The AKG Y600NC will divide listeners; some people will absolutely love their expansive soundstage, while others will find their music sounds oddly sparse and disjointed – and the noise cancellation isn’t anything to write home about. Saying that, we liked the slick design, and the ability to pair them with more than one device at once is a useful feature.
Music sounds sparse
Noise cancellation could be better
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The AKG Y600NC are Samsung’s latest foray into the world of noise-cancelling headphones, with the company hoping to take on class-leading models like the Sony WH-1000XM4 and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.
Costing £199 (about $250 / AU$360), they’re slightly cheaper than these models, which could make them a compelling cheaper alternative to the best noise-cancelling headphones of 2020.
Unfortunately, they just can’t compete in terms of audio quality and noise cancellation performance. That’s not to say these headphones sound bad – it’s just that their incredibly expansive soundstage means music can sound a little sparse, and there’s a general lack of dynamism, particularly in the higher frequencies.
Some people will love that wide soundstage, and it’s certainly impressive – it’s just not to our taste, and we daresay audiophiles will crave more sparkle and detail from these cans.
The noise cancellation is also somewhat underwhelming; again, it’s not bad per se, but it doesn’t match the competition.
However, there are some aspects of the AKG Y600NC that we really like. Design-wise, they sport a classic look, with sleek lines and tactile volume controls that will appeal to anyone who hates the touch-capacitive sensor controls that are so in vogue at the moment.
Meanwhile, Bluetooth 5 connectivity, multi-point pairing, and support for wired listening gives you the flexibility to switch between devices seamlessly.
We have a feeling that these headphones will be somewhat divisive; some people will love their expansive sound and slick design, and some will find their music sounds too disjointed to really enjoy. Read on to find out whether the AKG Y600NC are right for you.
AKG Y600NC price and release date
- Launched July 24
- Global pricing to be confirmed
The AKG Y600NC Wireless Headphones were released on July 24, 2020, and are available to buy now for £199 – and though international pricing is to be confirmed, that works out at around $250 / AU$360.
That’s cheaper than the best headphones of 2020, the Sony WH-1000XM4 – though these AKG cans aren’t quite as high-spec as Sony’s noise-cancellers. The AKG Y600NC actually sit at a price point more similar to the Philips PH805, which we awarded 4.5 out of 5 stars for their punchy sound, good battery life, and value for money.
- Classic looks
- Left earcup houses a volume dial
- Available in three colors
The design of the AKG Y600NC is pretty classic, with circular rotatable earcups and a slim, padded headband.
The headband is adjustable with a sliding mechanism – the metal headband slide is furnished with measurements from 1-10, allowing you to precisely adjust it to fit your head exactly. It’s a nice touch, and a cool design feature.
Available in three colors (black, gold, and silver), the Y600NC have been designed with comfort in mind, thanks to a lightweight build and and memory foam-padded ear cushions, which make them suitable for long listening sessions.
Each earcup features a metallic ring that adds a luxe finish to proceedings, alongside the AKG logo in white, which sits on the outer housings.
The left earcup – a little like the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 – doubles up as a dial, which allows you to control the volume of your music.
On that earcup you’ll also find a 3.5mm audio port and a button that allows you to skip, fast forward, and play / pause your music – press this button when you receive a call and you can accept or reject it. Your music is also automatically paused when you remove the headphones, which is a handy feature.
The right earcup features the power / Bluetooth pairing button, as well as the TalkThru button, which allows ambient sound to pass through the housings.
- Very wide soundstage
- Tight bass
- Trebles lacking sparkle
With 40mm drivers and a rather large frequency range of 10Hz - 24kHz, the audio quality offered by the AKG Y600NC is generally very good, if not the best we’ve ever heard.
The first thing we noticed when listening to Sunblind by Fleet Foxes, is just how spacious the soundstage of these headphones is, with an airy, expansive presentation that we weren’t expecting from a pair of closed-back headphones.
There was a good amount of detail in the chattering hi hats and tinkling piano accents, with smooth, lush vocals that aren’t overpowered by the rich, soaring bass lines.
As we moved onto Fleet Foxes’ Jara, the Y600NC were able to showcase their brilliant stereo separation, with clear bird-like vocals that pan from ear to ear. As the track develops, opulent vocal harmonies are given plenty of room to soar by these headphones, with the occasional medieval-style cadence adding color to the mix.
That spacious feel is echoed in Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain – however, we can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed with the presentation, as the instruments feel almost sparse due to the width of that soundstage. That’s not something we’ve experienced very often in our time reviewing headphones, and it’s an unusual sensation – though it’s worth bearing in mind that we are being picky here, and the sound is generally good.
In any case, things improve as the song kicks into that iconic guitar riff, with devilish bass lines and thrashing drums filling in the gaps for the packed, exciting mix we were hoping for.
As well as indie folk and classic rock, the AKG Y600NC can handle RnB-tinged pop with aplomb. In Childish Gambino’s Redbone, there was a pleasing sense of space and timing, with tightly controlled bass frequencies and delicately handled synth lines. However, we’re still missing a little sparkle and dynamism from the higher frequencies, particularly when the vocal creeps up in pitch as the song reaches its climax.
Again, we’re being picky, and the AKG Y600NC certainly sound good enough to compete with most mid-range headphones on the market right now – they just aren’t the best-sounding cans of 2020.
- Noise cancellation could be better
- Ambient sound mode
While the noise cancellation provided by the AKG Y600NC is capable of blocking out some environmental sound, it certainly isn’t on par with the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM4 and other class-leading models. It’s enough to take the edge off of the rumble of your commuter train or the low frequency hum of an aircraft, but you’ll find that louder conversations will make it through to your ears.
If you do want to hear your surroundings more clearly, a TalkThru mode allows ambient sound to pass through the earcups – using this mode doesn’t completely stop your music, but it does reduce the volume significantly, and it turns off the active noise cancellation.
Battery life and connectivity
- 35 hours of battery life
- Bluetooth 5
- Multi-point pairing
Battery life comes in at 25 hours with active noise cancellation switched on – turn that off, and you’ll get 35 hours of playback from the AKG Y600NC, which is just shy of the Sony WH-1000XM4’s 38 hours of juice.
If you do run out of juice, you can get four hours of playback from a quick 10-minute charge via the included USB-C charging cable.
You can also use these headphones with the provided 3.5mm audio cable if you drain your battery – or if you prefer the audio quality afforded by a wired connection.
Wireless connectivity comes courtesy of Bluetooth 5, giving you a sturdy connection with your device of choice, while support for voice assistants extends to Google Assistant, Siri, and Bixby.
It’s possible to connect the AKG Y600NC to two Bluetooth sources at one time; to switch between them, you just need to hold down the power slider for three seconds.
Should I buy the AKG Y600NC Wireless Headphones?
Buy them if...
You like an expansive sound
The soundstage provided by the AKG Y600NC is very wide, with a spacious feel that's unusual for closed-back headphones.
You’re looking for classic design
The slick, no frills design of the AKG Y600NC looks really attractive, and the tactile controls are simple to use.
Don't buy them if...
You want class-leading noise cancellation
While these headphones block out some environmental noise, they can't compete with the best noise-cancelling cans on the market.
You’re looking for a dynamic sound
For casual listening, the AKG Y600NC are fine – but if you want your music to take your breath away, you'll probably want to look elsewhere.
- The best noise-cancelling headphones of 2020
Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.