Hands On: AKG N60NC Wireless Headphones

These days, air travel just sucks. Seats are smaller, flights are overbooked, computer glitches cause massive delays, and whatever happened to in-flight meals? You’re lucky to get a tiny bag of pretzel crumbs. Whenever I travel, I always slip on a pair of headphones, and tune out the chaos. If there’s a baby screaming all flight long, I won’t hear it. So when AKG announced the N60NC Wireless, a new active noise-cancelling headphone with Bluetooth, I was all ears.

I have had the opportunity to audition a lot of headphones over the years. I’m not saying that I’m jaded, but it’s rare for me to get truly excited when something new shows up in the mail. However, one look at the new AKG N60NC Wireless headphones changed that for me. What’s so exciting about them? Active noise cancellation, wireless or wired convenience, and cushions so sumptuous and plush that I want to curl up inside of them. What’s not to like? Absolutely nothing.

The AKG N60NC Wireless ($300) is the latest version of the acclaimed N60 headphone. The wired version had the honor being chosen by Luftansa Airlines as the official headphone of their business class. Yes, these are ideal for travelers, but the wireless version is better. This newest variation has the same first-class sound and conveniences, but adds Bluetooth with aptX for even more versatility. They even include a special airplane adapter, so no matter what airline you fly, you’ll be able to listen in.

The N60NC Wireless headphones are luxurious all the way. They are made with premium leather, memory foam and aluminum for a fabulous feel with superior construction quality. Previous complaints about plastic parts used in other AKG headphones has been addressed—aluminum is used to connect the earpiece to the headband. The leather used on the cushions is soft enough to let the memory foam do its job. On-ear headphones can feel tight, or conversely, let in too much ambient noise. The N60NC Wireless create a good balance between the two extremes. The top of the leather-wrapped headband is only lightly padded—perhaps that is my only complaint; after a few hours, the weight of the headphone is noticeable, but this was after a long movie-marathon.

These were the ideal headphones for that marathon. With Bluetooth and noise-cancelling engaged, the battery supplies 15 hours of playback. Use the wired connection and only ANC and playback rises to 30 hours. If that still isn’t enough, they can always be used passively without using any power. The N60NC Wireless come with a small, soft travel pouch. The headphones fold up relatively compactly. They also come with a micro-USB charging cable, and audio cable, in addition to the very thoughtful adapter for airplane use.

The performance of these headphones is where the quality soars. The sound is absolutely delightful. They have a clear, natural sound, with fabulous detail in the treble. Vocals have a presence that is pure and clean, and acoustic guitars are spectacular. The bass performance is very balanced and controlled. Switching on ANC gives a slight boost in level, with a barely perceptible change in the bass performance that really warms up the sound. Speaking of the ANC, it works remarkably well. I sat next to an air-conditioner vent and the noise is almost completely eliminated. Other transient sounds are still audible, but things like engine noise and road rumble are effectively gone.

When I travel, I don’t get the opportunity to fly Lufthansa, and even more rare is flying business class. However, unfold a pair of N60NC Wireless, turn on the active noise cancellation, and you’ll feel like you’re sitting in first class, even if you’re stuck in the middle seat in coach on Spirit Airlines.