AKG’s New Reference: The K550

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Amplifier Pairing

One area where the K550 deserves a spotlight is in the driver efficiency rating. 114dB/V makes it the easiest to drive full size headphone that I know. And that’s with a 50mm diameter driver.  What that means is that the K550 is almost as easy to drive as ultraportables like the PX100. Pretty amazing accomplishment from AKG in my opinion.

It does benefit from an amp, however, as the K550 is very resolving to the quality of the amplification and the source. But even more, that bass impact I was complaining about, does get better with a good strong amp. I enjoy the K550 with almost anything I use it with. From the Fiio E10/E17, the CLAS/ALO Rx Mk3-B combo (single ended), the Bottlehead Crack, to the RSA Dark Star. The Dark Star’s high gain level does lead to some hiss in the sound, but otherwise it gives the grandest sound that’s hard to beat with the smaller amps.

Build Quality and Ergonomics

I think we can all agree that the K550 is one of the most handsome looking headphone in existence today. The headphone has been high on my listening list from the first moment I saw its photos. That matte black and graphite look with high quality plastic, leather earpads, and metal headband looks extremely slick. Holding the headphone in my hand, I can confirm that all the publicity photos are indeed telling the truth. The build quality is first class, and except for the faux leather pads, should be compared to the best headphones in the industry. Sennheiser HD700? Shure SRH1840? I’ll take the K550’s build any day. The fit of the K550 is also a big improvement over the K701. The pads rest very well, and the overall headphone felt a lot more comfortable than the K701 is. Not only excelling in terms of design and build, the K550 is also one of the most comfortable headphones in existence today. Combine that with the excellent sound, and if I was doing a point-based review, the K550 would’ve come out with a near perfect score.

End Words

The K550 has received my respect from the first moment I’ve listened to it. Burn in time was very brief, and in a matter of hours the bass cleared up and I was hearing the K550 in its best form. I can tell immediately that it was an improvement from the K701 as I’ve never remembered the K701 sounding so clean and with such a black background. But it was not until I went and did a direct comparison with the K701 that it really occurred to me how far the new AKG is from its predecessor.

While I’ve never been a big fan of the K701, it was mostly due to sound signature and I’ve always acknowledged it as having a very solid technicalities in the $300 price bracket. I may have described the K701 as being ambivalent and lacking musicality, but I never really associated it with words such as fuzzy and grainy. And yet, next to the K550, the K701 becomes just that: fuzzy and grainy. It was more open sounding, but the much improved instrument separation on the K550 made the K701 sounds like a vintage headphone. I think these comparisons with the K701 should give you an idea of how much of a better headphone the K550 is. I can’t even imagine the price tag being $300 as I can imagine the K550 competing with Shure’s new $700 SRH1840.

At the end I just want to congratulate AKG for bringing such a technological leap into their new headphone. The K550 should be on the list of everyone looking for a new $300 headphone. I can’t praise it enough, and indeed this review is definitely the most positive review I’ve written on an AKG.

Gear Used for Review

Source: Ipod Classic, Cypher Labs AlgoRhythm Solo, Fiio E10, Fiio E17, KingRex UD384, Altman Tera Player, HRT HeadStreamer, HRT iStreamer. Amplifier: ALO Rx Mk3-B, RSA Dark Star, Bottlehead Crack, JDSLabs C421 Headphones: AKG K550, K701, Sennheiser HD650, HD580, Hifiman HE-500

 

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AKG’s New Reference: The K550
3.83 (76.67%) 12 votes

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302 Comments

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Earfonia

    I want one 😀
    Thanks for the review! One question about the bass quantity and quality, how is it compared to Audio Technica M50, Shure SRH840 and Beyerdynamic T1? Not detail comparison, just about which has more or less bass. I would like to get the idea of the bass quantity, compared to other models I’m familiar with. Tx!

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      I think bass quantity is close to the M-50 but less boomy than the ATH.

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Earfonia

        Thanks Mike! That’s good! M-50 bass would be sufficient for me 🙂

        • Reply May 28, 2012

          Mike

          Yes the bass is definitely enough. It’s not thin in anyway. I just want more slam. 😉

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Ken Stuart

      I’d also like to know that, especially in terms of the SRH-1840.

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    James

    So I take it you liked it?

    I’m considering getting this as the D2000 comes to it’s end. Would you say the bass is sufficient for EDM like Dubstep and DnB? I will be getting an amp as well, so I’ll probably go with something like an E10 that has a bass boost.

    Any help would be appreciated!

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      Can you give me some test tracks to try the K550 with?

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Gen Kanai

        I don’t know any dubstep but famous DnB tracks might include:

        LTJ Bukem’s “Demon’s Theme” (1992)

        Nightmares On Wax’s “Aftermath” (1990)

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Brian Hamrick

    great review. I was thinkning of getting ONE more pair of cans, and these look right down my alley. Thanks 🙂

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      You’re welcome, Brian.

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Jeff Kong

    Thanks for the review!
    guess i might get these when i move into that price region :3

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      What price region are you at right now? 😉

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        Mike, I think that there are quite a few people these days, who have discerning tastes, but not enough $$ in their budget for a $300 pair of headphones. That is why M-50 and 555/558 sell so well.

        • Reply May 28, 2012

          Mike

          Yes I agree.. that’s why I love recommending affordable gear.

          • Reply June 3, 2012

            Jeff Kong

            i think what you had mentioned in a previous article was quite on the spot regarding this. Slowly moving up from cheaper entry gear and progressively into mid range etc.

            SO MANY THINGS I WANT TO BUY!!! >.<

      • Reply June 3, 2012

        Jeff Kong

        well i guess ~150-200 so atm, 300 might be my next can :3

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Dave Kwan

    Do you think the K550s compliment the HD650s or is it just a tangent of the same phones? You didn’t go in depth of what music preferences you liked with the AKGs. Thanks for a good review overall.

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      Dave,
      I think it would be an upgrade to the HD650 for some people as the technicalities and the clarity is superior. It’s not exactly similar to the HD650, but I can say that they cover a similar range of music, something moderately laid back, medium pace Rock, Pop, Acoustic, Jazz, Indie, Classical. If you want something punchy and aggressive, I’d still take the HD25-1, Vmoda M80 or Fidelio L1. I’d group the K550 together with the HD600/650/558/598, Shure SRH1440-1840, ATH AD series, ATH A and W series.

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mateusz Ludwin

      The clarity is better but the soundstage on the HD650 paired with decent amplifier is still superior. HQ acoustic records like Jordi Savall sound less precise on the HD650 but also much more real due to open design. Listening to the K550 is like watching a movie on an extremely high resolution LCD screen – you can see every detail but it will never be a live performance.
      HD650 is also much better suited for for rock and metal. I’m currently using K550 as a semi portable gear while staying with the HD650 on a desktop setup. So – yes, the K550 does complement the HD650.

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Mike

        I think that’s a good point, yes. The soundstage on the HD650 puts you more in the music, with a high end amplifier that is.

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Trent_D

    I just got my pair (got them for 169.38 dollars new. I love my job discount) and I really like them. Right now, I am running them with a headstage Dac Cable and a JDS Cmoy. I was thinking, since I do find it a TAD analytical in its sound, of upgrading the dac to a MS2+ and a Asgard. Combine the K550 with a smooth, warm, analogue sound, and the Asgard might help add body to the mids and bass. Seems to me like that would be a good system.

    With what I have right now, my classical sounds very good (although I still would love the enhancements to resolution that the MS2+ will bring) but I had a real eargasm listening to my remastered album of Grateful Dead’s American Beauty. The clarity is amazing. These are a very nice pair of headphones.

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      The clarity is amazing indeed.

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Trent_D

        You agree that the MS2+ and the Asgard would make a worthwhile upgrade?

        • Reply May 28, 2012

          Mike

          Trent,
          It would be a significant upgrade from the Headstage Cable and the Cmoy.

          Especially the DAC section.

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Spankey Meister

    I have had the K550’s for two weeks now and am feeling a little dissappointed with them. I will be selling them but the question I would like to ask is how does the bass compare to the HD700’s?

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      On the HD700 that I had reviewed, it has less bass than the K550.

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Mike

        And the treble is nicer on the K550 too. It’s less sibilant than the HD700.

        Not saying that the HD700 < K550, since the 700 is still superior on a lot of technical aspects (it also sounds bigger overall), but if you're just asking on bass/treble quantity, then the K550 wins.

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Pickcick

        This is interesting.
        I’ve tried the K550 and felt that it has less bass to my personal favor (not saying it has no bass).
        It provides ample of bass but just doesn’t give the “umphhh”.

        Now, it makes me wonder about the bass on HD700 if it has “less” bass than the K550.

        • Reply May 28, 2012

          Mike

          Yes that umpph you said, it’s impact and slam on my vocabulary.

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    John Kim

    Thanks for mentioning that it’s not really suitable as a primary can for rock/metal. That’s all I really needed to know, but they’re interesting cans nevertheless…

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Don Vittorio Sierra

      I wouldn’t look at it that way though because for me for example, the non-rock/metal oriented cans like the senn hd600s tend to be better than the so-called metal cans like Grados for instance. Its all up to the listener when the preference part comes. It’s the part about the black background, non-aggressive sound yet better upper treble articulation with a planted sound that interests me. This review is making me want to buy a pair 🙂

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Mike

        Yes I can see where you are coming from, Don. And I do think there is some truth in that..

        The K550. I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but it’s one of the best new headphone I’ve reviewed and I think it should be on your audition list.

        • Reply May 29, 2012

          Don Vittorio Sierra

          I forgot to say that I like listening to metal on the hd600s more than any grado anyday. That is what I was saying. I think you got what I meant though. I just wanted to say it for the people that were thinking about metal genre matching.

    • Reply June 6, 2012

      Miguel Garcia-Guzman

      I think the AKG 550 is very good with all types of music and that includes Ross and metal. I just listened to a record from Brand New and it is absolutely breathtaking.

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    phillip sim

    Hey, how does it stand against T70 in your opinion?
    Would like to hear from you guys!
    Thanks!

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      Phillip,
      I still have yet to listen to the T70. Our T70 review was done by Lieven.

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        phillip sim

        Sure. Fully awaits your comment because ya’ll are doing a great job helping us headphone enthusiasts.

        • Reply May 28, 2012

          Mike

          Thanks, Phillip. 🙂

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Chris Allen

    Very nice review, Mike. Is the K550 treble happy or sibilant at all? I’d hope not.

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      Nope I think treble is done very nicely on the K550.

    • Reply June 6, 2012

      Miguel Garcia-Guzman

      Not sibilant or strident at all. Very well controlled highs, but present and clear.

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Julian Junishev

    People have to be more careful when talking about K701. I’ve had in my house 3 different K701s and one K702. All sounded VERY different one from another. K701s from different batches may vary much in tonal balance, sounsdtage, harshness, etc. Mine are #3994 (one of the first shipped in Europe) and have the most natural treble I’ve ever experienced with headphone no matter the amp used. Also their tonal balance, especially in low end is much different and richer than the other K701/2. I have Stax SR-007, LCD-2 r.2 and many other flagships before but still think about my K701 as a leader in analog-like presentation of high frequencies.

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      Interesting point. Three different K701s?

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Julian Junishev

        Yes. And one K702 which is supposed to be the same as K702 but was completely different. And it’s not my opinion only but the owners of the other headphones also made their comparisons.
        It reminds me the FR graph variations of LCD-2 discussed in head-fi.
        You can make your own research about K701’s variations.

        • Reply May 28, 2012

          Mike

          Alright, thanks for sharing, Julian.

      • Reply May 29, 2012

        Don Vittorio Sierra

        just goes to show that one has to be a nut to buy the k701s … unless what you get what you get for the price of three of them gets something better than the flagships that is LOL

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Aric Ross

    can you compare the AKG K550 with the Phillips Fidelio L1? can’t decide which one I want to pick up. I listen to things like queens of the stone age, tool, ratatat, white stripes, zepplin and i need a closed headphone for work/studies outside of home.

    Thanks!

    • Reply May 28, 2012

      Mike

      That’s a good question.

      Mainly, the L1 is a more aggressive headphone with better bass impact, more forward sound, and better PRaT. The two headphones are similar in that they both have a relatively black background and a clean sound, the AKG of course being more spacious.

      • Reply May 28, 2012

        Aric Ross

        Do you think if I amped the AKG’s with something like the Fiio E17 it would be a more competent set up for rock and metal?

        • Reply May 28, 2012

          Mike

          I would still go with the Fidelio L1 or the HD25-1. It’s always best to go with the right headphone, rather than trying to fix it with an amp.

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Gorboman

    dang, mike. now i’m no longer shure which one to get… if u know what i mean 😉

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Mike

      I like the K550’s price, roughly half of the SRH 1840. 😉

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    christopherpuchta

    Great review! I’ll definitely check out the 550 this week…need something to replace my Beyer DT770s 🙂

  • Reply May 28, 2012

    Nick Tam

    Wow most positive review here! The k550 is $250 here so I’m more or less tempted to get this and the national or uha120 combo rather than that graham solo I was planning on; the k550 is closed back right? so it’s really just a closed back hd650 at the cost of a slightly closed soundstage but much more driveability as a portable setup, so it’s fair to say that it is a compliment to the bass slamming family of cans as you’ve mentioned?

    Thx for the review!

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Mike

      I tried not to make such a big deal of the weak bass impact of the K550, but I did acknowledge that it is one of the things that’s still keeping me loyal to my Senns.

      As it turned out however a lot of the comments do mention that many owners have a problem adjusting to the weak bass punch, and indeed this is a real concern.

      Overall, if we consider the total sound quality, the clean sound, the black background, the K550 is still and incredibly solid headphone, but you just have to be ready to accept the fact that the bass may be lacking.

      When I reviewed the AHA-120 (Lieven did the uHA), it wasn’t a particularly punchy amp. I would go with the National for the K550 mostly to help with the bass punch.

      • Reply May 29, 2012

        Trent_D

        That’s one reason why I thought the Asgard might be a good amp for these. They would add some more body to the bass. That, and they play will with low impedance headphones. Although, a little more body would be nice (and I don’t believe that the Cmoy or the headstage Dac cable are known for their bass either, which is what I am using), I am OK with the bass on the k550. I wanted detail and clarity, and this headphone delivers. Now, just to tweak the sound a bit.

        • Reply June 3, 2012

          Nick Tam

          In a way i find it hard to believe that the hd650 is outmatched by the k550, although its not unbelievable given the age of the senns’ drivers. although ive yet to audition the 550, i really do hope that the hd650 isnt made obsolete other than just being an open back counterpart of the k550 and maintaining a better bass body

          • Reply June 4, 2012

            Mike

            Nick,
            I don’t think it’s obsolete, the HD650 still sells very well last time I checked with the local Jaben. Again, it’s not always about the technicalities.

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    Chow Chi Eng

    Hi Mike,
    how do you think it compares to dt770(whichever model you are familiar with). They seem to have similar sound signature(recessed mid and full bass).

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Mike

      I think the main difference is that the DT770 250Ω and 600Ω still feel more hollow on the mids, and also thinner and dryer overall. The background is not as black as on the AKG hence you get a less distinct instruments. The Beyers also have a little bit of grain in their sound, as opposed to the clean and smooth sound of the new AKG.

      With the 80Ω version, you get more bass (both punch and body) on the Beyer than compared to the AKG. There is still a little hollowness in the mids though.

      • Reply May 29, 2012

        Chow Chi Eng

        wow..It sounds like k550 is really good technically.
        Thanks for the comparison Mike!

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    Rūdolfs Putniņš

    AKG K550, Philips L1 and V-Moda M80 are the trends I like seeing in new personal audio era. Great design combined with a sound to match.

    I hope I’ll never have to regret investing in the HD25/650 combo.

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Mike

      The Senns are grainy (especially the HD25) in comparison to the K550, L1, and M80, but other than that they are still great headphones and still very competitive even today.

    • Reply June 6, 2012

      Miguel Garcia-Guzman

      I have both the V-Moda M80 and the AKG 550. Both are great but the AKG is at a different league. Can’t compare both in clarity and resolving power or soundstage. But I agree that both define a high quality/price ratio that others will have to match.

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    Greg Johnson

    Mike, I’ve had a pair for a couple of weeks (wanted a pair of sealed headphones to stream Pandora at work) but have been disappointed with the bass response of the K550’s (probably have grown too accustomed to my Super.fi 5 pro’s). Can you recommend a couple of amps at different price points (do not need to be portable) that will help bring the low end forward and provide more bass impact/presence? Perhaps one that includes a bass boost option that nicely augments the bass/sub-bass without muddying the overall sound or one that is inherently dark and punchy. I know this is not the best approach, but do you think there are any solid workably options? Thanks!

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Mike

      Greg,
      I understand what you’re saying. Especially next to the super-punchy Super.fi 5 pros.

      I’ve tried it with a few amps and the best one to improve the bass impact is the ALO Rx MK3B. And even then it still doesn’t punch like a Super.Fi 5. I just don’t think that they designed the headphone to be punchy like that. I don’t want you to spend all that money trying different amps only to find marginal improvements in bass. After all, it’s very hard to change the basic character of a headphone, and it’s very rare that an amplifier can change a headphone into something that it wasn’t.

      I think you’d be better off with headphones like the HD25-1 or the Fidelio L1, if you want a Super.Fi 5 like bass punch. They are not incredibly bassy headphone, but they have strong and solid punch.

      • Reply May 29, 2012

        Greg Johnson

        Thanks, Mike. Would the Ultrasone Pro 900’s fall into this category? I’m looking for something with good isolation.

        • Reply May 29, 2012

          Mike

          The Pro 900 would give you the isolation, and yes better bass punch than the K550. You just have to try if the Ultrasone sound signature fits your music. A lot of people find the S-logic presentation and the hollow mids bothersome.

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    Mike

    Alright, thanks James.

    I’ve tried the K550 with all four tracks and while not bad, I’d give it a 7/10 for those music. On the slower ambient passages, the K550 did really well and it really puts you into the mood of the music. 9/10. Then when the pace picks up, and the bass gets busy, I felt that the K550 got lost in the tempo. Each bass notes weren’t articulated properly, the overhang was too slow, the punch not enough to gets you toe-tapping. Also the wide soundstage diffuses the energy of the music and I didn’t get the emotion at all. It was a 5.5/10 presentation for the busy passages.

    A much better headphone for these is the Fidelio L1. On the slower ambient passages, the L1 was not as wide as the K550, but it was still spacious and had a better depth than the K550. So I’d give the L1 an 8.5/10 for the slower ambient passages. On the faster, busy passages, the L1 totally rocked. Fast bass, well articulated, all the PRaT is happening with the L1. 9/10 for the faster passages.

    The L1 is just a much better headphone for these tracks.

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      James

      Thanks a ton Mike, I’ll be sure to come to you for help in the future.

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    antonius wijaya

    Nice review mike. Btw what’s the difference between bass slam and bass punch? You said K550 lack bass slam but how about the bass punch?

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Mike

      The bass punch is not that impressive as well. It’s there, but I can use a little bit more punch.

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    P. J.

    I heard some good stuff about these headphones but if its true what you say that they are similar to HE-500 then I am sold as I need a closed counterpart to the HE-500. How well do they isolate out and in Mike?

    • Reply May 29, 2012

      Mike

      P.J. ,
      They isolate very well, though I wouldn’t expect them to block subway noise (I don’t think they are meant for those).
      I don’t really mean that they are similar to the HE-500.. I think you read it the wrong way.

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    Denton Chen

    i have to say that is a stunning picture of the K550s on the wrong page. =)

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    TheMiddleSky

    Glad finally you could love AKG’s things Mike 😀

    Base on “common” people who come to my place, seems most of them also appreciate K550 very well. Some of them are still say that the sound still typical as K70X which is “not enough body” though.

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      derbii

      Q701’s are solution for those who think K701’s are thin. 😛

  • Reply May 29, 2012

    derbii

    Having owned this headphone for about 2 months now, as well as owning the K702 for about a year, I have to say this review sound a bit “too positive”. Not that K550 are bad headphones, and it comes at half the price of K702 in my country, but I would not say that it is superior, and I would especially not agree that there is a stark difference between the two in any area. I also own the Sennheiser HD650, which I feel are superior to both AKG’s in every single way. But that’s another story. About K550 vs. K702. I feel the ONLY advantage of K550 when well powered and used with a good source is the soundstage. K702 and K701 indeed do have a pretty bad imaging and absolutely no central image or soundstage depth. The soundstage feels 2D, it’s only very wide, too wide sometimes. With K550’s soundstage is not as wide, but it is taller and deeper, with clearer central image. It is closer to that of Ultrasone HFi2400, which still is the king of imaging compared to all the headphones that I own, but K550 comes very close.
    Other than soundstage /imaging, I feel that K550’s and K702’s sound extremely alike. Almost like an opened and closed version of the same headphone. I feel highs on K550’s are not as smooth, they’re crisper and sharper, which may contribute to feeling of clarity, but I think they’re a bit overly sparkly and sharp sometimes. Bass of K550’s does extend deeper than K702, but the level of bass punch is so low that sometimes it’s almost disappointing to listen to K550’s. That’s with Musical Fidelity M1DAC and Bellari HA540 tube amp, a DAC way more expensive than the headphones, and a tube amp with power to run 5 K550’s at the same time if they could all be connected to it. But still, any music that requires bass slam, is not good on these headphones. Perfect music for these, or in other words, album that I find sounds best with these is the Eric Clapton – Unplugged 1992 live album. It just sounds mind-blowing on K550’s. Better than K701, HD650 or Ultrasone HFi-2400. So, if you’re into such types of music, acoustic guitar, some bass guitar, some piano, live, then K550’s might be for you. But when moving on to something like Dire Straits, you already feel the lack of body and bass slam is holding these headphones back.

    But now, on to the biggest issue. These headphones, in my opinion have very poor ergonomics, which would we fine if it only affected comfort, but it affects sound. Lots of people aren’t able to get a proper seal on their head, which ruins the sound. No.1 – Headband is too damn springy. It has by far the least clamping force of any headphone I’ve ever owned. K702 is like a torture device compared to these in terms of pressure. There’s just not enough force to make a good seal.
    No.2 – Since the ear pads are so big in diameter, if your ears are too far back on your head, or if your head starts to curve a lot behind your ears, you will not get a proper seal behind your ears. What AKG should have done, is make the ear pads thicker in the rear, and thinner in the front. So that the pads will follow the natural curvature of the head. The same as they have done with K701/2 pads. Or they should simply make the headphones clamp more. You can’t have flat ear pads and no clamping force. Those two don’t go together. You either need strong clamping force, or you need a curved ear pad.
    Also, padding on top of the headband is very thin. I have no clue why AKG fails to make a headphone with a comfortable headband, you’d imagine that’s the easier part of headphone to make. Padding up there is literally only a few millimeters thick, and since headphones don’t grip your head with ear pads, almost all the force from the weight pressed on the top.

    Holes inside the ear pads could be a bit bigger as well. Or taller, to be more precise. They’re 5,5 cm in diameter (compared to 6,5 on K701/2), which is exactly too small to fit my ears, and contribute additionally to ear pad seal problems.

    Another negative would be – smelly pleather – seriously, while the pleather is extremely soft and nice to touch, it stinks horribly when these headphone are new. They stank so bad (plasticky/rubbery smell) that I thought I got some fakes and called the dealer when I opened the up for the first time. You wanna leave them outside on fresh air for a few hours after buying them. 😛

    I don’t want to sound like I’m trashing these headphones. I just wanted to point out the negatives that become obvious when using these a longer period of time, since Mike’s review makes them seem sort of close to perfect, which they’re certainly not.

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      Antonio Marques

      100% agree in your comments about ergonomics. I own them and find same problems.

      • Reply May 30, 2012

        derbii

        If they had a better fit and a softer headband, they’d be much more complete, this way they feel like they’re not a well thought out design. What is especially irritating is the fact that I don’t use these headphones because I know in advance that before I can start listening, I have to spend a few minutes of fine tuning of the positioning, twisting the cups, pressing the cups, etc. in order to find the perfect position in which they sound best, and then I know that I can’t do any sudden moves with my head, or twist the head left or right, because every movement will break the seal, since headband pressure is incredibly low. I even tried twisting the headband inwards, to make it clamp stronger, but the metal part on the top of the headband is so thin, and so springy there’s no effect. Anyone who wants to buy these should definitely try them on first. Especially if they wear glasses, as they can break the seal as well.

        • Reply May 30, 2012

          Ken Stuart

          Actually, this is similar in many ways to my experience of the SRH-1840, which makes the “fit” issue more of a concern simply because they are even more expensive (although the K550 are still expensive enough to merit a “fit” mechanism that works for almost all people).
          In other words, there are fit issues that affect sound, even when they don’t affect comfort.
          So, I’m suggesting that Mike give some attention to this in the future – in other words, the headphones might fit Mike just fine, but he should look at whether they have an adequate mechanism to fit all users, and comment on that in his reviews. Thanks.

          • Reply May 30, 2012

            derbii

            deleted

          • Reply May 30, 2012

            Antonio Marques

            In fact you can read same view as yours in Tyll´s review:
            http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/wonderfully-competent-akg-k550-sealed-headphone

            BUT … it is still a superb headphone to me. Let´s hope MKII version improves clamping and/or pads. My trick (you can laugh) take the headband of a headlight and help pushing the cups inwards (don´t do it in the office, hehe).

          • Reply May 30, 2012

            dalethorn

            My take on fit, per these examples: Beyer DT48 – don’t even ask. Beyer DT1350 – difficult at best. Senn HD800 – best. Shure 1840 – second best. Philips L1 – OK but a bit crowded, takes a minute to feel comfy. Grado PS500 – good, but needs occasional adjustment. GMP 8.35D – same as L1. vmoda M80 – better than DT1350.

            • Reply May 30, 2012

              Mike

              I pretty much agree to the ranking on fit too. Just on the PS500, I am not a big fan of the heavy metal cups + grado bowl pads. On my MS-Pro it’s much better since the wood cups are much lighter.

              • Reply May 30, 2012

                dalethorn

                Yeah (heh) if you like the PS500 that much you’d really love the PS1000. You can drown in those.

                • Reply May 30, 2012

                  Mike

                  I didn’t like the PS1000. I thought the fit was horrible and the metal cups again too heavy. I prefer the GS1000. 🙂

          • Reply May 30, 2012

            Mike

            Thanks, Ken. I will try to pay attention to that.

            By the way may I know what browser you’re using? I’m trying to pinpoint the cause of all these double posts.

            • Reply May 30, 2012

              Ken Stuart

              Firefox – The cause of the double posts are that I type the message and
              then click on “post as Ken Stuart” button and sometimes it immediately
              changes and posts the message visually. Other times nothing changes
              visually, but the message appears later. Other times the message never
              appears. I’m learning to wait some minutes before concluding that it
              did not work. 🙂

              • Reply May 31, 2012

                L.

                Click once and refresh the page 😉

              • Reply May 31, 2012

                Mike

                I see, thanks for the feedback Ken.

      • Reply May 30, 2012

        Mike

        Thanks. I personally find the K550 to be extremely comfortable.

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      Mike

      I appreciate the impression there, derbii.

      Personally I just can’t go back to the 701 once I’ve listened to the K550. The difference is not even close. Much blacker background, much cleaner sound and this has nothing to do with treble, it’s just a total lack of grain on the K550.

      • Reply August 29, 2012

        Don Vittorio Sierra

        The recessed upper mids on any headphone do give an impression of a black background though. Its mostly a function of the frequency response. I still want to hear these for myself though.

    • Reply September 2, 2012

      Don Vittorio Sierra

      Have you compared these with a Q701 Mike?

    • Reply December 3, 2012

      John Clare

      Aside from the headband cushion and the stink you read my mind. Derbii you sound like we have the same ears, though I don’t have your collection of headphones. To me the K550’s upper mid and treble can sound very harsh and fatiguing (JDS Labs c421), and they lack bass impact beyond what I can tolerate and I don’t consider myself a bass head. Switching amps to the National this week really helped relieve the harshness but I think the c421 is a cleaner and wider sounding amp to the National on the K550. And those ear cups make a lousy seal on my huge head, so the bass suffers more, even with Mickey Mouse modifications.

      So derbii, I need to ask you, what should I buy to fix these issues? HD 650? HE-500? Any suggestions at all? I’m starting to lean towards an open headphone because of my sweaty ears!

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    Eugen

    Damn, you make this headphone sound like an improved version of the HD250, which I love … now I have to listen to it. 🙂

    This is the first review by you that I doubt ….

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      Mike

      Hd250? No kidding.

      • Reply May 30, 2012

        Eugen

        Just kidding. 🙂

      • Reply May 30, 2012

        Eugen

        Try the HD250, it will rewrite some rules for you … this time I’m not kidding. 🙂

        • Reply May 31, 2012

          Mike

          I’ve tried it before.. I’ll try to listen to it again. 🙂

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    Austin Morrow

    I really do like the look of the K550’s and based on several opinions, they would fit perfectly in my collection. What baffles me is why AKG opted for a non-removable cable, which is a deal breaker for me.

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    Antonio Marques

    Mike, AKG should contract you for inserting these photos in their leaflet. There are no better pics of this product anywherearound. Faaaaaar better.

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks, Antonio. 😉

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    Ehr33

    Hi Mike! How is it compare to Denon D2000 or D5000? Do you consider it as dark sounding? Will it a bad match with the Fostex HP P1? Thanks!

    • Reply May 30, 2012

      Mike

      I haven’t tried it with the HP-P1 but I think it should be a good match.

      The Denons have a punchier bass, but in terms of overall sound quality I think the AKG is cleaner, smoother, I think better overall.

  • Reply May 30, 2012

    Mike

    Hi Robert,
    Definitely go with the K550 for large orchestras. It’s much better than the K702.

  • Reply May 31, 2012

    SoundEskimoo

    wowww! awesome review Mike.

    This headphone indeed really unique, it has very neat sounding from bottom to the top, traditionally AKG has ‘crystal clear’ sound sig compared to darkish sennheiser.

    Actually K701 didn’t perform that bad, just not perfect enough to become mainstream choice. Lack body (mid&bass), too analitical, cold. Q701 & K702 reported “fix” that things a bit, especially they have more bass & Q701 especially smoother sounding than K701.

    For K550 they took the AKG’s new formula & tuned better for mainstream. What different here is that they refined K701 to have more dignity & well behaved. Too well behave I thought, this is the only complain I have, I felt the AKG’s mids sound too polite (thin). But overall this is what K701 sound should be!

    Kudos 300$ AKG, wont drain my wallet CMIIW
    * if they use same driver technology, you should have at least 300hours before unveiled its true potential.

    • Reply June 6, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks for sharing your impression, SoundEskimoo! Haven’t seen you post here for a while.

      • Reply June 10, 2012

        SoundEskimoo

        I really like this kind of article , Mike. A lot of new products launched, including from Sennheiser.

  • Reply June 4, 2012

    Mike

    Robert,
    I don’t think the K550 shares anything similar to the K501 except for perhaps the slightly similar look of the shell.

    • Reply June 4, 2012

      Robert Scur

      Maybe I haven’t expressed myself properly. I was referring exclusively to the sound profile of the K501. Naturally, the technology involved in building these two headphones is very distinctive. Well, what I heard from an owner of many AKGs is that sound of the K550 would be nearer to a K501 remarkably improved than a K701.
      Anyway, the K550 will come to my home. And I hope it comes to stay! :o)

      • Reply June 4, 2012

        Mike

        Yes, I understand. The K501 is nothing like the K550, sound profile, frequency balance, treble, mid, bass, no similarity.

  • Reply June 6, 2012

    Trent_D

    So, if you had one amp to pair these with, what would it be?

    • Reply June 6, 2012

      Mike

      I still don’t know, to be honest. The Bottlehead Crack is nice for its clean sound, and the ALO Rx MK-3B is nice for the bass, but I wouldn’t think of them as the ultimate K550 pairing.

  • Reply June 6, 2012

    Miguel Garcia-Guzman

    I own the AKG 550. In agreement with the review I think that for the price, this headphone is superb. I have compared it to other well known headphones in a price range double to the AKG550 such as the HE-500 and the Senheiser HD650 and the new HD700 and in my opinion the AKG 550 has cleaner sound, very well balanced and perfect control of bass (not punchy by very well controlled) with highs that are clear but not strident. I found the HE-500 more musical and a fantastic headphone but it is heavy and double the price, not to mention that this last needs a powerful amp while the AKG 550 runs extremely well with lower powered amps. At home I listen using the shiit Asgard and the Bifrost and the sound with the AKG is just superb.

    From the ergonomic side I understand the critique. The head past is too weak for medium to small heads. To get a good sealing I curve the headband by hand so it fits better my head and now it works perfect. At the start I noticed a point of pressure on my head top, but after 2 weeks of use I don’t it feel it any longer..

    In summary, I give this headphone a 9 out of 10. I don’t give it a 10 – for the price – because there is a better headphone to come, but today for $300 I don’t know of anything better than the AKG 550. It has my strongest recommendation.

    • Reply June 6, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks for the well written impression, Miguel

    • Reply June 15, 2012

      Fabio_Rocks

      I am just curious, Which you prefer the hd 650 or the k550?

  • Reply June 7, 2012

    Victor Yu

    Hi Mike, you mentioned that my Asgard and Wa6-Se will not drive the HE500 well, how about this AKG550? Will it sound even better with my amp compare to the hifiman? All my ATH headphones have some colors even the W3000ANV, would this AKG give me more natural sound?

    • Reply June 8, 2012

      Mike

      Victor,
      The AKG should give you a different sound than the W-series ATH, and it should pair very well with your WA6SE.

      • Reply June 8, 2012

        Victor Yu

        Hi Mike, with the WA6SE, do you think that driving the AKG 550 will give me better sounding than driving the Hifiman HE500?

        • Reply June 8, 2012

          Mike

          Yes with the WA6SE, better go with the K550.

          • Reply June 8, 2012

            Victor Yu

            By the way do you think that the WA6SE and the Asgard are good match for my W3000ANV and AD1000PRM?

            • Reply June 9, 2012

              Mike

              I’ve never heard the W3000ANV so I’m just saying this based from my experience with the W1000X

              I think yes with the WA6SE. With the Asgard, they’re okay.

  • Reply June 9, 2012

    Jan Sindberg

    How does this compare to Philips Fidelio L1? I think their price is fairly even where I can buy these. And how big is the sealing-problem when wearing glasses? Would Philips work better with glasses?

    • Reply June 9, 2012

      Jan Sindberg

      Oh, found comparisons below. L1 more aggressive and more bass punch and pace. K550 better soundstage. L1 easier to fit. K550 probably not too good with glasses. Anything else?
      Will L1 do better directly from mobilephone/ipod?

      • Reply June 9, 2012

        Mike

        Jan,
        The K550 is actually easier to drive than the L1. I think both can be driven just fine from a phone/ipod, but an amp would be better.

  • Reply June 10, 2012

    Gothika Genta

    First off, a very good review Mike.

    Second, I own the K550 and a DT880 Pro (250Ohm) and I like both of them very much and they have a number of hours on them but the thing that annoys me a bit is your view to my view of the K550 which is a bit different. But my view is a highly subjective view since I don’t have as much experience as you have.

    I do agree on most of your points, the sound is clean, black background, good and heavy low end but what it falls short are quite thin mids lacking body which is obvious with female vocals whereas the DT880 Pro is just better with vocals with a fuller body and coherent highs but not as good on low frequencies. The K550 falls quite short on highs, sometimes the cymbals on drums sounds a bit confused but that’s just to my ears anyway.

    But still I kinda like the K550 being a very good and convenient full size portable headphone but I wouldn’t call it the definitive best headphone for $300 (well except for closed which is probably one of the best).
    It’s a very good all-rounder headphone with looks to die for but for me, it lacks a bit of character. Put it simply, it’s a jack of all trades but a master of none whereas the DT880 excels the K550 in Classical and Jazz.

    But the weirdest thing of all is that all of my friends liked my DT880 Pro more than the K550 which is surprising… Maybe the fit wasn’t optimal which is also one of the biggest criticism I have on the K550.

    I do agree though that even though it’s easy to drive, it sounds muffled, confused and compressed when played straight through a iPod or a iPhone.
    When I listened the K550 with a Fostex HP-P1, straightaway the sound is clear, coherent and spacious.

    • Reply June 11, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks for sharing, Gothika.

      I think what’s happening here is that you may be used to the DT880’s brighter presentation, compared to the K550’s darker sound. For a lot mainstream recordings, outside Jazz and Classical, the DT880 are often branded as being too bright, having too much treble.
      The K550’s mids are yes I did mention that personally I’d like it to be fuller.

      • Reply June 11, 2012

        Trent_D

        I agree. At first, I was having issues with the tone of the k550. After some time with the K550, I love it’s tone. I realized that I was used to the sennheiser sound, and there was some adjustment for this phone.

        I also finally see what you mean about vocals being recessed. With more mellow music like the Grateful Dead or the Watson Twins, it is just great. Speed up the rock though, and the voicing is just all wrong.

        I also find that you can EQ a slight curve up in the bass frequencies which add some nice body to it without losing it’s tightness.

        • Reply June 11, 2012

          Mike

          Yes you can add some bass body with equalization.

  • Reply June 11, 2012

    Jack Knight

    hi mike, now im using ms1i, i’m searching for an upgrade, i want: less harsh, more bass impact, good for acoustic and rock/slow rock, and still good for slow music such as audiophile albums, good detail, and more soundstage and depth

    what headphone do you suggest?
    does this k550 is what i want?

  • Reply June 12, 2012

    Fabio_Rocks

    Mike always needs more bass slam! 😀

  • Reply June 14, 2012

    Eagle1776

    I am adoring the K550. I think it may be the best headphone I’ve owned and is shockingly good at this price. If the HD600 sound could be this comfortable and closed, I -might- choose it over the K550 (I enjoy the treble and timber of the HD600), but even then I’m not sure. This is an amazing all rounder. It’s nice being pleasantly surprised by a headphone! I was getting cynical… If only it were more portable, but honestly its not so expensive you couldn’t get one for home and one for the office…

    That being said, I find my ipod classic struggles driving them a little, but really only noticeable with classical music (probably because not as affected by the loudness wars). I can live with my ipod classic though.

    Unless, of course, you think that a sub $200 portable amp could improve upon it. I know you said it amps well, but I also know that AKG’s are funny about amping (at least the K701 was…). I don’t understand anything about what kind of specs I’d be looking for, since it is in ways easy to drive. But I’m looking for a portable amp that will bring out the best possible of the K550, while sticking to that $200 limit. So here’s a few quick questions if you have time…:

    1) Best portable amp under $200 for the K550?
    2) Best portable amp w/ no $ limit for the K550? (prob shouldn’t ask 🙂
    3) How does the JDS Cmoy affect the sound of the K550?
    3) Percentage of improvement (I know…kind of subjective) of the above over the JDS Cmoy if I just went for it instead…

  • Reply June 19, 2012

    Ignas Eringis

    Hello!
    Great article. I like how you praise the AKG k550 and I’ve bought K702 6 months ago… sad times. 🙁
    I appreciate the comparison between AKG k550 and K701.
    However, I was wondering would you recommend K550 over M50? In the UK, the price difference is merely 30 GBP.
    Thank you!

    • Reply June 19, 2012

      Mike

      Ignas, for sure the K550 is ahead of the M-50.

  • Reply June 19, 2012

    RACX

    Man, these are pretty. How does the sound signature compare to the HE-400s?

  • Reply June 24, 2012

    Trent_D

    Damn. I have barely had these things a month, and the right channel just went out. There is a reason I don’t have nice things. Even when I baby them. At least I am still within the warranty period…

    • Reply June 25, 2012

      Mike

      That sucks!

      • Reply June 25, 2012

        Trent_D

        AKG seems like they will be good about it though. They just asked me to email them my receipt and mailing address and they will send me out another pair.

        I am thinking about pairing the K550 with an ODAC with a C421 (same enclosure so they will fit nicely on each other, and space is a major issue in my house). My question is, I have a cMoy right now, and I like its sound signature. From what I read, the C421 has a similar sound except better (in detail, soundstage, bass body). You feel that is accurate?

        • Reply June 26, 2012

          Mike

          Yes I think the Cmoy – C421 comparison is quite accurate if you’re talking about the OPA2227 version on both.

  • Reply June 29, 2012

    Stan O'Riot

    Hi everyone, I’m really looking forward to buying the K550. I was looking for an open full pair of cans but when I take a look at all the reviews of the K550, it seems like I can own closed-back headphones which sounds like opened-back ones. But I have a little issue with those : is the non-removable cable solid? I’m always afraid of fragile cables…
    So I was just wondering if the K550 was the good choice for me considering that I listen to a lot of different music, mainly nu-soul, rap, trip-hop, guitar (flamenco etc) and some jazz. What’s your opinion?

    • Reply June 29, 2012

      Trent_D

      I have a pair of these and I love them (forgetting the fact that my right channel stopped working). I’m not sure they are quite the all-a-rounder you are looking for. The bass on these is tight and detailed, but it doesn’t hit that hard. The strength of the K550 is the detail and clarity of the sound. For rap and trip-hop, I think you could do better, and the same for jazz. These do well with jazz, but not exceptional. I like a warmer headphone for jazz.

      Based on the few headphones I have real experience with, I think you might do well with the he-300. It is warmer and grainier than the K550, and the technicalities aren’t in the same league. But wow did it create magic with the jazz in my collection. It also has more bass and can keep a faster pace than the K550, so it can play well with just about any genre of music.

      I went with the K550 since classical is my main genre (and they are excellent with symphonies, even better with chamber music and bloody phenomenal with string quartets), and I could get it for 50% off retail. I was sorry that I could only afford one headphone, as the he-300 was wonderful. I’m sure Mike or L will have advice more informed than my own, but that’s my two cents.

      • Reply June 30, 2012

        Stan O'Riot

        Thank you very much for your quick answer. I have to admit I am quite tempted by the HE300 but when I saw the K550 (I don’t listen to a lot of classical), which is a closed back headphone, I was surprised by the fact that a lot of people said it sounded like an opened back one. I want to use my headphone when I’m sitted, that is to say not in the streets, but on the train, at home, in my cabin when I’m working (I’m a sailman). So I was wondering if I would bother people around me while using a pair of cans such as the HE300. (Sorry for my english, there might be some mistakes, but I’m French so…^^)

        • Reply June 30, 2012

          Trent_D

          De rien! Believe me, your english is much better than my french. The soundstage on the he-300 might be a little larger, but the K550 is more accurate. I really can’t say how much bother the open headphones would be to your cabin mates. I never used them in a public setting. Still the he-300 are a very nice headphone. If you are looking for a closed headphone, you could try the Sennheiser hd202. It is really cheap (I got my pair for 20 dollars) and they play well with all genres. They also sound shockingly good for their price point. They aren’t up their with the he-300, but they are a great beater headphone.

          • Reply June 30, 2012

            Stan O'Riot

            Ahah French is a hard language to learn, my english is better than the french of many of my mates ^^ I don’t have cabin mates, I’m all alone, I’m not in the military, I’m in the merchant navy. Since I already got a pair of iem – the Shure SE215, love them! – I don’t know if buying of pair of closed headphone is a good idea (regarding my budget). So maybe the HE300 is a good deal for me. I was looking at the HD650, DT880 and K701 (famous trio ^^) and I don’t know which one to choose because I can’t find a place to test them. And I don’t know which kind of sound I like. I like punchy basses, but not too loud, I like the sound to occupy space with lightness…It’s hard to express with words.

            • Reply June 30, 2012

              Trent_D

              I minored in French. Barely remember any of it. I haven’t heard any of the famous trio, but according to Mike, the he-300 is a better all-a-rounder than any of them. They aren’t to hard to drive either. I think you should pull the trigger.

        • Reply June 30, 2012

          Mike

          The amount of leak with the HE-300 is not so bad.. unless you’re listening at extremely loud levels. But it also depends on the people around you. If it’s very quiet then the leak sound would be more evident.

      • Reply July 11, 2012

        Antonio Marques

        The right channel of my K550 also stopped working. IMO internal wiring&weldings are not very good.

        • Reply July 11, 2012

          Mike

          That doesn’t sound very good. Thanks for sharing, Antonio.

          • Reply July 12, 2012

            Trent_D

            Exact same thing happened to me. I have yet to receive the replacement AKG promised.

    • Reply June 30, 2012

      Mike

      I think with your music I will find the K550 to lack bass punch.

      I would recommend something like the Fidelio L1, should do rap, trip hop better than the K550 or the HE-300.

      For Jazz, the HE-300 is very good though.

      • Reply June 30, 2012

        Stan O'Riot

        Ya’ll almost convince me with the HE300…I just wonder which (affordable) amp should I use with it? I just bought a Fiio E7 to pair it with my Shure SE215 and my laptop when I’m on the run. Will it be alright with the HE300? Or should I buy another one which would be better with it?

        • Reply June 30, 2012

          Trent_D

          Well, I used it with an e10, and that worked alright. Maybe wait and see how it works with the e7, then go from there. Although, I would take Mike’s word over mine. I only have real listening experience with a few items. Mike and L have a website about the topic. Perhaps you have heard of it.

  • Reply June 30, 2012

    Eyal Sade

    How is the 550 compared to DT880 32ohm ?
    Eyal.

  • Reply July 7, 2012

    SoundEskimoo

    For now I’m still prefer dt1350 over K550. Possibly due to my genres , the bass & vocal on dt1350 much much better. I don’t know if something will change later.
    dt1350 soundstage no match compared to K550, but for audiophiles you won’t need very wide soundstage & separations which K550 very excels at.

    Visiting your site always very pleasuring, Mike. Nice jobs!

    • Reply July 7, 2012

      Trent_D

      Gotta stick with what you like. The one question I have is why won’t audiophiles need a very wide soundstage and separation? I listen to mostly classical and I find those things to be quite important. That is one reason why I love the K550.

      • Reply July 7, 2012

        SoundEskimoo

        “Audiophiles song” here directed to Susan Wong and something like that, you won’t need extra huge soundstage as in classical musics. And also their music don’t have complicated instrument which need extra separations.
        Yes im aware presentation for classical music on K550 superb.
        But bass & vocal in dt1350 is better than in K550.

        • Reply July 9, 2012

          Mike

          I think Asian audiophiles mostly listen to female focals, whereas European and US audiophiles to a lot of Classical, Jazz and Blues.
          No stereo shop in Asia plays Classical on their demo system.

          • Reply July 11, 2012

            SoundEskimoo

            True. I felt Michael Buble & Norah Jones (jazz genre right?) vocal feel thin on K550. But for classical orchestra w/o vocal singer, K550 really excels.

            • Reply July 11, 2012

              Mike

              Yes, different kind of vocals, also recorded differently.

      • Reply July 8, 2012

        Ken Stuart

        Trent – My guess is that he is splitting things into two groups – “gamers” who need pinpoint imaging in order to score points against opponents, and “audiophiles” who use headphones to listen to music, meaning current releases that are mostly or entirely synthetic and thus don’t have a soundstage.
        Classical and jazz – the only genres that are recorded in a natural way using microphones – are currently far more obscure than even LPs or vintage audio gear.

        • Reply July 8, 2012

          Trent_D

          An audiophile who doesn’t listen to classical OR jazz? Surely that is only a creature of legend!

  • Reply July 8, 2012

    Eyal Sade

    how does it compare to the HE-300 (hifiman) ?

    • Reply July 11, 2012

      Trent_D

      In what way? They are very different. The HE-300 is warmer and grainier. It is a better all around headphone. The K550 is much clearer and more detailed. Much better in the technicalities department. Both are excellent, in their own way.

  • Reply July 17, 2012

    00file11

    Mike: how long did you burn in the K550? How long for your K701? AKGs are known for extensive burn-in times; I almost sold mine until I became aware of this, and indeed, after 200hrs or so the 701 settled finally became tolerable.

    • Reply July 17, 2012

      Trent_D

      The K550 are a really fast burn in. I only burnt them in for two or three hours before I started listening to them, and they sounded great. There might have been some other subtle refinements as I continued to listen to them over the next week or so, but more than likely, it was me getting used to the sound of the K550 more than it was burn in

    • Reply July 18, 2012

      Mike

      Nah, 200 hours are myths.

      For me the 550 was perhaps 3 hours max.

      • Reply July 18, 2012

        00file11

        “Myths”? How do you then account for contrary views on head-fi, inner-fidelity, etc.?
        Also, please realize that if there is ANY validity to the claims that AKG burn-in’s *do*, in fact, lead to improved sonics, your limited-burn-in-based reviews/comparisons to AKGs (or any ‘phones for that matter, IF burn-in is an important scientific fact) are henceforth compromised in validity.

        • Reply July 18, 2012

          Mike

          Alright sorry if I offended your burn in beliefs.

          Peace now.

          • Reply July 18, 2012

            00file11

            You offended no-one but YOURSELF, a supposed “expert” in reviewing headphones.
            Marketing advice: since burn-in (break-in) is quite a big thing, esp for AKG, you’re better off LYING (covering up your mythos beliefs) and hedging bets by proclaiming that you used (broke in) test device for a few 100 hrs. You’ll have covered yourself 😉 — since no one thinks cans decrease in perf. via non-abuse / extensive use.
            Oh .. but there was the earlier marked-for-life myth statement 😉 Oh well, no one really reads these below-blog DISQUSting comments anyway 😉

            • Reply July 19, 2012

              Trent_D

              I have the headphone and I agree with Mike. A few hours is all the K550 needs.

          • Reply May 21, 2013

            Tech Blog Pool

            Love this reply 😀

            • Reply May 21, 2013

              Dave Ulrich

              Well, it’s true. A few hours for the K550, tops.

              • Reply May 21, 2013

                Tech Blog Pool

                I have to say I agree and I am SO GLAD somebody put this nonsense to rest! Quite brave from Mike IMO. There are some headphones, like P5 which to me sound so terribly muddy and veiled that people may claim that 100+ hours can do “magic” and it just proves what a myth it all actually is!

                • Reply May 21, 2013

                  dalethorn

                  Burn-in won’t help the P5, but a really good amp does wonders.

            • Reply May 21, 2013

              dalethorn

              Innerfidelity tested only one headphone model, so there’s not much evidence either way. Most likely with quality headphones there’s very little change.

  • Reply July 17, 2012

    Akiduki Xue

    Thanks for the review, Mike!
    Reading lots of positive reviews from here and head-fi and else around, I’m seriously considering this guy as the replacement of my DT770 pro-80 served me many years in my workplace. Do you think it’s a worth jump? I amp my DT770 with a cmoy for most of times, I would expect using cmoy to amp K550 as well.

    • Reply July 18, 2012

      Mike

      The K550 will give you a cleaner and more refined sound. However you will miss the bass of your DT770 Pro 80Ω.

      • Reply July 18, 2012

        Akiduki Xue

        I have realized this point, the punchy bass of DT770 pro 80 really is what I kept it for the long use. But I also felt disappointing with the hollow weak and unpleasant mid-range, how would this compare with K550? Thank you.

  • Reply July 18, 2012

    Sigve Hølleland

    Hi! Which headphone do you recommend over the AKG K550 to mostly rock music (much classic rock and Linkin Park) and Also quite good in most other genre?

  • Reply July 21, 2012

    dyonoctis

    did you think that an higher impédance could be bénéfic ? (I ask because I found an Impedance/Resistance Adapters[
    http://apuresound.com/ra.html ] ,and when a same headphone has three modèle with different impédance ,the higher is générally one that is recommended…)

    • Reply July 21, 2012

      Mike

      If you install an impedance adapter, you will alter the effective frequency response curve of the headphone. Generally cans will lose treble and gain bass as you add an impedance adapter. The only exception to this is the Etymotics ER4, where the higher the impedance adapter value, the more treble and less bass you get.

  • Reply July 23, 2012

    Sigve Hølleland

    Hi! You said something about the AKG K550 wasnt the best for Linkin Park. Well if so i will ask some quastion: do you Also mean its not the right headset for older rock like kiss and AC/dc and rolling Stones? Why do you not like them for rock? Which headset do you recommend for rock lisening and Also not too bad in other genre, in both no price limites and within the price range the AKG K550 is in? Also for portable and home use (design is important) ?
    Thanks for your time 😉

  • Reply July 25, 2012

    Johnathon Williamson

    Hey Mike and Lieven,

    Would you recommend the K550 over the Hifiman HE-300? I would mainly be listening to bass-centric music such as electronic and hip-hop. My source is a Matrix Mini-i, and my music is mainly in FLAC or 320kbps MP3. Currently I use the Sennheiser HD25-1 II at home, and I’m looking for something with a larger soundstage, better low-end extension, and slightly less treble emphasis.

    • Reply July 25, 2012

      Mike

      Johnathon,
      If you read the review then you would notice that one of my main complaints about the K550 is its lack of bass impact, something you should be concerned about when playing electronic and hip-hop.

      The Fidelio Philips would be something that’s closer to what you’re looking for.

      http://www.headfonia.com/philips-fidelio-l1/

      Cheers.

      • Reply July 26, 2012

        Johnathon Williamson

        Mike,

        In your Fidelio review, you called it one of the darkest headphones you’ve listened to. I still want a headphone with some treble emphasis, just not quite as much as the HD25’s. I’m not really looking for a lot of bass presence, just good extension into the lower bass frequencies.

        Would you consider the HE-300 an easy headphone to drive, or would I need to get a more powerful amplifier to drive it with?

        • Reply July 26, 2012

          Mike

          Johnathon,
          Yes the Fidelio is dark, but if you are playing Electronic and Hiphop I think the voicing is right for those. The HE-300 is not that difficult to drive, and the tonal balance is less dark than the Fidelio, however I don’t think it’s a good headphone for Electronic or Hiphop. If you want, the HE-400 is a better headphone for those music.

        • Reply December 5, 2013

          Mike

          I really wouldn’t say that the HE-300 is a bass headphone, and the low bass is just okay on that headphone. It’s easy to get loud but an amp is still recommended.

          The HE-400 has a more powerful bass but it’s darker and again it’s not that good in low bass either.

          I think the Vmoda M100 has one of the lowest hitting bass without having to go to the LCDs.

  • Reply August 14, 2012

    Robert Hill

    I auditioned the K550s and was very impressed, but the ergonomics and the sound just didn’t quite do it, so I kept looking. I then decided to give up my desire for closed back, and try a few open backs, and after a Grado/Senn detour ended up back at the K702s. And I have to say, I just cannot agree with this review at all – the K702s are clearly a superior sounding set of cans, with much greater resolution of detail and a much better soundstage. And their ergonomics is much improved – the velour rings on the K702s are much less sweat inducing than the K550s leather, and the wider headband of the K702s exerts less pressure. The K702s were 120 pounds more than the K550s, but simply no comparison in SQ or ergo. The K702s have a much wider stated frequency range, and yes you can hear it in the lack of harmonic distortion in the upper register. Don’t put on Drum and Bass, put on Yo-Yo Ma playing Bach’s Cello Suites and listen – and you won’t need to listen hard. If you need closed back, the K550s are fantastic – but to say that they are better sonically than the K702s would be very contrary to my experience. (I drive them either straight out of my Macbook Pro or out of a Creek Evolution amp’s headphone out when connected to my Mac Mini via a FiiO E3 DAC, most music in Apple Lossless. Yes, the Creek Evolution improves the bass…).

    • Reply August 15, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks for the post, Robert. Glad you’re enjoying the K702.

      I have that Bach Cello Suites from Yo Yo Ma.. very nice version of the Bach Cello Suites. Better recording quality than Rostropovich’s, and the music moves me better than Rostropovich’s as well.

      • Reply August 15, 2012

        Trent_D

        I agree with the Yo Yo Ma. You want to hear Rostropovich in his element, listen to his recording of Shostakovich’s first cello concerto.

      • Reply August 15, 2012

        khubmai

        Mike. I interest to read classical music review with any audio gear from you.

        • Reply August 16, 2012

          Mike

          Thanks, but I don’t think I’m qualified enough to talk about classical music. 🙂

    • Reply August 28, 2012

      Leonard Lee

      I have to agree fully with Robert – I had a long audition session with the K550s, comparing them to K702s, Shure 940s and a few others. The K550s on their own initially sound impressive, but when comparing against the K702s and 940s, the sound has a thickness/opacity that I find detracting, giving the music somewhat of a opaque quality that is not present with the K702s or 940s, or even the HD600s (my own reference cans). Midrange is slightly recessed (voices seem to recede into the mix) and I also found the enclosure resonance bothersome, giving the sound a slight “cupped hands” tonality at times. But I have to agree with Mike about the almost total lack of grain and neutral overall voicing on the K550s, impressive work by the boys at AKG. Ultimately, for sealed cans, I much prefer the Shure 940s over the K550s (even though the 940s have a slight sibilance at the top end of the frequency spectrum).

      • Reply August 28, 2012

        Mike

        Yes it does have some resonance and a slightly recessed mids. I don’t quite understand this thickness or opacity though. I thought the sound is extremely clear.

        • Reply August 28, 2012

          Trent_D

          I think Mike’s review is pretty spot on. Clarity is one of it’s strong suits.

        • Reply September 15, 2012

          Robert Hill

          I had the same experience as Leonard with the K550s – I wouldn’t say opacity per se, because it was detailed. That is why I put those comments on the harmonics in my original post – but I omitted the effect on SQ except to say it “distorted” it. That distortion was not in detail, but in perceived tonal balance. I think that is a result of being closed back and lacking a frequency response to 39khz, which the K702s have, and that is limiting the 2nd and 3d order harmonics in the upper registers, leading to a subtle darkening of the perceived response.

          • Reply September 15, 2012

            Mike

            Interesting observation, Robert.

            Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Reply September 1, 2012

    Scott Boyer

    So I went out and bought a pair of K550 thinking that it may sound like a closed version of a Sennheiser HD600. Well, long story short, they’re going back. I guess I’m just too in love with the warmer Sennheiser sound.

    It’s not that the K550’s totally lack bass (they are very neutral), it’s that they’re a bit too sterile. No PRAT was happening for me. Why the need for 50mm drivers? Even with bass heavy material, they aren’t even close to having the punch of the HD650’s 40mm drivers. BTW, getting a good seal on the K550 was not an issue for me.

    The deal breaker? I couldn’t get past the odd tone of vocals. I put them up against a Sennheiser HD600 and HD650 as well as a B&W P5 (these three have similar, natural toned vocals). But needing to “adjust” to the K550’s strange and unusual tone of vocals just wasn’t happening.

    Lastly, I was let down by the overall construction. Great metal pieces right next to medium grade plastic cups, vinyl ear pads, and thin vinyl head pad. Meh. I must be spoiled by my P5.

    All in all, I really wanted to like these, but it’s just not my cup of tea.

    • Reply September 1, 2012

      Mike

      Thanks, Scott.

  • Reply September 3, 2012

    Mike

    A little more bass than the HD598, but not enough for electronic IMO.

  • Reply September 27, 2012

    Rogier Schreurs

    Well I’ve tried out the K550 today and I must say that it doesn’t give me the same impression I’ve read here… The sound is nice, but not nearly in the same league as the hd6X0’s, DTXX0 and other phones in that price class. I found the headphone to be muddy with practically all the frequencies flowing over into each other. I wouldn’t call it lazy like the Senns it does have a good pace but there is just no separation at all. It only seems to deliver quality sound when the track is made with as few instruments and sounds as possible. All frequencies were there but i found one area of frequencies to be projected very well/loudly; I can’t really tell what area it was but things like the higher notes on a contrabass, certain feminine vocals and some pianos to be incredibly precise, but overall it actually managed to completely mute out some sounds I know to be in my music… I just can’t believe were talking about the same Headphones here, I was actually planning on buying the one I auditioned today. I’m starting to think maybe something was wrong with it. BTW I used my Fiio E17 and Macbook as setup and my DT990 as reference. Maybe my experience was biased towards the DT990, but I’ve listened to a lot of headphones over the last year and none sounded this wrong to my ears as these did.

    • Reply September 27, 2012

      L.

      I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have a chance to use it with a better amp as the E17? Curious to see how you like it then. is it a DT990/600?

      • Reply September 27, 2012

        Trent_D

        Sorry you had such an experience. I have to say that, with my cMoy amp, I found all of the frequencies very clear and well separated. Transparency is excellent. I wish I had a fix for you, because we are clearly hearing opposite things. But, when all is said and done, trust your own ears above all.

        • Reply October 29, 2012

          Rogier Schreurs

          Thanks man! but never mind, it might be due to the fact I’ve been listening to open cans solely for a while now… I also used the money I saved from this debacle to buy myself a Musical Fidelity V8P amp (!) and I’m still enjoying trying out new cans. But indeed, I will always trust my own sense on what I want and that’s exactly why I didn’t go for these.

      • Reply October 29, 2012

        Rogier Schreurs

        Nah, after reading this review I was fairly positive that I would like these, and a lot at that. So I was going to buy them from a guy in the city where I study, but they were so disappointing that I never took them. But anyways, I won’t be seeing them again. My Beyer is 250Ω. anyways don’t be sorry, currently checking out an HD800 and even though I’ve never understood exactly what it is that everybody likes so much about that unit, my determination in finding out just might have me ending up getting it! 😉

    • Reply September 27, 2012

      Mike

      Gosh that is a very weird experience, Rogiers. I have no idea why the K550 behaves like that.

      Perhaps recording quality? It doesn’t do well with overly compressed mainstream pop/rock. But if you have some good quality stuff from HDtracks then it’s pretty impressive what the AKG can do.

      • Reply October 29, 2012

        Rogier Schreurs

        I’ve ripped the songs from my own cd’s… tried a wide variety of genre’s with it too.

    • Reply May 27, 2013

      MathH

      Exactly the same experience. I think my test sample must have been broken or else all reviewers are deaf or inexperienced, or are confusing different terms or using them at their whim… Glad to read someone with the same use of terms.
      It sounded chaotic, with zero imaging. I couldn’t locate anything, and I had the Sennheiser for direct contrast. Different worlds. I liked the K550 sound more, it was more passionate, but it seemed like soundstage is not a thing AKG is “into”.

  • Reply October 3, 2012

    Papoom Vibhatasilpin

    Hi Mike.
    I’m wondering how is k550 vs srh940?

    • Reply October 3, 2012

      Mike

      K550: Bigger soundstage, cleaner sound, smoother, no grain, blacker background, a little housing reverb.

      SRH940: More forward (imagine more like a Grado), more focus, smaller soundstage, more grain, better depth.

  • […] $ for other equipments. In very good working condition, mint and well taken care of. Review: AKG’s New Reference: The K550 | Headfonia Comes with box and invoice from Jaben will be provided. Still under warranty from local distro. […]

  • Reply December 2, 2012

    mintran

    I’m a big fan of AKG’s sound signature and the K501 is the only headphone I’m still keeping. How does the K550 compare with K501? Is the K550 can be foldable? Is it portable enough for travelling?

    Thanks so much!

  • Reply December 23, 2012

    fsgb80v7cbwe

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  • Reply January 17, 2013

    lumberjake

    Dang, I read really good reviews on these but one thing that worries me is the mixed responces regarding bass. While not a bass head I really like bass impact and to feelmit when its meant to be, otherwise the headphone is just not engaging. Some say the bass is better than the Denon 2000 regarding quality and less in quantity yet not lacking at all then I read it has no punch? I assume this has to do with the seal. Another issue that bothers me is some say it has incredible detail but some complain of harshness which I dislike. I have read somecgreat stuff aboutvthe new Soundmagic hp100 but its very rare. I would love to read some more reviews or even better a comparison of these closed cans.

  • Reply February 21, 2013

    SixFlags

    From my long journey of finding a closed headphone, I finally found my perfect headphone. This is my most expensive Headphone I have ever owned (coming from the Portra Pro), so the search was not that easy. My Idea was to get a headphone, which lets you experience the old songs in a new way, by discovering new details, especially in classical recordings. It had to be closed however since I was planning to use it for trainrides home and take it with me on travels. After browsing the forums, I tried out the Beyerdynamic DT 660. Classical music sounded great on it, but the bass was basically non-existent for me.. so I had to return it. After this I tried out the beautiful Phillips L1, but somehow the sound didn’t gave me that wow effect I was longing for… so I listened to the Ultrasone HFI 780 afterwards, which unfortunately had very detailed but piercing highs, but was otherwise a nice headphone (The bass sounded awesome on it). Then I discovered this website and the nice photographs drew me to the AKG K550 Review. After reading the review, I was sure that it meets my most important needs for a headphone. So here I am writing this while listening to my K550’s, which are exactly what I searched for the past months! (Though they are quite borderline for a good fit on my relatively small head) During this journey I learnt that neutral Headphones seem to sound the best to me. Long story, short: Thank you very much for the review!

    • Reply February 21, 2013

      Mike

      Thank you SixFlags! I hope you are rediscovering your music with the new headphone!

  • Reply February 25, 2013

    Jonathan Yeung

    i got a chance to listen to the k550 last saturday, at that time, i havent read your review or any other review. i was so amazed, especially at the clarity. immediately i thought its a really solid 300 bucks headphone though honestly i havent listened to that many headphones. i preferred the k550 than the denon d600 next to it which costed more.

    • Reply February 25, 2013

      Mike

      Thanks, Jonathan.

      I think everyone agree that the clarity is amazing

      • Reply February 25, 2013

        Jonathan Yeung

        mike do you know what is the difference between the k550 and the k551? even though im not really in need of closed full sized headphone, i may still pick it up sometimes in the future because it sounds amazing.

        • Reply February 25, 2013

          Trent_D

          The K551 has an inline mic for using with an iphone, or something like that. I don’t believe any changes have been made to the headphone part.

  • Reply March 29, 2013

    coverguy88

    what do you mean by “The overall sound is quite laid back and I don’t think it plays well with fast-paced music” ? im sorry but im a noob in this field 😀

    • Reply March 29, 2013

      Mike

      Fast paced music is like Rock
      Slow paced is like slow jazz

      • Reply March 30, 2013

        coverguy88

        thats not the problem here 😀 -i mean, why isn’t this go well with faster musics? and what do you mean by “sound is quite laid back”

        • Reply March 30, 2013

          Mike

          That’s not so easy to explain at the moment, and I’m at my mobile phone.

  • Reply April 10, 2013

    Anonymous

    […] te dejo un par de reviews. The Wonderfully Competent AKG K550 Sealed Headphone | InnerFidelity AKG’s New Reference: The K550 | Headfonia saludos. […]

  • Reply April 17, 2013

    vick_85

    @headfonia:disqus

    K550 vs the sennheiser momentum, which is better??

    I want to buy one and will be using them exclusively with the audioquest dragonfly. The headphone will be a part of my desktop setup & will be used for listening pretty much everything from music to youtube vids.

    P.S. what is your take on the audioquest dragonfly??

    Thanks

    • Reply April 17, 2013

      L.

      The K550 and Momentum are so very different. Read both reviews and go with your preference in sound. We haven’t reviewed the dragonfly yet, sorry.

    • Reply April 17, 2013

      Mike

      That’s really hard to say. Both are good headphones. The AKG is more technical and naturally more technically impressive, the Momentum more musical.

  • Reply June 18, 2013

    GrizzlybEast

    I have a powerful amp on the way. A budget speaker amp that is known to drive the hard to drive headphones Emotiva. I bought it to pair with the he-500. You were saying that the akg k550 is technically superior to the he-500. So that means I would be able to hear more transients and detail. But this had made me reconsider because I already have the amp on the way and wanted a technical can since I have the momentums for a musical can.

    In short…what ways are the he-500 better than the k550. This made me seriously reconsider saving up for them because you said the k550 responds to amping very well.

  • Reply June 26, 2013

    Ryan

    Do the AKG K550’s have more bass impact than the Shure 940s?

    • Reply June 26, 2013

      Mike

      The Shure has more.

  • Reply June 27, 2013

    Eric Thompson

    Did you guys not notice the “tizzy” treble that tyll on inner fidelity mentioned? I tried these next to the D600’s and Momentums and I liked these being more forward sounding and cleaner but I also immediately noticed the “tizzy” treble it’s like metallic and shiny sounding like buzz or something.

    Still deciding what to get, I like the momentum’s bass but it is a little laid back for me.

    • Reply June 27, 2013

      Mike

      Treble can be metallic but if it’s a literal buzz I haven’t heard it.

      • Reply June 28, 2013

        Eric Thompson

        It’s not literally a buzz but it sounds like a buzz, kind of like the guitarist has some fret buzz going on while playing or something.

        I was just wondering because I had never heard a word made up to describe a sound of headphones so perfectly, like I said as soon as I tried them on I knew exactly what tyll was talking about, and you don’t seem to mention anything about it in your review about the treble sounding off, but he also likes the UE6000/9000’s better than the 550 which I couldn’t demo back to back but the UE6000’s just sound like a regular headphones to me, sort of congested sounding like cheap sony’s or skullcandys, don’t get me wrong they are better than those but the mid’s have the same fuzzy congested sound.

        I like the Momentum’s the best but I listen to a lot of rock and metal and I’m not sure if they are the best for that.

  • Reply September 16, 2013

    Gos

    So I purchased a pair of these about one month ago and have really like them. My first impression when placed on my head was that the band was too big for my head. I still feel that way but they do not shift on my head so I can’t complain. I wore them for THREE hours and did not feel fatigued in any way which really surprised me. The sound is still being analyzed by my mind and will take some time but so far, paired with my Fiio E11 amplifier they are worth the price paid. Fiio EQ set at “1” is perfect for that initial lack of bass which truly depends on the engineer that mixed.

    • Reply September 16, 2013

      Dave Ulrich

      I’m glad you liked the K550. I liked this headphone as well.

      • Reply September 16, 2013

        George Lai

        The only issue I had with these headphones was that for such a large ear pad, the ear cavity was relatively small. The driver housing at 110 mm diameter was larger than the usual and more common 100 mm headphones so alternative ear pads were rare. Eventually I found that the LCD2/LCD3 ear pads were a perfect fit so the AKG K550 stays in my collection.

        • Reply September 16, 2013

          Gos

          Really? If you don’t mind my asking where did you purchase the ear pads from? Also do the pads change the sound of the cans in any way?

          • Reply September 16, 2013

            George Lai

            Hi, you can buy the ear pads direct from Audeze’s website. To me I can’t discern any significance change in the sounds since I don’t have golden ears. It was the larger ear pad cavity that attracted me. Now the K550 is a lot more comfortable. At least to me.

            • Reply September 16, 2013

              L.

              You can only buy the LCD2 pads, right?

              • Reply September 16, 2013

                George Lai

                That was the old policy. You can now also buy the LCD3 pads. That’s how I had to do something with my LCD2 pads.

                • Reply September 16, 2013

                  L.

                  Do you know if you can get the LCD3 headband too George?

                  • Reply September 17, 2013

                    George Lai

                    Hi, I just looked at their website and previously the headband was not there. Now it is so I don’t see why they won’t sell to you. Audeze shipping rates for the ear pads to Singapore was USD6 which was reasonable if you compare with, say, MrSpeakers or Lawton Audio who wanted USD14 for their ear pads. In addition, Audeze’s customer support was very fast when I first asked them whether an LCD2 owner could buy LCD3 ear pads.

                    • September 17, 2013

                      Mike

                      This is great information George. So now everyone can buy LCD-3 padS?

                    • September 17, 2013

                      George Lai

                      Yes that would seem to be the case. Better get some before they change their policy 😉

                • Reply September 17, 2013

                  Mike

                  Nice!

  • Reply September 23, 2013

    Khloe85

    @headfonia:disqus
    @headfonia_lieven:disqus

    Hi
    How does the AKG k550/551 compare to the HD598 if we keep the open & closed thing out of the picture??.

    I want to buy one.
    Which one works better with modern music especially rock, classic rock, electronica, pop & hip hop.
    It should do bass well.

    Source:PC
    Music Player: JRiver media center 19
    Dac/Amp: audioquest dragonfly.

    • Reply September 23, 2013

      Dave Ulrich

      Neither of those headphones are known for bass. Maybe the X1? What say you Mike and L?

    • Reply September 24, 2013

      Mike

      Ah, don’t go with either.

      Try the Vmoda M100

  • Reply September 25, 2013

    Day deSIANG

    Personally, I prefer K240 Sextett (I owned both EP, MP) over K550..

    K550 may sound better than many AKG (when come to balance sound).. but again it still not natural sounding.. this headphone reminds me of Sennheiser HD250 with weaker bass.. the treble just too ‘much’ and sharp like a sword.. it just kill the whole music experience..

    but again most AKG headphones are create for studio use..

    • Reply September 26, 2013

      Mike

      I thought that the 240 Sextett is nothing more than the average vintage headphone with limited frequency extension and smooth warm mids.
      It got a strong following definitely, maybe because of the Sextett name.
      Sound signature differences aside, the K550 is leaps ahead in terms of technicalities, obviously being the newer headphone.

      • Reply September 27, 2013

        Day deSIANG

        when come to technicalities, yes i agree the newer headphones is a huge leap ahead.. but at here when comparing AKGs I personally would take one aspect into consideration is the overall sounding and the music sensation..

        i bought an AKG K550 from Austria dealer for euro130.. never regret it (cheap and gave to my brother who loves it) but is just an opinion that the overall sound of the this headphone – grainy sound and sharp treble that kills the music..

        and mayb i have alot of vintage headphones which makes me sounds like im bias towards vintage headphones.. but here im just address the issue of overall listening sensation of k550 compare to Sextett (ya i agree its a strong name)..

        • Reply September 27, 2013

          Mike

          Yes I notice that people who’s into vintage headphones are sort of tuned in to the vintage headphone sound.. They do sound nice

  • […] AKG K550 Sealed Headphone | InnerFidelity AKG K550 review from the experts at whathifi.com AKG’s New Reference: The K550 | Headfonia And here is the link to pictures of the actual set: AKG K550 Photos by apriyawardhana | […]

  • Reply November 18, 2013

    David Clarke

    Thank you for the great review Mike!

    I just picked this up nice and cheap, will burn in tomorrow. I mainly listen to Electric Blues, do you have any thoughts on whether these will be a good match for my music taste?

    Thank you in advance.

  • Reply November 18, 2013

    David Clarke

    My comments keep getting removed? Weird!

    Thanks for the great review Mike.

    I have these, got them cheap, am going to burn in tomorrow. I listen mainly to Electric Blues, how do you think these will match up?

    • Reply November 18, 2013

      L.

      David, I can’t see any of your comments were deleted. Must be something else

      • Reply November 18, 2013

        David Clarke

        Sorry, should have clarified, I don’t think it is a site/moderation issue, just Disqus being weird 😛

        Thanks!

  • Reply January 30, 2014

    Vaibhav Pisal

    Hello,
    I currently own a sennheiser hd518. drive it using audinst hud
    mini. i really enjoy its warm, smooth sound. i was planning to upgrade
    to something with a bit more treble. i zeroed on akg k550. will it be a
    good match with hud mini. I don’t want a system with too much treble
    energy. just a bit over hd518.

  • Reply February 22, 2014

    George Lai

    After one and a half years, the rubberized coating on the outside half of the ear cups (the part you put your hands on, the other side being your ears?) started getting gummy, attracting lint etc and they couldn’t be cleaned. I called the local distributor (Singapore) and they replaced it with a brand new pair. Apparently the latest ones have a less gummy (or not) rubberized coating. Good service from AKG.

  • Reply March 1, 2014

    xenig

    I agree with the review,I did buy this headphone in november 2013 and it’s really an amazing gem! Did someone try to compare the AKG k550 with the sennheiser hd650? Woult it be a fair match? The reviewer said it is better the AKG. Any suggestion?

    • Reply March 1, 2014

      L.

      If I remember well this has been discussed here before 🙂

  • Reply March 31, 2014

    Andrew Makous

    Would you be able to help me out with something? I bought these headphones (well, I bought the k551) a while ago, and while I am very pleased with them, I have one major complaint that is pretty much a deal-breaker. I find them to be extremely uncomfortable after even a relatively short period of time, sometimes under an hour. My ears are pretty large, and because of this they press into the driver and are pressed into by the top of the pads. Not only that, but because of the pleather, it feels as though my ears cannot “breathe,” and so I often take breaks and sometimes don’t even bother listening to them at all. This is extremely unfortunate because I actually really like the sound and they fit my needs virtually perfectly.

    So my question would be: is it worth buying $80 dollar replacement LCD-2/3 ear pads, or instead upgrading to something $80 more expensive than the k550? If the ear pads were just a bit deeper and an oval shape, these headphones would be pretty much perfect. However, $80 is a pretty hefty price, and I figure I might as well upgrade instead.

    • Reply May 17, 2014

      sk1n5

      You could try what I did. Take out the foam rounds and stuff the pleather with teddy bear stuffing. I get a much better seal and the drivers are farther away from my ears.

      • Reply May 20, 2014

        Andrew Makous

        Hey thanks for the reply, although when I initially left this comment I was hoping for a response before the return deadline, which was the tenth of April, I think haha. However, I ended up keeping them after doing something somewhat similar to what you did. The ‘mod’ (I’m hesitant to assign such a lavel to something so crude) was merely taking a paper towel sheet (yes, a paper towel), folding it into a thin strip sort of thing, then wrapping the length of the towel on the inside of the cup.
        This extra one or one half centimeter actually made a very strong difference. It wasn’t painful to wear anymore, and while I still sometimes have to take “breathing breaks,” they are very comfortable for extended periods of time.
        Recently, I finally decided to replace my paper towels with a hairband kind of thing, and so it’s a bit less noticeable although I have to say that it might be a bit hotter. With your modification, do you feel like the heat has increased significantly? I may opt for your technique, if that is not the case.

        • Reply May 20, 2014

          L.

          Sometimes we miss a question and we cant answer everything ourselves. sorry

  • Reply April 14, 2014

    Jp Carlos

    What would you guys recommend as a complement headphone to the k550? I’m thinking of getting my 2nd headphone and try something different from what the k550 has to offer. Something I can use when I want to switch moods 🙂

    • Reply April 14, 2014

      L.

      Open? Closed? Music? Budget? Preferred sound?

      • Reply April 14, 2014

        Dave Ulrich

        Blond? Brunette? Tall? Short?

      • Reply April 15, 2014

        John123John

        Safe guess, a Grado (LOL)

      • Reply April 15, 2014

        Jp Carlos

        I guess its better to try Open, since the k550s are closed.
        My music preference is diverse, mostly rock/alternative/jazz with the occassional hiphop and rap.
        budget is around 200usd(although here in the Philippines, price trends of headphones are very different from the(US/Europe)
        Thanks 🙂

        • Reply April 15, 2014

          dalethorn

          Open for $200 USD you won’t find anything besides Grado. Better idea for great sound and better bass may be Yamaha MT220, Sennheiser HD380 Pro, or Beyer DT770 or Custom One Pro.

          • Reply April 15, 2014

            Jp Carlos

            Thanks man!

  • Reply May 18, 2014

    Vaibhav Pisal

    thanks for great review guys. just got akg k550. with Audinst hud mini it makes a musical pairing while remaining detailed. good stuff.

    so obligatory question : if you have tried, does it scale well with further improvement in chain? Is it transparent enough to make difference if I add a tube amp like pan am? Please suggest good pairing without going deep into diminishing returns curve.

    thanks.

  • Reply June 25, 2014

    joms

    What would be the best desktop amp for the K550 that is around $300?

    • Reply June 25, 2014

      Vaibhav Pisal

      i am also looking for answer to this. i am using audinst hud mini. it pairs very well right now but I think I can do better.

      k550 does not require much power though. it does require good dac and quality amplification.

  • […] In this case though, I find it worthwhile to point out some of the other reviews of the K550. Mike at Headfonia seems to have really enjoyed them and didn’t mention any treble issues. Brent Butterworth of […]

  • Reply June 17, 2015

    Gogu

    I have had the K550 for 3 years. It’s a sweet pair of cans and recently purchased the HE-500. There is absolutely NOTHING to be compared between the 2. The HE-500 simply DEMOLISHES the K550 on any aspect.
    I don’t know what you drove your HE-500 with but I am willing to bet that even off the iphone -the HE-500 would be miles better. It’s like comparing a VW Golf with am Audi A8.

  • Reply April 16, 2016

    RockStar2005

    Great review! Thanks Mike!

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