables are only about 1m long and rather thin, so not ideal for computer use unless the pc is close by but this is not really a big deal.


These are of the on-the-ear or supra-aural type of headphone and are very comfortable to wear, i.e they don't press too hard on the ear and have good a adjustment range.  Its also easy to slide one ear piece above the ear if I want to listen to my work colleagues, etc.

Sound Quality:

I always think this is rather too subjective an area.  However, in general, these are being compared to my previous pair of Sennheiser PX-100's.  Its a well known that the PX100 is overly bass rich and I can support that fact.  Its especially bad since my IPOD classic naturally adds too much bass too.  Therefore, I was very pleased to find the K451 to be very neutral in comparison although they require alittle more juice to drive.  Listening to Minnie Ripperton's Inside Love was very easy to digest and since I listen to alot of vinyl at home it was a familiar and pleasing sound.


I bought these because they are light, comfortable and sound good over many hours of listening at work.  For the price I paid, value is good too.

I am in the process of getting a refund on a pair of AKG K450 headphones I got in July 2012 - thanks Amazon!!!.

I had read reviews indicating a possible problem with wiring failing after short period of use, and despite my being very careful when unfolding/folding, sure enough this week I lost sound on right speaker.

My concern with these new improved K451s is that the underlying problem might not have been addressed.

Anybody know otherwise?


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