So…my dream system was completed. I had a very good pair of headphones (Audeze LCD2), the one I dreamed about for one year, and I recently got a really good source and really good amplifier for it (Burson Conductor). I was really pleased with all I had:
However, after a while…i realized that , even though at home I had my dream system, at work I didn’t have anything to listen to…and that started to bother me.
Found a good deal with 70$ and I bought it.
I was very impressed from the start, as they have a very nice package at that price. They even come with a nice leather like material bag for carrying around , and a 6.3 jack converter.
The moment I started listening at them, I was impressed. The tone and sound signature are very nice. It has a nice bass even though it is not so well defined and is a little loose. The mids are engaging and the treble is quite ok in my opinion, even though some will find it a little recessed. The CAL is not a very detailed headphone but it is very engaging, musical and smooth. You can listen to music for hours and not get tired with them.
They are very easy to drive and were a very good pair with my Samsung Galaxy S. They are relative small, making them a good solution for mobile use.
I even tried them on Conductor. They are quite a good pair, the Conductor compensating some of the lack of details the CAL has.
One problem would be that they are not sealed and leak quite a lot from inside out and outside in.
However i feel they are the best headphones I heard at that price.
After this i was overwhelmed with good offers :
Just one day after I received the CAL, citraian says he wants to sell one pair of his two pairs of AKG K550 (one for work and one for home). He gave me an offer I couldn’t refuse, so I bought it. In the meantime Sandu said he is selling his Fiio E17 with a really good price. Of course I could not resist and bought that too, as it was a wonderful solution for work.
I found fiio e17 to be a very good improvement over my samsung galaxy s. The sound was fuller, more detailed, more refined, the soundstage was bigger. I love fiios‘ products. They have an excellent warm sound and a very good built quality. It is an excellent product for portability even for an entry level headphones audio system for home, in my opinion.
It is a very good pair for both k550 and the creative aurvana live.
Akg K550, in my opinion, is a pair of excellent headphones. It amazes me every time I listen to them, even after I listen to my LCD2 + Burson Conductor at home.
At first I thought It wasn’t worth half the price, but citraian, the friend that introduced me to them said it may have to do with the fact that I may have a smaller head than his and the seal is not good on my head ( it seems to be a know problem with akg k550) .
He told me to push a little on cups and tell him if it was a difference. Before i pushed, i thought it had a thin sound, that it was too sibilant, that it had a loose and undefined bass, etc (in a few words I hated them). Ok….I pressed on them for his sake, as I for one was skeptical, but I was truly amazed of the difference. The bass became very punchy and well defined, it stopped being sibilant, the sound more balanced all over the spectrum, etc…
I do not have a small head, when I go at carting I usually get a xl helmet, as the smaller ones do not fit, but the shape of your head really matters. If you have a good seal, these headphones are one of the best sealed headphones out there, if the seal is not good, you must apply some mods to get a good seal, starting with the bend of the headband.
I would recommend 2 mods to fix the issue:
- first one - > this looks like a good idea after you bend the headband.
- second one -> I actually tried this, but i used cotton and I don’t think i got the both ear-pads even. Also the sound seemed a little moody afterwards. So be careful on the quantity of the stuffing material, as both earpads must be even.
After you bend your headband, you must be careful as if you use them at minimum setting, you may loose the seal on the lower side of your ears, even though the smallest setting on the headband seem to fit you. You must try to increase the headbands’ size one by one, until you get a full seal in the lower part too.
I don’t know what AKG’s headphone designer thought while designed the k550, but he must have had a really big head…really big!
I gave the k550 to a female colleague at work and the headphones fell at the smallest settings.
Sound wise, I just love these cans, they are great for work, or anytime you have to use sealed cans, but they are good in any situation too!
They have a very punchy and quite extended fast bass , the mids are very detailed and present. The treble is quite detailed as well, but it makes the k550 a little bright and sibilant.
One other impressing thing on these headphones is the sound-stage. For a sealed pair of headphones it has the best sound-stage I heard until now. The imaging and the separation of instruments are quite good as well.
They are a steal at their price, trust me! I would give them an A+ for the price/quality ratio, and if they had a better design and wouldn’t have the seal issue, they would have deserved A++. I have listened to AKG K701, and didn’t like it at all, but I really enjoy the k550.
So be aware that if you seem to find them sounding to thin, or feel like they have a thin loose bass, or if you think they are too sibilant, you may have the known seal issue!
Unfortunately, in this post, I have reached the end of my audio toys that i own in this moment.
No worries, as I have the feeling this is not the end of my journey
P.S. I found the best “mod” for K550 to increase the clamping force! ))) :