AKG N90Q review

Gorgeous, awesome and not worth your money

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Our Verdict

The AKG N90Q are a ridiculously expensive set of over-ear headphones that do their absolute best to impress you, and succeed. But ultimately, even when considering the included accessories, the package just isn't worth the asking price.

For

  • Deluxe in every way
  • Tons of included goodies
  • Sound is best-in-class
  • Customizable audio

Against

  • 'Expensive' isn't a strong enough word
  • Uncomfortable at times
  • Cumbersome calibration process

AKG wants to push professional audio equipment to the masses with a little help from Quincy Jones. The over-ear N90Q is the result of that fruitful collaboration with the famed producer, with the goal to create an advanced and stylish set of headphones.

And, oh how advanced they are. The sound capabilities deliver, as well. But golly, are these expensive: AKG is selling its N90Q for $1,499 (about £974, AU$2,101, though there's no word on a global release at the time of writing).

But there's much more to this set of headphones than its celebrity endorsement. For the money, you're getting a heck of a lot. The headphones alone are jam-packed full of features. And its bundle of included accessories goes the distance to make you feel like the purchase was worth it. But at the end of the day, are they?

AKG N90Q review

For the average listener, nope. Even for the serious listener, there are much, much cheaper alternatives that can get you arguably similar results, albeit without the fancy accessories. Even so, aside from a few design issues that impact comfort, there's a lot to enjoy if you're in the market for a set of headphones that goes all out in every way imaginable.

Design

The design of a set of headphones has to sell you even before you try listening to them for the first time. To that end, the AKG N90Q has a lot of work to do if they want to help you swallow its enormous price tag.

These headphones make a killer first impression, with a masterful mixture of build materials and a forward-thinking design that houses a bunch of cool features. First off, its headband is tasked with being the support system for the heavy cans. It looks the part, coated in leather and capped on each end with gold-painted aluminum.

AKG N90Q review

AKG's headband offers ten points of size adjustment, so finding a fit with these headphones on most, if not all, heads will be easy. Its sidearms are comprised of polycarbonate with a matte-textured coating. It's a look that compliments its aluminum and leather accents.

The N90Q's earcups are the main attraction here. Designed with just as much pizzazz as the rest of the unit, what's most impressive here is how much functionality AKG packs into such a small space. Each earcup is attached to the sidearms with strong, aluminum hinges that offer 90 degrees of swivel, just enough to rest the pads on your chest. Also located on both earcups are the circular sections that jut out with slick, gold-painted aluminum detailing.

AKG N90Q review

On the left earcup in particular, there isn't much to see, just an etched dial that can be rotated to adjust the bass and treble presence. Moving over to the right earcup introduces us to the gamut of its features.

There is another rotating dial over here, but this one on the right increases and decreases the volume with an intuitive twist motion. Facing the rear, there's a power button, the calibration button, which I'll go into more detail about below, and a microUSB charging port nestled together in a line.

AKG N90Q review

I'd be remiss to not go into detail about the sheer amount of goodies included with the AKG N90Q. The headphones come shipped in a luxurious, albeit huge, hard carrying case. The 2,400mAh battery inside the case itself can actually be charged up to give the N90Q a boost when it's loaded inside.

Opened up, there's a spot for the headphones and a capped compartment inside its head space, which contains a 3-foot cable with full inline controls and microphone, an extra 9-foot cable, a 3.5mm to 1.5mm adapter, a dual-pronged flight adapter and microUSB cable. Also included is a 2,400mAh power bank for charging the headphones on the go. Phew.

AKG N90Q review

There's more yet. AKG has included a soft, leather carrying case for the N90Q that's a little more practical to lug around with you. Lastly, there's a swanky, cloth screen wipe and leather carrying case for phones no bigger, I'd guess, than the iPhone 6S Plus or Samsung Galaxy Note 5.