AKG Quincy Jones Q460

AKG Quincy Jones Q460 (~$129 Street)
Unlike the brand-spanking new headphones produced for their celebrated endorsers by the likes of Skullcandy (Jay-Z, Mix-Master Mike), Signeo (Ludacris), and Monster (Dr. Dre), AKG chose a path of less resistance and simply rebadged some of its existing headphones for Quincy Jones. The Q701 was previously the highly regarded K701 (a good choice, I thought), the AKG K340 in-ear became the Q350 (meh), and the K450 became the Q460. Ugh, never did like that headphone. I thought there was a much better choice available if I was Quincy Jones. I'll spill it in the summary, let's talk about the Q460 first.

The AKG Q460 is a small sealed headphone intended for portable use with cellphones and portable media players. They are a fairly utilitarian looking headphone with a mostly plastic construction, and appear well built. AKG is a quality manufacturer and generally does a good job in this regard. They are available in white, black, and Quincy Jones lime green color schemes. Other than the color there is really no bling factor here, they are pretty plain looking headphones.

The cable exits the left ear and is removable; it uses a standard 2.5mm stereo plug but with a special twist-lock housing, so after market cables would be difficult to attach. Two lime green cables are included: a 3.6 foot cable with iDevice remote/mic; and a very short 1.6 foot cable without remote. Both cables are terminated with a straight and slender 1/8" mini-plug. A 3.5mm to 2.5mm four segment adapter for use with cellphones is included --- nice touch. Also included is a hard-sided, clamshell carry case.

The ergonomics of these headphones is just okay. The Q450 is a little bulky for a headphone of this type. I feel if you're trying to go small, then go small. The Sennheiser PX 200-II is a great example of this type of headphone, but that is significantly lighter on the head and way smaller when packed away.

The swivel mechanism on the earpiece doesn't allow the earpiece to tilt. I found the pressure to seal the earpad was somewhat greater at the bottom of the ear than it was at the top. I found them more awkward than uncomfortable ... but that sort of amounts to the same thing with headphones after a while on the head.

The earpieces swivel flat and fold inward for storage in the case, which is the size of a small, but fat, paperback book. This is huge compared to the Sennheiser PX 200-II that folds up roughly into the size of a pair of glasses. Lastly, I'm not sure what to do with the 1.6' cable. Possibly for when you have a phone in your breast pocket, but even then it's so short you can hardly get the phone far away enough from your eyes to see stuff. (Yeah ... my eyes are getting old.) I think they should have included a longer cable so that you can use these cans around the office --- the 3.6' cable is good for portability, but it's too short for office use.

Ah well, on to the sound ...

Harman International Industries, Incorporated.
400 Atlantic Street
Stamford, CT 06901, USA

thune's picture


The innerfidelity headphone data page has an entry for the "AKG K581LE".

Is this actually data for the K518LE, or is it a different headphone?

Since you almost made this transposition in the video, I just want to be clear about the data sheet.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
My lysdexia is running full tilt today! :(
Gil G.'s picture

well, another one disapoint. i really hoped the quincy line to be remarcable.. excuse my english.

khaos's picture

The measures screen shot that appears in the page 2 of the article is the screen shot from the House of Marley. The link is correct though.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Okay, fxt, sorry.
lushkin's picture

I like reading reviews that call out on subpar products as what they are. A shame if the K518 will goo OOP, they are really nice and can be made better with some blu-tak modding.

And damn, I hate those neon-green cables...

Tyll Hertsens's picture
"Out of play"

It's just that .... dammit .... you're right. Great headphones going the way of the Dodo happen all too often.

dalethorn's picture

I would assume these are 99 percent for small portable players, and in the case of Apple players, it's simple to just use an EQ setting to compensate. I don't have access to these and don't intend to buy, but I would be most curious if (for example) a treble booster setting would help, or whether it would make the congestion worse. In several small headphones I've worked with, EQ usually helps if the 'phones are good quality other than the freq. response problems.

yuriv's picture

Hi Tyll. You sent me a green and white pair a while ago. (You made me choose between the Q350 and this one.) I had a pretty good idea how it was going to sound because you've had the measurements for a while. Headroom and goldenears.net also have measurements, and they all show the same ragged response above 600 Hz.

I found it very hard to get used to the sound because I listen to relatively accurate speaker/subwoofer systems well-treated rooms when I get home--lots of Owens-Corning rigid fiberglass, sometimes with digital room correction on top. To be fair, it's hard to get used to most headphones. Maybe I can get away with it with my HD600 (favorite under $899). But these Q460 are much worse than usual.

On the plus side, I'm getting a better seal than you, and I don't find the ergonomics too bad. The THD+N measurements aren't bad either. According to your graphs, it performs better at 100 dB than at 90, so boosting a band here or there can only help the sound. They respond well to EQ--quite a bit better than an HD201. After some time with several bands of parametric EQ, including a 12-dB boost around 2700 Hz, they actually sound very good!

The bad news is that you do need several bands of parametric EQ to fix the response. A graphic equalizer just isn't fine enough. Rockbox, unfortunately, has only 3 bands. The Equalizer app for iPhones and iPads has seven, and works well. The KSC-75, PX-100, and HD238 can get away with one or two bands, mostly to cancel the wide mid-bass hump. But those are open cans.

For $5 you can get the Panasonic RP-HT21 or RP-HJE120 at Amazon. Those sound better than the Q460 out of the box, and they need fewer bands of EQ to get a reasonable approximation of neutrality.

BTW, can you tell us which headphones are are in your to-review queue so we know what's coming down the pipeline?

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Nice detailed comment, thanks!

"BTW, can you tell us which headphones are are in your to-review queue so we know what's coming down the pipeline?"

That's a bit of a moving target. I've made predictions before and they didn't pan out so I'm mostly not going to say. However, at the moment I'm working on the celebrity cans, so I do know what's coming up, and they're pretty much set in stone. Not necessarily in this order: V-Moda M-80/V-80, Crossfade LP, LP2; Koss Tony Bennet; Marley Stir It Up, TTR; And hopefully the SMS 50Cent.

NeoVibe's picture

Hi Tyll,
I really think a review of AKG K518LE would be the perfect follow-up on this one. I heard both and 518 is so much better...

In fact, I really really think that these are very nice headphones for the price (and I am living with well amped HD-600 for 10 years), somehow reminds me of SR335 with fuller bass but without that zing in guitars. I really think they are very good musically.

Actually I bought these to replace Pioneer HDJ2000... which may even measure better but sounded just WRONG! You know the feeling... you are not sure why but they just sound wrong.

Beware though, K518DJ has much much much more bass than K518LE version which is much more balanced (bought both).

Also, remember to take out the foam covering the speakers to release the top-end.

Happy reviewing :)

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks. Spot on.

edit: Well ... I think I liked the HDJ2000 more than you, but other than that, I fully agree with your comments.

NeoVibe's picture

I think you actually felt the same when you said the HDJ-2000 are "slightly murky sounding", I think this 'murkyness' although just 'slight' (I agree) somehow made a few things sound wrong *for my ears*. I mean, they sounded very good, but wrong.

The K518LE don't sound as 'hi-fi' but sound right within their limitations. They're more honest, maybe that's what I mean.


julian67's picture

Hi Tyll,

that's a very fair, accurate and balanced review imo. If anything you were a little kind when you said they weren't terrible or obnoxious. These headphones have received a lot of *very* high praise and even lucrative awards here in the UK, and they are being advertised heavily and pushed by sales persons in store. I bought a pair and thought they wallowed like a pig in you-know-what, though a happy pig in "mud" would at least display a brighter aspect and might manage to squeal as well as grunt. The percussive bass sounds are impressive in such a small headphone but the badly recessed midrange and essentially absent highs seem designed to suck the life out of music. They are awful with female vocalists, rendering fine, powerful and impressive voices as dull, distant and disappointing analogues. I got a refund.

I like your reviews' mix of well informed and articulated subjective opinion/experience backed by objective data. It really beats the payola review/award scene found in many other publications.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Thanks very much, man. Your comments are indicative, IMHO.
sgrossklass's picture

Sounds like these are the nth take on ye olde K26P, at least the sound would match. That one wasn't too bad for an inexpensive closed model back in its day, even though strain relief on the plug was seriously lacking (the K81DJ suffered from similar issues). It served me reasonably well until got some IEMs, which isolated worlds better.

matteocalaon's picture

AKG q460 or Creative Aurvana Live! Which are better? How is the bass of CAL ?

amateriat's picture

When I listened to AKG's K450s at Tekserve in Manhattan a little under two weeks ago, they sounded so bad I was concerned the pair on demo were damaged or defective. From your description, it sounds they were functioning normally. More's the pity.