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Headphone Sessions 2/23/2012: AKG K550 -- A New Closed Headphone Favorite

One of AKG’s CES 2012 releases is the K550 ($299), a full-size, closed headphone sensitive enough to be driven from a portable player with the tonal accuracy of the K701/ 702, but with fuller bass presence. Finally, a closed headphone that rivals the Denon AH-D2000 that looks and feels like it will withstand the rigors of portable use! I’ll be perfectly honest, we were expecting to put these cans on and quickly put them down due to thin bass and edgy highs that AKG is known for before the cans have several hundred hours of burn-in time. Right out of the box our jaws dropped at the clarity and detail of mid through high frequencies without edginess, mixed with an excellently balanced and full bass response uncommon to any other AKG headphone at this level. The bass is tight and detailed as we’ve come to expect from AKG, but with a fullness that rivals the Denon D2000, only lacking the extreme sub-bass extension of the Denon. The mid-range presentation is lush, silky and cleaner than the thicker mids of the D2000, and while the highs are crisp and articulate, they never reach a point of harshness like the D2000 is prone to at higher volumes. We found the soundstage of the D2000 to be slightly more open and airy, but the K550’s imaging is excellent with good separation and definition, demolishing the sound of any other closed AKG headphone.

[caption id="attachment_2395" align="aligncenter" width="480" caption="AKG K550"] AKG K550[/caption]

We find the K550 to be well built, feeling durable with a solid earcup-to-headband connection, which is the weak point of the Denon design. Their comfort is exceptional and the only trouble we had with the fit is it only takes a slight bump of the earcup to break the seal of the pad. Fortunately, it’s very quick and easy to re-adjust the fit and bring the bass response back. We also find their aesthetics appealing with modern design aspects and a sleek matte-black finish. We’d love to see a detachable cable in a headphone at this price-point, but the only similar headphone to offer it is the Shure SRH-940, which we find holds its own against the K550, but (similar to the D2000) it can get edgy as you turn up the volume and the mid-range lacks the same neutral presentation and low-end punch as the K550. The K550 will serve well in many applications and is a great upgrade to the Audio Technica ATH-M50 in the studio and on stage for DJ’s and recording artists seeking better detail and clarity. With the large ‘R’ and ‘L’ printed on the inside of the earcups, whether in low-light or direct sun, you’ll never have to guess which side is right and which side is left. The excitement is high for the AKG K550 here at HeadRoom. We’ve been long-time fans of the Denon AH-D2000 and the K550 gives it a serious run for the money, especially at $50 lower MAP. This is a great choice for someone looking for a tonally accurate headphone with a tight and full bass response, but doesn’t want the fuller, thicker presentation of the D2000. For more information on the K550 or any other headphone or headphone accessory, call 1-800-828-8184. A headphone expert is standing by, currently trying to figure out how to convince their significant other that they need yet another headphone.

AKG K550 Headphones


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