Originally Posted by viralcow
I've made a small write up comparing the two on the K550 appreciation thread somewhere... I think whether you'll like the K550 depends on what you mean by mid-centric.
Biggest gripe with the K271 is its roll off in both directions. Sub-bass is missing and treble lacks sparkle. A little anemic sounding due to its puny bass response.
The K550 fixes the K271's extension problems. It has better bass (in both quality and quantity), and a slight treble boost. Creates a more detailed sound, but might make the midrange seem pale in comparison. It also has better build quality, comfort, isolation, and less grain than the K271, so overall it is a better headphone... but I hate its upper mids. It sounds harsh and strident, like there's almost an extended peak in the frequency response. I listen to a lot of orchestral, vocal, acoustic, and soft rock so I prefer headphones that leave my upper mids alone.
If you can get over the upper mids, the K550s are the way to go. I think I'm exaggerating the issue a bit here, I think it varies from person to person, so you should hear the K550s for yourself.
Ah, if it has a peaky upper-mid range, I don't think I'd like it all that much. It's my problem with the K501s, and why I'm getting rid of them.
It's interesting that you even mention a harsh mid range on them, because a couple reviews, namely Tyl's review of them, he doesn't mention that. And he also doesn't mention that with the Sony MDR-ZX700, which I felt had one of the harshest mid ranges I've ever heard. And ALSO I've never heard anyone mention that K501s having a harsh upper-mid range. I don't know if you've heard the other two headphones, but maybe we have the same sensitivity in that regard.
Originally Posted by Bill-P
And here is another midrange lover.
Up to the $500 price range, you have 3 very good choices:
Mr. Speaker's Mad Dog: couple this with a decent clean amp, and you have yourself a rig that can match $1000 headphones. I'm not exaggerating. The Mad Dog can easily go toe to toe with LCD-2 to my ears, and it's definitely a step above HD800 where listening fatigue is concerned.
Audio Technica ESW9: I think this might well be the ultimate midrange headphone at under the $300 price range. The midrange is smooth, lush, and very resolving. It sounds very tube-like. And you don't need an amp at all, so it's really good for those on a budget.
Audio Technica ES10: not as smooth or lush as the ESW9, but you get a side-serving of bass. So if you're into rap or hip hop, these will give you that extra punch. If you couple them with a good amp, their ability to reproduce music also scales up exponentially, but they don't sound too bad directly out of your source.
I think it's funny you mention a relatively cheap headphone going toe to toe with a high end headphone, because that's exactly what I thought about my old Sony MDR-CD900STs. Maybe not it's overall sound, but it's mid range absolutely stomped my friend's HE-500's into the ground. Just absolutely creamed them in terms of micro detail, lushness (when a singer had what could be called a lush voice), and just general realism.
I'll do some reading into the Mad Dogs and the ESW9s.
EDIT: Also, if anyone wants to get an idea of what kind of tuning I want on the mid range, think of a singer like Bob Dylan or Leonard Cohen, something that can pick up the fine grain of their voices. I'm not looking for something overly lush, and I'm certainly not looking for something overly forward, either.
Edited by Kukuk - 2/22/13 at 2:24pm