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August 01, 2014

AKG K550 Quick Review

There are two kinds of over-the-ear headphones: the closed-back design that prevents sound from leaking out of the cups, and the open-back that doesn’t restrict the sound flowing out. Both have different impact on the sound making people choose one over the other. The AKG K550 claims to blur the line between them by offering open-backed sound with the silence of a closed-back design. Can they back their claims? We find out.

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One prominent feature that would surely get your attention on first glance is the K550’s size. They have large 50mm drivers that are big as donuts and dome over your ears when you put them on. It packs a metal-plastic combination for its build that doesn’t at all look or feel cheap. The cups twist on a hinge that should help in making it a bit more portable.

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Its metal-supported headband extends to handle a wide range of users.

The K550 rocks a 3-meter, thick cable that stays attached to the left ear cup the entire time. In addition to its large ear cups, the cable is another factor that limits its portability. We tried bringing it outside and we found ourselves tucking away its cable about 30% of the entire time we were out.

At the end is a 3.5mm stereo jack. The company included a 6.25mm adapter in the package in case it will be used for studios.

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After giving its drivers time to breathe out and settle in, we used an iPod Touch and played our usual songs for testing. The K550 passes with flying colors in terms of sound quality. We already expected this from them since AKG is one of the brands that always delivered based on our past experiences.

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What we didn’t expect was how wide its soundscape is going to be. To add to the sound elements that you can separately hear, the depth of it soundscape makes it feel like you’re listening to the songs naturally. The mids are very powerful and so are its lows, but the highs are too bright for us which is a turn off. It sounds like the highs go beyond its threshold therefore it gets reproduced at distorted levels. The good thing is it’s only noticeable on full volume.

With its closed-back design, it was able to reproduce strong bass and powerful vocals, while its soundscape sounded like that of an open-back’s.

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The K550’s earpads provided a very comfortable experience. The adjustable headband gives just the right pressure on the head while making it clamp securely. It’s also light which is perfect for even long hours of sound editing.

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At 100% volume, these pair of ‘phones can go really loud, but thanks to the pads that effectively seal off the ears sound leak is very minimal. On 50% volume the sound from inside the cups are kept inside.

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The AKG K550 is a rugged-looking pair of cans that would look great on anyone. Although we’re definitely not fans of its uncontrolled brightness in sound reproduction, it’s a trade-off we’re willing to take in exchange for its wide soundscape and powerful mids. Their claim of producing headphones that both have the quality of both designs was impressively met.

In addition, the company also claims that these are portable headphones but we simply couldn’t see this happening without being hassled. For us, this is a great pair of headphones but for indoor use only.

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AKG K550 specs:
Type: Over-ear
Design: Closed-back, Headband
Driver Size: 50mm
Cable Type: Single-sided cable
Cable Length: 3 meters
Frequency Response: 12Hz – 28KHz
Impedance: 32 ohms
Sensitivity: 114 dB
Weight: 10.76 oz
Noise Isolation
Price:Php14,990

What we liked about it:
*Sturdy, premium build
*Light on the head
*Comfortable
*Powerful mids and lows
*Wide soundscape
*Instruments are very distinct

What we didn’t like:
*Cable not removable
*Hassle to bring around
*Very bright highs

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4 Responses to “AKG K550 Quick Review”

  1. quick brown fox says:

    Oh boy, a K550 review! Thankfully I can comment since I’ve owned one for almost two years now.

    – K550 as very bright? These may be slightly bass-light but they are hardly as treble-heavy as this review claims. Hindi tulad ng Superlux HD668b na kailangan ko pang i-EQ ang highs para lang maging matino. If you consider the K550 as very bright, you probably did not enjoy listening to other hi-fi headphones such as the HD800, K701, or the Beyers.

    – The pads. Oh boy. Inaagnas ito after some time, pramis. Unfortunately, while madaling itanggal/kabit yung pads, hindi madaling makahanap ng replacement. Temporarily replaced mine with AKG K240 velours; I’m planning on purchasing some HiFiMAN velour pads para lang medyo malaki-laki yung size.

    – I don’t think ‘con’ ang non-portability; people should expect home/studio use for these full size headphones. Yung 3m na cable lang ang pang-inis factor talaga.

  2. easy e says:

    What can you say about sennheiser guys?

    • quick brown fox says:

      Short answer: Kapag bago lang sa audiophilia, you can’t go wrong with Sennheiser.

      Long answer:
      Senn IEMs – not that good for their prices
      Senn headphones – avoid the HD 400 series, go either PX100-II for portability, HD25-1 for great sound with excellent durability, or HD558/598 for home use. Kapag handa nang gumastos sa amp, saka pagisipan ang HD600/800.

  3. easy e says:

    OK thanks. Maybe yung binebenta sa Lazada ay mga fake na Sennheiser.

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Kevin Francisco is the Senior Editor and Video Producer for YugaTech. He's a Digital Filmmaking graduate, a music junkie, and a superhero by night. Follow him on Twitter for more tech updates @kevincofrancis.

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