AKG might not be the name on everyone’s lips, but it has its fair share of success. Touted to be the portable version of the award-winning K550, the AKG K545 claims to also marry open sound with a closed back design with isolating qualities. Whilst the K550 has managed to do just that, it would be careless to say right off that the K545 at $249.95 offers the same. One thing it claims to have over its predecessor is enhanced bass. How much that is true will be delved into.
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Design and Comfort
Available in black, white, black/orange and black/turquoise, the AKG K545 brings to the table none of the ostentatiousness that most other headphones seem to display with their glossy finishes. What you get is a discreet elegance with a pop of color. The hinges connecting the headband with the ear cups are made of aluminum, their appearance and feel indicative of high quality. Retaining all the physical features of the AKG K550, the K545 has only been reduced in size – a total of 3/8 of an inch off the diameter – resulting in a lighter and more compact pair. The difference is noticeable when you compare them from the sides.
Comfort-wise, the K545 doesn’t seem to lose many points compared to K550 on account of the thinner pads. The leather-covered ear cups sit gently on the head, but have the tendency to overheat past that 2-hour mark. People with smaller heads might find that the clamping force a touch too light, though – a rubber band does the trick but will cost you major cool points if worn in public. The K545 folds flat, but the set lacks a carrying case. The Sennheiser Momentum, on the other hand, does not, but has a carrying case. Stowing them in the backpack or laptop case may be an option, but this raises concerns of breakage and other possible tragedies.
Average-sized heads will find that the seal provided to be adequate, since the thinner cups allow for increase in pressure per square inch. This would probably account for the better bass, which will be explored later. Most glasses won’t pose a problem to K545, unlike K550 which needed constant adjustment in the early stages.
In the spirit of portability, AKG has included two detachable cables in the set. They are standard offerings in the market; one with a 3-button remote compatible with Apple devices, and the other with a 1-button remote compatible with a variety of other devices, like Windows phone and Android. They also come with an inline microphone for answering calls on the go. You won’t need to take much time figuring out how to operate the remotes. The cables are a tad short, though. A couple of inches more would have made them perfect.
The K545 may have 50 mm drivers like big brother K550, but the difference in the bass response is evident. Its low-end is full-bodied and impactful, without negatively affecting the treble and midrange, whereas the K550’s had less of a presence. This alone is enough to earn a star in any discerning listener’s book. The difference is even more pronounced when the K545 is hooked up to an amp, say, the Grace m903. The fullness increased to the point of fatigue.
Praises can also be proclaimed for the treble and midrange. AKG didn’t fix what was not broken as the K545 is similar to K550 in these aspects. The treble is highly detailed but not cold, comparable to Sennheiser’s Momentum. The midrange is fluid at most times, but the occasional electric guitar riffs may come off as harsh. Vocals are also appropriately warm and emotional, but on Momentum they just sound more euphonic. Overall, the K545 delivers a rather neutral sound.
It’s reasonable for the K545 to not have the spaciousness presented by the K550’s soundstage; it is, after all, smaller. The latter sounds more open, but the slightly congested feeling given off by the K545 doesn’t really detract from the listening experience. Instrument separation is at par (or slightly lower) than most headphones in the similar price category, but may suffer slightly in bigger symphonies.
The isolation (or decrease of) does not warrant turning away completely, despite AKG’s claim of its prowess. Bigger headphones would probably fare better, but since most are bulky and unwieldy in public, the compromise is fair.
The AKG K545 may not have married open sound and isolation worthy of closed back designs as well as its larger forerunner, but it has introduced something new to the mix. Great looks, enhanced bass, and the high portability factor all make for a pair of headphones worthy of investment. For this price range, it’s a bargain.