AKG K3003 $1,299 canalphones: they're fancy


How much did your headphones cost? Chances are good that unless you're an audiophile, you paid less than $50. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for, and the AKG K3003s are no exception at $1,299 — even the video advertising them is nice.

We spent a little time with the K3003s on the floor at CES, and the whole experience was marked by attention to detail. The Box — it deserves capitalization because it's no ordinary box — is made of heavy rigid material tightly wrapped in linen with magnets in the lid to keep it shut. Inside, you'll find the buds carefully wrapped around a leather carrying case, various silicone tips, a set of adapters with rose gold-plated tips, and three sets of interchangeable diaphragms to tune the sound for bass, reference, or treble response. The earphones themselves are machined from stainless steel that houses 2-way balanced armature and dynamic bass drivers driving a frequency response of 10Hz to 30kHz. The tangle-free cables are all wrapped in fabric.

As far as performance is concerned, the AKGs sound great. That's all we're going to say because the CES floor is no place to properly test high-end headphones, and a cellphone playing MP3s isn't the kind of source that can make performance monitors stand out from mid-range earbuds. However, we did notice two problems: noise-isolation is not great, and the size of the buds can make them uncomfortable when seated in medium to small ears. In the end, the K3003s are clearly designed for mobile listening, but in most casual scenarios the difference won't be distinguishable from a decent pair of $100 earphones. That was certainly the case when we compared them to a set of Etymotic MC5s. Then again, AKG obviously isn't going for casual listener with the K3003s.


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