This year, I was super excited to try AKG’s new flagship earphone model, the AKG N5005. mm dynamic. After chatting with a fellow reviewer, Garrett, about it I became curious. They are about the same price as the Shure SE846 and I wondered how the two might sound side-by-side. Today I’ll take a closer look with this AKG N5005 vs Shure SE846 earphone comparison review.
AKG N5005 vs Shure SE846 Earphone Comparison Review
In the Box – AKG N5005 vs Shure SE846 Earphone Comparison Review
|AKG N5005||Shure SE846|
|detachable cable with 3.5 mm connector||detachable cable with 3.5 mm connector|
|detachable cable with 2.5 mm connector||detachable cable with 3.5 mm connector, microphone and remote|
|detachable Bluetooth cable||airplane adapter|
|USB charging cable||6.3 mm to 3.5 mm adapter|
|airplane adapter||various eartips of all sizes including solicone tips, three-flange tips, and foam tips|
|3.5 mm to 6.3 mm adapter||interchangeable sound filters|
|interchangeable sound filters||shirt clip|
|eartips (xs, s, m, l)||hard shell carrying case|
|Spinfit eartips (s, m, l)||semi-hard, zipping carrying case|
|semi-hard zipping carrying case|
Specifications – AKG N5005 vs Shure SE846 Earphone Comparison Review
|AKG N5005||Shure SE846|
|Frequency Response||10 Hz – 40 kHz||15 Hz – 20 kHz|
|Impedance||18 ohms||9 ohms|
|Sensitivity||116 dBSPL /V @ 1 kHz||114 dBSPL/mW|
|Drivers||9.2 mm dynamic driver and 4 balanced armature drivers||4 micro, balanced armature drivers|
|Battery Life||8 hours with <2 hour charge time||n/a|
Design – AKG N5005 vs Shure SE846 Earphone Comparison Review
Opening the boxes for the first time, it is clear each earphone spreads a very different vibe based on their presentations. The AKG N5005 is presented in a clean, organized, and elegant way. Each accessory is labelled and placed in a specific, tidy place. On the other hand, the Shure SE846 has a more utilitarian and pragmatic feel. The accessories are packed inside the zipping case alongside the earphones with are all packed inside its hard shell case. As a result, it doesn’t look as expensive as the N5005, but rather it is more in a ready-to-go state.
The driver housings of both the AKG N5005 and the Shure SE846 are about the same thickness. However, the N5005 is a little bit shorter. Both driver housings feel super durable because of their hearty materials. The SE846 is made of metal or plastic depending on the color (bronze or clear) and the N5005 is made of ceramic.
My ears are pretty small. As a result, both earphones fit decently, but bordered on being too big. However, the most secure fit felt like the Shure SE846 with the foam tips because the foam was able to really adjust to the size of my ear canal and hold strong. In comparison, while the AKG N5005 was slightly less secure, it was lighter in weight and so didn’t pull so much on its cable. As a result, it felt more comfortable overall.
Both cables of the AKG N5005 and the Shure SE846 felt strong and secure. The N5005 obviously comes with a wider variety of cables. Additionally it utilizes a braided design. As a result, it looked more fancy that the SE846’s cable and was a little less stiff. Thus, it was more manageable. The SE846 cable on the other hand, while more stiff, seemed like it was more durable because of the tough shielding and connectors. It seems like it would be better under stress than the N5005.
Both the AKG N5005 and the Shure SE846 include additional sound filters to help shape the frequency response and sound signature of the earphones for different listeners’ preferences. I went through and listened to them all to give you an idea of what they do. However, it is worth noting that the N5005’s sound filters were super easy and simple to change whereas the SE846 sound filters were a little trickier and required the use of a tool.
The AKG N5005 comes with the “Reference” filter on them. I conducted the “Sound” portion of this review with it, so for more of a baseline idea of what the earphones sound like, read it below.
- Bass Boost: a really nice and natural bass boost; sounded really nice with pop music; subby but not overdone
- High-Mid Boost: more attack on pianos and drums; more present vocals which sometimes would get a little harsh.
- High Boost: lots of air on vocals!; boost is above the range of sibilance so it really just added to the air of the earphones; I thought it would add too much but in reality I actually liked it quite a bit.
The Shure SE846 comes with the “Blue (balanced)” filter on them. I conducted the “Sound portion of this review with it, so for more of a baseline idea of what the earphones sound like, read it below.
- White (bright): vocals sound louder but there is a little more sibilance; there is also more attack on instruments in the high-mids
- Black (warm): vocals sound quieter; it sort of makes the midrange and low-end seem louder and more punchy.
Sound – AKG N5005 vs Shure SE846 Earphone Comparison Review
I was surprised by the similarity of the low frequencies in both the AKG N5005 and the Shure SE846. They both sounded similar energy-wise, however for different reasons. The N5005’s low frequency energy came from its quick and precise transient response. Its low frequencies were a bit quieter than the SE846 but they were punchy and active. On the other hand, the SE846’s low frequencies sounded a bit thicker because of its slower response and in this way maintained its low frequency energy.
The midrange frequencies really set the two earphones apart from each other. They actually almost felt opposite each other. The AKG N5005 has scooped midrange and low-mid response. It’s quickness in the midrange makes it musical and expressive, but it’s details are mostly in the attack rather than in the harmonic content of thick guitars and pianos, for example. On the other hand, the Shure SE846 midrange is nice and big and makes bass guitars, synths, horns, and other midrange heavy instruments like distorted electric guitars sound full and realistic.
The highs of the AKG N5005 are airy and shimmery. They have noteworthy extension. As a result, their quick transient response creates space and depth. On the other hand, the high frequencies of the SE846 feel truer to how you’d expect them to sound in the mix but are less exciting and pretty. However, because of the high’s relationship to the midrange, cymbals and other high frequency rich instruments like strings feel full and real with their respective harmonic richness.
The quickness of the AKG N5005 makes its soundstage more dramatic, accurate, and pronounced. It has a wider sense of left-to-right imaging, and a more complex sense of depth. However, despite its unemphasized high-end, I was very impressed with the SE846’s sense of height and placement in the vertical domain. This contributes to the overall separation in the different parts of the midrange.
Overview – AKG N5005 vs Shure SE846 Earphone Comparison Review
Both the AKG N5005 and the Shure SE846 are great, extremely high quality earphones. The Shure SE846 earphones are for more of a utilitarian use, for example, travelling, monitoring music on stage, or exercising. On the other hand, the AKG N5005 are more for close listening and have a musical, but scooped sound signature.
Both the AKG N5005 and the Shure SE846 are available for the best price here: