headphones
  • Best of Year 2014
  • Editors' Choice

AKG K 323XS Headphones Review

Teeny headphones, massive soundstage

$59.95 MSRP
Buy now at Amazon
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The AKG K 323XS in-ear headphones (MSRP $59.95) are as portable and sleek as they come. Pop them in and treat yourself: The XS produces huge sound marked with prominent bass, supportive mids, and very healthy highs.

Moreover, these are some of the best passive isolators I've ever tested, and I didn't measure even a speck of audible distortion. High-five, AKG: These things are top-to-bottom winners.

The Outfit

A win for the busy listener

These AKGs are tiny, good-looking, and comfortable enough for most. We tested the white pair, but they also ship in blue, orange, yellow, green—the list goes on. Aesthetics aside, if you're searching for the perfect travel companion, you'll want to give these a close look. In fact, the XS are a friend to commuters and athletes alike.

The form is just perfect for multitasking in general: The Android version packs a one-button universal remote, and there's also a three-button version for iOS. The XS's teeny form factor, featherweight frame, and small carry case are additional on-the-go perks.

Users get four different speaker covers.

The cable is simple, but of decent quality. It's shorter than most cords—just 3.5-feet long—which makes it very manageable for busy listeners. There could be better reinforcements around the jack and earpieces, though, so definitely keep these AKGs wrapped up in their carrying case for safekeeping.

Users get four different speaker covers, too: extra small, small, medium, and large. Take note, Goldilocks.

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The Audio

Tester's pet

Basically, the XS in-ears do everything right. Time in the lab revealed a straight-A student: I discovered solid engineering, and just all-around great performance.

Listeners will enjoy big, thumping bass that doesn't obscure subtler instruments like violin.

Thanks to moderate bass notes and very prominent middle and high notes, music sounds both full and balanced. From classical, to jazz, to hip hop, every genre benefits from this even-handed sound quality. Listeners will enjoy big, thumping bass that doesn't obscure subtler instruments like violin and piano.

These tiny in-ears aced distortion tests, too—you won't find one drop of unwanted or distorted sound on the XS. They balance volume properly in the left and right speakers, and the isolation results crushed it. The amount of outside noise that these things block is comparable to some sets of active noise cancelers—very impressive.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the AKG K 323XS, take a look at these other headphones.

The Bottom Line

Premium product, perfect price

The K 323XS really shines, even in a crowded market. It's hard to pick which glowing attribute to praise first: The massive, well-balanced sound stage? The distortion-free listening experience? The $59 price tag? The monster isolation? The tiny, portable design? These AKGs are simply Aces, and online sale prices of around $40 kick everything up another notch.

If you're searching for ultimate durability, removable cables, or piles of flashy extras, you'll want to keep shopping.

Then again, you've got to tip your hat to a soundstage this big and balanced from something this tiny and inexpensive.

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