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AKG N400: The Galaxy Buds+ with ANC you’ve been looking for?

Remember how everyone was pissed off at the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Buds+ didn’t have active noise cancellation (ANC)? No? That was just me? OK look, I think we can all agree that it would have been better with ANC…and a nicer sound. If you feel the same way and wished Samsung had an ANC alternative we may have the next best thing for you: the AKG N400.

AKG, as you may already know, is one of Samsung’s audio brands that the South Korean electronics giant relies on to tune a lot of their audio devices. This can range from headphones to speakers to even their AKG tuned fridge, which sounds great by the way—well, it does for a fridge. AKG also tuned Samsung’s brand new Galaxy Buds+, so it’s interesting to see them launch their own pair of AKG-branded truly wireless in-ear headphones.

The AKG N400 looks a lot like Samsung’s own Galaxy Buds but if they went over to the dark side. Y’know, they look familiar but not really identical—which I don’t really hate. The design is still very minimal and if the Galaxy Buds+ are anything to go off of, these should have a pretty good fit too. One interesting thing to note is that these headphones will apparently come with a pair of Comply premium headphone tips too.

But, the key thing is that these headphones feature active noise cancellation. Now, being a big fan of the Sony WF-1000XM3 headphones myself, I have become a sucker for headphones with active noise cancellation so I was naturally stoked that these headphones come with them. But, looking at the other elements of the N400’s spec sheet, I have to say that I’m kind of disappointed.

For starters, battery life is abysmal for a pair of TWS headphones in 2020. Samsung says that it will last up to 5 hours on a single charge (6 hours, if you turn off ANC), which is already below average, but the case only holds one additional charge. That means that in the best case scenario, you’re only getting 12 hours of listening time over a Bluetooth connection. Compare that to the Sony WF-1000XM3 which packs up to 24 hours of listening time with ANC on. In fact, even the Galaxy Buds+ has 22 hours of listening time.

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The rest of the headphones seem very similar to the Galaxy Buds+, which is to say that they’ve got their bases covered. There are touch controls on each earbud, as well as the ability to enable audio pass through so you can have conversations with other people without taking your headphones off. One nice improvement is that the headphones are now IPX7 water resistant certified, so it can be submerged down to 1m in fresh water for up to 30 minutes.

But all of that comes at a pretty significant price bump. The Galaxy Buds+ retails for RM599 in Malaysia which is already quite hard to justify considering how much you can get a more upmarket pair of headphones for these days. The AKG N400, while not on sale in Malaysia at the time of this article’s writing, is retailing for KRW229,000, which is over RM800.

That’s a lot of money for a pair of headphones with such sub-par battery life. Obviously, battery life is only one element of a pair of headphones, though I’d argue that it’s one of the more important aspects for a wireless pair of headphones. But, the rest of the headphones are still an unknown at this point. If they match the Galaxy Buds+, I don’t think its that great value, but if they’re better than the Buds+ then we can start having a discussion.

In any case, I don’t know if these headphones will ever come into Malaysia, but I think it’s pretty interesting to see these launch in a world where we already have the Galaxy Buds+. On top of that, to feature features that the Galaxy Buds+ doesn’t even have.

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