The AKG K550 Impressions and Discussion Thread!
Apr 12, 2016 at 3:59 PM Post #2,221 of 2,765

Rainmaker91

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Yeah for used it's a different story I'm sure, but for new $770 is just for 1st gen. 2nd gen is like $1100. lol 
 
I skimmed over a lot of different reviews last night. For the most part, they ARE very impressive. My only real turnoff was I read a few reviews (including one on here) where reviewer said the high/treble end was pretty sharp or rough. Like too much sibilance and/or high-hat/cymbals were tough on the ears. But in other areas like soundstage and bass and/or mids it MAY just have the K553 beat? Def a worthy contender for sure. 

CPC, let us know what you're getting. I think you said K550, or K550 MKII? But let us know and what you think of it. 

The k550 really is a bit to "sharp" when it comes to treble. To my surprise though, putting it on a better amp/dac removed this signature to some degree. When I was looking for a a replacement for my K551s it was because I simply couldn't listen to some of my favourite songs with them, and I used songs like "It's a long way to the top" by AC/DC in my testing round simply because I know it's tiring to listen to with the K551s.
 
That said, the K550s are easy to modify and I managed to "smooth" it out significantly by using some dampening materials inside the cans. It's a mod that I have seen done several times in this thread in it really does work if you find the K550s tiring. 
 
Apr 12, 2016 at 4:01 PM Post #2,222 of 2,765

RockStar2005

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  The k550 really is a bit to "sharp" when it comes to treble. To my surprise though, putting it on a better amp/dac removed this signature to some degree. When I was looking for a a replacement for my K551s it was because I simply couldn't listen to some of my favourite songs with them, and I used songs like "It's a long way to the top" by AC/DC in my testing round simply because I know it's tiring to listen to with the K551s.
 
That said, the K550s are easy to modify and I managed to "smooth" it out significantly by using some dampening materials inside the cans. It's a mod that I have seen done several times in this thread in it really does work if you find the K550s tiring. 

 
Interesting. Thx for sharing!
 
It's good to know that amping can correct certain perceived inefficiencies as well. 
 
Apr 12, 2016 at 4:07 PM Post #2,223 of 2,765

Rainmaker91

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Interesting. Thx for sharing!
 
It's good to know that amping can correct certain perceived inefficiencies as well. 

It's more about the DAC I think. I tried it on a more neutral studio sound-card in the store and to my surprise the treble was significantly more pleasant than from other sources. That said, I think amping really does help a lot since they sound totally different from when I use it directly from my headphone out on my Asus Xonar STX and from what it sound like going through the line out and in to my Denon PMA-710ae. So while the specific amp does matter, I think the DAC signature is more important.
 
If you want a portable DAC/amp for them then I will say that I have good experiences using the HRT Microstreamer.
 
Apr 12, 2016 at 4:24 PM Post #2,224 of 2,765

RockStar2005

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  It's more about the DAC I think. I tried it on a more neutral studio sound-card in the store and to my surprise the treble was significantly more pleasant than from other sources. That said, I think amping really does help a lot since they sound totally different from when I use it directly from my headphone out on my Asus Xonar STX and from what it sound like going through the line out and in to my Denon PMA-710ae. So while the specific amp does matter, I think the DAC signature is more important.
 
If you want a portable DAC/amp for them then I will say that I have good experiences using the HRT Microstreamer.

 
Yes exactly. I only recommend ppl use a good amp if they're already playing off a good DAP. lol Or else it's GOTTA be a good amp/DAC combo. 
 
They both are important, but I would say DAC is more so. Amp just gives you more volume so you can hear everything better, which does lend to sound fullness/richness, but how that sound is articulated and rendered I think matters more. It helps with both cleaning up/filtering the stuff you don't want (hiss, distortions, etc) and also I believe a good DAC also lends to expanding out the soundstage and therefore improving sound separation as well. 
 
Yeah that one looks cool too. I've heard very good things. I'm really happy with my Oppo HA-2, but I'd consider that one as well. Also the Schiit Fulla. Anyone ever compare the 2 btw (Microstreamer vs. Fulla)? 
 
Apr 12, 2016 at 6:14 PM Post #2,225 of 2,765

CPCAsvd

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I'll definite tell you guys what I get at the end and the reasons. I still like the K550 a lot. I have 2 listening sessions with it, and both times were amped (JDS Element and Hifiman EF2C). So I have no idea how this thing sounds without an amp, and never experienced the thin or rough treble. Everything was balanced and well-controlled. The Element was more powerful and detailed, but I like the EF2C better because it produces more airy and relaxing sound overall (may be due to the tube preamp, I don't know). Since this is for my office and I still need to put "most" of my attention to my work other than music (lol), I got the EF2C instead. 
At home I listen to my 300B SET and a Marantz 7 preamp on a Vandersteen Model 2. I guess I get used to the tube sound and that's maybe another reason why I enjoy the EF2C a lot. The DAC of EF2C is a bit tricky to set up properly, but it isn't too bad.
 
Apr 16, 2016 at 10:53 AM Post #2,226 of 2,765

harry501501

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The k550's are the most boring headphones I've bought to date. The bass is non existent... and yes I played about for best seal as discussed here. They sound so thin and lifeless. I used them with a Fiio X1 and Topping NX2 AMP, and on my PC I used a Fiio e10k on different settings. None of which improved the bass or thinness.
 
When I returned them to the store which specialise in audio equipment even the guy behind the desk said they sounded really thin. If this is what "audiophile" sounds like then I'll stick to my UE6000s which are more full bodied, better bass and just a better all rounder than the k550s.
 
I'll spend the money I got back on Sonny MDR 100AAPs i think.
 
Apr 16, 2016 at 11:17 AM Post #2,227 of 2,765

Rainmaker91

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  The k550's are the most boring headphones I've bought to date. The bass is non existent... and yes I played about for best seal as discussed here. They sound so thin and lifeless. I used them with a Fiio X1 and Topping NX2 AMP, and on my PC I used a Fiio e10k on different settings. None of which improved the bass or thinness.
 
When I returned them to the store which specialise in audio equipment even the guy behind the desk said they sounded really thin. If this is what "audiophile" sounds like then I'll stick to my UE6000s which are more full bodied, better bass and just a better all rounder than the k550s.
 
I'll spend the money I got back on Sonny MDR 100AAPs i think.

Everyone has a different take on what good sound is like, so while you may not like them they may fit perfectly for someone else. Generally speaking though you could have saved yourself a lott of hassle by reading up on them before buying, it's well known that the k550s are relatively thin in the lower frequencies. They do however excell in many other areas and deliver very detailed sound for it's price range. Also you may get a better experience by running them from a different amp and DAC as the sound signature of each component plays a significant role in the final result.
 
Apr 17, 2016 at 4:53 AM Post #2,228 of 2,765

TheGiantHogweed

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  The k550's are the most boring headphones I've bought to date. The bass is non existent... and yes I played about for best seal as discussed here. They sound so thin and lifeless. I used them with a Fiio X1 and Topping NX2 AMP, and on my PC I used a Fiio e10k on different settings. None of which improved the bass or thinness.
 
When I returned them to the store which specialise in audio equipment even the guy behind the desk said they sounded really thin. If this is what "audiophile" sounds like then I'll stick to my UE6000s which are more full bodied, better bass and just a better all rounder than the k550s.
 
I'll spend the money I got back on Sonny MDR 100AAPs i think.


I really struggle to understand how anyone can say the bass is non existent on the K550s. Even if I move the drivers away from my ears and loose the seal, yes it does reduce but it is still there. When wearing them and having a good seal, there are no bass notes in my music that I listen too that I can't hear so I don't understand how some people say it isn't there at all.
 
My audio Technica ATH-AD700s have quite a bit less bass than these and on them if I play a frequency of around 30 hz, I can still both hear and feel the bass.
 
The K550s do have less bass than many headphones but it it pretty easy to hear when listening in a quiet environment.
 
A good seal with the K550s is important and as I said, the bass can reduce if you don't have a good one.
 
Another thing that can improve the bass is burning them in. Did you leave them playing music for 20+ hours before listening to them and deciding they have no bass what so ever? When I first got them, they didn't sound as good as a demo pair that I had listened to in the store I bought them from. That was because they had been well listened to.
 
I left mine playing overnight for 3 nights and that bass was easily a bit more noticeable after that.
 
Apr 17, 2016 at 10:23 AM Post #2,229 of 2,765

Frozenhaze

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I also had some problems with the sealing at first but after a while I found a mod that significantly improved the overall performance. Since then I have been enjoying these cans a lot!
 
Apr 17, 2016 at 11:19 AM Post #2,231 of 2,765

Frozenhaze

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I have been looking for a compact budget dac/amp for K550's recently and after some research I found out that Fiio E10K would be a fairly good choice. So I'm particularly interested in hearing if any of you have hands-on experience with this combo?
 
Apr 17, 2016 at 11:48 AM Post #2,232 of 2,765

Rainmaker91

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  I have been looking for a compact budget dac/amp for K550's recently and after some research I found out that Fiio E10K would be a fairly good choice. So I'm particularly interested in hearing if any of you have hands-on experience with this combo?

I haven't tested many, but I know the HRT Microstreamer that I had on loan kicked the Fiio E17s ass. That might be a bit more portable than what you were looking at though.
 
Edit: I see the price range may be a bit off... the HRT microstreamer is far more aggressively priced here towards the fiio than at least in the US.
 
Apr 17, 2016 at 1:58 PM Post #2,233 of 2,765

TheGiantHogweed

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  I have been looking for a compact budget dac/amp for K550's recently and after some research I found out that Fiio E10K would be a fairly good choice. So I'm particularly interested in hearing if any of you have hands-on experience with this combo?


I have the FiiO E10 and the K550s. I don't think the E10k will be that different. It worked fine with them but I have recently bought the SMSL SD-793II and that seems a fair bit better. It was £10 cheaper too. Only disadvantage really is that there is no bass boost or USB input. There is however an optical and coaxial input so still reasonable.
 
I stopped using my E10 because I could hear a fair bit of my internal computer noise. I have come to a decision that USB isn't the best for audio. I seem to be able to hear crackling, popping and similar each time I open a new program. It is only really quiet and hardly noticeable a lot of the time but can also be very irritating during quiet music.
 
The SMSL SD-793II doesn't have these issues and sounds much cleaner. The E10k may have improved and I don't think every PC will have this internal noise related issue that I have with my E10.
 
 
The E10 does have a decent quality sound with the K550s though. A little better than listening directly through my built in sound card I would say.
I have done a pretty long review of the SMSL SD-793II and compared it to the E10 in parts of it. It may be worth reading. The main headphones I use are the K550s and the Audio Technica ATH-AD700s.
 
This review may help out a bit:
http://www.head-fi.org/t/803402/impression-s-m-s-l-sd-793ii-audio-dac-headphone-amplifier#post_12463703
 
If you have any more questions about how the K550s sound with this DAC/AMP, you could ask me on this thread. I do think it should be as good or better than the E10k.
 
Apr 17, 2016 at 2:59 PM Post #2,234 of 2,765

Frozenhaze

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Thank you for your quick answers. HRT is a bit over my budget so I might go with FiiO then because of the USB input (mainly laptop use). I think It will be more than adequate if it performs even decent with the K550's as I'm not expecting miracles at this price point.
 
Apr 17, 2016 at 7:16 PM Post #2,235 of 2,765

RockStar2005

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I really struggle to understand how anyone can say the bass is non existent on the K550s. Even if I move the drivers away from my ears and loose the seal, yes it does reduce but it is still there. When wearing them and having a good seal, there are no bass notes in my music that I listen too that I can't hear so I don't understand how some people say it isn't there at all.
 
My audio Technica ATH-AD700s have quite a bit less bass than these and on them if I play a frequency of around 30 hz, I can still both hear and feel the bass.
 
The K550s do have less bass than many headphones but it it pretty easy to hear when listening in a quiet environment.
 
A good seal with the K550s is important and as I said, the bass can reduce if you don't have a good one.
 
Another thing that can improve the bass is burning them in. Did you leave them playing music for 20+ hours before listening to them and deciding they have no bass what so ever? When I first got them, they didn't sound as good as a demo pair that I had listened to in the store I bought them from. That was because they had been well listened to.
 
I left mine playing overnight for 3 nights and that bass was easily a bit more noticeable after that.

 
Yeah, I had the K550, have the K553, and I will be auditioning the K550 MKII vs. my K553 this week. Anyone who doesn't think any of these headphones (which are all the same, or at least that's what I'll be trying to PROVE this week lol) has enough bass isn't listening. 
 
The problem is, if you care more about bass than anything else, then yeah, there are other headphones that arguably do bass better (i.e. Blue Lola). But those are other headphones don't always render the other stuff AS well.........the mids, the highs (sparkle or no sparkle?), soundstage, instrument isolation, etc. The K55X series handles bass the way IT'S SUPPOSED to be handled........ don't add extra bass in, especially if it's gonna spill over or muddy up the other frequencies. This what I saw on headphones that cost double to triple what the K55X series headphones cost. It was either they couldn't match the soundstage of the K55X, or the higher end sparkle or background stuff (fills, echoes, etc.) was overshadowed by the bass. In the case of the Blue Lola, the bass isolation was even better than the K553's I compared it to, but it lacked the sparkle that the other even pricier headphones had but again it was overshadowed by the excess bass. 
 
Everyone has their preferences, but some ppl call headphones that aren't neutral "more fun", but to me, the real fun is hearing EVERYTHING the artist or band intended for their fans to hear, not just 80% of it. 
 

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