Released alongside the K323 XS and K545, the K845 BT takes the award-winning sound of K550 and resettles it into a smaller and more mobile form. The AKG K845 has recently won a CES Design and Innovation award for 2014. How well does this award translate into superb performance and great design in real life?
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Design and Comfort
At first glance, the AKG K845 is perfectly identical to its brother, the K545. After all, they’re debutantes at the same ball. They both have the same clean-cut look; all defined lines and uncomplicated silhouettes. None of the flamboyance that you would usually associate with high-end headphones. However, a touch of luxury is also present, as the hinges connecting the headband to the ear cups are made of aluminum. The cups are also swathed with supple protein leather – very comfortable on the ears.
AKG may have shaved a total of 3/8 of an inch off the diameter of the AKG K550, but the K845 still has the right proportions. Weighing at 540 g, the cups will enclose your ears in a snug fit – but not too snug. Ears are prone to getting steamy in warmer weathers, though. The grip exerted by the headphones is also a little too much on the light side. It’s always nice to not have your brain squeezed out by your headphones, but too soft a grip doesn’t really allow you to bob your head to the music as freely.
You wouldn’t have known that the K845 is a Bluetooth pair at first; it’s sleek and compact and the buttons are on integrated into the cups, quite unlike the protruding Bluetooth module on Bose’s AE2w. Sadly, it lacks a carrying case, even if it does fold flat. At $299.95 it would have sweetened the deal. What it does have is a 1.2 meter straight cable and a mini-USB to USB charging cable. The K845 is also only available in black and white, as compared to the K545’s four color options.
The major point of difference between the K845 and K545 is the Bluetooth capability. Combined with NFC (Near Field Communications), it makes pairing with devices extremely easy – just a matter of pushing a button. The controls also work well with the tested devices; Samsung Galaxy S3 and Nokia Lumia 1520. There are three buttons in addition to the power button, which allow for skipping tracks, pausing and playing.
A Lithium battery powers the headphones, rechargeable via the included mini-USB to USB charging cable. Recharging takes up more or less three hours, which translates to about eight hours of listening time. That’s not too bad, but compared to other headphones (like Harman Kardon BT’s 12 hours), it’s actually on the average side. Nonetheless, you can always use the cable in the set when you run out of juice.
Bluetooth headphones users usually have to sacrifice fidelity for convenience, but it’s one that AKG K845 owners won’t have to make. You would be able to tell right from the start that AKG has managed to make this pair of wireless headphones sound as good as wired headphones. The bass has more body than its predecessor the K550, but without muddying up the midrange and treble. It’s comparable to Bose AE2w’s punchy bass, though the latter’s creamier, less aggressive sound is easier on the ears for marathon sessions.
The treble and midrange also chalk up some good points for the K845. The treble is crisp and clean without coming off as edgy, and the midrange is strong – beautifully illuminating the details in vocals. Parrot Ziks may appeal more to audiophiles with its more balanced sound, but it does have more digital processing going on, which can be a drain on the battery life. Harman Kardon BT offers the same audio profile with Parrot Ziks’, but then again its old school fit won’t be much of an allure.
The soundstage it inherited from K550 has gotten a little smaller with the K845’s decrease in size, but that doesn’t mean it’s not as impressive. The airy sound produced from a closed-back design is a feat that is yet to be matched. Individual threads of the recording can be picked up and sound exquisitely integrated, rather than a mushed up compilation with only the loudest standing out.
Isolation-wise, the K845 doesn’t actually live up to its promise. Other people will still be able to hear bits and pieces of your music, so you might have to lower the volume in crowded places. You could, of course, opt for headphones with active noise-cancellation features like Parrot Zik and Nokia Purity Pro, but these will cost quite a lot more.
The choices for Bluetooth headphones with great sound are limited, but AKG K845 has proved itself worthy to be among the few. The sound is impressive for a closed-back design, and the simple, sleek and uncomplicated form is definitely attractive. It may not have superior noise isolation or jam-packed with other features (again, the Parrot Zik as a prime example), but it does very well for a Bluetooth pair.