With the N700NC, AKG succeeds in delivering to the market a superior sounding Bluetooth headphone model that combines sleek design and functional noise cancelling properties. You’d expect as such when you consider the RRP of around 349 euros, putting its price on par with tried and tested models from more established manufacturers like Bose and Sony. The sound and technical performance of these headphones is ultimately convincing, while wearing comfort also scores top marks. All the same, you’re best advised to carry out a personal test with a specialist dealer to see how you fare if your demands are specific. The noise cancelling function of these headphones is certainly practical, but there’s just something frustrating about being limited to fewer adjustments.
With the N700NC, AKG is now stepping in the fray with noise cancellation headphones at the upper end of the consumer market. These silver over-ear headphones make a great first impression, with a sturdy design and modern aesthetic making them incredibly easy on the eye.
Specs include Bluetooth 4.2 transmission, adaptive noise cancellation and a powerful battery that boasts up to 20 hours of wireless operation after a USB charge of just two hours. Further configurations can also be implemented via the free-to-download app.
The comfort levels of these lightweight headphones definitely impresses thanks to the pivoting earpieces, soft artificial leather padding and memory foam inserts. There’s also a length-adjustable headband that ensures the headphones stay put for long listening sessions without ever causing contact fatigue. The ear cups can be folded inward to allow for transport and discreet storage, while the decorative carrying bag is on hand to provide the perfect place for stowing away your new tech.
Controlling headphone function is a breeze, with control buttons on the left and right earpieces. On the right side of the device you can find buttons for switching the headphones on, as well as to trigger pairing. NFC is also supported. There is also a button to control specific noise cancellation properties. The default here is “Ambient Aware”, allowing for external noises you want to be notified of finding their way through discreetly, while continuously enjoying active noise cancelling for obscuring purely unwanted sounds. Ideal for letting you cut out distracting noise without feeling too isolated from the outside world. Somewhat less obvious in its purpose is the so-called “True Note Audio Calibration”. This triggers a test tone at the touch of a button, purportedly to allow for an adjustment to be made. This is possibly so noise cancellation can be calibrated in regards to ambient noise. The rather thin documentation provided with these headphones offers no further insight here. However, an alternative function can be assigned to this control button thanks to the app. This is the “Talk Thru” function, which lowers volume completely when you wish to make a phone call or receive one. Once your conversation is over, your diminished audio volume can then be restored with a single press of the button.
There are three more buttons to be found on the left side of the headphones. They are reserved for volume adjustment, start/stop music playback or to call up the virtual speech assistant function. This middle button can also be used to answer and end telephone calls. Track skipping is also handled by pressing the volume button, with a longer hold of said button providing a skip to the next track in a playlist. This is all implemented rather well, with control elements within easy reach. Getting to grips with the split functions of shared buttons is also straightforward. What’s more, instead of voice announcements, functions of the N700NC are instead confirmed by acoustic messages. A nice little variation on something so standard.
The headphone can be operated via a supplied cable if required. With cable attachment, you can opt for active noise cancelling or purely passive listening without active noise suppression. The cable has a one-button remote control and microphone, covering almost every essential function. One function that is missing from here however is volume control.
The free AKG Headphone app is available for both iOS and Android devices. What’s more, in addition to the aforementioned ability to switch functions of buttons, you can use this app to activate automatic shutdown of the headphones themselves. Additionally, there is a multi-band equalizer with several user presets to utilise, allowing for equalization to be finitely adjusted with the help of a graphical display.
Noise cancelling is practically designed here, effectively decoupling the listener from the usual chaos of everyday life. The bass range and static disturbances are particular areas where noise suppression impresses. The intensity of shielding against external noise cannot be adjusted and is less intense than, for example, the Sony WH-1000XM3. Nevertheless, I can confirm that AKG does well enough here. These headphones perform well away from music production applications, with the noise cancelling capabilities perfectly suited to listening to louder tracks without the worry of bothering those in the immediate vicinity. Just to note, if you’re using noise cancelling when attached via a cable, you will benefit from being able to stretch your battery life to twice its normal runtime. The N700NC is not immune to disturbances creeping in from the background, however. As soon as wind hits the microphone, you’ll hear about it. However, this is a general gripe about this type of device at large, not a shortfall specific to this model. The same applies to the odd quality of environmental noise when Ambient Aware is activated. Nevertheless, the desired result is achieved and ultimately, benefits the listener.
The design of the N700NC delivers impressive levels of external damping. The 40 mm drivers are capable of reproducing loud audio levels, although the suppression of this could be a little better. The headphones don’t remain inaudible to everyone around you at higher levels.
Sound itself convinces almost completely as far as I’m concerned. The test device performed powerfully, delivering a balanced frequency spectrum that also ensured a high level of detail resolution could be noted. In the bass range, the reproduction of audio delves deep down without compromising dynamic and tonal differences. Reproduction in the midrange delivers neutrality that authentically represents voices and acoustic instruments without missing that essential warmth. In the upper frequency ranges, the N700NC is fast and incredibly detailed. Ultimately, it provides a good level of transparency and clarity, solid speech intelligibility and precise imaging of the stereo stage. The N700NC is effective when it comes to noise cancelling, but I still can’t help but wish the function could be deactivated when required. After all, there are specific times when an audiophile might need to do without such a feature completely.
In conclusion, it’s hard not to wax lyrical about the positive points and competitive asking price of the N700NC. Certainly, for a pair of wireless headphones in the 300-400 Euro range, there’s a lot to love. However, I find the lack of any information on Bluetooth codecs in the included documentation a real disappointment. Basic things like this needn’t have been a problem for the manufacturer to have staved off causing stress for the user. On request, the manufacturer did inform us that the headphones do in fact support aptX. Thus, full and delay-free sound quality can only be obtained when these headphones are used in wired operation. The N700NC plays with appealing sound quality, even when the electronics are switched off. This ultimately demonstrates a high degree of technical sophistication and a quality construction. Finally, I’d like to mention the impressive speech quality of the test device when making phone calls. It’s a demonstration of best in class performance that other headphone models can really fall behind in.
- Ear couplingOver-ear
- Transducer principledynamic
- Frequency response (headphones)10 - 20.000 Hz
- Impedance16 ohms
- Sound pressure level (SPL)110 dB
- Pressure averaged from big and small head611,5 g
- Weight with cable283 g
- Weight without cable273 g
- Cable length125 cm
What's in the box
- 1.25m cable with microphone and remote
- Flight adapter
- USB charging cable
- Travel case