Superb Bluetooth headphones that are comfy, great-sounding and reasonably priced
- Great sound quality
- Solid build
- Work both wired and wireless
- Controls can be a bit fiddly
AKG’s Y50BT headphones have actually been around since 2015, but don’t let that put you off. A reduction in the price means that you can now pick them up for well under the original £150.
Available in a number of colours, the design of the Y50BT is quite striking – possibly a little too striking, since the large AKG logo that covers both earpieces absolutely shrieks “hey – look at me, I’m an audiophile!”. Even so, the entire headset is solidly built and well suited to life on the move. The size and solidity of the headphones means that they weigh in at about 190g, which you do notice at first, but I soon got used to them and had no trouble wearing them for long periods.
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The headband and cups – which sit right on top of your ears – are all comfortably padded, and the earpieces fold inwards to save space so that you can stow them in a bag when they’re not being used. All the moving parts are supported by chunky hinges that should be able to cope with plenty of wear and tear, and AKG throws in a little travel case as well. The travel case will also be handy for carrying the audio cable that’s included with the Y50BT. The internal battery lasts for up to 20 hours, depending on volume levels, but when it runs flat you still have the option of plugging in the audio cable and just using them as ordinary wired headphones.
Remarkably, the Y50BT headphones actually sound better in Bluetooth mode than with a wired connection. We suspect that there’s a bit of technical trickery going on here to enhance the compressed Bluetooth audio, but the clarity of the sound is super-impressive; there’s a real zing to the high-pitched harmonies of some of those old Queen epics. Pop music that lives mostly in the higher frequencies really shines, and it’s backed up by a nice bass sound too – firm and full, but not booming or exaggerated as it can be with some headphones. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the bass guitar on Blondie’s “Rapture” quite so clearly before, and the Y50BT produces a clear, balanced sound that will work well with a wide range of musical styles.
Our only minor complaint is that the controls can be a little fiddly at times. The main controls are located on the right-hand earpiece, and the buttons are quite small, which often left us running a finger around the earpiece to locate the correct button. There’s also one button that performs multiple functions – Play and Pause, as well as Forward and Back – and you have to tap the button either once, twice or three times in order to select the correct function. You have to tap quite quickly, too, and remembering the correct tap sequences can become a little tedious.
It’s telling that I have little more than minor complaints to direct at the Y50BT. At this price, the combination of excellent sound and build quality mean that the Y50BT deserve to continue picking up awards in 2017.