Once you get past the strange brand name and the decidedly Japanese voice giving you connection status (I figure maybe English is not her first language) ag’s WHP01K are outstanding headphones and, at the price, brilliant buying. Bluetooth headphones are getting seriously good lately and these are among the best I’ve heard. At any price.

ag headphone b ag bud a

ag (the a is definitely lower case) is a new entry level brand for Final, a premium Japanese brand known to audiophiles if not the public at large, and I suspect much of the good tech and knowledge of the parent brand has trickled down to the ag brand. If these headphones are anything to go by it certainly has. They sound terrific from the moment you put them on. They’re rich, detailed, full-bodied and utterly involving. Exciting is the word. Maybe they’re fractionally bass heavy for fussy classical music listeners (only fractionally), but listen to disco, dance, hip hop or practically any other form of popular music and the bass is lush, nicely complementary and immersive without being over the top, as it can be with headbanger headphones. It would be a tough critic who wouldn’t be impressed by these in any musical genre.

Especially at the price, and the price is the really good news. Consider; adjustable noise cancelling (that works nicely and can be left on without a program playing, handy for sleeping on a plane), AptX LL, excellent battery life of up to 25 hours with noise cancelling or up to 35 without, and the ability to be used with a cable when the battery is finally exhausted. All for $150.

Add in that ag’s WHP01K are good looking and superbly comfortable. They weigh less than 300 grams, they have an adequate clamp pressure gentle enough that wearing them throughout a 16-hour flight isn’t a problem, and they have nicely soft ear pads that contour both to the shape of your head and the surrounds of your ears. Chuck in a drawstring carry bag and you have everything you need.

I loved these things and they’re available in three colours.

ag bud aAlong with the headphones ag has also launched a pair of wireless earbuds that are just as impressive. They’re called TWS04K and while they don’t have noise cancelling they sound just as good as the headphones. Again the bass is strong but not oppressive. Listen to Zoe Keating on cello, from her terrific album One Cello x 16, and the balance across the entire audible range is exactly right, and it comes with superb definition, detail and presence.

While these may not have noise cancelling the big attraction (for me anyway) is the IPX7 rating, meaning they won’t be damaged by the odd rain shower or a good head of sweat in the gym.

The truly impressive thing is that ag has not economised on battery power. The buds themselves will run for up to six hours at full sound quality (using AptX) and nine hours without, but it’s the case that’s the story here, carrying enough juice for up to 20 charges. The buds take two hours to charge, the case takes four. And the buds slot into the case magnetically, ensuring correct charging.

You get your choice of five ear-tip sizes, all are in the box.

These are $200 and compare favourably with buds that cost almost twice that.

These two models form the launch of the ag brand and make an exciting statement about its place in the market. If the performance-to-price equation stays at this level ag has a very large future.

Posted June 2021

 

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