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AKG K550 amped vs unamped

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I've been listening to my K550s mostly amped lately, and I've had a bit of an epiphany today.

 

I actually think the K550s sound better unamped, connected directly to my cowon.   The mid-high spike is amplified when amped and makes it hard to listen to bands like Radiohead and Linkin Park.  Without an amp, the mid-high spike is all but gone and Linkin Park is sounding amazing.

 

I thought they scaled well b/c I was listening to music they were otherwise good at.  Maybe it's my bifrost/asgard combo, but amping the K550s really destroys heavy electric guitar and some drums.  Unamped, the balance comes back.  

 

Curious if anyone else had a similar experience.

post #2 of 8

I've never heard AKG K550,but I have a similar experience with my Shure SRH 840.I actually like them a bit better straight out of my ipod nano 5th gen and from a sony portable cd player,than when using my xcan v8 to amp them.

 

Although the dynamics and the sense of space and imaging are better and they seem clearer and more lively/detailed sounding out of the x can,I think the slight coloration and added body of the hybrid xcan don't pair that nicely with the srh840 sound signature which is already a bit coloured and a bit bass heavier too,due to the closed design.I feel that they have a better overall timbre and frequency balance straight out of my portables,without lack of energy/life to them.

post #3 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eargasmo View Post

...Linkin Park is sounding amazing.

 

...heh. 

 

I disagree completely, but source content/hardware does make a difference in these comparisons.  I ran my K550 directly out of my Macbook Pro last night for the first time in a long while and was appalled by what I heard: a comparatively muddy, veiled presentation punctuated by flattened dynamics.  Bass presence was also reduced more excessively than expected and the amount of distortion introduced to the upper mids/highs caused fatigue.

 

I'm unsure why I left it out of the equation, but it's back to the AQ Dragonfly for me.

post #4 of 8

Hmmm. I've had the AKG550 for a about two months... I've tried it out of various sources. Putting it straight out of the Rocoo P(ower) it sounds good, but for me, it sounds best out of the FiiO E17. (Using the E17 as both a Dac/Amp with a PC at work.) I tried using it with the E9 but it sounded more muddy than simply running it out of the E17. I tried it with the AQ Dragonfly as well, but I prefer the sound of the E17... a bit less... analytical, I guess.

 

It's worth noting that Cowon usually has good output oomph. Laptops usually don't have a lot of oomph to their headphone jacks (pet peeve! $1000+ laptop that can't power headphones.. boo...) but not all players are created equal. Some have more driving power than others. ^^

 

I don't think the AKG550 sounds good without sufficient oomph, and not all players (or any laptops that I know of) provide this.

post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eargasmo View Post

I've been listening to my K550s mostly amped lately, and I've had a bit of an epiphany today.

 

I actually think the K550s sound better unamped, connected directly to my cowon.   The mid-high spike is amplified when amped and makes it hard to listen to bands like Radiohead and Linkin Park.  Without an amp, the mid-high spike is all but gone and Linkin Park is sounding amazing.

 

I thought they scaled well b/c I was listening to music they were otherwise good at.  Maybe it's my bifrost/asgard combo, but amping the K550s really destroys heavy electric guitar and some drums.  Unamped, the balance comes back.  

 

Curious if anyone else had a similar experience.

As the AKG K550 are only 32-Ohm, any amplifier with a high output impedance would not drive the K550 correctly.

Any idea on what the Asgard's output impedance is?

Or maybe double amping affects the impedance level?

But I'm just making guesses.

 

Portable audio player (like Cowon) usually come with a very low output impedance, so better for low Ohm headphones.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

I believe Asgard has .5ohm output.  Which is low.  And I'm not double amping.  computer to spdif to bifrost to asgard.  Cowon powers the K550 perfectly fine, so never plug into the amp...especially considering there is no line-out.  I avoid double-amping whenever possible.

 

It's not for all songs where the mid-high distortion occurs.  Just certain hard rock songs.  For these songs the amp definitely hurts.  For the rest of my collection, The amp helps or is neutral.

 

Personal experience with K550 and Asgard/Bifrost...amp helps greatly on synthesized sounds.  Sound stage is improved.  Electric guitar-heavy songs suck.  Certain drums suck.  For these "suck" songs, I listen using Cowon Z2 without external amp and greatly enjoy the K550s.  The K550 scales beautifully on certain songs, suffers horribly on others.

 

Maybe it's an issue that the K550 has when paired with the Asgard.  Was just curious if anyone else had the same problem.  

 

Regardless, I love the K550 as my "travel" pair.

post #7 of 8

I feel that Schiit Asgard Output impedance : 1 ohm

post #8 of 8

I listen to a pair of AH-D Denon 7000s unamped straight out of an Apple Touch. There is truly something to be said about going unamped if you got the phones for it. It's simple and clear, mobile and fun. I have never heard the k550s but I want to! 

 

 

Going unamped I think has it's limitations of course but if your willing to let yourself slowly adjust to liking the sound then it's a great way to go. My later years in Head-Fi have given me a window into understanding why many like different sound sigs. It may not be for everyone but if somebody is happy with a particular set-up then that's cool. I'ts all good as long as you understand your equipment limitations and are willing to hear past them in trade for ease of use.

 

I like the sound straight out of an Ipad too.

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