AKG Y500

In the realm of wireless headphones, the right combination of performance, comfort and features can make or break a product. Getting the ideal mix can be difficult when it comes to budget options, but AKG’s Y500 aims to strike the perfect balance.

This on-ear design uses Bluetooth wireless tech and is packed with useful features. My favourite is Ambient Aware, which lets in more sound from your surroundings so you can still hear what’s going on around you without having to stop the music. If you do need to stop your tunes, removing the Y500 from the head will automatically pause playback, resuming it once the headphone is placed back on the head. Perhaps even more impressive is the claimed whopping 33-hour battery life, while five minutes of charging gets you around an hour of play time for when you’re in a rush. Also included in the box is a useful fabric carrying pouch, which is a welcome addition at the price.

Build quality is solid too – while the headphone casing is mostly plastic, it doesn’t feel in any way cheap, and the whole thing weighs in at 230g. Our review sample is finished in black, but other finishes are available including pink, ocean green and marine blue (pictured). Aluminium accents around the ear cups and a soft-touch headband help to give the Y500 a more premium feel.

The headphone’s open-back design allows for an airy soundstage with more breathing room for the music to flow, resulting in a clean-sounding presentation. Daft Punk’s Get Lucky sounds clear and strikes a nice balance between the track’s crisp highs and bouncy bass. Gregory Porter’s Water Under Bridges is impressively rich in detail, while tracks like Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog and AC/DC’s Back In Black sound authentic. The Y500 has a well-balanced sound signature which works across a large range of genres, although some may appreciate a bit more warmth, particularly with vocals.

Listening to London Music Works’ version of The James Bond Theme, notes are nicely separated with a great reproduction of the saxophone and as the piece builds up the guitar rhythm really comes to life. A great track to test layered high and low frequencies is Lorde’s Royals, and the Y500 manages to retain the clarity of the clicks at the top end while delivering deep bass at the bottom without distorting the slow-paced vocals. It does seem to favour higher frequencies with slightly less detail at the lower end, however it’s still a very good all-rounder.

Employing the AAC codec over Bluetooth v4.2 wireless proves solid without any hiccups or undue background noise during testing. There’s the option to go wired, thanks to the supplied 1.2m cable with in-line mic and Play/Pause controls. The audio quality steps up even further in wired mode, opening up a richer, more refined sound. Bluetooth still sounds great if you appreciate the convenience of ditching the wires, however.

For an on-ear design, it does a good job of isolating ambient sound, which is handy because there’s no noise-cancelling technology built in. Sound leakage is quite noticeable at higher volumes, which may annoy fellow travellers, but for an on-ear design it’s pretty well contained.

AKG’s Y500 wireless headphone delivers a balanced and detailed sound that combined with well-designed ergonomics, – the folding design feels like something of a bargain at the price – build and good comfort levels, will keep you listening for hours. It comes with a useful feature set that includes fast charging, long battery life and the Ambient Aware tech is a real boon. With the best of both wireless and wired connectivity options, AKG’s Y500 is a great buy at the price. LT

Product: AKG Y500
Price: £130
Type: Wireless headphone
Read the full review in October issue 454