AKG and Quincy Jones bring their mighty studio chops to the N90Q headphones

When you combine the knowledge of a storied audio company, the perfectionism and talent of a legendary musician and producer, and a boatload of state-of-the-art technology, you get something like the new AKG N90Q Quincy Jones headphones. These gleaming new cans offer active noise cancelling, personalized sound calibration, EQ, and soundstage customization to create the ultimate headphones for control-freaks.

Though the N90Q won’t be out until this summer, AKG gave us a sneak peak at the new headphones this week at the Hard Rock cafe in Las Vegas. The N90Q are the result of over five years of collaboration between Jones and AKG, and it’s no surprise they offer a dizzying array of features to control the sound they make. Jones is notorious for his perfectionism, needing every nuance and detail to be precisely as he envisions it.

As you might imagine, it takes awhile to get used to the slew of options on board these stylish cans. The right earpiece bears most of the controls, including a large dial for volume, a power switch, and buttons for both noise cancellation and the TrueNote calibration system.

Clicking the button activates a set of chirps inside the headphones, then quickly adjusts the sound. The difference isn’t shocking by any means, but we did notice a tonal twist in the midrange once the system was engaged.

The noise cancellation is heavy, if not a tad bewildering at first. But perhaps the most impressive feature is the soundstage control. Cycling through three different modes while listening to a Nora Jones track brought her voice from a widespread expanse to a closed, intimate space, as if her lips were inches away — not a terrible position to be in.

The 53mm drivers sounded extremely accurate, with some textural detail folded into the mix, though we did hear a bit of sibilance on a Diana Krall track we auditioned. That said, it seems AKG has something fresh with the new N90Q, and we’ll be excited to spend more time with them when they hit the market sometime this summer.

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