AKG K 550

  1. Mink
    Stunningly good
    Written by Mink
    Published Apr 23, 2017
    Pros - Effortless big and natural sound. Beautiful built and looks
    Cons - Thin pleather ear pad, just a slight lack of low-mid body and warmth
    The AKG K550 revisited.
    At the time, shortly after I bought my Audio Technica A900Xs I had auditioned the AKG's and I felt my choice for the A900Xs was the right one. I felt the K550s had this weird grating low treble peak that showed up just too often, unlike the low-treble/high mid peak of the Denon D5000s that only got aggressive ocassionally.
    The price at the time for the K550s was 300 euro, the A900Xs I got for just 150 euro.
    Fast forward in time: the K550 (MKII) now sell for 150 US dollar and encouraged by some reviewers who mention that the MKII version solved the problems of the MKI, no longer a grating treble peak, better clamping and fit and slightly increased bass I took the shot and bought them.
    Maybe my ears have changed or the K550 MKII really is an improvement over the MKI version, I dunno, but the low treble peak just isn't there anymore. I tried the most difficult recordings with soaring highs and big contrasts in dynamics. Baroque violin concertos, where the lead violins are recorded so up close that it is impossible to get away with some aching or grating. And some choral works, where most crescendos will make the headphones loose control and start to ring a bit.
    To name a few:
    Geminiani Concerti Grossi (After Corelli) - Chiara Banchini
    Bach Violin concertos - Elizabeth Wallfisch
    Haydn Die Schopfung - John Eliot Gardiner
    Haydn Die Schopfung - Rene Jacobs
    With the violin concertos mainly the slower adagio parts are the difficult parts, because it are HIP (historically informed performance) recordings in where the violins play without vibrato, so the long legato lines, close-miked can grate very easily.
    The difficult choral parts are the ones in where the choir all of the sudden sing much louder. 
    None of my headphones, including the Sony MDR-Z7 (which is universally qualified as extremely inoffensive sounding) handle these recordings without problems.
    The AKG K550s don't sweat, they sound so even over every frequency.
    Therefore they surely must lack something? Maybe a soul?
    Nope. They just don't loose control, that's it. 
    They sound big, have a great soundstage with good width and depth, excellent for classical music. But they don't sound thin and too bright with smaller scaled music, something I do feel ocassionally with the BeoPLay H6s.
    The bass is big enough to give music body...talking about body...if I must find something the K550s lack a bit is some low-mid warmth or coloring, something the A900Xs have and what make their sound one of a kind. But the A900Xs can sound grainy, something the K550s never do.
    All those years I have dismissed a pair of headphones that are easily one of the best pair of closed headphones under 600 US dollar...and they can be had for a mere 150 US dollar.
      rwpritchett and RockStar2005 like this.
    I've never heard music like I did with this headphone?
    Written by SOULSIK
    Published Mar 23, 2017
    Pros - great sound stage. reasonable tasteful bass. Great MIDDD range
    Cons - Pads wear out and they do not sell replacements. it can be too big and fall off.
    few months back my friend tried these headphones. Few days ago she wanted to buy it from me. And I quote her to start this review off "I've never heard music like I did with this headphone"
    Hello ladies and gentlemen. I am a hobbyist that creates reviews and post beautiful Instagram photos of various audio equipment. That being said, my passion for audio quality started with my Sennheiser HD598s. However over time I felt the HD598s lacked bass. But I loved my HD598s and wanted something that contains the sound stage + bass. I came across the AKG 550  and immediately fell in love with it. If anyone asks me "what should my first audiophile headphone be?" I would without hesitation recommend you the AKG 550. You might think I am crazy comparing open headphones to closed ones but you will see my reasoning in this review.
    The company operates in Austria, and was founded in Vienna in 1947 by physicist Dr. Rudolf Görike and engineer Ernst Pless. Originally, its main business was to provide technical equipment for cinemas: loudspeakers, film projectors and light meters. The business slowly expanded and AKG started selling car horns, door intercoms, carbon capsules for telephones, headsets and cushion speakers. The first AKG microphone was used by radio stations, theaters, jazz clubs and cabarets. About this time, the company developed its first patents, the moving coil technology and the principle of mass load membranes, allowing its products to have extended frequency ranges. With the creation of the D12 microphone in 1953, AKG achieved international fame, setting the standard for voice transmissions. Being the world's first dynamic cardioid microphone, it possessed excellent sonic qualities for that time, making its way into radio stations and recording studios from across the world.The product was improved through subsequent upgrades, spanning the famous C414 and C12 microphones.In 1984, AKG became a public company, listed on the Vienna stock exchange. As a blue chip company, it was one of the most traded stocks.The company was acquired by the American company Harman International Industries in 1994. By this time, AKG's United States subsidiary had been established (in Los Angeles in 1985). AKG Acoustics USA, still headquartered in the San Fernando Valley, also houses regional offices for Crown Audio, another Harman Industries subsidiary.

    In 2010, the company received the prestigious Technical Grammy award.




    The build quality on these headphone is phenomenal. Its practically metal on metal on metal. It is extremely sturdy. With that being said, it is bulky enough to consider it a full sized headphone. The headphone is adjustable through some real nice mechanism. The fit is very comfortable and the stocks pads are one of the softest I've ever felt. However the downsize is that you cannot buy the stock pads anywhere, not even from AKG. I have a pretty standard head and it is pretty big on me. I bought these because it is a closed headphone, but they do not isolate sound very well due to the fit being too loose. Also the wire is nondetachable terminating in a straight 3.5mm jack. 




    AKG advertised these as "sound stage of an open back in a closed set of headphones" and they have every right to. These do have a sound stage the surpasses many closed set of headphones. However like I have mentioned before, these do not have the qualities we would be seeking from a closed set of headphone, I would categorized these somewhere in the semi-open headphone zone. The sound stage is give or take at the HD598 level.



    This is a MIDDD ranged headphone. However there is some bass like will satisfy you. This was something lacking in the HD598s. the treble is clear but can get sibilant in certain songs. Overall, the sound is something of preference and this was a good experience for me. 


    Overall Thoughts


    This headphone does have negatives here and there but in the end... for the price point, it is one of the best entry level headphones you can purchase. 


    also follow me on Instagram for pictures of audio gear I review. https://www.instagram.com/jayzlee95




    review provided by soulsikreviews.com


    video for reference only



    1. View previous replies...
    2. RockStar2005
      Hmm...... a tube amp? Interesting. I'm a portable guy myself, so I'd prob never buy a tube amp. But having said that, they look so cool! lol 
      Nice. Yeah if you do like the Oppo's DAC, then the 10 won't disappoint! If you do get it, PM me and I'll give you some suggestions on how to use it, like about the Personal Audio Profile and stuff. 
      RockStar2005, Mar 24, 2017
    3. SOULSIK
      @RockStar2005 Sounds Pretty Good ! Yup, I do enjoy tubes at home, on the go I usually use IEMS, hey I'll follow you, why don't know follow me back so we can keep in touch. thanks!
      SOULSIK, Mar 26, 2017
    4. RockStar2005
      That's cool! 
      Alright sounds good brotha! 
      RockStar2005, Mar 27, 2017
  3. Simurgh
    Amazing Deal for the Price
    Written by Simurgh
    Published Feb 25, 2017
    Pros - Very balanced monitor style. Great with classical music. Great construction
    Cons - Bass could use more body. Bulky and sometimes sweaty.
    Bought these bad boys on sale from Harman Audio. Very clear and balanced sound for the price range, I have also had some good Grado SR80i headphones that I gave to my brother but the AKG K550 has very good sound with little leakage compared to open backs (good for office use). I love how Beethoven and Bonobo sound, these headphones have a very 'true to life' reproduction. So far I have found that I notice many details in tracks that I have not heard before! 
    Perhaps not the absolute best audio in the world, but definitely one of the best values in the crowded sub 300$ space. If you can get them on sale, I would highly recommend them to any budget conscious audiophiles. 
      B9Scrambler likes this.
    1. Dexter22
      The last time I used the K551's in office, someone asked me where did I got that helmet from! But, the 551's if they sound same like the 550's were having a good body on midbass, compared to my current Beoplay H6's. What source do you use with it? 
      Dexter22, Feb 25, 2017
    2. Simurgh
      Hi Dexter thanks for your comment. Yeah they are definitely big headphones. Currently I just use the Macbook pro sound output, but I have been interested in getting a DAC/AMP combo. Maybe when I get a bonus I can get a good one. Wishing you well.
      Simurgh, Feb 25, 2017
  4. whitemass
    [$200 & Under]Best Beginner $200 Headphones
    Written by whitemass
    Published Apr 15, 2015
    Pros - Sound, Fit, Style
    Cons - Ears Can Get Sore
    I've constantly said I wanted to try these.
    I've seen the price tag stay at $200, and it's appropriate.
    It's big, but has elements.
    It's sound is stand out, Class A, $200 Sound.
    The AKG K550
    I've been wanting to try these since I seen the price tag, after searching for an upgrade, looking at the MDR-7506, and seeing these side by side, the MDR-7506 is OK, but has a purpose. It's a Studio Monitor, that's it's justice.
    The AKG K550 is an important piece in it's price range, and it reminds us as the why the M50 lost it's reputation.
    I finally got a chance to borrow these.
    Let's discuss.
    Build Quality:
    - To one who can appreciate, is to one who's more likely to fall more in love.
    Those are definitely words to live by when looking at this as a beginner headphone. 
    It's a big headphone.
    - She's built like a brick house.
    Not to be confused with the song, but the headphone is heavily proportioned, and has a beautiful slick look, also durable... more durable than most.
    Easily put, it's a headphone that for it's price, though not a Studio Monitor, it's built to take a beating like one.
    We aren't going to get into Highs, Mids, & Lows, but we'll discuss this sound signature widely.
    My impression of the sound at first was that it had an artificial sound to it.
    Be It This Is A Sub-Open Back Design by sound.
    The Soundstage is a bit awkward though. I'd compare if to being in a square shaped room, and telling everyone to face their corner and begin to play.
    This created a mere echo in the vocal signature, quite disturbing, but after some burn in the sound smoothed out, but remained to sound in that pitch.
    The Bass is VERY FULL, TIGHT, & COLORFUL, it's full of character. I can't say that there's even a true sound for the Bass. 
    That said, this headphone will kindly fit any genre, and is polite to Hip Hop, & Rap for a change.
    I think after seeing that this didn't budge much with Rap based genres I found my disappointment.
    Techno, House, & other Electric genres lacked clear detailing, they weren't as vibrant, and you didn't feel like you were getting to experience the vibrations and clicking that some people find in these genres.
    On my last bit of information, I think with the things this can has to offer, it's the best in it's range if you aren't looking for a Studio Monitor.
    It's unique, and I would also argue, if you're not used to Warm, or Cold Sounding signatures, and don't wanna jump into a random experience, this is perfect for the job.
    I didn't find a genuine sound fit to this, it never had a too Bright sound, it wasn't ever truthfully relaxed, and the Bass notes, undertones, and playbacks weren't Warm sounding.
    It's mixed, almost giving you a hollow type of sound.
      Simurgh likes this.
  5. LugBug1
    Superb closed back option
    Written by LugBug1
    Published Mar 7, 2015
    Pros - Comfort, Isolation, Balance, Detail
    Cons - Nothing at this price.
    Been a while since I bought some new headphones. The HD800's put an end to that for the last couple of years... But I wanted some closed back for certain times and so snapped these up. 
    The balance of these is very good indeed, as is the tone. The AKG sound in a closed back pretty much. More midcentric than the KXXX with a closer image - slightly warmer but still with plenty of bite at the top. I'm impressed with the isolation as well- wasn't expecting too much - I wear glasses and I still get a very good seal. The comfort of the pads is another plus- very soft. 
    The mid frequencies are much better on these than the KXXX and this is most welcome. (no nasty peak at 4k)
    I wouldn't normally recommend any closed back hp for classical music but these sound great. Obviously not as airy as their older open back brothers, but the imaging is very focused and certainly open enough for large scale orchestral works. The detail retrieval is on par with the KXXX imo, only a little more more smeared at the lower end. 
    I would describe the sound sig as typically AKG - 'dry' apart from the warm bottom end. I've read a few reviews that describe these as sounding more like an open headphone. They do have an ample soundstage for closed but they still sound like a closed headphone.  
    Yup, an absolute bargain for what they are going for these days!   
  6. Mark K
    Big sound....as the size suggests
    Written by Mark K
    Published Dec 30, 2014
    Pros - Clear high band, acceptable mid tone
    Cons - Absolute lack of bass
    Well, the infamous K550 was there. Big, comfort at an incredible price. I had to wait for one week before I got mine so I put it on.
    Absolutely better than K701 I had a while ago. However, the overall quality is killed by zero presence of the bass. Where have they gone?
      yannisgk likes this.
    1. NickyaKillah
      I assume you didn't wait for them to burn in, did you?
      NickyaKillah, Apr 13, 2016
  7. Nevalti
    Inoffensive but uninspiring
    Written by Nevalti
    Published Nov 14, 2014
    Pros - Spacious - for closed back. Non-fatiguing, easy going sound. Work surprisingly well with iPhone.
    Cons - No better than a reasonable £30 pair of open back 'phones.
    I tried these with a Benchmark DAC1, a Fiio X3, a Fiio X1+E17 and various lesser devices including an iPhone. They seem pretty easy to drive. Music was a mixture of classical and Jazz - both CD quality and HiRes. 
    My value rating is based on the £107 I actually paid from Amazon. I am having to keep reminding myself how cheap they now are in order to give them much praise though. I guess the heavy discounting of these should have told me that they were not that special.I would certainly have been pretty pis**d if I had paid full price.
    Their best attribute is a surprisingly spacious presentation - about as good as a cheapish pair of open 'phones. To me they didn't sound any better than my £30 Jays-vJAYS except, for some reason with an iPhone. There seems to be some sort of synergy going on with the iPhone and they made it sound better than I have ever heard it. IF the iPhone was my sound source I would have been very pleased with the K550's but it isn't, so I'm not. They have a pretty laid-back relaxed presentation without any intrusive exaggeration but also without clearly presenting the fine nuances that you can always hear in real life (musicians breathing, fingers sliding on strings, valves clacking, scores being tuned, chairs squeaking etc). IF you can get them comfortable, they would probably be OK for long-term, relaxing listening but if you are trying to listen carefully, they just don't deliver.
    Although huge, they don't actually look too silly when on your head. It is difficult not to think of Dr Who and the Cyber-men though.  They feel fairly robust and appear well made but I don't find them comfortable. I have no problem with head-squeezing or seal - that's all works just fine for my head. My problem is that the padding on the top of my head just doesn't protect me. After a few minutes I am uncomfortably aware of the weight pressing  down on the top of my skull. Easily cured with a bit of foam padding but do you really want to do that..........
    For £107 they are pretty good value for CLOSED 'phones but in no way exceptional - unless you use an iPhone.
      yannisgk likes this.
  8. QBoQBo
    Written by QBoQBo
    Published Sep 22, 2014
    Pros - Open Stage, No Congestion at High Volumes, Quality Built, Reference Response Curve, Comfort
    Cons - Artificial Treble (can be improved with burn in & DAC/amplifier), Earcups Maybe Too Large For Some

    I got these headphones around the national holiday. These came out about 2 years after I had got my K701. I was first attracted by its classy design and colour. I thought I would never get another pair of AKG headphones since K701 has been my favorite all the time. I finally decided to purchase a pair due to the discounted price of $180 USD including shipping in my country; and most importantly, I needed a closed can(s) to enjoy music at night without disturbing others. In this review, I will skip all the con(s) about these headphones and straightly elaborate on the sound quality and cozy build structure of these headphones. The reason is that at this price point, there are really no con(s).


    Design & Build Quality

    The build quality and design is simple but sturdy, is black/grey but classy, is far from top notch but flawless. I believe the design is better than my K701 because K550 has more grainy metals to withstand any abuse. The headphones are consisting of 3 major parts – the ear-cups, the joint, and the headband padded with synthetic leather. The ear-cups are able to rotate from the joint (by a little), and the joint can also rotate from the headband for approximately 90 degrees. This clean and versatile design allows me to store the headphones in my hobo handbags. Nothing feels flimsy or sticking out which will cause a problem. The headband adjustment is locked by a click. The numbering system on the headband will allow you to adjust the headband length to your most desirable positions. This helps a lot because getting a good seal on this K550 may be tricky because of its size.


    The leather on the ear-cups and the headband are so comfortable that I actually enjoy wearing them once in a while. Although I would prefer the alcantara material (like on the K701) for the hot summer, the seal and comfort is better with the leather or leather-like material.


    To begin, I was feeling a little disappointed coming from K701 when I was listening to these cans for first few hours. After 60-100 hours of burning in, the bass opened up and the artificial treble (which seemed like plastic spark) smoothed out. As several master reviewers had mentioned, there seemed to be a very slight disjointness between the bass and sub-bass area (of course, they have heard headphones around $1K mark). However, in term of the fullness and tightness of the bass is on par with my K701. Master reviewers would obviously magnified the disadvantages of these headphones, but they should consider there are very few competitions at this price point with this kind of sound quality in a closed full-size headphones. The T5p is triple the price, the build quality on the SRH840 or 940 may not be as good, the M50X may have a smaller soundstage. Nothing is perfect in this world especially with closed headphones. It is easy to make an open headphone sounds good, but it is harder to tune closed headphones. The K550 produced a full and tight bass with good and not-too-forward mid(s), and a nice sparkle treble without any harshness. The vocals are accurate and shine on these headphones.



    The overall sound quality is impressive on these closed headphones considering they were at $180 USD when I purchased them. For people who prefer a reference sound signature with price-to-value ratio in mind and an amazing soundstage in closed nicely built comfortable headphones, you will not be mistaken by this K550. Just remember to give it a little time to burn-in and find a good warm source (like my Audioquest Dragonfly) to match the lean signature of this headphone.

  9. Ufasas
    Great Cans
    Written by Ufasas
    Published Sep 22, 2014
    Pros - Non-overwhelming bass, detailed vocals, great soundstage
    Cons - Can't find yet
    Excelllent headphones, coming after ss 9h headset, senn's 429 558 598 and i love these most, i differentiate details better in vocals now, i can say if vocalist is blowing into microphone while singing, there are more details in vocals which i cannot explain in english,  coz i'm not good at this section in english. Bass is not overwhelming, it is what i like most, not muffled, also if you EQ the bass it will sound much better as it did on my nokia with eq presets. Priority is for home use, but it's perfect using outside with phone, cable thickness is not the problem, as you can roll it around the phone, and put everything in the pocket without all stuff sticking out too ugly.
    So much better in games with hearing steps detailed, soundstage is right as i wanted, with 9H i wanted to hear games world better/wider than i heard, akg550 fills this hunger, love it. Orientation in fps games maps is very good right now for me.
  10. vaibhavp
    Very impressive technically as well as musically
    Written by vaibhavp
    Published Jun 5, 2014
    Pros - imaging, clean sound
    Cons - no carrying case included
    I have been using AKG K550 for past few weeks and enjoying them pretty well. This is my first foray into mid fi and I think its a solid contender for getting into mid fi sound especially as it has very low barrier for entry (whole setup). I am driving it with Audinst hud mini, entry level dac/amp and it drives it with authority and good clarity.
    I have been using Sennheiser HD518 extensively, and have auditioned HD595 as well as HD650 before this. So thats my reference point here as HD5XX series is rather popular and what you can expect to get if you go for K550.
    First some sound signature differences between sennheiser and akg. k550 requires you to be engaged to music instead of being half asleep to enjoy. k550 has this comparatively thin sound that changes very fast according to notes being played, thus conveys note level information with much more clarity. this clarity improves dramatically in hd650 but still k550 is clearer. For me, I need to actively listen to music and be engaged to enjoy k550.
    So is one inherently better than other? I don't think so. both sounds are usable according to mood. (its not that I am feeling sleepy all the time, so why Sennheiser only collection?)
    So now about K550. First some observations about K550 that are striking:
    Great isolation without any clamping pressure whatsoever. No seal issue for me. I would attribute this to ear pad material. Its most certainly is something special that blocks sound very well. It must be in contact with your skin to achieve seal.
    Very forgiving for low bit rate material. my much lower hd518 is almost un listenable out of phone with lower bit rate tracks as I could see some holes in music. k550 polishes it and makes it listenable, I think. It might have something to do k550 being easy to drive, not sure why it does that.
    Very clean sound. no grain whatsoever. hud mini is inherently grainy and with grainy old recordings of the old like led zeppelin, it was almost un listenable on hd518. (all three recording, dac/amp, headphone are grainy making too much of it). on k550 its pristine.
    Now I would describe frequency response a bit:
    Bass: awesome. Goes very deep, is tight and reasonably textured. Exactly what I wanted.
    Mids: Rich, detailed, not upfront. very enjoyable.
    Treble: Now I am terrified of sibilance or bright sound. But k550 sounds exactly like I wanted it to. I don't think its dark sounding, but its got this peculiar way of doing treble. Treble extension is good but detail is very less thus to my ears sounds perfect. (better safe than sorry. won't cut any points here cause of my preference. I am looking for enjoyable headphones than perfect ones).
    A word on soundstage:
    Good sized. Its a closed headphone and has good width and depth with that limitation. Most impressive part has to be imaging. Pin point imaging if its present in recording, even if two same instruments are playing, it places them very well in sound stage.
    Comfort is very good as it exerts very little pressure on head, but as its a sealed design, it gets sweaty. Ear pads don't allow a lot of breathing.
    Build quality is good mixture of metal and plastic. not built like tanks and I intend to take good care of them. especially i don't want to change alignment of cups and thus affecting seal.
    All these things make them a worth can but what makes them 5/5 special is, well they are very enjoyable. Even with their relatively thin sound, they have this deep and satisfying bass thus make for a very convincing presentation. Their sound stage is wide but they don't have diffused presentation like my HD518 that renders each component of music completely separate. Instead it presents a good mix of music, instruments often inter lapping but still sounding separate with note level detail, harmonious with each other. If you think about it, that is how you hear music when in a hall with musicians. Not completely separate from each other.
      Simurgh likes this.
    1. rololo88
      I own them (Actually K551) they are very good. They are true Hi-Fi Headphone, so the quality of the sound restitution entirely depends
      of the source file itself, the way it was recorded in studio and the device used to reproduce the sound. My iPhone for example is too weak
      to drive them well but on my laptop and my desktop computer with Audigy 2ZS, the result it's quite nice.
      I Also heard quite a lot negative reviews regarding the bass. Once again it's an audiophile headphone and is it neutral, it will not "create"
      bass like many others, but will reproduce as it has been recorded. For example, I listen these day the album "Speck of Gold and The Afterlife Lounge" from "Afterlife" the bass are sublime and deep, the sound is very good.
      I totally recommend the K550/551.
      rololo88, Jun 5, 2014
    2. harry501501
      Nah, I disagree with both of you, respectfully. To use the word "full" in regards to the bass is totally exaggerated. It also does not "reproduce (bass) as it has been recorded". It is just not there, regardless of how you place them on your ears and play with the seal to make them tighter. It may be audiophile for detail but they got the bass levels way wrong. I reckon people try to justify the bass by saying things like it's "as produced".
      It's also wrong to say others "create" bass. These "create" absolutely none whatsoever.
      Again, these are just my opinions. On the whole i found these very thin sounding, too bright... and very boring (and I'm no basshead, i like a neutral flat headphone, but even then you need at least a little bass presence). It put me of AKG which I used to like.
      They would be a great headphone if they had bass at a decent listening level, didn't have to be excessive.
      harry501501, Apr 12, 2016