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AKG K550 / Beyer DT-770 disappointment

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

So, like I'm sure many of you, I received some headphones for Christmas, I asked for both the AKG K550s and the Beyer DT-770 pro 80s with the intention of auditioning them and one of them being returned. It actually turns out that both are going back. I spent sometime reading reviews and opinions before finally settling upon these two, but it turns out neither of them can give me what I'm after.

 

My findings are

 

AKG K550 - Excellent clarity and lovely soundstage. The detail I'm able to hear, even in recordings I've been listening to for the past couple deacdes, is spot on. I love the build quality, and I love the styling. Bass wise I could live with them, but I'd like just a fraction more (literally just 5% more would be perfect). Although I love the width and detail of the sound in the mid to upper frequencies they sound a little thin, I could however live with this. Fit wise, they're awful. There's no way on earth I could live with a headphone which fits so badly, at any point they're right on the cusp of falling off. They're attachment to my head is precarious at best.

 

Beyer DT-770 pro 80 - They provide a really robust, solid sound although I do find them a little bit heavy on the bass. Clarity is reasonable I guess, but I'm really looking for more than they can give me. Soundstage is far too narrow, it feels like looking at the world down a rolled up newspaper. Styling is fine (I wouldn't be swayed one way or the other by styling anyway.), build quality and comfort is perfect.

 

 

If I could have the solidity of sound and comfort of the 770s, combined with the sound of the 550s (and being greedy a slight, ever so slight, push to the bass) I'd have the perfect headphones.

 

 

Now's where you guys come in, where do I go next? The K701s and the DT-880s are looking like they're both worth a try, am I barking up the wrong tree? I'm also acutely aware that I can't just keep ordering headphones and sending them back when I don't like them, eventually amazon will send one of their drones for me.

 

 

Background.

 

This is my first proper foray into the world of decent headphones, they'll be driven by an Asus Xonar DG (onboard HP amp which should do for the time being hopefully), and they'll be used for (in order of frequency) music, gaming, multi tracking (minimal).

 

 

Thanks in advance.

post #2 of 17

Most people will comment that K701 is a little bit bass shy, I will suggest go with Q701 which has slightly more bass.

DT 880 is also a good choice as Q701 and DT880 are quite neutral and will generally fit many music style.

 

BTW, what kind of music you listen to the most?

 

My personal favourite for music is sennheiser HD 650, it has dark sound and very musical and smooth. No harsh treble and I can listen to them for hours without fatigue. If you like warm and dark sound HD 650 will be the best right now IMO. DT 880 and Q701 will have more treble.

post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 

Genre wise I listen to pretty much everything, so hard to narrow it down.

 

I'm not sure I fancy a darker sound. I've played with lots of musical equipment ove the years and hated the dark / brown sound which some guitar amps could produce, I know that's taking it to the extreme with colouration, but I'm not sure I'd like it from a HP.

post #4 of 17

This is just personal experience:

By dark I mean less treble. To me, it lets bass and mid stands out more and you can find more detail on bass and mid instead of disturbed by a lot of treble. Especially with bright headphones, I find it give a false sense of detail, I cannot focus on the music itself. 

 

A lot studio or high end headphones I have tried has excees treble keeping me from enjoying the music so I end up going back to HD 650.

 

If you have a local story to tried out headphones that will be the best way to determine what you like the most.

 

All kinds of genre means a flat response headphone will do the job. DT 880 and Q701 is fairly flat. AKG K712 pro is another good option but more pricier.

post #5 of 17

I don't know exactly what you were expecting but I've never been wow'd by a headphone right out of the box. I can say that about all 15 headphones I've ever bought. Give them some time for the to break in a little and for you to appreciate them a little more. I received the K550's for Christmas last year and wasn't totally impressed with them at first coming from DT990 32's. I remember thinking the bass was thin and the upper mids/highs sounded kind of lifeless. Now I can A/B them with my DT990's and the K550's are better in just about every way. Incredible for a closed headphone. I'm certain that they became fuller and warmer after 150 hours or so. It might be a good idea to run some pink noise through them for the next week or two. The K550's respond very well to an EQ also. If all you want is another 5% extra bass then just use an EQ, or get a bass enhancer dsp for foobar2000. The K550's do fit a little loose. I stuffed some thick shoelaces under the ear pads and slightly bent the headband a little and they fit just right now. Hope this helps.

post #6 of 17

Just know that headphones in general cannot really reproduce the same soundstage as open air speakers without some form of signal processing.  I play music mostly on my computer and there are quite a few plugins to give more of a soundstage to your music and approximate that wide open sound you might be looking for. 

 

 

There are different tools in different players on different OSes (Ubuntu and qmmp is what I'm playing with right now) that can do this kind of thing. bs2b is one of the better known ones.

 

Try those out and see what you think of the DT770s after playing around with them. Note that a little effect goes a LONG way.

post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony6225 View Post
 

I don't know exactly what you were expecting but I've never been wow'd by a headphone right out of the box. I can say that about all 15 headphones I've ever bought. Give them some time for the to break in a little and for you to appreciate them a little more. I received the K550's for Christmas last year and wasn't totally impressed with them at first coming from DT990 32's. I remember thinking the bass was thin and the upper mids/highs sounded kind of lifeless. Now I can A/B them with my DT990's and the K550's are better in just about every way. Incredible for a closed headphone. I'm certain that they became fuller and warmer after 150 hours or so. It might be a good idea to run some pink noise through them for the next week or two. The K550's respond very well to an EQ also. If all you want is another 5% extra bass then just use an EQ, or get a bass enhancer dsp for foobar2000. The K550's do fit a little loose. I stuffed some thick shoelaces under the ear pads and slightly bent the headband a little and they fit just right now. Hope this helps.

 

I think you misunderstand. I am mostly happy with the sound form the K550s, I'm not happy with the fit. They're not loose on my head, they're barely attached to it, the only thing holding them on my head is the tops of my ears taking their whole weight. I'm afraid that regardless how much the styling appeals to me, someone's made a big mistake in the design of these. Maybe someone mistook imperial for metric or something.

post #8 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sxooter View Post
 

Just know that headphones in general cannot really reproduce the same soundstage as open air speakers without some form of signal processing.  I play music mostly on my computer and there are quite a few plugins to give more of a soundstage to your music and approximate that wide open sound you might be looking for. 

 

 

There are different tools in different players on different OSes (Ubuntu and qmmp is what I'm playing with right now) that can do this kind of thing. bs2b is one of the better known ones.

 

Try those out and see what you think of the DT770s after playing around with them. Note that a little effect goes a LONG way.

 

I'm not loking for a soundstage similar to speakers, if I were I'd buy my hifi some new speakers :)

 

I'm not one for DSP tbh, if it doesnt sound like it should some digital trickery pokery is only going to mask it. Something I found out a long time ago.

 

Don't get me wrong,  the DT770s are a good headphone, akin to HPs I've used in studios many years ago for tracking, but they're not what I'm after for home listening. If money were no object I'd probably keep them and use them for the limited recording I do these days. It's a HP I'd definitely revisit, maybe.

post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegreatpoobarr View Post
 

 

I'm not loking for a soundstage similar to speakers, if I were I'd buy my hifi some new speakers :)

 

I'm not one for DSP tbh, if it doesnt sound like it should some digital trickery pokery is only going to mask it. Something I found out a long time ago.

 

Don't get me wrong,  the DT770s are a good headphone, akin to HPs I've used in studios many years ago for tracking, but they're not what I'm after for home listening. If money were no object I'd probably keep them and use them for the limited recording I do these days. It's a HP I'd definitely revisit, maybe.

And yet your comments on BOTH pairs of headphones specifically mention a lacking soundstage. So you ARE looking for some advancement in soundstage.

 

If you haven't tried this bit of kit on those headphones you're just guessing about the result. It's not like it costs money to plug in the b2sb plugin (or some other plugin) and see how it affects the soundstage. TI don't see how the fact that it's digital / DSP matters. There are plenty of analog solutions that do the same thing. Many folks swear by them. Some songs sound much better with it, some not so much, it really depends on the mix. But I can give a considered opinion because I've TRIED them.

 

But it sounds like your mind's made up. So good luck with your search. Maybe an open back headphone can get you closer. Few if any closed back headphones can deliver the kind of soundstage you sound like you're looking for without some kind of signal processing.

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sxooter View Post
 

And yet your comments on BOTH pairs of headphones specifically mention a lacking soundstage. So you ARE looking for some advancement in soundstage.

 

If you haven't tried this bit of kit on those headphones you're just guessing about the result. It's not like it costs money to plug in the b2sb plugin (or some other plugin) and see how it affects the soundstage. TI don't see how the fact that it's digital / DSP matters. There are plenty of analog solutions that do the same thing. Many folks swear by them. Some songs sound much better with it, some not so much, it really depends on the mix. But I can give a considered opinion because I've TRIED them.

 

But it sounds like your mind's made up. So good luck with your search. Maybe an open back headphone can get you closer. Few if any closed back headphones can deliver the kind of soundstage you sound like you're looking for without some kind of signal processing.

 

I specifically said

 

Quote:
AKG K550 - Excellent clarity and lovely soundstage.


and

Quote:

 

 

If I could have the solidity of sound and comfort of the 770s, combined with the sound of the 550s (and being greedy a slight, ever so slight, push to the bass) I'd have the perfect headphones.

 

I've not once moaned about the 550s soundstage, in fact I'd be perfectly happy with that exact soudstage. I did however moan about my perceived slight thinning of sound in the mid to uppers.

 

I'm not a huge fan of DSP on playback, and I know very well what it's capable of as I've used it plenty on recordings (whether it be a VST plugin or hardware based). I'd much rather hear the recording as it was intended by the producer and artist, hearing how it's constructed is how I get my kicks. Besides, I'm not always going to using my HPs on the one setup, what if I'm missing that essential DSP and get stuck with the signature sound of the cans which I kinda dislike? I'm a little snookered.

 

This is starting to come across as argumentative, it's not intended that way. I value your opinion, but I think there's been a bit of misunderstanding somewhere along the way.

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegreatpoobarr View Post
 

 

I specifically said

 


and

 

I've not once moaned about the 550s soundstage, in fact I'd be perfectly happy with that exact soudstage. I did however moan about my perceived slight thinning of sound in the mid to uppers.

 

I'm not a huge fan of DSP on playback, and I know very well what it's capable of as I've used it plenty on recordings (whether it be a VST plugin or hardware based). I'd much rather hear the recording as it was intended by the producer and artist, hearing how it's constructed is how I get my kicks. Besides, I'm not always going to using my HPs on the one setup, what if I'm missing that essential DSP and get stuck with the signature sound of the cans which I kinda dislike? I'm a little snookered.

 

This is starting to come across as argumentative, it's not intended that way. I value your opinion, but I think there's been a bit of misunderstanding somewhere along the way.

 

Ahh my mistake. I meant that soundstage is important to you. 

 

Sorry if this has been argumentative. I didn't mean it that way either. But it seemed like you pretty much dismissed my points out of hand.

 

My points, short and sweet:

1. Headphones don't reproduce music the way it was recorded and mastered, because they're not speakers in open air.

2. There are ways to get that type of feedback / crossfade in portable units. But even then, they'll never really be the same as speakers in open air.

 

Some of those might be worth looking into, especially if you want closed cans. Closed cans are about as far as you can get what was originally mixed for, which IS open air speakers etc. The natural crossing over of sounds between your ears simply cannot be approximated with headphones of any kind, but some can give better results than others. 

 

OTOH, if the AKG550s were close enough but not comfy, then maybe there are closed cans that can get you close enough by themselves. DT660s get good reviews as being flatter than the 770s but still don't seem to have great soundstage. Shure SRH940s are pretty flat and get decent reviews. Sennheiser Momentums as well but they tend to be bass heavy. Sadly for most closed back headphones heavy bass is pretty common.

 

If open backs are a possibility look at the DT880s which are fairly flat with a better presentation / soundstage than the dt770s. Or the DT990s for a bit brighter and more bassy response. And any of the open back sennheisers (hd5xx/6xx series and so on).

 

Just know that out of good soundstage, inexpensive, and closedback, you only get to pick two most the time.


Edited by Sxooter - 12/27/13 at 2:08pm
post #12 of 17
Thread Starter 

All excellent points.

 

 

I'm actually not too fussed about closed or open. I think that's probably where I've gone wrong in my initial choices, although I've been lucky with the soundstage of the 550s (it really is spectacular for a closed HP). Reckon it's the DT-880s and the AKG K701s next, unless anyone comes forward with anything else.

post #13 of 17

Is there anywhere near you like Guitar Center where you can do some listening tests?

post #14 of 17
Thread Starter 

Typically nope, the UK's pretty poor in that respect, or at least my corner of it is.

 

Let's hope Amazon's returns policy is as good as it's claimed to be :)

post #15 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by thegreatpoobarr View Post

 

I'm actually not too fussed about closed or open. I think that's probably where I've gone wrong in my initial choices, although I've been lucky with the soundstage of the 550s (it really is spectacular for a closed HP). Reckon it's the DT-880s and the AKG K701s next, unless anyone comes forward with anything else.


There you go. If you want soundstage, you will have many more choices if you look at open cans. 

I had the AKG Q701 and the DT-990. While the bass of the Q701 is ok IMO, it will not give you the solidity of the DT-990 (haven't heard the DT-770). The DT-880 is a potential contender though. I've heard people say that the AKG K612 has better bass than the 701, but I can't vouch for it personally.  If you have the budget, I'd recommend the Hifiman HE-400. 

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