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Reviewed on Feb 26, 2016

AKG K490-NC HEADPHONES REVIEW

Usage Ratings - Version 0.9
6.6
Mixed Usage
7.3
Critical Listening
6.4
Commute/Travel
6.1
Sports/Fitness
6.4
Office
6.9
Home Theater
Type : On-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : No
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : No
Transducer : Dynamic

The AKG K490-NC are decent-sounding, noise canceling headphones. They lack a bit of bass but they're decently comfortable and have a somewhat sturdy build quality. They barely leak, they're somewhat portable and they're stable enough to run with but won't be the best headphones for sports. They also have no practical controls apart from the NC switch which is slightly disappointing.

Test Results
Design 6.6
Sound 7.3
Isolation 7.2
Active Features 5.0
Pros
  • Lightweight build.
  • Comfortable "On Ear" design.
  • Decent sound quality.
Cons
  • Many potentially weak joints.
  • Poor noise isolation.
  • Significant lack of bass.

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6.6

Design

The AKG K490-NC have a simple and clear design but suffer from build quality and functionality issues. The thin headband and many potential weak points make the K490s prone to breaking. They have no in-line control options either, which is disappointing. However, they are relatively comfortable for an "on ear" design.

Style

The AKG K490-NC look great. The silver accents from the polished metal give them a premium look. The thin headband is lightly padded. The small on-ear cups are circular, well-padded and have textured plastic backs with the silver AKG logo branded upon them. The branding works well with the overall look and is not overstated.

7.0 Comfort
Weight : 0.34 lbs
Clamping Force
:
0.64 lbs

Lightweight and comfortable, considering they are on-ear headphones. However, they do put a bit of pressure on the ears which could get fatiguing after a while.

4.7 Controls
Ease of use : Above-average
Feedback : Above-average
Call/Music Control : No
Volume Control : No
Noise Canceling Control : Yes
Talk-Through : No
Additional Buttons : No

The button layout is quite simple. There is only a button for noise cancellation and nothing else. No in-line controls or mic on the cable, which is disappointing.

6.5 Stability

The K490-NC are decently stable headphones. They apply enough pressure to your ears to stay in place during casual listening sessions, and their lightweight, compact design prevents them from swaying too much during moderate physical activity. They also have a detachable audio cable that won't pull the headphones of your ears if it gets hooked on something. However, they're not sports headphones and will slip off you ears while running.

6.6 Portability
L : 4.33 "
W : 5.12 "
H : 2.36 "
Volume : 52.39 Cu. Inches
Stand required : N/A

The AKG K490-NC are mid-sized on-ear headphones. They're moderately portable and don't take up too much space in a bag. They also fold into a more compact design for easier storage and transport. They will fit comfortably in a jacket pocket but will be too big for regular pant pockets.

6.0 Case
Type : Pouch

The AKG K490-NC come with a soft fabric pouch that will protect the headphones from scratches and doesn't add much bulk. Sadly the soft fabric will not shield the headphones from hard falls, or water damage.

6.5 Build Quality

These headphones are quite well-built for the most part, but have a few major weak points, mainly the joints, that may spoil the whole experience. Also, the headband adjustment slider is very loose and easily loses its position. There are some customer reports on Amazon.com regarding the hinges breaking.

Cable
Detachable : Yes
Length : 4.58 ft
Connection : 1/8" TRS

The AKG K490-NC come with two cables; USB-1/16"TRRS for charging and 1/8"TRS - 1/16"TRRS for connecting audio devices.

Front
Angled
Side
Rear
Top
7.3

Sound

The AKG K490-NC is an average sounding pair of closed-back on-ear headphones. They have a mediocre sounding Bass which lacks sub-bass, a Mid Range that sounds a bit boxy, and an average sounding Treble which lacks a bit of presence. On the plus side, they produce very little distortion.

6.7 Bass
Std. Err.
:
4.11 dB
Low-Frequency Extension
:
75.51 Hz
Low-Bass
:
-6.21 dB
Bass
:
-1.46 dB
High-Bass
:
2.65 dB

7.4 Mid
Std. Err.
:
3.52 dB
Low-Mid
:
4.37 dB
Mid
:
2.62 dB
High-Mid
:
1.53 dB

6.8 Treble
Std. Err.
:
4.48 dB
Low-Treble
:
-0.49 dB
Treble
:
-4.52 dB
High-Treble
:
4.18 dB

9.8 Total Harmonic Distortion
Weighted THD @ 90
:
0.011
Weighted THD @ 100
:
0.043

7.2

Isolation

The AKG K490-NC are not going to isolate you very well. The noise canceling is sub-par at best but will at least keep sharp ambient noise at bay. They shouldn't be your first choice for noisy commutes or traveling. The seal provided by the ear cups, on the other hand, is decent for an "on ear" design and leak very little sound.

7.0 Noise Isolation
Overall Attenuation
:
-16.27 dB
Bass
:
-7.54 dB
Mid
:
-11.7 dB
Treble
:
-31.7 dB
Self-Noise
:
11.28 dB

The ANC (Active Noise Cancelling) on these headphones is subpar, only providing 10dB of reduction from 30Hz to 1KHz. However, the treble isolation starting around 2KHz is decent.

7.6 Leakage
Overall Leakage @ 1ft
:
36.41 dB

Very minimal leakage up to 300Hz, but there is a notable increase from 500Hz to 4KHz. This means they leak in the mid-range in addition to the typical treble leakage.

5.0

Active Features

Surprisingly, the AKG K490-NC has a rechargeable battery that lasts as long as some of the headphones that use disposable AAA cells. Granted they only have noise canceling as an active feature, which makes them less versatile for other use cases than noise canceling headphones, lacking both wireless or an app, to enhance and customize sound. However, at 46 hours of battery life, they will easily last a weekend without needing a recharge.

0 Wireless
Type
:
N/A
Obstructed Range
:
N/A
Line of Sight Range
:
N/A
NFC
:
No

10 Latency
Base Latency
:
0 ms
aptX Latency
:
N/A
aptX(LL) Latency
:
N/A

7.2 Battery
Battery Type
:
Rechargable
Battery Life
:
46 hrs
Charge Time
:
2.5 hrs
Auto-off
:
No
Audio while charging
:
No
Passive Playback
:
Yes

The AKG 490-NC have a long lasting battery life. They provide up to 2 days worth of continuous play at average volumes. They take a bit longer than average to charge, but it shouldn't be much of an issue has you won't need to recharge through out the day thanks to great battery life. Unfortunately the audio cable and charging cable share the same port and cannot be used at the same time. Hence, you won't be able to play audio while charging.

0 App Support

No compatible app.

In the box

  • AKG K490NC Headphones
  • Flight adapter
  • Audio cable
  • USB cable
  • Carrying pouch
  • AKG warranty card

6.6 Mixed Usage

The AKG K490-NC are average everyday mixed usage headphones. They have a compact design and a decent sound. Their noise isolation is not as good for noise canceling headphones but sufficient for moderately loud environments.

7.3 Critical Listening

Mediocre for critical listening. The AKG K490-NC have a decent sound but a poor soundstage. They won't reproduce high-res audio with the clarity and detail of an open back design and they also a lack a bit of bass for fans of bass-heavy music.

6.4 Commute/Travel

Decent for commuting. They're compact and easy to carry around. They also block an above-average amount of noise although they won't be ideal for very loud environments. Unfortunately, they don't have the best control scheme.

6.1 Sports/Fitness

Mediocre for sports. They're lightweight and compact. However, they're a little unstable for high-intensity exercises and have poor control scheme.

6.4 Office

Decent for office use. They will only reduce a little bit of office chatter, but on the upside, they don't leak much.

6.9 Home Theater

Above-average for home theater use. The AKG K490-NC have no latency since they're wired, and they sound decent enough for watching movies although they lack a little bass. Unfortunately, they have a short audio cable, so they won't be the ideal headphones to comfortably watch movies with from you couch unless you have an extension cord.

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