on 18 February 2014
These headphones are an absolute bargain for £99; if you're thinking of buying these headphones, you're thinking too hard.
There are so many good points about these headphones I'm struggling to find a starting point. The thing that stands out the most though is without doubt the sound. Firstly just to clarify, these are not headphones for the beats crowd who only care about head pounding bass. These headphones provide a very flat signature meaning you get bass but its the kind you hear- not feel. Overall the sound is very clear and flat yet still engaging and really brings music to life- especially acoustic songs.
Next I'd like to address the comfort. These headphones are supremely comfortable. The gigantic cups provide ample room for any ears. Despite not being made of all-the-rage memory foam this is actually an advantage not only in terms of providing pillowy soft comfort but also in creating a seal around the ear- something I feel these AKGs do well
From the very first time I picked these up I could tell they are built to last. There are chunky metal accents everywhere and even the parts made of plastic are textured and feel premium. These are the type of headphone you can throw at a wall and then just continue listening to.
The only thing that I can find fault with is the way AKG market these as portable, even going as far too say "on the go" on the box. First of all if you dared to go outside with these giants on your head you'll have to be the type to enjoy weird glances. Even if you're only a travel listener and you want to stow them away when you walk around there is no carry case or even a pouch to speak of. Finally there's the cable, not detachable: not the end of the world however the fat headphone jack will not fit into your phone or of of you have a case (like me) slightly annoying but nothing really worth fretting about
These cons are completely negligible when you consider all the pros. I can't recommend these cans enough. Get them while they're still £99!
on 1 June 2013
I am into my hifi and love how much better music sounds through than a set of computer speakers. With this in mind I decided to look for a set of quality headphones specifically for my iPhone when commuting. I had a few tick boxes to meet all at a maximum price limit of around £300. I wanted over-ear, inline remote to answer calls, some degree of sound proofing, portability and most importantly to sound great.
I had a lot of research up to this point on headphones and had a few contenders which were the sennheisser momentums, philips fidelo L1, Bose AEII, Audio Technica ES7, Grado SR60 + 80 and the AKG K551. I was able to audition all of these headphones with varying genres from Sade, Bruno Mars to Deep house and Techno except for the AKGs.
I was expecting to love the momentums from reviews, they ticked every box but when I listened to them the sound was sharp and too aggressive plus it felt like the right channel was dominating to the point I thought there was a problem with the pair of test headphones. I went to another shop entirely and tried them only to find the same problem.
The philips were really nice, smooth sound, warm, easy to listen to but lacked that level of detail that I required in complex tracks where the music gets busy, the philips wouldnt have been able to keep up.
The Bose were again a warm sound, easy to live with but I got no desire to grab them and listen, they did a good job but thats its, at £160 I am expecting to look forward to using them, the Bose lacked this.
Audio Technica's were good with bass and played dance music well, but they were all about the drive and the sound would become tiresome, plus they had a really tight grip on your head and ears which after around 20 minutes had started to hurt, not something I could live with when I plan to use these for around 1 hour per day.
The Grado's are superb headphones, the sound is tight, punchy, clean and non fatiguing. I wouldnt say it was warm but it wasnt bright either, beautifully balanced. However these are open backed headphones and they leaked so much sound I may as well have brought a hifi system onto the bus with me. Not practical for commuting as they will annoy everyone around you and they block out no sound themselves.
So I decided as I couldnt audition the AKGs having looked at all reasonably close retailers I would take a punt as these were designed to be portable right, I mean they had inline controls for an iPhone or other mobile unit. They arrived from amazon promptly and one look at the sheer size of them had me worried. I am 5' 8', to say the headphones swamped my head is an understatement. The smallest setting on them was only just small enough to sit on my head correctly. Never the less I dove into the listening, through the genres and back again, I do have music from nearly all common genres. These headphones were by far the closest I had come to listening to hifi, clear airy sound, rich vocals and bass, detail to die for, non fatiguing, all elements of the music delivered perfectly with no aggression blurring - I was sat in a trance, in my own little music world which is exactly what I was after from a set of headphones in the first place. The sound was that good for my wants and needs I almost kept them!
At the end of the day these headphones are not for external use UNLESS you are a much larger human than I and when on your head they look a normal size. They moved around a lot, wouldnt stay put and frankly looked ridiculous, I couldt imagine how much they would make my head sweat when walking for a while. For these reasons I had to return them BUT I have since not found a headphone to match the sound which is a real shame. I foolishly went into buying headphones looking for my hifi on the go which is simply not possible but even so I now know some headphones come close to creating that sound environment. I am therefore still on the hunt but I can not recommend these higher. If you are going to use these indoors go for it, dont hesitate and if you can live with the cons I have stated about their size then definietly go for them as they do not let sound out so in this respect they are fine for a commute!
on 20 January 2015
This was a 5 star review based on the product excelling in the areas that were inportant to me. Now I have had these a while I have knocked a star off for comfort. See comfort section below. My requirements were: Exceptional sound, comfort for long listening sessions, and sound isolation so that others cannot hear my music, and I cannot hear outside noise. I will add at the bottom of the review some other points unimportant to me but worth a mention for those of you with other requirements to consider.
Sound: I am very fussy when it comes to Hi-fi sound, and I prepared myself for the possibility that these closed back headphones would not be in the same league as my open backed Sennheisers. I was pleasantly surprised. The sound is open, airy, and detailed with good instrument seperation. Detail-wise they are cleaner than my Sennheisers. The sound is effortless and makes long listening sessions a pleasure. I read a fair few reviews saying that the bass is lightweight. This is not the case. The bass is proportionately exactly as it should be in perfect balance with all the other instruments. I listen to these on an X series Sony Walkman with no tone adjustments and they are amazing. For those who want booming bass that drowns out the detail, there are plenty of headphones on the market that will do that, but for me that's missing the point. For those of you that want faithful reproduction, and to be able to hear all of the piece these are for you. Make sure you have a decent front end for these though- my iphone doesn't sound anywhere near as good as my Walkman.
Comfort/Sound isolation: These are extremely comfortable and are lighter than they look, at least initially. Because they are enclosed, your ears get very warm, so much so that when I wear these indoors, I find I have to take them off within an hour or so because I am uncomfortably hot. This is a real shame and I have knocked a star off as a result. My missus cannot hear my music so thumbs up here. External sounds are pretty well muffled too.
Size: These are big cans. You could go out wearing them-in fact they the manufacturers designed these for use with Ipad, Ipod in mind (hence the short lead) but be prepared for the occasional odd look. Storage might be an issue if you're a commuter without a briefcase/large bag. Finally on size is the headband adjustment. I don't have a small head by any means, and these fit me perfectly on the smallest setting. If you have a small head, try before you buy as they might not fit.
Lead: The lead is not detatchable, I'm guessing because of the in-line controls. This is not a problem for me as I use this device with a portable front end. However, if I was hooking up to a static hi-fi unit that wasn't right next to me, the lead would be too short. In addition the 3.5mm jack has not been designed with the portable market in mind. You see, most phone/MP3/4 users have their device in a protective case. Even with the slimmest of these, the surround of the 3.5mm jack is too chunky which stops the entire of the stem going in to the earphone jack. The result being the inline controls don't work on the Iphone unless I remove the protective rubber cover. For me, not an issue as I don't listen to music on my phone much, but if you do, a point worth knowing. Also there is no adaptor for larger phono plug.
Inline controls: First point is that these only work with certain Apple products so, if like me you listen to your music on something else or you have a different make of phone, they are useless. If you do have a suitable Apple product, you can talk on the phone, adjust the volume, play/pause, forward and reverse tracks via a gizmo that sits about five inches from your earphone.
If you are planning to use your headphones at home, and the inline controls aren't important to you, go for the AKG K550. These are pretty much the same, but with longer lead, larger phono adapter, and sonically much the same, although they are twice the weight. If you are listening from a portable device, and you like your hi-fi you will be hard pushed to better these at this price.
on 7 January 2015
Bought these to sit along side my Yamaha HPH 200 open back headphones. The Yamaha HPH 200 is just an amazing, musical, detailed and enjoyable headphone. A Grado beater and a hard act to follow. I needed some closed back headphones to use when others are watching TV, so as not to disturb them or be disturbed myself by the TV and talking. So after much investigation and being seduced by the special offer I chose the AKG K551's. Oh boy....am I glad I did. So first things first. The problem of the super thick plastic on the headphone jack has been resolved by AKG cutting away a few extra mm from the body of the plastic so that even with a case on your player the jack will fit snugly. This is with the new models of the AKG 551's. These headphones to me would be useless to use with either an iPhone or an Android because the output on those devices is too low to get enough power to have either a high enough volume or enough bass output. On my Sony Experia Z3 android phone that is exactly the case and on my old Sony MP3 player there is just enough volume and input to get a biggish sound. But with a more powerful player such as the Fiio X1, or other more specialized players the whole scene changes. Add a headphone amplifier into the mix and these headphones become amazing. Those who say these headphones have no bass are almost certainly under-powering them. So as might be guessed I use them with the Fiio X1 and the Fiio E11 headphone amp and I am in seventh heaven. The Fiio E11 amp allow the bass settings to be increased so even the most die-hard bass-man will be satisfied. To me my pair seem to present a lot of bass anyway. The tonality of the sound is pure, clear and musical. With Gorgon City and Bob Marley the bass is perfect. Deep and solid but always leaving room for vocals and instrumentation to convey their message. What is unique for me is that if the sound is cranked up it is like being in a room with a band in it. As spacious as the open backed Yamaha's. They are not a reference set as such though, because they are not dry or neutral enough in their output at all so I doubt if they are good as a studio monitor. They are really set up for music and hifi experience. Comfort is excellent, although the Yamaha's are the kind of headphones you can wear and forget about, the AKG's could become a little hot to wear in a very warm room although they are gentle on the ear.
Rather than buy the AKG K550 I bought the AKG K551 because they were almost half the price than the K550's. On the K551's the lead is rather short, but it's not hard to source an inexpensive extension lead. As I have said do not buy these as a iphone headphone or you will probably be disappointed. Buy them as a home HiFi or DAP headphone and give them some solid input.
What HiFi give them 5*s, but be sure that they fed a quality signal through them. Using my Android phone only, I would have given them a much lower score. Give them a good input signal and they are up there with the best.
Managed to do a comparison with the AKG550. Because the k550's may not have been burned in this comparison may have limited validity. The bass on the k551 is stronger than the k550. There is a more defined thump to the k551 and a slightly more tuneful but softer bass with the k550. Someone said the k551 has a boomy bass, although not as much as most other headphones. I would say that the k551 has the opposite to boomy bass. It is well defined and is quite solid....but not as strong and to the forefront as many other headphones that are tuned to emphasise bass. It is where it is supposed to be on both headphones. The treble on the k550 slightly more pronounced than the k551 and sounds slightly crisper and cleaner. Midrange is much the same to my ears. I felt tonally the treble and midrange on my burned in pair of k551's was a tad sweeter, perhaps less natural than the k550, but extremely enjoyable. So I would say there are differences between the two which may be down to the cable. The k551 has a short thin cable and the k550 a long thick cable. Both headphones are excellent. The k551 is an amazing headphone and I am sure that k550 owners feel the same about the k550. Both have the most amazing, big musical sound and are tonally brilliant. If you can get the k551's or K550's for £90.00 or so you have a bargain. Test them out comfort wise. To me they are very comfortable. They are BIG though and may not suit some people.
on 14 October 2014
These need running in before you get much bass out of them... be warned if you put them straight on they sound a bit lacking in any weight....
But once you do - wow.. amazing headphones and for the price i paid awesome value. I've got them connected to my PS4 most of the time - works perfect chatting to mates whilst playing... but you really need to plug them in to a good hi-fi to get the most out of them. Very revealing of the source material - if you have skimped on the sample rate of that mp3 collection you listen to these will highlight your mistake. Very comfortable, you can even use them to chat on your mobile phone.
If you want a fantastic sounding set of cans with the extra bonus of a mic... look no further while they are still available...
on 30 December 2014
Currently own Beats and AKG 451s and wanted to try something less bass orientated. As other reviews, although marketed as portable these are in no way portable due to their shear size and the cans do not fold. Additionally, and more disappointing is that at this price there was no protection bag! This is not acceptable at this price and with a portable badge. They would get damaged in a very short time if you were traveling!
All in all a quality sound, comfortable with good passive sound isolation. Still a bit weak through IPAD and Phone, again not a portable friendly experience. The Mids are clear but you still need to play a bit with device settings to get a full rich sound. I purchased under a reduced price but would not consider them at full price!
on 20 January 2015
Bought these off the back of What Hi-Fi's review, they stated easily worth £250 from launch. I can confirm, best £79.99 I've ever spent on audio equipment. The definition, depth and palpable quality sound these headphones produce is phenomenal. Granted, they are big, and no one will be wearing these whilst shopping in public, that said, you can't see people laughing when you've closed you're eyes to become completely enveloped and emmersed in the audio perfection. Some of the reviews almost put me off, but they don't know what they're talking about, and neither do I really, by What Hi-Fi do. Thanks to The seller "Dispatched from and sold by Picsio." Who shipped my order the day of purchase by next day delivery when I selected 3-5 :)
on 6 January 2014
While these headphones are aimed squarely at iPhone users you really need to connect them to a decent hifi to understand their full capability. Restricting them to mp3 or similar formats is a bit like buying a Ferrari and then putting parafin in the tank.
Give them a quality source and they really shine, the soundstage they present is excellent and very natural. Mozart's harpsichord concertos proved how detailed the top end was and the Fleetwood/McVie pairing on 'The Dance' demonstrated total authority of the lower registers.
The cord is a little short but come on AKG, you could have included a 1/4 inch stereo adaptor so they can be plugged into equipment worthy of their quality! Not doing so is just stupid.
on 14 January 2015
Purchased this for myself and as a christmas gift to my mom. I gave these a four star because they are good and perform exactly as I expected from the Golden Ears measurements but they have a few problems for my tastes. The main problems I have with the headphones are the headband and the cord. The headband is wider than my other headphones and doesn't rest as comfortably as the dt 990s or the hd 380s, and the cord is a tiny cord with an apple volume control you would expect to find on apple earbuds (not exactly top dollar compared to other headphones but you might enjoy the thin cord if you use them on the go). There is good value in these headphones and most of my qualms are entirely subjective but comfort and durability are important to me. I won't go far in explaining the sound because most reviews of how headphones sound are subjective or based on what someone else has said but I will recommend looking at the measurements on goldenears.net if you are interested in how they sound. To describe the measurements in a few words the bass is slightly boomy (but much less than 75% of headphones on the market) while being balanced, the mids are almost completely balanced, and the highs are slightly emphasized with a 10khz boost. Make of that what you will but for my tastes it is close to perfect. Lastly these headphones are designed for use on iPod so feel free to plug them in and listen, they probably won't need an amplifier but something cheap like the fiio e11 would work if you need more volume. It has been explained more thoroughly elsewhere but a regular iPod touch is close enough to transperent that you do not need to upgrade it to here more detail, most of the detail you end up hearing from improving the device is your ears hearing a change that you mind expects (I'm not saying an iPod is perfect by any means but for someone like me who just wanted to listen to music with ease of mind it is more than enough).
on 14 May 2015
Got these out of curiosity ,read so many good reviews about them had to see myself.
First thing i notice very well made sturdy feeling quality, except a very thin creative fatality style thin cable which is about 1 meter bit short for some but fine for me next to my pc,quite comfortable with really soft type leather pads headband only a small bit of padding but seems ok.
Sound quality to my ears is very good i dont like huge booming bass and these have bass but not to blow out the mids and highs,i can only compare them to other headphones i have which are Hyper x,Takstar ts-671,the 551 are wide sounding for closed headphones but not quite as wide sounding as the takstars but then the takstars are fully open,compared to the hyperx 551s are wider sounding and probably better but the hyper x hold up well in my opinion.
To sum up,551s are a really good well made headphone with crisp sound ,i do think you hear every small detail of what you are listening too,for the price i recommend them,i have a different jack plug on mine that's been slimmed down to fit easier into mobiles with a case ,just the thin cable is a let down.