Review AKG K550 Closed-back reference class headphones – Big, bold and beefy, but light on the bass

AKG are renowned for producing some of the best headphones around, with their high end AKG K701s revered among audiophiles and casual home listeners alike. If the K701s are outside your price range, then the AKG K550s might be the next best thing as they are its flagship headphones in the midrange category. Along with their appearance, what makes these cans stand out is that they are promoted as offering the perfect balance between the noise isolating qualities of closed back headphones with the spacious sound of those with an open design.

The reviewers over at What HiFi were impressed by the AKG K550 headphones, awarding them 5 out of 5 stars. But what does the rest of the internet think? I investigated to find out.

Appearance

There’s no question that one of the AKG 550s most distinctive features are their appearance. The ear pads are the size of dinner plates, sending the message that the wearer takes their music seriously and they want to be able to hear every cymbal and piano cord in distinct clarity. Big and bold, the AKG 550s are exceptionally comfy to wear without being as heavy as they may look. This means you can wear them for hours without needing a neck brace, although there have been comments that the closed design and large earpads can cause your ears to feel hot after a while. So I think the ‘audiophiles earmuffs’ would be a worthy nickname.

The 2D axis mechanism also enables the AKG K550 headphones to be folded flat and neatly stowed away after the commute to work. However, the AKG 550s are more like a comfy pair of slippers. You’d happily wear them for hours at home but wouldn’t wear out on the street. Listening to music on a crowded bus or subway is simply not what their precision level of sound of the AKG K550s were designed for.

Performance

For their price range, the AKG 550s are among the best headphones available for sound quality. The midrange is full and forwards, while the trebles are sparkly, allowing you to hear the start and end of every key stroke or rattle on a snare drum. The bass is natural and laidback. It doesn’t muddy the mids or treble, offering excellent definition and clarity. Its grownup bass, rather than boomy,  which might be a cross mark on the score sheet for some.

The AKG K550s headphones are for audiophiles without the budget for pricier Sennheisr, Grado or AKG cans. They might sound underwhelming if you want bass that can punch through walls (or your eardrums). But that’s not what the AKG K550s are for. They offer subtley and a wide, clear soundstage for people to enjoy music in a precise, intricate way at home. If you’re looking for the best headphones for marching to the sounds of hip hop or bassy electronic music you might want to look elsewhere. AKG lovers won’t mind.

Music to be savoured

Classical, jazz and songs with exceptionally airy and spacious sound will sound great on the AKG K550s (particularly for a closed back pair of headphones).

When you might be looking for the mute button

If you’re looking for deep, ear rattling bass rather than clarity you might want to look elsewhere. Hip hop, drum and bass and hard rock music fans might not be get the bang they are looking for from these cans.

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