Pros: Great detail especially in the treble, Well defined bass, Outstanding soundstage, Extremely comfortable, Built like a tank
Cons: Treble can be harsh at louder listening, Not enough bass for bassheads (Not a con for many)
I got these headphones around Christmas time in 2012. I loved the design at first sight, I find it understated and classy where others find it hulking and ugly, it's all a matter of opinion. After the excitement of unboxing them and plugging them straight into my phone I was horrified by how quiet, lifeless and lacking of detail they were. But rest assured this first impression didn't last long.
Design & Build Quality
As you can probably tell from the introduction, I'm a fan of these headphones looks. For me they fit my head perfectly but for others the size of this headphone is just too big to get a good seal, so it may be wise to try them out to see where you stand in this regard. Build quality is excellent, the headphones are largely made from metal which feels very solid and has some sort of powder coating which feels very nice to the touch. The plastic on these headphones is similar to the soft touch you find on many phones these days, it's certainly not as solid feeling as the metal but it is seemingly high quality plastic. I have had these headphones well over a year now and I am glad to say that the build quality hasn't degraded and they feel as solid as the day I bought them.
The earcups can be rotated 90 degrees which is useful if you're taking them travelling to save space, but the absence of an included carry case makes this a useless feature for me.
The inclusion of a removable cable would've been a welcome one but it's certainly not a deal breaker for me. Another note about the cable is that it is very long, so I have resorted to tying part of my cable up to shorten it. Obviously this is a pro for some people but it definitely makes the headphones cumbersome for portable use. The cable itself is very high quality though and the jack feels solid with plenty of stress relief on both ends.
If you're used to a plethora of accessories coming with your headphones prepare to be disappointed. The AKG K550 box comes with the headphones themselves, a 1/4" to 1/8" screw on adapter, some paperwork and that's pretty much it. Not a whole lot. However for me the only disappointment was that AKG didn't include a carry case, even if it was soft case it'd be better than nothing.
These headphones have a generous amount of cushioning on the earcups making for a extremely comfortable fit around the ears themselves. However I would have opted for adding more padding on the headband as after a few hours or more there is a certain point on the headband that gives me a slight ache, nothing too uncomfortable but something could have so easily been fixed by adding more padding. Overall, the headphones feel light on the head, soft around the ears and I can wear for a few hours at a time with no discomfort.
First off, I love the sound of these cans. They are relatively neutral, while still sounding a little exciting and not too analytical. They have a flair for the high end, producing magnificently detailed trebles which I find brilliant at this price point. Bass, although possibly lacking the presence of other headphones around this price I find the bass to be extremely well defined, this is accentuated in songs where you have short, punchy stabs of bass more so than when you are listening to a thicker, more full-on bass centric track. The mids aren't as well defined as the rest of the spectrum with some warmer sounding guitar tracks not providing quite as much presence in the mids as the bass and treble. With that said I still think the over signature of these headphones is very good.
I have been using these headphones with my PC, using an Asus DGX sound card. Quite basic as sound cards go but I think they provide just the right amount of amplification to get the most out of these headphones. I use the 32Ohm amplification setting in the Asus control panel. When using the headphones with either a mobile phone or my PCs integrated sound card I found volume to be lacking which in turn affected how well define the headphones were but by using the equipment and settings stated above the sound is extremely well defined and the volume of the headphones is boosted a lot with no distortion. The soundstage also opens up a lot with amplification. For a pair of closed back headphones I find this pair extremely open sounding and seperation between instruments and the width of the soundstage is all very good.
Overall I am even more impressed with these headphones now than when I first bought them. A recent price drop to £109 in the UK means that these headphones represent amazing value. I don't feel like they can be beaten as far as sound quality and build quality goes, as long as you like the fairly neutral sound signature.