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AKG K545 vs NAD VISO HP50

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 

I’ve done my best to A/B these headphones as I have been unable to decide between the two and have been scouring this site for opinions. In the end I ruined my bank balance and ordered both with a view to returning one set.

 

I have been listening to the 545 for nearly 2 weeks but I have only notched up about 10 hours listening on the HP50. I didn’t allow any burn in time for either. I used an iPhone 4 and my laptops built-in soundcard through a Fiio E11 playing tracks of varying formats.

 

In a very simplistic way I would say the comparative sound sig of both cans would be something like:

 

K545 = Treble > Bass > Mids

HP50 = Mids > Bass > Treble

 

I found these headphones to sound very different.

 

The HP50 is warm, lush and from what I hear has slightly forward mids and an overall laid back sound. It is almost as if the headphones add their own reverb to the sound which makes for very very easy listening. The 545’s extend well both ways and are detailed, lively and have deep, tight and impactful bass. The mids seem slightly recessed in comparison and overall gives a ‘slight’ V type sound.

 

Bass – The 545 extends further, deeper and tighter to my ears. The HP50 has plenty of bass but it doesnt extend as far and is also a tiny bit looser and less focused, so it ever so slightly floods over the bottom. This may be in part because I am coming from the 545 to the HP50 and my ears may still be tuned to them. The 545 definitely shifts more air and I love this as you can really hear the tone of the drum skins. On some tracks it felt like someone was striking a drum inside my head. The 545 bass is more versatile and when required will slam but also has some punch as well.

 

Mids – The mids on the HP50 are fuller and warmer and slightly more forward which adds a greater degree of balance to the overall sound. The transition from bass through to mids and treble is smooth(er). The mids bloom, vocals really blossom, guitars, trumpets and violins still have an edge to them but are warmer with less presence. Overall the mids sound gorgeous. The mids on the 545 are slightly recessed in comparison. Vocals, trumpets and piano all have great presence though and are very engaging. Guitar solos cut right through the mix with a great edge and trumpets can rasp.  

 

Treble – The HP50 just doesn’t extend as far as the 545. Due to the warm sound of the HP50 there is a definite reduction in resolution and detail. This may be less fatiguing  to the ears but the resolution and detail for me really bring tracks to life. Percussion and cymbals sound more prominent and I think this really helps to drive tracks along. The HP50 does sound beautiful but the 545 brings out the energy in performances. The treble on the 545 shows off a greater imaging capability and is great on pieces with syncopated panning and double tracking.

 

Soundstage/Separation – I think both headphones perform well here and you wouldn’t be disappointed with either one. I do think the HP50 has a bigger soundstage that allows for more space and depth between instruments. The 545 sounds ever so slightly more closed in and not as expansive but the resolution and detail add sharpness to the separation.

 

Comfort/Fit/Isolation – For me the HP50 are far more comfortable. The shape of the ear pads and the angle they lie at, work perfectly with the soft thick foam to envelop your ears - like slippers for your ears! The headband clamps adequately and they don’t move around when I’m walking. Isolation is adequate and the seal is good. I didn’t particularly notice that the headband only touches the top of your head. The 545, for me, are not as comfy. The ear pads are quite hard memory foam and even though they have less clamp they do create pressure points around my ears. The seal breaks when you move your head quickly and can be problematic with glasses (This may seem obvious but if you are in a coldish environment the memory foam will not seal around glasses...it’s the middle of winter here!). Also they slip around when I’m walking. I have a fairly average sized head and ears and the depth and inner size of the ear pads was bigger on the 545’s.   

 

Summary – Different strokes for different folks! The HP50 is laid back, warm and has more pronounced mids and the 545 has detailed, prominent treble and impactful bass.

I am not 100% but I think I prefer the 545’s even though they are less comfortable (small sacrifices). The energy and detail brings tracks to life for me. I love the resolution and find it really engaging to be able to hear small nuances and details, whilst the bass is exactly why I wanted a closed can, without overemphasis!!

I think the 545 has the edge on electronic music and works well with transient sounds. The HP50 has the edge on acoustic/classical music, delivering stunningly warm vocals, greater overall balance and a beautiful listening experience. I do think the 545’s are less forgiving.

My thoughts may change over the next few days as I continue to A/B these cans. If I had the funds I would keep both............


Edited by Scotshner - 2/26/14 at 5:12am
post #2 of 55
Thread Starter 
It would be great to hear other people's comparisons between the two.
post #3 of 55

nice comparison.. I agree with how you look at the k545 but I have never heard the Nad Viso hp50. I would like to though one day. I preferred my yamaha to the k545 by quite a bit though the k545 is a great hp.

post #4 of 55
Here are my comments I made in the K545 thread.

OK had a chance to listen to the NAD VISO P50 today.

Build and comfort wise it looks awesome and seems solid but the cup was smaller than the K545, enough so I was concerned about pain for long listening sessions.

Sound wise I thought it was as good as the K545 but different. It is good enough and different enough I may consider buying it as an alternative to the K545. In my mind they are the 2 best portable headphones I have heard.

Bass - the K545 went deeper but had slightly less volume, the P50 had more mid bass but not in an excess way.

Midrange - The K545 has an emphasis higher up in the midrange, the P50 has an emphasis at a lower point in the midrange. The difference being voices were warmer on the P50 and cymbals had more emphasis on the initial crash while the K545 had more emphasis on the sizzle and decay. I found the P50 a bit harsh on a few songs and was turning them down to compensate.

Treble - I actually found these to quite similar treble responses, liking them both equally.

Sound stage - I think they both have excellent sound stages but the P50 does a a bit better job of creating an out of head sound. The K545 is what I would call a bit more analytical the P50 a bit more organic.

The level of detail between the phones was very similar except that each presented things a bit differently based on my signature descriptions above.

Bottom line sonically. If you have issues with upper mids/lower treble the P50 is a safer option. If you find a bit lower mids to be "shouty" then the K545 might be a better option. If you not sure which one you will like and can't audition them, FLIP A COIN!! because the odds are will like either one wink.gif

Before I forget. All my testing was done using John's K120 using 24bit FLAC files. The player was stunning ($1400 price it should be!!!) So both headphones were represented in the absolute best possibly scenario source wise.

One final point. The P50 was a much more efficient headphone needing quite a bit less volume as compared to the K545.

I won't be rushing out to buy the P50 but I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up owning a pair some day.
post #5 of 55

Thanks for this useful information - haven't heard the 545's but they're very tempting.

I have the HP50's which I like a lot.  The only closed headphones I like more are the

Sony MDR 7520's and Sony MDR Z1000's.  But the NAD's may be a better value.

post #6 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by dweaver View Post

Here are my comments I made in the K545 thread.

OK had a chance to listen to the NAD VISO P50 today.

Build and comfort wise it looks awesome and seems solid but the cup was smaller than the K545, enough so I was concerned about pain for long listening sessions.

Sound wise I thought it was as good as the K545 but different. It is good enough and different enough I may consider buying it as an alternative to the K545. In my mind they are the 2 best portable headphones I have heard.

Bass - the K545 went deeper but had slightly less volume, the P50 had more mid bass but not in an excess way.

Midrange - The K545 has an emphasis higher up in the midrange, the P50 has an emphasis at a lower point in the midrange. The difference being voices were warmer on the P50 and cymbals had more emphasis on the initial crash while the K545 had more emphasis on the sizzle and decay. I found the P50 a bit harsh on a few songs and was turning them down to compensate.

Treble - I actually found these to quite similar treble responses, liking them both equally.

Sound stage - I think they both have excellent sound stages but the P50 does a a bit better job of creating an out of head sound. The K545 is what I would call a bit more analytical the P50 a bit more organic.

The level of detail between the phones was very similar except that each presented things a bit differently based on my signature descriptions above.

Bottom line sonically. If you have issues with upper mids/lower treble the P50 is a safer option. If you find a bit lower mids to be "shouty" then the K545 might be a better option. If you not sure which one you will like and can't audition them, FLIP A COIN!! because the odds are will like either one wink.gif

Before I forget. All my testing was done using John's K120 using 24bit FLAC files. The player was stunning ($1400 price it should be!!!) So both headphones were represented in the absolute best possibly scenario source wise.

One final point. The P50 was a much more efficient headphone needing quite a bit less volume as compared to the K545.

I won't be rushing out to buy the P50 but I wouldn't be surprised if I ended up owning a pair some day.

I have both of them, and hear them just like you have described. Both are wonderfull sounding for me.

post #7 of 55

Really fantastic write up. Thank you very much.

 

Would you be willing to give a brief 1-2 sentence characterisation of any other portable over-ears you've heard? It would help me have a reference point for understanding your judgements of these cans. In particular I'd love to know if you've heard the B&W P7s, but comments on anything else like the HE6s, Momentum, Focal Classic/Pro, etc would be extremely appreciated.

post #8 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzlybeast View Post
 

nice comparison.. I agree with how you look at the k545 but I have never heard the Nad Viso hp50. I would like to though one day. I preferred my yamaha to the k545 by quite a bit though the k545 is a great hp.

Cheers man. Are those the Yamaha HPH -MT22 then? I haven't really read into them but the fact they are marketed as monitoring cans is appealing. What is the bass response like on them?

post #9 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioops View Post
 

Really fantastic write up. Thank you very much.

 

Would you be willing to give a brief 1-2 sentence characterisation of any other portable over-ears you've heard? It would help me have a reference point for understanding your judgements of these cans. In particular I'd love to know if you've heard the B&W P7s, but comments on anything else like the HE6s, Momentum, Focal Classic/Pro, etc would be extremely appreciated.

Thanks, I'm afraid that I haven't had any extended listening with any cans in the same category. I did try the Sony MDR 1R, B&W P7 and the Monster Inspirations in a store for a few minutes each. The P7 did sound nice, big soundstage, very crisp and isolated well....the ear pads were a bit hard if I remember....vocals did seem a bit honky. I didn't really spend enough time with them to comment properly though but the P7's were my favourites from the above list.

 

Quote:
 Here are my comments I made in the K545 thread.

Thanks Dweaver, hopefully this will help some people make a decision. The review(s) by Sonus Audio was very informative as well and that's what initially turned me away from the HP50.

post #10 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by zazex View Post
 

Thanks for this useful information - haven't heard the 545's but they're very tempting.

I have the HP50's which I like a lot.  The only closed headphones I like more are the

Sony MDR 7520's and Sony MDR Z1000's.  But the NAD's may be a better value.

Thanks, I looked into the Sony's briefly but they don't seem to be on sale in the UK?

post #11 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotshner View Post
 

Cheers man. Are those the Yamaha HPH -MT22 then? I haven't really read into them but the fact they are marketed as monitoring cans is appealing. What is the bass response like on them?

pretty good, above average in resolution, good impact, slightly above neutral in quantity but somewhat smooth.

post #12 of 55
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by grizzlybeast View Post
 

pretty good, above average in resolution, good impact, slightly above neutral in quantity but somewhat smooth.

Hmm that sounds interesting. They are not far off half the price of the AKG. Can the bass move air when needed? They market them well, they sound really appealing and look like German Maestro tried to make a Beyer DT250. 

AKG's marketing isn't hard to beat....apparently there's a case that's a real tangible thing until you open the box and then it's just theoretical...........but f@ck  it they do sound amazing! 

post #13 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotshner View Post
 

Hmm that sounds interesting. They are not far off half the price of the AKG. Can the bass move air when needed? They market them well, they sound really appealing and look like German Maestro tried to make a Beyer DT250. 

AKG's marketing isn't hard to beat....apparently there's a case that's a real tangible thing until you open the box and then it's just theoretical...........but f@ck  it they do sound amazing! 

after burn in the yams sound better but cost 250usd. You may find them cheaper(yamaha hph mt220 not 120). Yes they move more air than the k545 easily. The k545 bass whimpers next to it. but only because of the impact not because it is a basshead hp.

post #14 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scotshner View Post
 

Thanks, I looked into the Sony's briefly but they don't seem to be on sale in the UK?

I've heard from pretty reliable sources that they're not available

on the Continent, but not sure about the U.K.  In fact, there are reports

of high profile U.K. musicians e.g. David Gilmour & studios e.g. Abbey Road

buying them 

post #15 of 55

This US retailer is selling the Sony's for only $385, which should be less than £300 landed, including shipping and import tax.

 

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Sony-MDR-7520-Professional-Studio-Headphones-MDR7520-/190531597579?pt=US_Computer_Headsets&hash=item2c5c91750b

 

 

 

The only place I noticed the Sony's still for sale in the whole of the EU (including UK) was a couple of places in Poland for £350 ish.  

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