So after extensive research i finally bought these cans. My most recent pair of headphones used are Shure SRH840's. I listened to these amped on a FiiO E7.
To test these headphones out i listened to almost every genre under the sun. Some of the songs include.
Mozart - Requiem K. 626 Lacrimosa dies illa
Aaron Neville - I dont know much
Linda Ronstadt - Hay Unos Ojos
The Main Ingredient - Everybody Plays the Fool
Black Gold 360 - Drunken Boxing at the Border
Lee Michaels - Heighty Hi (the whole self titled 1969 album release with the 20 minute drum solo)
And lastly, a LOT of electronica and dubstep.
I'm going to review quality of build, comfort, sound quality, portability and isolation.
The quality of build and comfort of this set of cans was the first thing that impressed me. They are without a doubt built very well, one of the most sturdy and high quality builds ive seen in any set of headphones ive ever touched. They far surpass the shure SRH line, the Denon AH-D line (ive never sampled the 7000's so i cant speak for them), any grados even the metal SR325is didnt feel as well built. Theyre very light and easily used for hours without pain or discomfort. The leather on the ear cushions is of amazing quality, it far surpasses that of the SRH's and D2000's. It's super soft, almost like lamb, the cushion itself under the leather is soft as well and its very comfortable. The pad on the top of the head band is some sort of memory foam almost like tempurpedic, and super comfortable. There is a lot of metal in this build, in the headband around the cups, it feels sturdy like youre holding something that would cost you 300 dollars. The design and build of these headphones remind me of Batman for some reason, and the newer Batman begins batman, not the LSD driven tim burton arnold schwarzanegger neon everything batman. They;re matte for the most part and, discrete.
The sound quality is great to say the least. The soundstage is amazing, i would say these headphones definitely sound like an open set of cans. Some sounds feel like theyre in the back of my head, almost like i'm listening to holophonic 3D sound. On the lee michaels tracks, especially on "Tell Me How Do You Feel" the drums sound like theyre sitting in the back of my head, literally. The bass isnt too forward, but his vocals are very strong and present. Nothing is overpowering, and nothing sounds veiled or hidden. On some of the Black Gold 360 tracks the drummer uses brushes and a lot of ambient sounds that still remain present even with the jazzy tunes playing in the front. Black Gold 360 - Lighthouse at the top of the world, really shows off the detail in this set of cans. There are a lot of funky, and weird noises going on, and nothing seems muddled out or like its being taken over by any other aspect. Although i'm explaining these as if theyre a relatively flat set of headphones, i think they did the bass perfectly. Dubstep, and electronica tracks, still possess a deep, boomy bass that is very present. These headphones would keep a basshead happy (considering i sort of am one although my interest in genres waxes and wains all over). If i put the EQ on my E7 up to 3 or even leave it at 0 or 1 i can definitely feel the bass on the headphones. Overall, a very versatile, and high quality set of headphones, that are very clean, remind me a lot of the SRH840s, are a bit cleaner and faster than the Denon D2000's, but in a very good way for bassheads. I find the D2000's to be a bit sloppy, where as these hit it perfectly.
Part of the reason i was in the market for new headphones was for my commute. Shure SRH840s with my E7 piggybacking my ipod or android is not exactly the mother of all convenience. That being said i was looking for something that didnt make me look like an astronaut, was lighter and didnt have that ridiculous SRH cord. The K550's fill this requirement, however there is one complaint. The cord is extremely long. The benefit to this long cord though is that it is very malleable, so it can easily be coiled and rubberbanded and shoved into a bag or a pocket. But if youre comparing this set of headphones to D2000's which people say theyre comparable to in sound, youre going to be disappointed if you choose them over the K550s for portability. I can honestly say that with 100% confidence. They fit on my head snugly, dont jostle around, they look tasteful, only complaint is that the cord is like 6 feet.
Sound isolation is something i need to test out a bit more because i havent been in noisy environments for too long with these. I can say theyre very similar in regards to isolation as the 840s. When researching these i was given the impression that they would be damn near QC15's. That obviously was not a realistic expectation, however i expected more isolation. But dont get me wrong they seal nicely on my head and when the music is on, the rest of the world doesnt exist. But i wouldnt say they isolate much better than SRH840s.
Overall, theyre worth every single penny. They dont need much to be driven like the shures. I think this set of headphones was designed with the commuter or office working audiophile in mind, who also wants amazing sound quality. They get a 9/10 for me.
EDIT: After further review, and comparison, these headphones sound way more alive than the Shure SRH840's There is more depth to the bass, and more apparent detail. Although it is a very small difference, it is noticable. The soundstage between the two isnt too much different. The AKG does best the SRH840's slightly. There is more feeling of space and distance when sounds are intended to sound far away. Overall the AKG's sound a bit more alive. But then again, i did pay another 130 extra dollars for the K550s, money well spent though.
Edited by pkurk - 5/16/12 at 8:08pm