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Audio Technica ATH-A900X vs AKG K550

Poll Results: Which do you prefer?

 
  • 45% (31)
    AKG K550
  • 54% (37)
    Audio Technica ATH-A900X
68 Total Votes  
post #1 of 93
Thread Starter 

Does anyone know how these compare to the AKG K550s? I've read so many great things about the K550s but when I listen to them next to the A900X, I felt that the K550s highs were not smooth and harsh (relatively), the A900X mids (acoustic instruments and vocals) were much fuller and detailed, the bass was certainly deeper on the A900X. The soundstage seemed ever so slightly bigger on the A900X. Overall detail and separation seemed better on the A900X as well. Before experiencing the sound of many headphones, I thought I would need a balanced, analytical sound. I like to study the music in detail. I don't know what is thought of these headphones, but I thought they gave superior detail for the analytical. They were both more fun, musical, and giving for those who want to follow distant harmonies and other elements of the music. These are my first two headphones compared, I have listened to many speakers, but no serious headphones till now. Am I missing something? The K550s are said to be well worth the 300 bucks... How could I find these to be better in every aspect? What did I miss?!!?

 

Oh yea... comfort isn't great imo. Upset me a bit. I wanted to like the K550s

post #2 of 93
Thread Starter 

Environment: I will be using the headphones at work, the university library, on walk to campus, and at home. 

 

Use: I will be using the headphones for music, computer games, and an occasional movie. The ratio for music to games usage is nearly 50/50, but my main concern is with music. I care more about my audio experience with music than with computer games, but do not want to suffer terribly in my gaming experience.

 

Purpose: To provide the most detailed audio without sacrificing a natural/accurate sound. I am very OCD when it comes to certain areas. I appreciate a balanced sound. I want to hear the most accurate reproduction of the recording. I am a very analytical and intellectual listener. I listen to tracks multiple times through to follow different instruments, rhythms, harmonies, and pick up on unique features. I sing, play guitar, play mandolin, and write music, and I like to hear the details behind what is occurring so that that I can grasp what the artist is doing. If theses descriptions make for a boring headphone, I could look for something a bit more fun, but I cannot stray far from these characteristics. 

 

Music: I listen to Punch Brothers, Iron and Wine,The Civil Wars, Glenn Hansard, The Frames, Nickel Creek, and anything Chris Thile, firstly. Secondly, I will on occasion listen to many genres consisting of The Raconteurs, Incubus, Matchbox Twenty, Jason Mraz, Jamie Cullum, John Mayer, Radiohead, and The White Stripes. 

 

Gaming: Games I play consist of Elders' Scrolls: Oblivion, Skyrim, Fallout 3, Starcraft II, Diablo, Guild Wars, Bioshock. I mostly don't play first person shooters. I love RPGs, and it just so happens that almost all the games I have mentioned have very unique and intricate soundtracks.

 

Summary: I may not know the best thing for me, but what I have concluded thus far is that I need a portable, isolating headphone for my use. Feel free to argue with me. I also believe I need a well balanced, versatile, accurate headphone. This would mean it does not lack significantly in anything. For game use, is bass important? 

post #3 of 93

Since both of these headphones are relatively new so there are not enough users/reviews base to really compares the two. I don't own the AKG 550 but I do own the newly AT 900x. 

 

These are my opinions:

 

Comfort wise: It is very comfortable when you find the right fit (I wear glasses so sometime it can be quite uncomfort on my ears even though its a huge over-ear headphone, its around 70/30 chances) - If you sit in one spot, it's great and you can wear it for hours - If you use it to walk around, sometime it can be a little pain (This depends on you head size, my head size is slightly below average so sometime when I use it as a portable headphone, It keeps sliding down from your ears. Like I say it has a weird earcup, because sometime I get a very good fit and grip) - But remember this is a Japanese Brand Headphone so the design should be able to fit slightly-smaller-head-size-Eastern-communities since they are very popular in Japan.

 

Sounds: I am still very new to Audiophile so the only others headphone that I own are Sennheiser HD558 and the famous HD650 - also I have listen to the Grados RS1i which is owned by one of my housemate. To make it short, I ended up listening to the Audio Technica more than the HD650. I don't mean that the HD650 is bad but it's just that both headphones have such a characteristic of their own.

 

Grados has a crisp and very fine detail sound that is close to what I would call "Best neutral or natural and accurate sound headphone". Then we have  the outstanding dark and warm HD650 that defines its' own characters that no others headphones can do, I would call it "Sit-somewhere-away-from-the-crowns-headphone, a truly unique one".

 

So what I find with Audio Technica 900x is that It sits somewhere between the Grados and the HD650. It has a well defined details, crisp and natural sound of the Grados but not as good - surprisingly wide soundstage - tight punchy right-on-the-spot bass - great sounds seperation - sitting-somewhere-away-from-the-crowns elements of the HD650...I mean in the end it's a really fun headphone to listening to.

 

HD650 = Lay back - Fun headphone

900x = More into it/in the face - Fun headphone in which suites my taste a bit more than the HD650. This is truly a great All-round headphone because I listen to all the kinds of music you can name in the world.

 

http://www.headphone.com/headphones/akg-k-550.php This is a small review by guys from Headroom for comparison.

 

I am no Audiophile reviewer expert but I hope I can give you a good feedback and comparison that would help you in choosing the right headphone for yourself. In my opinions, Audio Technica has been long exclusively making Great close-back headphones, so their experiences and reputations would be certainly much higher than AKG.

 

Last but not least, these sound great for gaming so don't worry so much.

 

I hope this would be helpful for you :)

 

Note: with all AKG headphones, you need at least 100 hours burn-in until it starts to sound right.

post #4 of 93
Thread Starter 

I truly appreciate the reply. I very much enjoyed these headphones next to the K550. My struggle is that the K550 is so highly reviewed and I want to know if forums will do me much good if I disagree so easily. There are so many headphones I will not have the option to audition, therefore I want to believe in the potential help that can be provided online. I am hoping that the reason the K550 is so highly reviewed is that the A900X is hard to get ahold of. It just seemed fuller, a tad warmer, better separation, more forward mids, smoother highs, deeper and better defined bass... So for me it seems like its better all around besides comfort and style.

post #5 of 93

I've actually got both and have been comparing them for the past few days. I'm currently working on writing my comparison between the two.

 

I like the K550 better in literally every way imaginable. It's basically the A900X "fix" in my opinion. The ergonomics are pretty horrible on the A900X, and it feels cheap. Not so with the K550. I find the soundstage remarkably bigger with the K550, as the A900X simply sounds wide only left and right. The K550 is more inviting and it a touch warmer. The A900X is definitely thinner sounding and sounds as if it's lacking the substance the K550 has. Midrange is no doubt better on the K550. Overall, I think they have a very similar sound, but the K550 is more proportioned and balanced across the board. And unfortunately, for the A900X, this is just sound I'm mentioning. Don't even get me started on the ergonomics and build quality...

 

In short, they are very hard to maintain a seal, sink on your head, and you can physically feel the pads the entire time wearing them. Plus, they feel cheaply made (especially the wings).


Edited by Katun - 5/14/12 at 7:48am
post #6 of 93

How do they stack up to the D2000 (unamped)?


Edited by acti0n - 5/14/12 at 7:51am
post #7 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by acti0n View Post

How do they stack up to the D2000 (unamped)?

 

The A900X or the K550? If you are referring to the K550, then I'll say I'd take the K550 any day of the week.

 

I wasn't a fan of the D2000's bloated bass and shrouded midrange. I liked the D2000 at first, but after four pairs, it hold no special place in my book.

post #8 of 93
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

I've actually got both and have been comparing them for the past few days. I'm currently working on writing my comparison between the two.

 

I like the K550 better in literally every way imaginable. It's basically the A900X "fix" in my opinion. The ergonomics are pretty horrible on the A900X, and it feels cheap. Not so with the K550. I find the soundstage remarkably bigger with the K550, as the A900X simply sounds wide only left and right. The K550 is more inviting and it a touch warmer. The A900X is definitely thinner sounding and sounds as if it's lacking the substance the K550 has. Midrange is no doubt better on the K550. Overall, I think they have a very similar sound, but the K550 is more proportioned and balanced across the board. And unfortunately, for the A900X, this is just sound I'm mentioning. Don't even get me started on the ergonomics and build quality...

 

In short, they are very hard to maintain a seal, sink on your head, and you can physically feel the pads the entire time wearing them. Plus, they feel cheaply made (especially the wings).

 

This is not my experience at all. Everything felt very distant on the K550. I attempted to analyze instruments and harmonies. They sounded muddy and conjoined. The A900X gave detail and separation and felt as though a veil had been lifted. What equipment are you using with these headphones? How often do head phones have faulty pairs? Do these need substantial burn in?

post #9 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by crzycuyler View Post

This is not my experience at all. Everything felt very distant on the K550. I attempted to analyze instruments and harmonies. They sounded muddy and conjoined. The A900X gave detail and separation and felt as though a veil had been lifted. What equipment are you using with these headphones? How often do head phones have faulty pairs? Do these need substantial burn in?

 

As of now, I'm running both pairs straight from my source, unamped. I've found they really don't benefit from amplification, which is actually a good thing.

 

And I don't know the answer to either of your last questions. Are you getting a good seal with the K550? I find people are in a frenzy with not being able to get a good seal, and that just leaves me scratching my head. The only full sized headphone I've ever tried that has hard to get and maintain a seal is the A900X, and in fact, I honestly can not get a seal unless I'm holding the right earcup against my head. Ergonomics are just a big no no. Luckily, I have absolutely no issues with the K550's ergonomics. They fit extremely well and are very comfortable. (And just for the record, I loved the design of the AD700 and AD900).

 

One last note. You mentioned above that the K550 are getting a lot much praise, when in fact, I haven't seen as much variation in opinion regarding a headphone in a long time. Seems there are a solid two base camps, with no middle ground.


Edited by Katun - 5/14/12 at 8:31am
post #10 of 93
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

 

As of now, I'm running both pairs straight from my source, unamped. I've found they really don't benefit from amplification, which is actually a good thing.

 

And I don't know the answer to either of your last questions. Are you getting a good seal with the K550? I find people are in a frenzy with not being able to get a good seal, and that just leaves me scratching my head. The only full sized headphone I've ever tried that has hard to get and maintain a seal is the A900X, and in fact, I honestly can not get a seal unless I'm holding the right earcup against my head. Ergonomics are just a big no no. Luckily, I have absolutely no issues with the K550's ergonomics. They fit extremely well and are very comfortable. (And just for the record, I loved the design of the AD700 and AD900).

 

One last note. You mentioned above that the K550 are getting a lot much praise, when in fact, I haven't seen as much variation in opinion regarding a headphone in a long time. Seems there are a solid two base camps, with no middle ground.

 

I've come across far more positive reviews for the K550s. The only people who knock them are discussing irrelevant comparisons. I really, REALLY want to like them. I am not sure if they were a bad pair or not. I value your opinion as you have spent time with both. Looking at my usage of the headphones posted above, which sound like the best fit to you?

post #11 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by crzycuyler View Post

I've come across far more positive reviews for the K550s. The only people who knock them are discussing irrelevant comparisons. I really, REALLY want to like them. I am not sure if they were a bad pair or not. I value your opinion as you have spent time with both. Looking at my usage of the headphones posted above, which sound like the best fit to you?

 

Oh, well that's good to hear. Maybe I've just been reading the wrong stuff, I just saw so many mixed reviews. Tyll seemed to be one of the first to really praise them.

 

I apologize for not quite understanding your question, but I think you were wondering what I think the best choice would be for you based on your listening preferences you listed, correct? If that's the case, like I mentioned, I do think they both sound strikingly similar. With closer inspection and a wider variety of music tested, the K550 edges out it nearly everything. As of now, I personally think the biggest advantage of the K550 is it's miles superior design, ergonomics, and comfort. Not to mention, absolutely strikingly good looking! But for those that put those factors second priority would still like the K550 better, as I find it's the absolute perfect upgrade to the A900X. It's basically the Q701 sound, with a bit less openness and more bass. Easily the best closed headphone I've ever heard, and one of the best I've ever heard period, IMHO.

post #12 of 93
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

 

Oh, well that's good to hear. Maybe I've just been reading the wrong stuff, I just saw so many mixed reviews. Tyll seemed to be one of the first to really praise them.

 

I apologize for not quite understanding your question, but I think you were wondering what I think the best choice would be for you based on your listening preferences you listed, correct? If that's the case, like I mentioned, I do think they both sound strikingly similar. With closer inspection and a wider variety of music tested, the K550 edges out it nearly everything. As of now, I personally think the biggest advantage of the K550 is it's miles superior design, ergonomics, and comfort. Not to mention, absolutely strikingly good looking! But for those that put those factors second priority would still like the K550 better, as I find it's the absolute perfect upgrade to the A900X. It's basically the Q701 sound, with a bit less openness and more bass. Easily the best closed headphone I've ever heard, and one of the best I've ever heard period, IMHO.

 

Best ever? I am considering the D7000 as I can get them for less than $500. Wouldn't the denons be a winner?

 

I find the K550s to be quite attractive! Do you think they would benefit from my AudioEngine D1 (DAC)? I might pull the trigger on these over this summer.

 

How is the bass? I need bass not to fall behind. I am certainly not a basshead, but I like some crazy upright bass in bluegrass solos and video games with some impact.


Edited by crzycuyler - 5/14/12 at 9:03am
post #13 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

I've actually got both and have been comparing them for the past few days. I'm currently working on writing my comparison between the two.

 

I like the K550 better in literally every way imaginable. It's basically the A900X "fix" in my opinion. The ergonomics are pretty horrible on the A900X, and it feels cheap. Not so with the K550. I find the soundstage remarkably bigger with the K550, as the A900X simply sounds wide only left and right. The K550 is more inviting and it a touch warmer. The A900X is definitely thinner sounding and sounds as if it's lacking the substance the K550 has. Midrange is no doubt better on the K550. Overall, I think they have a very similar sound, but the K550 is more proportioned and balanced across the board. And unfortunately, for the A900X, this is just sound I'm mentioning. Don't even get me started on the ergonomics and build quality...

 

In short, they are very hard to maintain a seal, sink on your head, and you can physically feel the pads the entire time wearing them. Plus, they feel cheaply made (especially the wings).

 

Very interesting, it is true that the K550 built quality/material is a par better than the 900x. But it doesn't mean giving the 900x bad credits because I have it for almost 6 months and they still feel like when I first got it (I use it for portable a lot, I walk to work so I use them 5 days a week dual trips, I squeezed them in my bags and all sort of things). Comfort wise for me, the wings "disappears" after 5 minutes on my head, it's just the earpads are a little annoying because I wear glasses.

Seriously, I was considering of obtain the AKG K550 a few months ago, then I changed my mind. My next purchases until the end of this is year are Audio Technica W1000x (the only thing that concern me is that the fixed earpad adjustment can be an issue for me) and the AD1000PRM.

post #14 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by crzycuyler View Post

 

Best ever? I am considering the D7000 as I can get them for less than $500. Wouldn't the denons be a winner?

 

I find the K550s to be quite attractive! Do you think they would benefit from my AudioEngine D1 (DAC)? I might pull the trigger on these over this summer.

 

How is the bass? I need bass not to fall behind. I am certainly not a basshead, but I like some crazy upright bass in bluegrass solos and video games with some impact.

 

Well, I don't know. I did say the best "I've" heard. But the D2000 would need a lot of work to compete with the K550 in my book, so maybe the D7000 would be more apt to compete. Then again, that's not really fair, as they have different sounds. I could compare the LCD-3 to something much cheaper and less bassy, and have the cheaper item win if I despised bass with every ounce of my body. But, speculation leads me to think I would still like the sound of the K550 more than any Denon headphone could deliver. Then again, I haven't heard the 5000 or the 7000, so I'm just speculating here.

 

I thought they looked great in pictures, but in person... wow! I've got a thing for dark and sleek looking headphones. Anyway, not sure how they'd run off your DAC, but I could imagine well. I'm using mine off my Cowon iAudio 7 and love it!

 

I find it interesting how people complain about the bass. I find them quite excellent actually. Coming from the D2000, one might think they lack, but the D2000 is overly bassy and bloated, so that would be the case. From a more neutral stand point, they actually have more than all the flat headphones I've been trying in the past. It carries itself just fine, but again, my opinion. And it's not a bass that's just simply "good enough" or "adequate enough", it's good period. A perfect amount. Moderate weight, impact, and presence.

post #15 of 93
Quote:
Originally Posted by Meoow View Post

Very interesting, it is true that the K550 built quality/material is a par better than the 900x. But it doesn't mean giving the 900x bad credits because I have it for almost 6 months and they still feel like when I first got it (I use it for portable a lot, I walk to work so I use them 5 days a week dual trips, I squeezed them in my bags and all sort of things). Comfort wise for me, the wings "disappears" after 5 minutes on my head, it's just the earpads are a little annoying because I wear glasses.

Seriously, I was considering of obtain the AKG K550 a few months ago, then I changed my mind. My next purchases until the end of this is year are Audio Technica W1000x (the only thing that concern me is that the fixed earpad adjustment can be an issue for me) and the AD1000PRM.

 

Comparing to the AD900, the A900X is a major step down in the build and ergonomics department. The wings on the A900X are extremely cheap and flimsy. AT definitely cut corners there, as opposed to what they had before on their A700, A900, AD700, and AD900. And it's funny, because with how cheap and hollow it feels, it's surprisingly heavy! Weight + wings = big trouble. But I'm not just bashing the A900X for the fun of it, I've experienced better from the company, so this is a major let down. Luckily, the sound is actually pretty good, but that is it's only redeeming quality IMO.

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