AKG Y50BT Review: The best headphones you can buy right now

Headphones have become a necessity when it comes to taking any form of public transport. A single glance around the carriage on your next train journey will confirm this. Simply put, the days of having to put up with the banal conversations of others is very much behind us, as is having to sit through an hour of screaming children or pre-teens sodcasting at the back of the bus. Headphones are unequivocally a daily essential, and getting the right pair is paramount. The choice of cans, though, is as wide as ever, so we took the opportunity to get our hands on some of the best out there and put them to the test.

AKG Y45BT

AKG Y45 - The Gentlemans Journal

The Austrian brand has built a reputation on formidably priced hardware that’s audiophile approved. This bluetooth set was solid although unspectacular. The fold-up design is perfect for travelling, as they get very compact, although the mechanism didn’t feel as robust as it could have. The bluetooth connectivity was intuitive to set up and they held charge well, only requiring a single top up towards the end of the week. The white frame, while bold, is accented well against the tan fabric.

Comfort: 6/10 – A little small for my ears, the circular shape not really fitting to the their shape.

Bass: 6/10

Acoustics: 7/10

Instrumentals: 6/10

Sound leakage: 7/10

Total: 32/50

Sound notes: Felt a little quiet at times, although the audio was clean and high quality, even at higher volumes.

Onkyo H500M

Onkyo H500M - The Gentlemans Journal

Hailing from Japan, Onkyo has a heritage of creating high-end, high-resolution products with the H500M the brand’s foray into headphones. Overall they look like a high-end product, stylish and slick with an all over black look with metallic detailing. The band feels great and solid, although the cups slightly less so.

Comfort: 8/10 – The cup sits unobtrusively over ear, easy to forget they’re there as the band cushioning is so soft.

Bass: 6/10

Acoustics: 6/10

Instrumentals: 7/10

Sound leakage: 6/10

Total: 33/50

Sound notes: High quality sound, again a little quiet in comparison to other headsets tested. Consistently felt like I needed to turn the volume up a notch or two.

Sennheiser Momentum On-Ear Ivory (M2)

Sennheiser Momentum Ivory - The Gentlemans Journal

A premier name in audio and it shows in the quality of construction. The headband is comprised of a split leather top and metal prongs, to which the cups are attached. Collapsing into a compact shape and packaged inside a protective case and dust bag, there’s no doubt that outwardly, at least, it’s a quality product.

Comfort: 6/10 – Suffers from a lack of substantial padding, on both the cups and band; although it does sit nicely on the ear.

Bass: 8/10

Acoustics: 7/10

Instrumentals: 7/10

Sound leakage: 5/10

Total: 33/50

Sound notes: Strong bass with a great fidelity, although the scores suffer with a bit of leakage when at relatively high volumes. Not an issue if you prefer music to be an ambient addition as opposed to at the fore of your thinking.

AKG Y50BT

AKG Y50BT - The Gentlemans Journal

A bigger, less compact take from AKG. The Y50 is another on-ear offering from the brand, although performs slightly better than the higher-priced Y45. The bluetooth connectivity is again superb and these appeared to hold charge better than the others, lasting a full week without ever hinting at a needing to be juiced up. Appearance wise, the branding on the ears is a little heavy but, saying that, the headset feels strongly built.

Comfort: 7/10 – Despite the circular shape, the padding on the cup makes them a comfortable proposition.

Bass: 7/10

Acoustics: 7/10

Instrumentals: 7/10

Sound leakage: 7/10

Total: 35/50

Sound notes: Like the Y45s, they often come in a little quiet, especially on vocals, although this wasn’t a compromise on the clarity of the fidelity.

Master & Dynamic MH30G1

Master & Dynamic MH30G1 - The Gentlemans Journal

Dubbed the “modern thinking cap”, Master & Dynamic have asserted themselves as a brand that supremely merges style with sound. The MH30 on-ears are made from durable aluminium and finished with stainless steel at high-strain areas, ensuring they not only look great, but last. The woven, oxygen-free copper cables, are cut from the same cloth, metaphorically speaking, as the hardware, with eyes on both style and substance.

Comfort: 6/10 – The circular shape was a little small for my ears and they felt a bit squashed by the cups. The sheer quality and softness of the lambskin leather and memory foam padding made some roads to redeeming them though.

Bass: 7/10

Acoustics: 7/10

Instrumentals: 8/10

Sound leakage: 8/10

Total: 36/50

Sound notes: High-fidelity but often not strongly dissimilar from other models tested above. Stood out when it came to instrumentals and retained sound incredibly well, not leaking until at the upper reaches of the laptop’s capable volume.

Bowers & Wilkins P3

Bowers & Wilkins P3- The Gentlemans Journal

Renowned for exceptional performance and ergonomic design, Bowers & Wilkins speakers are even used to master tracks in London’s Abbey Road Studios. The P3 foldable headphones are true to the brand’s ethos, cleverly folding down for a compact shape yet delivering strong audio performances also. The twisted metal in contrast to the black body is stylishly sleek and the replaceable cable is a handy function that ensures longevity.

Comfort: 8/10 – Sit on the ear, the heat sensitive memory foam padding makes them very comfortable indeed, being featherlight also ensures you barely feel them on your head.

Bass: 8/10

Acoustics: 8/10

Instrumentals: 7/10

Sound leakage: 7/10

Total: 38/50

Sound notes: Very strong on all fronts, particularly the power of the bass. The weight and size gives the initial impression they’ll be a little off the pace, which is absolutely not the case.

B&O Play H7

B&O Play - The Gentlemans Journal

Bang & Olufsen has forged a name out of distinctive designs with engineered high-performance audio. B&O Play is an extension of that contemporary style with a retainer on the quality of the sound. These wireless H7s are the brand’s first foray into bluetooth around-ear headphones and feature the innovative, gesture controls in the right ear cup for answering phone calls etc.. The sturdy design, which makes use of both leather and metal elements is as comfortable as it is good looking. The removable and rechargeable battery puts up 20 hours of life and means you can carry a spare should you ever be caught short.

Comfort: 8/10

Bass: 8/10

Acoustics: 8/10

Instrumentals: 8/10

Sound leakage: 8/10

Total: 40/50

Sound notes: Excellent across the board, vocals occasionally sounded a little distant, but that’s where the complaints stop. Bass was excellent and seamlessly nipped between punchy vibrations and more warmer electric sounds.

Master & Dynamic MH40S2

Master & Dynamic MH40 S2 - The Gentlemans Journal

The second entry onto the list from the brand, the slightly pricer MH40 over-ears perform slightly better than the on-ears. A truly luxury product, heavy grain premium cowhide decorates the headband exterior and earcup insets, whilst soft lambskin ensures a sumptuous feel to the headband interior and ear pads. Stainless steel components feature in all high strain areas, as does the signature sturdy woven cable. Supremely stylish, they look as good on your head as they do sitting on your desk, thanks to the old-school sensibilities.

Comfort: 9/10

Bass: 8/10

Acoustics: 8/10

Instrumentals: 8/10

Sound leakage: 8/10

Total: 41/50

Sound notes: Expectedly strong with superb fidelity and high resolution sound. The bass could be a little more pounding but that’s a personal preference over anything else. Even at the highest volumes, very little sound escapes from the cups when they’re surrounding your ear.

Sennheiser Momentum Black (M2)

Sennheiser Momentum Black - The Gentlemans Journal

Of similar construction and appearance to the on-ear ivory headphones from the brand, robust and luxurious, the over-ears do perform noticeably better, as reflected in the price differentiation.

Comfort: 8/10 – Cupped ear without asphyxiating it, allowing them to breathe so they stayed comfortable for hours at a time. The lusciously soft leather is high grade, although the band could maybe have with a tiny bit more padding.

Bass: 9/10

Acoustics: 8/10

Instrumentals: 8/10

Sound leakage: 9/10

Total: 42/50

Sound notes: Strong bass and clean, high resolution audio all round, letting very little sound out in the process.

Bowers & Wilkins P5

Bowers & Wilkins P5 - The Gentlemans Journal

Bowers & Wilkins makes it to joint top  with the brand’s second placing on the list. The wireless P5 sound as good as they look. Achingly stylish with luxurious leather surrounding the metal framework, the first wireless offering from the brand stands up against the very best. Lasting 17 hours, they never gave a hint of needing a top up in power.

Comfort: 9/10 – Gentle on the ear with the leather padding, the headband is similarly soft, one of the most comfortable in the test.

Bass: 7/10

Acoustics: 9/10

Instrumentals: 8/10

Sound leakage: 9/10

Total: 42/50

Sound notes: Very clean, even at high volume levels, which incidentally leaked very little in the way of sound. Vocals and acoustics really stood out with their quality, although the bass could have been a little less quiet.

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