More often than not, the first thing to check for when browsing for headphones is the target demographic. If you’re a casual user you don’t want the flat reference sound of professional headphones drowning out your chest pounding bass, or if you’re an audiophile or a professional, you don’t want the over-pronounced bass muddling your mids and highs.
But these headphones are an excellent common ground both casuals and audiophiles can rally behind. At the very least, they’re not the kind of headphones you can dismiss without a second thought, regardless of your preferences.
They’re not infallible by any means, but more on that later.
|Name||AKG K553 Pro|
|Dimensions||4.4 x 7.1 x 6.9 inches (11.3 x 18 x 17.5 cm)|
|Weight||0.67 pounds (0.305 kg)|
|Driver size||50 mm|
|Frequency range||12 Hz – 28000 Hz|
The AKG K552 Pro headphones are a beauty to behold. They’re rather low profile, nothing flashy about them whatsoever, but the black matte and metallic finishes really do complement one another nicely.
And in case you were wondering:
Yes, these headphones are almost entirely made of metal. As such, they endure punishment extremely well and even if you were to drop them on a daily basis they would just shrug it off. They’re very flexible and, what’s more, the joints don’t make a sound when you twist and turn them. Even what little plastic they have feels thick and rubbery and not at all fragile.
Despite all the metal parts, however, the AKG K552 Pro headphones are still relatively lightweight at only 0.67 pounds. This helps alleviate some of the stress, but whether it’s enough or not will depend on how long you use them in a single session.
The problem here isn’t the weight but the padding, or lack thereof. Both the leatherette ear cushion and headband paddings are relatively thin. The excellent clamping force of these headphones helps with the headband padding, but not so much with the ear cushions.
The good thing here is that the ear cushions can be replaced with other AKG ear cushions, so at worst it’s a minor inconvenience and definitely not a problem that can make or break your decision to purchase these headsets.
And it’s not like the stock cushions are horrible either; you won’t feel any discomfort after an hour or two of use, but given how versatile they are it’s not at all unlikely that they’ll be used for hours and hours on end.
We mention versatility, and this will certainly extend into sound quality as well, but there’s more to it than just sound quality.
For starters, there are the specs:
The low impedance of only 32 Ohms means that you can plug them into your headphone just as well as into a high-end computer or amp, and they’ll sound great. Additionally, the frequency range goes from 12 Hz all the way up to 28000 Hz. This may not be the widest range as far as professional headphones are concerned, but it definitely eclipses what casual headphones have to offer, striking a good balance between the two.
And then we have the ear-cups:
Technically, these are closed-back headphones, but they reap the benefits of open-back headphones as well, in that they provide good sound isolation and an expansive soundstage. Every note is clear and every instrument distinct, giving the overall sound a spacious feel. And here is where the versatility truly kicks in.
The almost open-back properties that you get from these headphones are excellent for spatial awareness in gaming, especially in first-person shooters, where you’ll know exactly where the footsteps and gunshots are coming from.
Here’s the thing:
These aren’t portable headphones.
The following is a quotation from K553 Pro’s support page on AKG’s site: ‘the 2D-axis mechanism enables full flat folding for easy storage or handling on the road.’ It sounds good, it sounds right, but it doesn’t really work like that.
The flat folding does make them more convenient for carrying around your neck or placing on any flat surface, or even for listening with only one ear like a DJ. If you have a good carrying case (they don’t come with one) that they can fit in you should be able to transport them from point A to point B without any problems.
But they can’t be used to the go and this is largely because of the cable. These are wired headphones and the cable is not detachable. It’s a good three meters good to compensate for that, which is excellent in a studio or even in your house if you want to move around a little with the headphones on. The cable is very good, not causing any interference, and it even comes with a neat 6.3 mm adapter.
But let’s be real, you’re not going to fold 3 meters worth of cable around your shoulder, plug these headphones into your smartphone and listen to your jam while walking over to the grocery store.
And as always, the sound quality is where it’s really at, and the AKG K553 Pro doesn’t disappoint.
The important thing to remember here is that these are, first and foremost, reference headphones. What this means is that their purpose is to reproduce sound in as authentic and faithful a manner as possible. The signature sound is overall very flat, although the high-frequency notes are a bit boosted.
This isn’t a bad thing. It’s just unlike casual headphones, where the bass is usually much more pronounced. The bass is definitely still there, but it’s controlled so it just might not be what you’re used to if you’ve never used reference headphones.
However, don’t let this discourage you unless modern, bass-heavy genres are all you’re interested in. Getting to hear your favorite songs just the way they were recorded for the first time is quite the experience and you’ll feel like rediscovering some of your favorite musical gems.
And last but not least, there is the matter of price. Although it’s been discontinued, the K553 Pro can still be ordered from the AKG site for $200, but you can find it from various resellers for less and the prices can dip down as low as $120 when they’re on discounts. Overall, this makes them a steal.
The build is very sturdy, the sound quality is excellent and the comfort only seems lacking by comparison because everything else is truly top-notch.
Most importantly, you won’t find this kind of spacious sound in closed-back headphones unless you buy ones that are at least twice as expensive.
In summation, the AKG K553 Pro headphones are an excellent example of studio-grade headphones with universal appeal. Audiophiles will love them for the astounding reference sound for the price and gamers will love them for the spatial awareness they provide. In addition, they’re also an excellent entry point into studio headphones if you’ve never used them. Just be mindful of the three-meter long cable.
AKG K553 Pro Review
- Build - 9/109/10
- Comfort - 7.1/107.1/10
- Versatility - 9.8/109.8/10
- Sound - 10/1010/10
The AKG K553 is an impressive wired headphone with a lot to offer and top-notch sound quality. The only thing dragging it down was its less-than-ideal comfort.