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AKG K550 review - Essentially a closed-back K702 - literally.

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 

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The bottom line is that these AKG K550's right out of the box sound like K702's with a +2db boost to all frequencies lower than 500Hz.  So if you favor the AKG flavor, slightly thin-sounding mids and bright highs, and need closed-back, look no further.  Comfort is off the piston - The Denon D2000's come close, but these feel lighter, and the DT770 consumer editions clamp a bit more.  These make room for even the largest ears, with maybe perhaps just the slightest brush of the driver foam touching, and yet I still don't feel any papercut-like pain to the edges of mine (unlike the M50).  These get a 5/5 on comfort for me, and no, they don't squeeze the dome like a vice.

 

Isolation is good, not a complete canceling of external sounds but they do somewhat mute them.  The earpads are removable and the controlling of leakage of sound blows away all the over-ear competition except for the Pro700MK2's, they are unbelievably neck-and-neck.  You will be surprised if your tunes were cranked and you hand closed the cups together, they emit a soft tone of your music - fantastic (Here's a chart to illustrate further - Audio Technica AD700 > Beyer DT880 > Beyer DT770 (non-pro editions, believe it) > AKG K702 > Beyer DT860 ~ DT990 > Denon AHD2000 ~ VModa Crossfade LP > Audio Technica ATH-M50 > Beyer DT770 pro 80ohm > *AKG K550 ~ Audio Technica ATH-PRO700MK2 > Etymotic ER4P).  The build is straight supreme - the headband being metal with soft touch pieces around some parts.  No detachable cables or a carry case at all - boo.  A 1/4" screw-on adapter is included.

 

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I find that the highs can be bright, but to me, only at louder volumes.  They are more than tolerable even if you're watching movies.  I find them to have plenty of detail and definition, but with that slight tizzy sound that the K702's have.  The mids are present, they don't feel recessed at all - this was demonstrated with some gunshots on Modern Warfare 3.  The M4A1 has some nice weight to it and sounds very crisp (and loud) on these K550's.  I did notice that around the 1K mark, there is a slight boost that makes the upper bass/lower mids have a hollow-cup like sound on it.  It's not distracting but it is there.  The mids are crystal clear in my opinion, but do sound thin.  Vocals and instruments have great separation and imaging, but the notes in itself sound a little pinched.  Switch between these and a pair of Crossfade LP's and you'll know what I'm talking about.

 

The low notes come through clean and slightly punchy.  The Denon D2000's, Crossfade LP's, and the Pro700MK2's definitely have these beat - by at least 3db.  But I think these were designed to be as flat as possible, so these are not bass-monsters (Damn!).  These K550's are like a regular Whopper sandwich, while the aforementioned three are like a triple-stack heart-attack - with the Denon being a touch lighter than the LP's or MK2's.  There's some meat on there, you can taste it, but it might not feel you up.  It certainly doesn't me, so I reached for my good friend EQ, boosted the bass about 4db, and now, I'm satisfied.  Movie soundtracks sound much fuller and alive with some extra bass on these.

 

The soundstage is awesome.  3D, like it should be, and with great positioning.  I played MW3 infection and actually got the drop on some infected.  I still suck, but the K550's are no slouch in the gaming area.  There's plenty of detail throughout the spectrum - you can easily locate footsteps fore, aft, back-left etc. like a champ.  Movies are equally awesome, although when cranked the highs seem to overwhelm a little so I keep the volume slightly lower than what I had it with my MK2's.  AND, speaking on volume, these can bump 117db in the cup.  That's loud.  I like that.  Some others do too.

 

AKG has done a good job.  I used to be somewhat interested in the other K242-272HD models, but the reported lack of bass made me stay home on those.  These are not bass-light, but nor are they bass-heavy, nonetheless, hardly any other closed-back that I've had can match the comfort - and they sound great too.

 

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I'm impressed with these and will definitely keep them, for games especially and for times when I need comfort in the closed fashion.  I will continue to update this, with more comparo's and if the sound changes as more cooking (burn-in) is applied.

 

 


Edited by GN3RAL KARL - 3/3/12 at 2:14pm
post #2 of 69

Nice review General Karl, keep us posted on your findings. Judging by most of the comments thus far, there is a treble problem. No like sound of that.

post #3 of 69

Thanks for this review, kind of exciting for me that these are essentially a closed back k702...that's a lot of potential quality for a closed back, especially in this price range.

post #4 of 69

Good to hear they sound nice, I'm interested in them. I might pick up a pair if they burn in well.

post #5 of 69

I think your title is a bit misleading. Especially due to the lack of reading these days.

 

Reminded me more of a mix of the DT-880's mids, treble of the SRH-940 and something from the ZX700.

The driver actually looks like the one from the ZX700. normal_smile%20.gif

 

I actually think it's much colder and thinner sounding than the K702.

 

With a good recording, I think it's soundstage has the D2000 beat. Is it the largest for a closed headphone? Wonder how it's soundstage compares to the W1000X?

 

Actually felt $300 is much too high, but I guess you're paying for it's comfort, build quality and design..and that stupid annoying box!

 

BTW it actually reminds me of the Koss A/250 kind of, but less forward mids, less treble and more bass.

 

I actually felt the KRK KNS-8400 was much clearer and half the price. Sound clarity was comparable to an average $150 headphone IMO.

 

Probably the biggest let down since the SRH-940. The SRH-940 actually has decent mids though.

 

 

 

post #6 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

I think your title is a bit misleading. Especially due to the lack of reading these days.

 

Reminded me more of a mix of the DT-880's mids, treble of the SRH-940 and something from the ZX700.

 

I actually think it's much colder and thinner sounding than the K702.


I don't think the title is misleading at all.  I vividly remember the K702, to me, it does sound like it.  With the open design, you of course get fuller mids and some smoother treble, but still has that sizzle around the 8K mark.  I brought that range down, and it has the highs go down a lot smoother.

 

Biggest soundstage in a closed can?  Yup, I can agree with that.  The credibility goes to the mids, which makes the soundstage seem larger.  Everything there is detailed and easily heard, just doesn't have much weight to it.

 

Comfort - without a doubt, I actually put up my MK2's on sale due to this.  The K550's don't deliver in the fullest sense to me when it comes to the mids and maybe some of those highs, but with an EQ and the ridiculous comfort of these - they were worth the triple Benjamin.

 

I still have a pair of DT660's on the way - looks like I'm keeping those too.

 

post #7 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beagle View Post

Nice review General Karl, keep us posted on your findings. Judging by most of the comments thus far, there is a treble problem. No like sound of that.


Thanks, and I hear you, for music - maybe an EQ and some burn-in might change things.  For games and movies, unbeatable in my opinion.

 

post #8 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by shorke View Post

Good to hear they sound nice, I'm interested in them. I might pick up a pair if they burn in well.


No doubt, I'll keep it posted.  The drivers in these AKG's seem to be very stiff, for now I realize that the K702's were the same way when I had them.  For the sound seems a little "hard" but surprisingly not harsh.  I think you might like them, depending on your taste and perhaps an EQ.

 

post #9 of 69

From your review, they sound very promising for closed back headphones. I do very much enjoy the AKG sounds and definitely the reference K702's. 

 

I'll stay tuned and see how the improvements come along when burn-in has helped to open them up tame them.

post #10 of 69

Great write-up KARL!  I'm really enjoying my K550s!

post #11 of 69

Good read, the K550 looks great...do the pads are angle similar to the K702 pads, do they fit the K-702?


Edited by Acix - 3/3/12 at 5:33pm
post #12 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Terps Fan View Post

Great write-up KARL!  I'm really enjoying my K550s!


Thanks!  And the same here, low-volume listening is completely non-fatiguing - easy to relax into.  I think another reviewer mentioned the same thing.

 

post #13 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Acix View Post

Good read, the K550 looks great...do the pads are angle similar to the K702 pads, do they fit the K-702?


Thanks, I'm a little confused on the angle part, but judging from the looks of it and as best as my memory can serve, it does look like those velours on the K702 will fit the K550's.  That surely will alleviate the concerns about heat buildup.

 

post #14 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Daeder View Post

From your review, they sound very promising for closed back headphones. I do very much enjoy the AKG sounds and definitely the reference K702's. 

 

I'll stay tuned and see how the improvements come along when burn-in has helped to open them up tame them.


I honestly believe you will like, no, LOVE these. smily_headphones1.gif

 

post #15 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by GN3RAL KARL View Post


Thanks, I'm a little confused on the angle part, but judging from the looks of it and as best as my memory can serve, it does look like those velours on the K702 will fit the K550's.  That surely will alleviate the concerns about heat buildup.

 



About 95% sure the K702 pads won't fit the K550. The K702 pads rotate and click into place with small plastic ledges or clips. It looks like the K550 doesn't have those based on the picture.

How are the K550 pads held into place? I remember taking them off once but now I totally forget!

 

K550 pads on the K702 might be..interesting normal_smile%20.gif

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