AKG K495 NC: Cancel noise quiet

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I was expecting a lot from these burly yet compact and lightweight headphones. The K495 NC’s piece de resistance lies on the left ear cup, that tiny little slider with the initials “NC” for noise canceling. These babies ended my hunt for the best commuter cans in the market. The headphones are surprisingly durable—designed for frequent flyers, commuters, and others who stare loud mass transit in the face, abuse their gear, and like stuffing cans in bags. The ear pads aren’t as comfy as over-the-ear headphones I’ve tried but are made of nice soft leather and don’t push down too tightly. But be careful with the sharp metal headband that can sometimes snag a hair strand or two. The overall sound quality is great—full and deep with wicked bass. These AKGs provide tight, crisp, and textured details. This is where they really impress: one flick of the NC and you won’t hear anything outside the headphones, all the while improving bass noticeably. They aren’t wireless, though; a detachable braided cable plugs into your sound source and a USB cable charges the NC feature. But don’t worry when battery power runs out. You can keep listening to superb sound quality with the NC turned off. The kicker? These headphones fit great in your pocket, but with the price tag, they can burn a hole in it, too. Verdict The AKG 495NC’s price is actually fair for noise-cancelling travel buddies this awesome. The headphones provide great sound reproduction and can slug it out with same-priced models from other top audio brands. When the dust settles, the AKG K495 NC wins because of the sturdier build. Review by Topper Garperio First published in Speed December 2013