This is actually my first post here at head-fi. I recently purchased a set of AKG K545 portable headphones and wanted to give my impressions/review on the unit as there is not many already on the web.
First and foremost, I do understand that this site is for "audiophiles" as the title of the site says. I do not consider myself an audiophile by any means, but I feel my contributions will be of some use for some out there. I, myself, am a home theater enthusiast. I enjoy watching movies and listening to their soundtracks, thus why I continue to grow to love music more and more. I originally had a pair of Denon AH-D2000's with a FiiO E11 amp about a year ago before I sold it. I currently own some in-ear Denons that I use for the gym but not too particularly fond of them. I wanted something better and versatile, as I listen to a vast variety of genres. After some research, I was in search of the AKG K550's and now I am here with the AKG K545.
I was in search for some headphones that had great sound quality that I could carry around. I go to school full-time and have time in between classes to study in the library, so that was my main use. I saw the AKG K550 and saw the amazing reviews everyone was writing and couldn't wait to have them. I wanted to make them slightly more portable, so my plan was to do a detachable cable mod. I also wanted to order a better cable like the Sydney from AudioQuest to get a better connection as well as a shorter cable. When I was finally ready to purchase them, literally the AKG K545 just made it to the store. I feel as if my prayers were answered with this model. I couldn't find any reviews on these guys and was kind of skeptical. Having the same driver size and just slightly smaller, having a detachable cable, and being just slightly smaller, I decided to bite the bullet.
Packaging: Everything came very nicely package. All the contents were securely tied down with twist-ties. Nothing too extravagant.
Contents: The unit came with the headphones, 1/8" to 1/4" adapter, an Apple device-compatible interconnect as well as another universal one. I wasn't too sure about the use for the universal one because I happen to own an iPhone 5S.
Size: This is the relative size to a bluray case.
Fitment: I literally just got home from work when I took this photo because I was too excited to demo them, hence the clothes haha.
Initial Impressions: The unit is very well-built. The unit resembles the AKG K550 very closely. One of the discernible differences is the absence of the aluminum ring around the cup on the K545. Aesthetically speaking, I did like the look of the K550 much better because of that, but looks will not alter what the headphones will sound like, so it was not a big deal for me. The unit has the same measurement increments on the headpiece to assure perfect fitment every time. The earpads are very plush, very similar to the K550s.
**NOTE**: I was looking for a headphone with a detachable cable, and that is exactly what I received. I wanted to mention that the connection on the cup is a 2.5mm. This wouldn't allow me to use the aftermarket 3.5mm cable as expected, but it's nothing an adapter couldn't fix. Again, not a huge deal, but it will be an extra connection I will have to keep track of.
Source: Spotify via iPhone 5S (daily use) and FLACs from my laptop.
Condition: Right out of the box, no burn in.
Lows: The lower bass on this unit is extremely smooth! Coming from a guy who "enjoys" heavy base with one car with two 10" subwoofers and another with a 12" seal subwoofer, it was very satisfying. They don't produce nearly the bass that most "contemporary" users expect (by that I mean Bose and Beats users, no offense). I found that it was very balanced. The bass inside "Blood on the Leaves" by Kanye West is extremely heavy. I was expecting it to be overwhelming, but observed the exact opposite. The notes were punchy and clean, giving me an even better appreciation for the song under these circumstances. Luke Bryan's "That's My Kind of Night" had very smooth base extensions that were complemented very well by the mids/highs. In all instances, I did notice that it was on the stiffer side, but realize that they will become much fuller with the burn-in process.
Mids/Highs: Exactly what I was expecting for in these bad boys! At the volumes I was using them at, which was 50% in both instances, the mids and highs were very sweet. The electric guitar in Daft Punk's "Aerodynamic" was nothing short of exhilarting. I was assuming they were going to be on the brighter side like the rest of the speakers I listen to (on a daily basis), but was amazed by how laid back the sound was. The cymbals from "Hotel California" by the Eagles were very clean, crisp and precise. I can speculate that some will find it a bit harsh when pushed harder with an amp or even at full volume. Against, something that potentially can settle down with use.
Vocals: The headphones give a very intimate feeling. The artist(s) is/are literally right in front of me, giving me that personal performance. I do enjoy that as when I am studying, I want to get lost in the music to relax myself. Luke Bryan's voice in "Drunk On You" definitely gave me butterflies as I was thinking about my girlfriend (haha). Alex Trimble's vocals in "What You Know" from Two Door Cinema Club was clean and gentle as it was accompanied by the mids with great body.
Soundstage, Separation and Other Thoughts: The soundstage on these headphones do sound more limited when compared to the AKG K550. I don't have the 550's for A/B switching to get a differential opinion, but from my demo inside the store, the K545 definitely didn't have as wide of a soundstage. However, they do have extremely articulate separation. The raindrops that start off the song "Banana Pancakes" by Jack Johnson add to such an amazing ambience throughout the song. Not to mention, the guitar tapping sounded very clean. The guitars and percussion in "Hotel California" can be distinguished amazingly well, creating a very lively track. Again, I listened to these headphones at 50%. At this volume, in a dead quiet room, my girlfriend said she was slightly able to hear the sound bleeding through. Any higher and she can definitely tell. However, at full volume, my home theater receiver was set at -25dB (relative to movie theater reference) with regular TV programming playing, and it was almost inaudible inside the headphones. There is definitely a fine line between keeping your neighbors happy and yourself content. I didn't wear the headphones for too long as I was using them in roughly 30 minute increments. I would imagine the comfort level is closer to his K550 counterpart.
Conclusion: With my vast variety of genres that I listen to, these headphones are certainly a solid all-round unit. They exceeded my expectations on many levels. The response of these headphones is very flat, giving a beautiful blend of highs, mids and lows. I hope this review gave some insight into these wondering headphones. I will be doing a follow up on this review as I plan on burning the headphones in on my laptop with white/pink noise Also, I plan on purchasing an AudioQuest Dragonfly to my setup to improve my setup.
Edited by Tweezy - 11/1/13 at 3:22am