In 1947, the Acoustic and Cinema Equipment Corporation, or Akustische und Kino-Geräte Gesellschaft, or as they are better known, AKG Accoustics, started out making film projectors and loudspeakers for movie theaters in Europe. Eventually, this Austrian-based company focused most of their energy on designing and building world-class microphones and headphones.
Eventually, Harman International, parent company of Harman / Kardon, Infinity, JBL, Revel, Mark Levinson, Crown Audio, Soundcraft, and a few more high-end audio companies, bought AKG.
Last year, Samsung started the process of acquiring Harman International; that transaction was completed this past March.
Samsung releases their new flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Among the many excellent features is High Dynamic Range video, and an actual, genuine, and bona fide 3.5mm headphone jack, and a pair of premium AKG earbuds. This particular pair of AKG earbuds are exclusive to the S8. Samsung estimates the relative retail value of these earbuds as being $99. I found other AKG earbuds for sale on amazon.com for $130. I’ve owned many Samsung phones and have extensively used many Samsung earbuds. They all sound fine. I’ve never had any complaints, it’s just that I know what Samsung earbuds sound like. These do not sound like Samsung earbuds. I don’t know where they are manufactured, and I don’t know if they were designed by Samsung or by AKG; I suspect they were actually designed by the latter. I’ve listened to AKG headphones before, and these have some sonic similarities. The part that goes in your ear is branded AKG, while the plug is branded Samsung. I suppose at this point in history, both statements are true.
The earbuds have oversized drivers for accurate bass that is never muddy, a gold-plated 3.5mm connector, and a braided fabric cable. The advantage of gold plating is resistance to corrosion, and crackle-free connections. The advantage of a braided fabric cable over a plastic insulated cable is that it won’t get tangled up, even if you shove them in your pockets.
I have noticed one odd thing with these earbuds; the cushions fit different than any other I’ve tried. I have to use the smallest earbud cushion for every pair of earbuds I’ve ever owned, and even then, it can be painful for long listening. For these, I had to use the largest cushion. The other cushions didn’t give me a tight enough seal to get any bass.
So, how do they sound? They sound completely natural, which is what I prefer. I am using the customized EQ on my S8, but that’s a story for another day. Anyway, once you get the right cushion, everything that is in a recording is there, and nothing sounds exaggerated. They are also pretty good at passively reducing outside noises, so you don’t have to listen at a very high volume level.
Samsung has gone all out on the Galaxy S8. It has every bell and whistle you need, including a headphone jack and an excellent pair of headphones to go with it.
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