Material: Replaceable leatherette with slow retention foam, plastic, brushed aluminum.
Cable detachable: No.
Pads replaceable: Yes.
Connector: Screw-on jack combo (1/4″ and 1/8″), gold plated.
Weight: 10.75 oz.
The closed back AKG K553 is a perfect example of a balanced headphone. The bass is just right, the treble is crispy but not sibilant, and the mid-range is nearly perfect. Closed back vs. open back headphones.
Think of a smooth, buttery, transparent, but lively sound signature that reveals much detail, but never becomes overbearing. That’s the K553 in a nutshell. In fact, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that in my opinion, this is the closed back version of the Philips SHP9500. The sound signatures are so similar that I can’t help but compare them. They both also have 50mm drivers which might contribute to this as well.
The crazy thing is that the 9500 is dirt cheap in comparison to the K553. However, if you’re looking for a closed back in this range, you can’t go wrong with this puppy. For an entry level closed back mixing/mastering/reference headphone, I would go with the magnificent Sony MDR V6. Learn more:Sony MDR V6 Review!
That said, it’s not to take away from the K553, as it’s a bit of a step up from the aforementioned models.
Build wise, these are excellent. They are made of brushed aluminum, plastic, and pleather, and don’t feel cheap in the slightest. They are relatively lightweight, but feel extremely solid and hefty enough to deter any doubts that you spent your money well.
Comfort is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, they sit very well on your dome, but you may have trouble getting a good seal. This is one of the biggest issues that users face. I myself had the same issue when demoing them inside Guitar Center. Once you get a good fit, it’s smooth sailing. It’s just achieving the seal that takes a bit of elbow grease.
Other than that, these are extremely comfortable and can be worn for long periods without a rest.
I think they do well with nearly all genres, as they are extremely balanced but still sound rather lively. That said, your mileage may vary. I prefer my bass to be on the lighter side, because it tends to reveal the sound better and gives instruments and voices more room to breathe.
Thoughts from Stu’s notepad
You may opt to replace the padding, as they are quite shallow and may not work for everyone. The Brainwavz HM5’s are a good option.
You may have an issue with the lack of headband padding.
The lack of a detachable cable may bother you.
The giant “R” and “L” on the insides of the ear-cups are extremely helpful in determining how to put them on correctly. A good feature considering basically no headphones do this (the 9500 is an exception, but theirs are on the outside of the ear-cup in large letters).
There’s a bit of a harsh character between 1-2kHz that can sound a bit grating. Not quite a Con, but keep it in mind. You can always EQ it down a few decibels if need be.
The AKG K553 is an excellent improvement over the original 550 and 551, with an improved mid-range, phenomenal bass, and crisp treble. Comfort will vary from person to person, and a good seal is a must before listening to any music. Build is superb as well, and overall these provide good Soundstage despite being closed back.
I think this is an excellent upgrade from a headphone like the Audio Technica ATH M50x, and proves to be a viable solution to your studio reference needs.
Stu is determined to provide the truth about all things audio, and strives to deliver excellent content to you the reader! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, attend church, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His attention to detail and perfectionist attitude are what allow him to excel, but it can be both a blessing and a hindrance at times.