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AKG K553 Pro vs. AKG K550 MK II (and thoughts on the AKG K550 "MK I")

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  1. doboo57
    I’ve been looking for a straight comparison between the original K550 and K550 Mkii / k553, so I decide to perform an A/B test with my old AKG K551 (2012, which is supposed to sound like the original K550) and my new K550 Mkii (2015 edition). I was surprised about how much significant are the difference between these two models...

    First, the aesthetics: my old K551 have slightly thicker earpads and deeper and slightly larger ear hole. Honestly, it doesn’t affect the comfort that much, but some people with larger ears than mine may prefer K551 earpads. I found the clamping force a bit higher on the K550 Mkii out of the box, but until it’s easy to bend the headband, it’s not a big issue. The headband padding seems a little bit more cushioned on the K550 Mkii too.

    I first noticed that the K550 Mkii sounds significantly louder than the K551 at the same volume level. Since these two are 32 Ohm of impedance, Could it be the wire and / or the different earpads? (I don’t know…). K551 have a short, thin and twisty cable (with a mic/3 button remote) in comparison with the long and larger cable of the K550 Mkii...

    Soundwise, the bass have definitely more impact with the K550 Mkii, and it seems just a little bit less thight/dry (more fluid) than the K551. However, bass extension is wonderful on both models (since they’re absolutely not for bassheads). The K550 Mkii seems have more dynamics in general.

    The mids seems totally uncolored, smooth and flat on the K551, but it can sound a little bit thin/dull and laid back on some tracks. Mids of the K550 Mkii are more textured (especially male vocals) and brings more emotion to the vocals and guitars in general, without being colored. They also sound more forward and energetic on the K550 Mkii than the K551, which is smoother and airy.

    The highs sound a bit more realistic to me on the K550 Mkii. The cymbals tend to sound thin and cardboard-like and sometimes indistinct on the K551. The “S” sound also a bit more sibilant to me on the K551. Both have well extended highs, but they sound much peaky and slightly more “artificial” on the K551.
    Soundstage is definitely wider on the K551, which sounds more like an open-back pair. On the other hand, K550 Mkii sounds more like a very good closed-back (with better dynamics). It brings more energy, fun and emotion to the music, but the narrower soundstage makes them sound more “in your face”.
    Overall, K551 sound more airy, but a little bit more thinner to my ears because of the slight lack of texture of the low-end and the sometimes sibilant / indistinct highs bothers me. I think the better bass presence and the richer highs of the K550 Mkii gives them a bit more of texture, bringing more pleasure overall.


    K551 Very good extension, very thight and dry, less presence

    K550 Mkii Very good extension, a tad more thump and better presence


    K551 Uncolored and smooth, but a tad cold and distant (more clinical)

    K550 Mkii More energetic, more presence and more texture


    K551 Well extended. Could sometimes sound a tad thin, indistinct and artificial (cardboard). More peaky treble

    K550 Mkii Very well extended. Sounds more real (cymbals). No sibilance. Very good


    K551 Wider, airier, better instrument separation

    K550 Mkii More congested (“in your face”)

    Sound signature:

    K551 Pretty close to “midrange oriented” open-back headphones. Airy, smooth, relax and flat. A little bit laid back and on the thin side

    K550 Mkii More dynamic “closed-back type” sound. Rich sound, mostly flat and well extended all across the frequency range


    K551 Slightly less cushioning in the headband. Earcups are thicker, with less softness. Earhole are larger and deeper

    K550 Mkii Maybe a tad bit more cushioning in the headband. Earcups are a tad thinner, softer and more shallow

    Overall, those two are probably the more accurate and flat closed-back pair I’ve heard. You can’t go wrong with either...

    Hope this comparison could help!
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  2. RockStar2005

    Hey doboo,

    Thanks for posting this and your time in researching it! It is a welcome addition to this thread, which does not look at the K551 but does all the OTHER K55X headphones (oh and also the new K550 MKIII is not included either).

    I have owned the K551 as well and yes it was a fantastic pair of headphones! If I had to pick a favorite, it would prob be the K550 MKII because I liked how they wrote its name vertically instead of horizontally on the side. But really, I'd pick the K550 MKIII over all of them b/c I prefer the looks of the K550 headphones over the K551's, though both are nice. And they also went "vertical" with the model name on the MKIII as well. The K550 MKIII sounds EXACTLY the same as the K550 and K550 MKII per AKG, but it FINALLY comes with a detachable cable as well.
  3. Kevin Brown
    I am looking at these. I have a bunch of open headphones that I really like, but now I'm I having to switch my sound reference over to closed cans. Changed jobs. Open headphones don't work in an open office environment, and I did try! :wink:

    For example, I think the Sony V6/7506 don't have enough low end. But the M50x's have too much. I also thought the K701/Q701 don't have enough bass, but the K612's (to me) are almost perfect in that regard.

    Do those of you who have the k55x think they'd be a good choice?
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  4. doboo57
    I think K550 Mkii or K553 will be perfect for you. Just the right amount of bass, very well extended…
  5. Kevin Brown
    Cool, thanks! This thread was useful. I did not know that the K550, mk II, and K553 Pro were all more or less the same! :)
  6. doboo57
    Yes, they're about the same in terms of sound (I think K553 was marketed in the U.S., while K550 Mkii elsewhere). One of the best closed-back on the market IMO, especially for the price (you can find them for about 80-100 US$ online...).
  7. RockStar2005
    No open 'phones don't work in an office environment. lol

    Yeah stay away from the M50Xs. Yuck! lol Overrated garbage.

    I definitely think the K55X would be a great choice based on the quality, price, and looks! The K550 MK III would be best because of the detachable cable, but if that is too much ($199), then I'd recommend either the K550 or K550 MK II. (Note: ALL 3 of these sound THE SAME, per AKG.)

    I personally like the K550 MK II over the K550 only because of how the model name is written vertically (as it is on the MK III) on the sides vs. horizontally (original K550). But up to you. Just pick the one you like the most and let us know what you think!
  8. RockStar2005
    And BTW, awesome avatar pic! lol :L3000:
  9. Kevin Brown

    I'm finding them for $120 - $130US, mostly just looking at Amazon and eBay.
    RockStar2005 likes this.
  10. RockStar2005
    Nice! Yeah that sounds about right!
  11. Kevin Brown
  12. RockStar2005
    Poor feedback?? From where? The AKG K550 headphones (including MK II) are one of the best I've ever tried!! Esp for the price! The seller is the maker, Harman Audio (who owns AKG). I'd buy it if I were you. lol :L3000:
  13. Kevin Brown
    Not the product, the seller. Sorry, I don't buy from anyone less than 99%. I have a very good hit rate on positive experiences because of that.

    harmanaudio ( 140472[​IMG]) [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Positive Feedback (last 12 months): 96.6%
    [How is Feedback percentage calculated?]
    Member since: Jan-24-01 in United States
    Recent Feedback ratings(last 12 months)
    1 month 6 months 12 months
    [​IMG] Positive 103 952 2054
    [​IMG] Neutral 0 5 18
    [​IMG] Negative 0 18 75

    Very bad feedback, if you ask me.
  14. RockStar2005
    Normally I'd agree if I didn't already know the seller. But in this case I'd be fine with it. I've seen ppl give a seller a low rating because UPS messed up the delivery. Not the seller's fault! lol But whatever.....your call.
  15. Kevin Brown
    I hear you. But then I look at the details:

    [​IMG] Never received my earphones
    JBL - On Ear Wireless Headphones T450 (#391913904261)

    [​IMG] Wrong item was delivered. Contacting the seller to send me the right item
    HARMAN KARDON HKTS 30BQ - 5.1 Channel Surround Sound Home Theatre System - Black (#201672253587)

    [​IMG] HORIIBLE!!! Haven't received, Won't respond. Been 2 weeks!!!! False 2 days ship
    JBL - On Ear Foldable Extra Bass Headphones T450 White (#152787301370)

    [​IMG] be very careful not to buying anything from this seller, send missing item OHH
    JBL FLIP 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (#152619219286) US $69.99

    [​IMG] Today the speaker left to work ! Do not buy this ítems !!!
    JBL FLIP 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (#152619219286) US $69.99

    [​IMG] Terrible product! Terrible service!
    JBL FLIP 4 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (#152619219286) US $69.99

    [​IMG] Bait and Switch. Delayed refund. Insisted we settle transaction outside ebay.
    JBL CHARGE 3 - Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker (#152638851318)

    Honestly, if the price was better, I'd consider it. But I can pay less than $10 more, still get at least a 30 day return window, from a much more highly rated seller.

    It's all about supply and demand. :)
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