I’ve had the AKG wireless earbuds for about 4 weeks now, and figured it was time to write a review.
One of the things I’ve noticed in earbud reviews is there’s not much talk about the sound – just generic mentions that they sound good or have a lot of bass. I figured some people might like to know a bit more about the sound (my experience anyway) from a non-technical point of view, and a bit about my overall experience.
Sound being the key component most people look for in headphones I figured that would be a good place to start. I should also mention that I’m using these earbuds with a Samsung Galaxy S10+ and I feel like these 2 pair beautifully together. In part I think it’s due to the ‘Dolby Atmos’ sound capabilities of the Galaxy S10 which brings a richer fuller soundscape to the music and in some cases an almost ‘surround’ sound effect and also due to the range of the Bluetooth when paired with the AKG Y100’s.
My initial experience was ok. I put the buds in, powered them up and the music sounded alright. Not great. As anyone familiar with earbuds will tell you though, you need to make sure you have the right fit and seal. I changed the ear-tips out for larger ones than what came with the earbuds by default – they come with 3 sizes of silicon tips to select from. Once changed out, the sound was wayyy better. The thing that struck me first was the amount of ‘space’ they created. The soundscape is wider and more spread out making it possible to hear everything in great clarity.
One thing to note, everyone’s ears are different and different tip options are important. For whatever reason, the included ear-tips tended to lose their seal in my ears. Being I’ve tried multiple sets of headphones (dare I say 100+) I had plenty of ear tips around and found a set that complemented these for my ears perfectly. They sound even better and I have no problems with losing the ‘seal’.
Midrange - The midrange is super clean. You can really hear everything in the vocals. It’s something that’s very important to me as a vocalist myself. Part of the reason the vocals are so clean and easy to hear is due to the space I alluded to earlier. Every instrument is placed so well in the soundscape in these earbuds that it makes them sound cleaner and more pronounced (obviously the song and production of what you’re listening to has a big impact as well – I digress).
Bass – Yes.. Bass Heads, get the right fitting ear-tips (I can’t stress this enough) and get to all the bass you can handle. Anyone who’s posting that the bass isn’t strong enough, loud enough or deep enough doesn’t have the right fit. I’m so impressed with the bottom end of these things – I tested with some specific ‘bass’ music just to see how they perform with an album I used to test out my car system years ago (Bass 305 – Bass-The Future). Is it the same ‘thump’ as my 10” Rockford Fosgate custom enclosures? It’s different, but dang close… seriously, considering the driver size in these I’m just blown away by the bass response. It’s deep and full sounding and undistorted. Of course, wait until you try these on – they’re so light weight it’s pretty incredible to think they can get this type of sound out of them.
For songs that aren’t as ‘bass heavy’, the bass sound is still well balanced and well placed. Generally speaking I’m a ‘hard rock’ fan and the soundscape is much different than it is for something like the digital ‘bass’ music I alluded to earlier. I also listened to something a bit lighter - ‘The Eagles’ Live album – arguably one of the best sounding live recorded albums. Just trust me on this… the bass is great.
Treble – the highs sound great. Nothing screechy or painful. It’s clean and well placed at the top of the soundscape with no ‘tinny’ or ‘piercing’. This is what normally makes headphones uncomfortable for me after a while as the treble can cause (me) ear fatigue. In this case I listen to these buds for hours on end.
Volume – these are definitely loud enough. Matter of fact, I often listen to audible books during exercising and find the volume of the books to be too quiet at times. With these earbuds I don’t have that problem at all. Partially due to the ‘soundscape’ again and the placement of the voice therein, but also I think these are a bit ‘louder’ and of course – ear-tip seal and placement.
Ambient Aware Technology – This is NOT what I thought it was. For some reason I thought this was going to be a sound dampening technology for noise cancellation. I was way wrong. In fact, Ambient Aware is the exact opposite. Turn this feature on and it actually pulls in sound from outside to help the user be more aware of their surroundings. I walked around NYC with these on and turned on this feature and was impressed with how much it brought me back in touch with my environment. Turning it off again and you’ll realize how disconnected you are and how great these things sound.
There is a downside to Ambient Aware though – it turns the music down to a point that it’s really not a great listening experience (to me). If I could choose the level of ambient aware or level of the music I’m listening to while on that would be great. While walking around New York City it’s hard to hear the music… Granted, NYC is always noisy. BUT WAIT – if you work in an office this feature is great! You can still be connected to your surroundings. You’re not totally cut off from your coworkers or your boss who may be walking over to your desk at any time.
Microphone for phone calls – while people can definitely hear me, it’s not a directional mic by any means, so it picks up a lot of other noise while on a call. People have said I sound loud and clear, but also comment on the other noises they hear in the background. – The New York City soundtrack never sleeps.
Bluetooth – The distance on these when connected to the Galaxy S10+ is the best I’ve ever experienced. I can leave the phone on my desk and walk into another room without breaking up at all. My other BT buds (Bose Soundsport Pulse) cut in and out and get choppy when I leave the room. Forget another room… I wear the AKG Y100s all the way down the hall in my apt. building up to the compactor room without dropping! When the door to the compactor room closes behind me, that’s the breaking point. I believe they claim 10M or around 30Ft range for these. Well, I’m talking over 50Ft easily. Not sure if it’s the BT 5.0 capability of the Samsung S10 or the 4.2 of the AKG Y100s or just somehow I got lucky. Either way, these have been stellar in that respect.
Controls – this is the only place where I mark these down some. The ‘back’ and ‘forward’ function is finicky. You have to long press the volume down for a few seconds, and pray that it’ll work. For audio books that reverse by 30 seconds at a time, it’s difficult as the ‘back’ button takes a few seconds to respond. If you want to go back further you have to try again – I find trying to go back 2 times usually doesn’t work. For music, back button gets you to the start of the song, but trying a second time never gets you back to the previous song. Forward seems to work better and even a bit more responsive.
Double clicking the ‘power button’ is supposed to activate the voice assistant, but there’s no ‘beep’ or sound to know if it’s working. I’ve tried double clicking the power button and then saying OK google… sometimes it works, most times it doesn’t. This is the only disappointing thing (to me) in these buds. My other earbuds are years older and seem to handle these tasks flawlessly.
Sweat Resistance – I’ve asked, and was told ‘no’ these aren’t water/sweat resistant. I was loath to mess these up as I do with many earbuds that I’ve worn running and at the gym. I work hard and sweat a lot. I’ve killed tons of earbuds with sweat. I’ve been wearing these running anyway and happy to report over the last month they have not died on me due to my sweating. No rating doesn’t mean they’re unable to perform in these circumstances. That’s good news – These are SO light weight that it’s a true relief to be able to wear them while exercising. My other buds are definitely bigger, heavier and bulkier (and look funny tucked under a winter hat). Granted, the AKG’s ‘feel’ a bit cheaper due to the light weight plastic, they look great (not cheap) and they’re comfortable for hours of use.
I get over 6 hours of continuous playback on these while connected to 2 devices at once (computer and phone), however I find they take a while to get a FULL charge. You can get a quick 1 hr use with a 15 minute charge on your old mini-usb cables. Would prefer USB-C to make use of my current phone chargers, but not a deal breaker there.
In conclusion, These are great headphones only marred by subpar navigation buttons for fwd/back and assistant. For the price I don’t think you’re going to get much better in the sound department. There’s really no reason not to get these if you’re in the market. Just get the right fit (ear-tips –broken record). They’re incredibly light weight and good for hours of use at a time. The soundscape is wide, clean and clear with great mids, robust lows and nice highs and yeah, you can exercise in them.
Questions/Thoughts? Let me know - and thanks for reading!
Disclaimer: I am super lucky to be able to take part in the Sprint Device Ambassador program. The Product Ambassadors love technology. They volunteer to test out all sorts of devices and offer opinions freely to the Community. Each Product Ambassadors shares their own opinions of these devices, therefore the information in this post does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprint or the device manufacturers. The PA's do not represent the company in an official way, and should not be expected to respond to Community members in an official capacity. My opinions are my own. I am a Device Ambassador and Blogger... I am not a Corporate or Device Manufacturer spokesperson. #SprintProductAmbassador
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