While attending CanJam 2018 here in New York, I had the pleasure of checking out a lot of new merchandise. And even though most of the stuff is available for me to review right here at Audio46, I still managed to find one of those brand-spanking new headphones we are not currently carrying…yet. The AKG N5005 boasts some impressive specs and a mesmerizing design. It’s available for pre-order now, shipping March 24, or you can wait until we have it here in the store to stop by and try it before you buy it. But until then, let’s take a look at this enticing earphone.
Reviewing AKG N5005
With swanky packaging and a $999 price tag, it should come as no surprise that the AKG N5005 exudes a certain attitude of quality. The solid build seems par for the course where flagship AKG headphones are concerned, and the inclusion of cables, eartips, and interchangeable EQ filters provides more icing for the metaphorical cake.
The interchangeable filters are a big selling point of the N5005, even though the technology debuted on the older K3003i. Here, you’ve got four different filters – bass boost, reference, mid-frequency boost, and high-frequency boost. Small, but machined incredibly well, the filters are easy to install or detach, if not a little too easy to drop on the floor (if you have chubby sausage fingers like This Guy).
The cables, too, prove integral to the excitement and general hype surrounding this headphone. Of course, you have the standard 3.5mm audio cable. And then you get the 2.5mm balanced cable, too. But the real big addition to the cables is a Bluetooth cable with 8 hours of battery life. I can already hear diehard audiophiles out there sucking in air so they can let out a long, low groan. Well, rest assured, it’s actually freaking fantastic sound. From the limited time I had to test this model, I failed to detect a great deal of variance – at least between 3.5mm and Bluetooth. Of course, using the balanced cable should offer all the usual perks of such a setup, but as soon as we get a couple of these babies here at Audio46, I plan to do some serious side-by-side comparisons. All three cables feature an MMCX connection.
Also of note, the N5005 is packs a quad balanced-armature driver that is straight fire. Rest assured, squeezing this fine of a driver into this fine of a headphone proved no mean feat, and the sound quality verifies the attention and dedication AKG sacrificed to develop this driver.
Other than the filters and cables and the quad balanced-armature driver, there isn’t much to report on the packaging or accessories included with the N5005 – you still get tons of eartips, a dope carrying case, and decent adapters.
Frequency Range: 10-40,000 Hz
Impedance: 18 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 116 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD): NA
All right, gear heads and spec lovers: you may commence salivating. Personally, I find the specs nothing short of modest when compared to the sound emanating from these earphones, but oh well. Frequency range is a whopping 10-40,000 hertz, while the impedance is a low 18 ohms – ideal for use with low-output systems like a phone or computer.
Sound pressure level is more than adequate at 116 decibels. And while AKG doesn’t rate distortion, rest assured that the N5005 offers an incredibly clean sound.
With decent bass and excellent detail, the low end on the N5005 delivers some serious goods. So serious, in fact, that I had to double-check my music source to make sure my recording quality was up to snuff. In general, the sound here remains clean and exact, with just the right amount of bass to keep things lively, without overwhelming the rest of the sound.
Fantastic mids on the N5005 betray nary a hint of distortion or compression. Vocals are crystal clear, and instrumentation remains contrasting and defined. If I had to sum it all up in one sentence: the mids are all about pure, balls-to-the-wall audio fidelity.
The high end on the N5005 might seem a little bright at first, but even during a short listening session, you’ll realize these headphones toe a very fine line. The sound never becomes uncomfortable, and only verges on piercing where it should – namely, in the highest high notes, when some stringed instruments really get down to business. For violins, the sound here lands smack dab on point, with a level of breath-taking quality.
Imaging on the N5005 suffers from the in-ear design, but despite this common detractor, the soundstage still exhibits good placement and intricate placement. No matter how complicated the track, my listening sessions revealed an impressive sense of layering – possibly the best yet that I’ve heard in an earphone.
The EQ filters do affect the sound quality only as one would expect – boosting specific parts of the frequency range, or adding a tad bit more balance with the Reference Filter. That being said, I liked every one of those filters except the high-frequency boost, which just sounded like overkill to me (sorry AKG, but you guys nailed the highs on the earphones themselves – no EQing necessary).
Incredibly easy pairing with a smartphone. The connectivity is fast and while I couldn’t hear much of a difference in sound quality during my quick listening session, I really doubt I’ll find that much of a discrepancy when I finally get my mits on one of these.
Basically, it’s four headphones in one: with the bass-boost filter, you’ve got a bumping low-end-heavy sound; with the mid and high boosts you have some serious ammo for fans of vocal-heavy music or classical tunes; and with the reference filter, you get that heady IEM configuration.
I can’t put them down. Sorry, Jays earphones – it’s time I traded up for a younger model.
I’m not going to tell you why you should buy these, because (A) the list is too long and because (B) I’ve heard them already, and now I’m biased. But I will tell you that if you love music, or if you love quality headphones, you really ought to give these things a listen. Now, are there reasons not to buy? Sure. I mean, there must be, right? But I can’t think of any of them right now, unless you’re just not a fan of AKG as a brand…in which case I would recommend trying the N5005 regardless. At a price of $999, this bad larry remains nothing short of a steal.
If the $999 pricetag seems a bit steep, consider that the N5005 retails for less than its predecessor (the K3000i), while also offering the same EQ filters and new Bluetooth connectivity. Essentially four or five earphones in one, it’s ideal for any genre of music. Like some gourmet super-ketchup, the AKG N5005 really does go with ANYTHING. Whatever music you listen to, this sonic secret-sauce satisfies any audiophile craving and leaves your ears just begging for more.
See More Headphones from AKG at Audio46.com!