When you want to listen to your music on the go, in your car, or on a plane or just walking around, AKG N60NC wireless headphones provide a perfect combination of high-fidelity sound, active noise cancellation, and convenience.
These headphones are well-designed by a company with an outstanding reputation for quality audio products. They look and sound great and let you answer phone calls easily. Best of all, they are available at a remarkably modest price.
They’re not perfect, however. Although their on-ear design feels quite comfortable, they might start to feel less so on a long flight. Also, the controls can be a little confusing to use at first, though you’ll probably get used to them soon enough.
So, let’s take a closer look and see if they could be the perfect choice for you?
What’s In The Box
When you purchase AKG N60NC wireless headphones, you’ll get (in addition to the headphones) a carrying pouch, a micro-USB charging cable, a detachable audio cable with a 1/8-inch (3.5mm) plug and inline universal microphone and remote, and a flight adaptor.
Look & Feel
N60NC headphones are made mostly of plastic, but they feel quite solid, not flimsy, or easily breakable. The adjustable headband is comfortably flexible, yet feels strong. And they definitely look sleek, all black with silver trim. Certainly, nobody will think you’re wearing inexpensive headphones when you’re out in public, if that’s important to you.
N60NC headphones are known as an “on-ear” design, with the ear cups resting directly on top of your ears. This compares to “over-ear” models with cups that touch your head around your ears. This design has advantages and disadvantages.
On-ear phones are smaller, an advantage for headphones designed for use on the go. Folding up flat and fitting into an included carrying pouch, N60NC’s are compact and easy to carry in your pocket or airline hand luggage. Also, they tend to present a wider “sound stage” than over-ear headphones.
However, the earcups do press directly on your ears, gently but constantly. They’re generally quite comfortable to wear, with earpieces and headband both well-padded with soft memory foam, and a total weight of just 5.3 ounces (about 150 grams). But even this slight constant pressure can become uncomfortable on a long plane flight, especially if you also wear glasses.
Seamless Wired/Wireless Operation
When you turn on the N60NC’s with no cable connected, the headphones switch instantly into Bluetooth mode. An indicator light changes from blue to green to indicate this.
To use them in wired mode, N60NC phones include a tangle-free 4-foot (1.2m) cable with a ⅛-inch (3.5mm) TRRS stereo plug. Simply plug the included audio output cable into the 2.5mm jack on the left ear cup. To switch back to wireless operation, unplug the cable. Audio will resume in a few seconds, as soon as the headphones pair with your playback device again.
If you use the N60NC’s as wired headphones, the included cable has an additional microphone and playback/pause button.
The control scheme of the N60NC is easy to use, although the layout is somewhat unorthodox. For example, the power switch turns the headphones on and off, initiating pairing and engaging Active Noise Cancellation (ANC). In wired mode, this switch turns ANC on or off.
A momentary toggle switch on the right ear cup performs three tasks. Push the switch up to skip to the next track, or down to skip backwards. Or press down to begin or pause playback.
One design issue that might be frustrating is that the on/off and playback switches are located close together and feel identical. So you run the risk of accidentally turning the headphones off when you try to skip ahead. Also, you don’t get audio cues when you press these switches.
Finally, two buttons for controlling volume are mounted at the top of the right ear cup. These buttons have a comfortable feel.
On the left ear cup is a 2.5mm jack to connect the audio cable and a micro-USB port for charging the battery. A UBC-C connector might have been preferable, as it’s becoming the standard.
Take That Call
If you get an incoming phone call, you can answer it by pressing down on the right-ear toggle switch. You end a call the same way. N60NC headphones don’t include a separate control for rejecting a call.
The N60NC’s lithium-ion battery is rated at 610 milliamp-hours (mAh). This translates to up to 15 hours of continuous playback with both Bluetooth and Active Noise Cancellation engaged. In wired mode using ANC, you can get as much as 30 hours of use between charges.
To recharge the N60NC internal battery, use the included micro-USB cable to connect to your computer or charger. A red LED will light up to indicate the battery is charging. When fully charged, the light turns off.
During operation, this LED will flash to indicate a low battery. Unfortunately, the headphones don’t automatically turn off or enter a standby mode when not in use to extend the battery life.
With an impedance of only 32 ohms, the AKG N60NC headphones can pump out a blistering 111 dB sound pressure level (SPL).
The N60NC’s have a wide frequency response of 10 Hz – 22 kHz. However, you’ll only get that full range when you use the included cable to plug them in. That’s because Bluetooth usually limits the upper end to around 19 kHz.
AAC & AptX Technology
N60NC headphones communicate with your phone or media player using the Bluetooth 4.0 protocol. In order to send audio with as little delay as possible, Bluetooth uses different compression-decompression algorithms, or “codecs,” depending on the sending device. The two most common codecs, both supported by N60NC, are AAC and aptX.
AAC is the default codec used by Apple’s iTunes and YouTube and is supported on both iOS and Android smartphones. AAC supports extremely high fidelity audio formats, but with Bluetooth, it doesn’t quite provide CD-quality frequency response. However, it tends to sound better on iOS than Android.
An alternative is Qualcomm’s aptX. It’s the most commonly supported codec in both headphones and smartphone products, and it can deliver near-CD audio quality, with a flat frequency response up to about 18.9 kHz.
Kill The Noise
N60NC’s first line of defense against outside noise is the superior memory foam and protein leather used in their construction. These help filter out higher frequency noises.
Active Noise Cancellation further reduces ambient noise, most effectively with lower frequencies like the rumble of airplane engines. ANC is less adept at blocking speech or other high-frequency sounds. And because the N60NC is an on-ear design, you don’t get the natural noise reduction effects of ear cups that completely enclose the ears.
AKG N60NC headphones provide an overall sound profile with a deep low end and rich midrange, without overwhelming you with bass as do some headphones geared more for hip hop listening. Switching between wired and wireless operation causes a very small loss of sonic detail, but that’s really a Bluetooth issue.
AKG N60NC Pros & Cons
- Sound great.
- Very portable.
- Well designed.
- Battery offers an impressive 30 hours of listening time.
- They get uncomfortable after continual wearing.
- Charging cable is not the now-standard Micro-USB.
Need More Comfort
As you can see, our biggest complaint with the AKG N60NC is the level of comfort, if you think this could be an issue to you, please check out our reviews of the Most Comfortable Headphones on the market.
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There’s very little to fault with the AKG N60NC Wireless headphones. Most importantly, they provide excellent, balanced sound, and the noise cancelling performance is excellent. The user controls do what they should, although it can take a little time to get used to them. They’re lightweight and very portable.
The main issue with the AKG N60NC’s is the on-ear design. They’re well-made for comfort, but the constant pressure against your ear could become uncomfortable after an hour or more.
So if you’re mainly looking for noise-cancelling headphones for long plane flights, you might consider an over-ear model because of the added comfort. On the other hand, the over-ear design of the N60NC means they weigh less, and they fold up easily to take up less space.
The bottom line is that AKG N60NC Wireless headphones are a very good product at an excellent price. They’re definitely worth a serious look.