• Despite the all-plastic black finish, the K44 headphones are rather attractive and far less garish than many of today's look-at-me studio headphones.
• For closed-back studio cans, the K44 headphones are surprisingly comfortable long-term, thanks to their ingenious head strap, comfortable leatherette/vinyl cups and relatively light weight.
• While not an active noise-canceling design, the K44 does an admirable job of blocking out ambient distractions, though I did not test it in environments as harsh as, for instance, an airplane.
• The K44 is well-suited to a wide range of musical tastes and even sounds good when playing less than reference-grade recordings.
• The K44's high-frequency response is light and airy. Its midrange is slightly lean of center, though still natural, and its bass is agile with solid extension, though those who prefer a bit more thump may want to look elsewhere.
• I appreciate AKG providing me with ample cable with which to connect the K44 to my source of choice. However, the cable can become unruly at times, albeit it rarely tangles due to its thickness.
• At low volumes, the K44's magic isn't altogether there, and at high volumes (much too high for prolonged listening), they can sound a little harsh. If you're not one to roll the dice with your long-term hearing, you should be just fine, so long as you're aware there are limits to the K44's capabilities.
Competition and Comparison
With a retail price of around $80, there are plenty of headphones that deserve to be mentioned alongside the K44. Sticking with the pro audio genre for a moment, I'd recommend also looking at Sennheiser's HD280 PRO, Pioneer's HDJ-500 and even Denon's DN-HP1000. On the consumer side, there are Klipsch's Image One, Beats by Dre Solo, Bose OE2 and Skullcandy's Aviator Headphones.
All of the above-mentioned options are comparable in both price and performance, though which one is ultimately right for you is up to you, your budget, and your personal tastes. For more on these headphones and others like them, please visit Home Theater Review's Headphone page.
For roughly $80 retail, the K44 headphones from AKG's professional line of studio cans are quite good, competing favorably with headphones costing a little more. As a solid go-to headphone for both casual and critical listening, the K44 performs its duties admirably. It is possible to beat them, just prepared to be out of pocket a lot more. Despite not having any sort of noise cancellation system, the K44 does manage to block out your surroundings enough to make music a solitary affair, but not so much as to make listening dangerous in public spaces. The headphones' utilitarian looks may not be in vogue when comparing them against many of today's flashier cans, but the grown-up in you will appreciate their mature, articulate voice. The K44 is well worth an audition.