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The AKG K550 Appreciation/Discussion Thread! - Page 89

post #1321 of 1757

So the K550's arrived today and I spent the last couple of hours messing about with them. Here are my initials thoughts. Please bear in mind that I have little-to-know experience with headphones as I've always been an IEM or speaker guy. I also do not have very many music files in lossless format. I've had my music for years and years, way back when 200GB of storage was an expensive addition to a desktop and FLAC was completely impractical for someone with 53 days worth of music. I also am only using the onboard audio of my motherboard, which is sufficient but certainly not up to where I want to be sonically. I'll be investing in a headphone amplifier and DAC combo when I settle on headphones.

 

Amp-less they are not amazing, but no frequencies are apparently lacking at first listen. I do find the mids slightly woolly at present, however that could be resolved with better audio sources besides mp3 320, a longer burn in time, and better amplification and conversion. The deep bass appears a little unfocused, but could again tighten in time. I have an issue with finding a consistent and effective seal, just like others here in this thread, and I imagine that would be part of the problem. I'll be performing the 'clamping mod' outlined in the OP and that should help with sealing and sizing issues. My ears get a little warm and stuffy, but I haven't felt like I needed to take the cans off. When I do, however, I feel the fresh air relaxing and a relief. The cable feels sturdy and is silent. The headphones themselves are built excellently for the €145 I paid for them. I would have preferred earpads that conformed to the natural shape of the ear rather than being perfectly circular, but they don't hurt my Spock ears so so far it's not a problem. Isolation is excellent, but I would never wear them out.

 

My biggest and only real complaint, is the weight and fit. I was hoping for a 'pillow on my ears' effect, but they're just too heavy and bulky to be described that way. The weak clamping force paired with the weight and size makes them a little... 'old' feeling. They don't feel like modern feats of engineering. Instead they remind me of 30-year-old headphones that my parents left me. When I apply a little pressure to the side of the cans, the bass, immersion and impact increases dramatically.

 

I have yet to test them with gaming and movies, two of my biggest uses for headphones, if not the biggest. I imagine they will be excellent because of the solid definition and the wide and deep soundstage—this is an assumption based on the way superior audio formats like FLAC sound clearer and deeper than HD mp3 formats.

 

Overall, for €145, they're good. I'll spend a few more days with them before coming to a more accurate conclusion, but so far for my first headphones I am both impressed and impassive. The problem is, there were so few headphones in my price range that met my criteria: Long cable, large earpads to fit my Elf ears, comfortable, priced no higher than £250, apt for gaming, music and movies, neutral sound signature with a blend of 'fun' and 'detailed'. Other headphones I'm interested in are the Mad Dogs, MDR-1Rs, KEF M500s, Philips Fidelio X1 and L2, NAD VISO HP50s, and a couple of others, both the closed and open varieties.

post #1322 of 1757

Thanks for sharing. I disagree about the weight and fit; they sure do have a 'pillow on my ears' effect for me. I consider them to be very, very light for the build quality offered. In fact, the first impression I had for them when I took them out of the box was how light they are compared to the size and build. 

 

Another thing is, I have heard of applying a little pressure to the earcups for better bass, immersion and impact. I have tried that too and I know what you mean. But in my honest opinion, that is merely because the speaker is closer to your ear, which sacrifices both soundstage and the perceptive openness of these cans that they are marketed / famous for. 

 

I actually think the K550s are not good for gaming or movies generally. In terms of positioning, I find them to be quite accurate and works well with competitive games like when I play CSGO matches; but if you want impactful, booming bass to play, say, single player campaigns such as Crysis where you don't need that competitive edge and you just want that experience of explosions and what not, cans with boomier bass would be better. Same with movies - I would tend to use another set of headphones to watch movies or dramas. 

post #1323 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngryGoldfish View Post

My biggest and only real complaint, is the weight and fit. I was hoping for a 'pillow on my ears' effect, but they're just too heavy and bulky to be described that way. The weak clamping force paired with the weight and size makes them a little... 'old' feeling. They don't feel like modern feats of engineering. Instead they remind me of 30-year-old headphones that my parents left me. When I apply a little pressure to the side of the cans, the bass, immersion and impact increases dramatically.

Try them with the headband shifted more forward than typical for most headphones. This tends to affect the frequency response for many people.

I have no idea why AKG thought it was good to provide so little clamping force. It is a mystery.
post #1324 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by raidenwolff View Post
 

Thanks for sharing. I disagree about the weight and fit; they sure do have a 'pillow on my ears' effect for me. I consider them to be very, very light for the build quality offered. In fact, the first impression I had for them when I took them out of the box was how light they are compared to the size and build. 

+1

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by raidenwolff View Post

 

Another thing is, I have heard of applying a little pressure to the earcups for better bass, immersion and impact. I have tried that too and I know what you mean.

 

More bass when pressure is applied to the cups is usually indicative of a bad seal.   I'm getting a perfect seal right now and the bass does not change at all when I squeeze the cups closer to my head.

post #1325 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


Try them with the headband shifted more forward than typical for most headphones. This tends to affect the frequency response for many people.

I have no idea why AKG thought it was good to provide so little clamping force. It is a mystery.

 

The seal is no better, but the headband now feels a little more uncomfortable. Again, if they were lighter that wouldn't be as much of an issue

 

I'm undecided. The sound is good and they're not UNCOMFORTABLE, but I'm not wowed.

 

On the plus side, I listened to my favourite band and one of the bands I know the best, Deftones, and felt some glorious sub-bass that I wasn't expecting. It was pretty fantastic. The cans are becoming a little more focused, but the soundstage is still not quite as separated as I was hoping for. I think that's an issue with my audio source and quality though and not the cans' fault.

post #1326 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by AngryGoldfish View Post

The seal is no better, but the headband now feels a little more uncomfortable. Again, if they were lighter that wouldn't be as much of an issue

I don't think it's the seal that changes. I think it's related to how the drivers are aimed at one's ears, which can affect frequency response.

My guess is you might also get used to the comfort if you wear them some.
post #1327 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

I don't think it's the seal that changes. I think it's related to how the drivers are aimed at one's ears, which can affect frequency response.

A good seal is important with closed headphones. Gaps will reduce perceived bass response. You can easily test this yourself. Put on your headphones and get a good fit. Then use a thin rod -- a coffee stir stick for example -- and gently use it to break the seal without altering the angle. It's more noticeable when the gap is towards the front. This can be quite obnoxious if you wear glasses if the temples don't fit snugly.
post #1328 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratinox View Post

A good seal is important with closed headphones. Gaps will reduce perceived bass response. You can easily test this yourself. Put on your headphones and get a good fit. Then use a thin rod -- a coffee stir stick for example -- and gently use it to break the seal without altering the angle. It's more noticeable when the gap is towards the front. This can be quite obnoxious if you wear glasses if the temples don't fit snugly.

I know that. LOL

We were talking about shifting the headband forward on the head with the K550s. I was trying to point out that's probably not about seal, but about the driver orientation toward the ear.
post #1329 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

We were talking about shifting the headband forward on the head with the K550s. I was trying to point out that's probably not about seal, but about the driver orientation toward the ear.

Oh. Duh. Right you are. It's been a long week... and it's still Monday. smily_headphones1.gif
post #1330 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by ratinox View Post


Put on your headphones and get a good fit. Then use a thin rod -- a coffee stir stick for example -- and gently use it to break the seal without altering the angle.

 

I usually recommend a crowbar to perform this test.  :confused_face:

post #1331 of 1757

For me, they fit very well. I do notice the bass gets a little more powerful if you push the drivers closer to your ears so the ear pads get a better seal. I think that that ruins the sound quite a lot though. It only improves the bass. I think that it messes up the rest of the sound. It doesn't sound as open somehow when pressure is added.

post #1332 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by elvergun View Post
 

 

Then don't.  Good luck on your quest for truth and justice.

 

 

 

Silly. No need to get worked up over some healthy criticism.

post #1333 of 1757

Well, joining the club.

 

Plugged it directly into the PC motherboard´s sound terminal (Realtek HD audio). So far, I found a bit strange the great "audio transparency" and details as I was upgrading from a Philips wireless headphone, which sounded terrible, which I had used for years. 

 

So,  I had to listen to the AKG for at least two weeks until I could get the right feeling about these headphones.

 

As I´ve got a very good fit, found bass to be very good, and mid/treble and soundstage outstanding, always in comparison from the headphones which I was using before. Found it to be fantastic for acoustic music.

 

I use the headphones exclusively for music, sometimes for hours during work. So did´n feel it unconfortable at anytime. Though, I cannot push it from mid to top volume levels as I did with my previous headphone, as it gets really loud and the mid and treble can get a bit annoying. 

 

I´m curious on how sound would improve on by pluggin´the AKG into a DAC like FiiO e10 or so.

 

Regards,

 

Carlos

post #1334 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by csan View Post
 

Well, joining the club.

 

Plugged it directly into the PC motherboard´s sound terminal (Realtek HD audio). So far, I found a bit strange the great "audio transparency" and details as I was upgrading from a Philips wireless headphone, which sounded terrible, which I had used for years. 

 

So,  I had to listen to the AKG for at least two weeks until I could get the right feeling about these headphones.

 

As I´ve got a very good fit, found bass to be very good, and mid/treble and soundstage outstanding, always in comparison from the headphones which I was using before. Found it to be fantastic for acoustic music.

 

I use the headphones exclusively for music, sometimes for hours during work. So did´n feel it unconfortable at anytime. Though, I cannot push it from mid to top volume levels as I did with my previous headphone, as it gets really loud and the mid and treble can get a bit annoying. 

 

I´m curious on how sound would improve on by pluggin´the AKG into a DAC like FiiO e10 or so.

 

Regards,

 

Carlos


I use the K550s with the E11 while on the move and the E10 while at home. I sometimes even use my E11 at home too. I thought that on direct, they sounded a little harsh at high volumes but if you boost the bass on the E10, I sometimes don't mind it a little louder then. For me, the E10 gives them a much cleaner sound that having them directly pluggen in to my PC. Before I had them in the E10, I had them plugged in to the E11 which was plugged into the output of the Fiio D03K dac which was plugged into my PCs sound card with an optical cable. That did sound very good but I still would say that the E10 is better even though it costs less that the E11 and D03K put together.

post #1335 of 1757
Quote:
Originally Posted by csan View Post

I´m curious on how sound would improve on by pluggin´the AKG into a DAC like FiiO e10 or so.

The green jacks on most consumer sound cards are line out jacks or hybrid line out/headphone out jacks. Their output impedance is usually much higher than that of dedicated headphone jacks which leads to distorted lows and rolled-off highs (look up output impedance vs. input impedance). Adding an amplifier with a dedicated headphone jack will clean that up.

A dedicated DAC should isolate the DAC and amplifier stages from electrical noise inside the computer chassis. If you don't hear any humming noises from the line out jack on the sound card then you probably don't need a DAC, just an amplifier.
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