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Sennheiser MX500 vs MX550 - Short comparison

post #1 of 37
Thread Starter 
First off, I don't claim to be a headphone expert or anything. But since no one's really posted on this as far as I know, I felt I'd chime in since I recently got to compare the 550s to my 500s. For reference, the source was an iPod 3g, no EQ presets turned on, inline volume controls on max.

Volume-wise, the 550s are louder, noticably louder. I also found the highs to be much sharper and brighter, a little painful actually for my tastes. They masked the other frequencies. The 550s are not burned in while the 500s were, although I don't know if it even matters for earbuds.

My friend who enjoyed my 500s recently picked up the 550s and he has said that they do benefit from amplification and sound much better out of an amp. I personally believe that they would sound cleaner but I can't say for sure. However, if I could, I'd drop the higher frequencies in an EQ, just really seems too shrill. Too bad the iPod doesn't really let you. Also, the 550s might leak more sound than the 500s. Personally I don't find that my 500s leak much where my friend said the 550s could be heard from 10 feet away. Again, I can't confirm because I haven't A/B tested that.

Hopefully if anyone else has an experience to share, they can chime in. I'll try to post more about this in the following days as I get more time to test them out.
post #2 of 37
Thank you very much, much appreciated.
Any words on the fit ?
Was the sound still good regardless (ok maybe not) of how they were positioned in the ears ?
The MX550 and MX500 isn't the neck-chain type, right ?
post #3 of 37
Were you using foamies on both sets of earbuds? Thanks for the short comparison, hopefully you can post some more about the MX550s later.
post #4 of 37
Thread Starter 
Standard foamies on the 550, RS foamies on the 500. The fit was comfortable enough, they both fit pretty similarly in my ears. My personal belief is that a good fit is important is important particularly for these buds, sometimes the frequency balance seems different when it's loosely/poorly inserted into the ear.

I'll put the RS foamies on the 550 tomorrow for a more accurate comparison.

Oh on a side note, the 550 case is pretty cool, a little more complex in holding the cable but I think it "locks" the cable in better, and the case looks slightly better and sturdier. The 550 plug also is straight (I prefer the 500's angled plug for portable sources) and it has the round metallic base on the plug (refer to this to see what I mean http://www.dapreview.net/content.php?review.121.9) while the 500 has the full plastic base.
post #5 of 37
you are indeed the first one to post on this issue.

thank you, as i was wondering how the 550's sound in comparison to the earlier mx models.

it sounds like for some, the 500's or 400's may still be more pleasing (less harsh?) than the 550's.
post #6 of 37

How does the bass hold up?

Does the new Basswind system make any difference?
post #7 of 37
I picked up the 550's as well on Sunday and have been meaning to type something up about them, just haven't had time.

my 2 cents..

1) unlike the pictures on the site, the headphones are black and not silver

2) the cable and jack are a lot thinner and cheeper

3) My MX500's had shrill highs when i first got them and mellowed out after 30 hours burn in. The 550's, with no burn in, had some slightly shrill highs (ipod mini, eq set to rock, volume at 45%), but it was less than when the 500's were new, and not that much more than the burned in 500's.

4) Sounds like it has as much, or less bass than the 500's. but a) no burn in and b) no RS foamies on the 550's. The bass came out much more on the 500's after burn in and even more so with the RS foamies, so I expect the same.

overall, it seems like a decent replacement, but if you have the MX500's already, i see no reason to upgrade. Of course I wont really know until i burn them in as well and use RS foamies. So the initial reaction of unburned, un RS foamied MX550's is slightly less bass, slightly harsh highs, and slightly recessed/veiled mids (all of which should improve) and high efficiency for the more weak portable sources.

There's an LCD tv connected to every cardio machine at my gym, and the headphone jacks on them is pretty weak, so these 550's work better in that situation.

post #8 of 37
Thread Starter 
Like vasu said, yes they are black not silver...unless there are two versions. As for the BASSwind system, I'll probably know soon if it's better...although the BASSwind system APPEARS to simply be extra holes in the stick portion of the earbud in order to be more of an open-air design...
post #9 of 37
Are the mx550s physically smaller? I had trouble with the mx500 as they were too big, so I gave them away when my e2's showed up.
post #10 of 37
Originally Posted by skitlets
Are the mx550s physically smaller? I had trouble with the mx500 as they were too big, so I gave them away when my e2's showed up.
I hate the MX-X00 fit...I can't get it to stay in my ear! I hope the MX-X50 series' fit is better...
post #11 of 37
Does the treble extend higher with the 550's or is the treble just louder, creating a different sound signature. While I think the 500's are really good for the price, I kept wanting more treble extension.
post #12 of 37
Thread Starter 
I just thought it was sharper...it didn't sound higher to me and I think technically it actually even extends less. I'll know for sure in several hours
post #13 of 37
The earbud is a bit smaller, so it in my ear a bit better.

The interesting thing is that there's a hole at the top of the bud, maybe part of the basswind thing? But when you put any foamies on it, that hole gets covered up pretty good.

post #14 of 37
Originally Posted by Max Minimum
Does the treble extend higher with the 550's or is the treble just louder, creating a different sound signature. While I think the 500's are really good for the price, I kept wanting more treble extension.
It doesn't seem to extend too much, but it definitely is more present, so it could just be a bump.
post #15 of 37

Here's my 0.02

And this is just from listening to them today (and without the RS foamies or any other additions). They are CONSIDERABLY louder. Where my MX 500's would start to distort at certain volumes, these do a great job of avoiding that pitfall. The bass seems to be extended (contrary to some folks saying that the lower impedence, and thus higher current usage, would lead to roll off of the bass).

The fit is not as great as the 500's, due to the straight nature of the earpieces, but it doesn't bother me too much.

The biggest improvement that I must comment on is the sudden appearance of the mids, which I found to be lacking in the 500's. Wonderful surprise.

IMHO, they sounded great straight out of the packaging, although they will probably improve with adequate burn in.

Truthfully, the 500's have nothing on these. Not to say that they shouldn't be grabbed up for their current discount prices, but don't think that you're getting one over because you paid less for them than the 550's.

And, oh yeah, the cord does seem of a lesser quality. But, to offset that, the carrying case has definitely improved (if you're anal like that).
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