Awesome post, thanks for this! Of course, you're making my decision harder, so maybe not thanks. But yeah, thanks.
I'm never sure what to think about bass in headphones. Part of my problem is that I've never listened through some of the music I like best on any of your classic "bass-head" phones (DT770 or what have you), or the classic "bass-light" phones either (K701, HD600, etc.). I do listen to a fair bit of rock/alternative, and video game soundtracks/electronic music that has some bass. But I'm not exactly obsessed with bass, either; my home speaker setup is two PSB Alpha bookshelf speakers with no subwoofer, and I'm Just Okay with the bass level that produces. As another point of reference, I'm coming from the Senn HD280, which has a bass response curve pretty similar to the K550, and dramatically stronger under 70 Hz than the K271 (if you believe HeadRoom's graphs). I have *no* complaints whatsoever with the bass output on the HD280, but response under 70 Hz or so does seem to be the strongest point in favor of the K550, no?
In sum, I probably made the K272 seem worse than it really is, but please note that I am exaggerating most of these "differences" for the sake of comparisons. I picked up my pair of K272HD's for ~$100. Is it worth 3x the price to get the K550? Not necessarily.
That's the tough call here. Hell, the K550 is going back *up* in price, it's now selling flat at retail $299.99 everywhere from Amazon to HeadRoom to the AKG website. But as a longer-term investment, and as a genuine step up from my HD280s, I'm leaning more toward saving the coin for the K550s.
Yup! After five and a half years of grad school, I'm finally getting close to my philosophy Ph.D. These are the push-to-the-finish headphones for my office.