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AKG K553 Headphone Review

by Stuart Charles Black

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G’day mate and Welcome aboard!!

Before we get into the AKG K553 Review, grab a snack, sit back and relax because..

You’ve come to the right place!!

What I will bring you in this review

  1. Ratings/Price
  2. Specifications
  3. Summary
  4. Pros
  5. Cons
  6. Video Review
  7. Amp/DAC requirements
  8. Who these headphones benefit?
  9. Consensus/Conclusion
  10. Final Word

Now without further ado, let’s get rolling!

AKG K553

Ratings/Price

Specifications

  • Type: Closed back.
  • Fit: Circumaural (Around the Ear).
  • Impedance: 32 Ohm. What is Headphone Impedance?
  • Sensitivity: 114dB/mW. What is Sensitivity in Headphones?
  • Driver size: 50mm. What is a headphone driver?
  • Frequency response: 12Hz – 28kHz.
  • 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.
  • Color: Black.
  • Weight: 10.75 oz.

Summary

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

Build-wise, these are excellent. They are made of brushed aluminum, plastic, and protein leather, 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

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 rest.

Pros

  • Clean bass response. No bloat here folks!
  • Accurate mid-range with a phenomenal Timbre. What is Timbre?
  • Crispy treble.
  • Good noise isolation.
  • Good Soundstage. What is Soundstage?
  • Excellent instrument separation and overall clarity.

Cons

  • Achieving a good seal is a bit of a challenge.
  • Headband needs more padding.

Video Review!

Coming soon!

Amp/DAC requirements

You won’t need a head amp with these because of their high sensitivity and low impedance. How to choose a headphone amp!

However, depending on how good or bad your DAC is, you may invest in one. Learn more about this in the link above (How to choose a headphone amp).

If you decide on an amp:

These should all be on your radar. 🙂

Who these headphones benefit?

Endorsed for:

  • Mixing
  • Mastering
  • Reference
  • Hip-Hop
  • Rap
  • EDM
  • Pop
  • Indie
  • Rock
  • Metal
  • Gaming
  • Jazz
  • Classical

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.

Consensus/Conclusion

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. The build is superb as well, and overall these provide a good Soundstage despite being closed back.

Final Word

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.

Entry-level studio closed back:

CHECK OUT MY OFFICIAL SONY MDR V6 REVIEW!!

Upgrade:

SEE THE K553 FOR YOURSELF ON AMAZON!!


Well, that’s about it for today folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this AKG K553 Review.

What do you think about them?? The V6? The 9500? Let me know!!

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Let me know in the comments below or contact me!! I would love to hear from you…

Until then, all the best and God bless…

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

Can’t decide which headphones to purchase? Interested in a complete buyers guide outlining over 40 of the best options on the market? Click on over to the best audiophile headphones to learn more!!

Be sure to also check out my Reviews and Resources page for more helpful and informative articles!

AKG K553

4.75

Sound

5.0/5

Build & Aesthetic

5.0/5

Comfort/Fit

4.3/5

Soundstage

4.8/5

Pros

  • Open Airy Sound
  • Excellent Build
  • Great Soundstage
  • Great for Reference

Cons

  • Tough to get a good seal

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5 comments

Aggie December 16, 2020 - 8:22 am

Hello Stu,
as you recommended in other comment I’ve read about AKG K553. It would be very good choice, but unfortunatelly there are 2 big cons:
1) it’s really hard to find it in stores (I wanted to try them)
2) this headphone is over-ears, and I’m searching something more portable, for commute. So in this case I would prefere on-ears headphones. Can you recommend something like this K553 but smaller?

Thanks

Reply
Stuart Charles Black December 20, 2020 - 11:04 pm

How about the KPH30i? Have them now, haven’t reviewed them officially. You can see my review on Drop under “HomeStudioBasics” though. I just wrote it recently (sort by newest and it’s the second one down at the moment). Perfect headphone for your needs. I just got back from my dad’s house about an hour away (spending the night), and you can bet your buns I took them and my DragonFly Red with me on the trip! Just a perfect portable combo. You can also go with something like a BTR3k which I also brought along.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black December 20, 2020 - 11:08 pm

And if they are sold through on drop, just snag them here. Easiest purchase I ever made.

Reply
Aggie December 22, 2020 - 7:59 am

Thanks for recommendation. This KPH30i looks sooo old-school 🙂 I’ve read your review on Drop, and also some other reviews in the internet – this headphones could be amazing – I want it!!! 🙂 Here, it isn’t so cheap, because about 40 EUR, but I still consider it (maybe not now, but next year). I have one question – how about sound leakage? KPH30i has open construction, so I’m afraid that leakage is quite big…and this can be a problem in a bus or tram.

About BTR3k – this look interesting, but personally I don’t see the purpose of Bluetooth DAC/Amp – why don’t just plug headphones in phone? Or phone > dac/amp (wired) > headphones? Maybe there is a good reason to use BTR3k instead of (i.e.) Q1, but I don’t see it. If you do (and I’m sure you do 🙂 ), tell me, please.

Reply
Stuart Charles Black December 27, 2020 - 5:02 pm

Hey! The KPH30i does leak, but perhaps not quite as much as a fully open headphone. I was just over at my mom’s and both her and her friend were amazed at how good it sounded. I’m not lying to you; both of their jaws dropped when they pressed play. They really had no idea what was in store for them. The sound is just that good. Like, my mom was dancing around laughing and smiling from ear to ear. It was ridiculous lol. If you’re blaring the music (like her friend was), then yes, you’ll be able to hear it. When she was listening, you could kind of hear it a little. To me it’s a super easy purchase. In fact, this headphone will be replacing the 9500 on my Budget Kings series for top spot.

The Bluetooth DAC is a bit more convenient than a regular Amp/DAC. I personally hate strapping a dac to my phone, so the 3K is a nice alternative. I also enjoyed the Q1 with my phone, but that was one of the few times I carried one around.

Reply

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