Current Price: $18 from amazon.com
Build Quality (5.5/10): While clearly styled to look like the Sony XB-series headphones, the AK1000 is about 10% smaller than the MDR-XB500 and, unlike the ‘genuine’ Sony sets, is made entirely out of plastic. The plastic cups have a rubbery matte finish that is rather pleasant to the touch but the plastic forks and unpadded headband are a far cry from the quality of the Sonys. The pads are as good as the ones found on the Sonys but the cable is plasticky and has some memory character.
Comfort (9.5/10): The all-plastic AK1000s lack the headband padding of the MDR-XB500 but are also a bit lighter and have less clamping force. The resulting fit is about as comfortable as wearing two featherweight pleather-covered pillows. Like the XB500s, the Subjekts can get a bit hot and sweaty after prolonged use.
Isolation (6.5/10): Isolation is quite similar to that of the Sonys – not great for a large circumaural headphone but not terrible in the grand scheme of things.
Sound (4.5/10): Though Radius publishes no specifications for the HD-AK1000, I expected the Subjekts to mimic the Sony XB500 in sound signature in addition to cosmetics. I was surprised, however, to find a poised and well-balanced sound in place of the XB500’s bass-centric tendencies. Low end extension is slightly poorer on the Subjekts but the overall bass curve is more linear. The softer bass impact causes the headphones to sound more refined and more controlled although from a technical standpoint the bass is no better than that of the Sonys. Overall the headphones sound a little ‘mushy’ but very smooth and non-fatiguing.
As with the XB500, the mids are slightly recessed but the lower quantity of bass makes this far less obvious with the Subjekts. There is some warmth in the midrange and clarity isn’t quite as good as with the Sonys. There’s also a small dip towards the upper mids that eliminates some of the shine and luster from certain female vocals. Vocal sibilance is a non-issue and smoothness all the way up is top-notch. There’s no real air or sparkle to the treble but no harshness, either. The presentation of the AK1000 is a bit two-dimensional but not terrible. Soundstage width is average and depth is somewhat poor, though they still make the similarly-priced Earpollution Throwbax sound a bit congested.
Value (7/10): On the whole, though it may not seem like I am particularly complementary of the HD-AK1000, they do little wrong for an inexpensive, consumer-oriented set. I expected them to sound terrible but they are on-par with most of the larger sets in the price range. The MSRP is, of course, ridiculous and they are full step behind the Sony MDR-XB500 in build quality and attention to detail but the pillow-like fit is indisputably comfortable. As headphones for movie viewing and casual music use, where comfort is a priority, the funky-looking Subjekts are at the top of the food chain. For pure sound quality, I would recommend stretching for the Maxell DHP-II instead.
Frequency Response: N/A
Cord: 3.94ft (1.2m); Angled Plug
Space-Saving Mechanism: N/A