How are these headphones for metal? I will be buying my first 'good' set of headphones, and I really like these. Currently I own Monster Diesel Vektrs, which are very muddy and bassy. They sound OK, but on some songs the mids and highs are completely drowned out by the lows. I have heard the K550 is bright, but will someone like me really notice it that much over the increase in general sound quality? Some bands I listen to include Tool, Bolt Thrower, Electric Wizard, Cryptopsy, Suffocation, Opeth, and Mastodon.
I listen to metal on my K550s every day, especially Opeth and Suffocation, two of my very favorite bands. I love death metal through them, but they lack smoothness and fullness for doom/sludge like Electric Wizard, but really not much, just some heavier slam/rumble.
I'm listening to Vinum Sabbathi on them right now and the only thing I can say that I miss is a little bit thicker bass for that full sludge effect, but what is there is presented very cleanly and articulately. The album Black Masses does sound a lot more thin than I would like, with the kick drum almost not noticeable on these headphones. Turn on Blood Oath by Suffocation, though, and you'll be pleasantly surprised. The kick drum sounds full and snappy as all hell, and the separation of Terrance and Guy's guitars is completely clear, which is awesome considering how closely tuned they are. I don't find myself missing a single thing on this entire album, it sounds perfect. Anything by Opeth sounds pretty close to perfect, for me. I think that the lack of bass slam helps keep the mids clear and separated, instead of muffled, just like how your previous headphones can make metal sound flubby.
In reference to their brightness, the only time I find this sort of brightness bothersome is on fast, clean guitar tracks. Sometimes I feel like the distortion on them is way higher than the natural recording, but I really can't tell if it is the way the track is recorded sometimes. I think this is more due to the closed back design than anything. I actually prefer brightness for death metal, but it doesn't go well with some bands (Bolt Thrower, Morbid Angel, pretty much any old school death metal). The only thing you're going to be missing is very heavy bass slam, but for the bands that you listed, I think the K550s are excellent.
Keep in mind that both of the headphones that I own (other pair is Grado SR325is) are very bright. I plan on getting a darker headphone for my long doom/sludge metal listening sessions, because both of these pairs really do lack a smooth, velvety bass that sludge metal really needs.
Lastly, if you can get these refurbished off of the Harmon Kardon site for only 130 bucks, you have to. It's a total steal at that price.
Edited by sludgeogre - 4/29/14 at 2:08pm