This is not going to be one of our usual, more comprehensive reviews on the sound quality of a high-end headphone. The N60 by AKG is a good $250 dynamic closed-back headphone, but its performance is nothing out of the ordinary sound-wise. In sonic terms, Sony’s MDR-7506 are superior, and you could buy two and a half pairs of Sony headphones for the price of one pair of N60s. But that’s not the point. The point is, for a very specific use, the AKG N60 are perhaps the best damn pair of headphones money can buy at the moment.
Journalists can log a lot of air miles. I’m relatively home-based by some tech journalist standards, but I regularly put somewhere in the region of 30,000-50,000 miles a year in flights. Factor in train journeys, Underground and bus trips into Central London, and time spent in airport lounges, coffee shops in search of WiFi, air con, and caffeine and other noisy environments, and a good set of noise cancelling headphones are a must.
My go-to travel headphones for the last eight or so years have been the Sennheiser PXC 450s circumaural noise cancelling headphones. For good reason: they sound good, they are comfortable, and they work well. A single AAA battery can see you there and back on a transatlantic flight (just), and they do well at drowning out the drone of engines. I’ve tried several other sets of noise cancelling headphones (the PXC 450 are very first generation), but the overall balance of benefits weighed against the rivals. Until now.
What the Sennheisers offered was a passive headphone (when the battery ran down), fairly good noise cancellation, and a natural tonal balance that meant they could (at a pinch) be used to monitor interview recordings. What they didn’t bring to the party was a small form factor. The big over-ear design folds down and fits in a pouch, but the pouch itself is fairly large for today’s increasingly lightweight in-cabin baggage.