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AKG K553 Pro Studio Headphones Review


HWC YouTube Reviewer
Jul 13, 2011
Toronto, Canada
Reference audio is important for music producers, video editors, audio engineers and really anyone whose taste in music leans towards natural and non-colored sound signature. AKG by Harman is one of the grand names within the audio sphere and their latest K553 Pro studio headphones promise an excellent package for monitoring, mixing and mastering with a reasonable price of $199.

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The K553 Pro look the part of a work headphone with matte black and slightly reflective metallic accents throughout. We appreciate the discrete text on each ear cup and the headband that doesn’t scream for attention and gives off a sense of confidence in the audio department that isn’t masked by flashy elements.


The headphone is built to withstand some rough handling as intended within a studio. Robust joints, metal parts and tough plastic should prove reliable if thrown around. The headphone ear cups swivel all the way in so you can lay them flat on a surface that also may come in handy when resting the pair on your neck.


The 3m cable is non-removable, making any unused length clumber some to deal with in a confined space. However a ¼” adapter is included and handling noise is almost unnoticeable, allowing users to freely walk around a space without receiving any audible interference in the ear cup from the cable hitting something.


One element AKG should have amped up are the ear cushions. The padding is large enough to consume an entire ear without specific pressure points however the internal housing of the driver makes contact with the ears. Deeper padding would allow the headphones to stay free of depressing the ears. Fortunately the ear pads are removable and can be swapped with deeper AKG circular pairs and one appreciated element are the L and R imprinted inside to indicate proper headphone orientation.


As for sound quality the K553 Pro are as indicated, reference headphone. The sound signature is neutral and makes no effort to be anything else. At first the K553 Pro seemed a touch on a bright side with a more detailed treble that I’m used to. Every element of a song or a recording is audible with excellent roll off on high hats and perfectly emphasized vocals.

The mid range is right where it should be. The sound stage is not too open but allow for a semi-open feel while keeping the vocalists up front and audible. The bass section for individuals without prior reference experience will sound underwhelming and lost. You can thank the current plethora of terrible fashion headphones that prioritize on bass boost to camouflage the terribly tuned mid section and either a completely non-existent treble or sharp enough that sounds punishing. The K553 Pro handles bass like a boss. The lower bass hits are there when intended and upper bass is nondestructive.


Reference headphones are interesting and allow you to detect and hear any imperfections in recorded speech. For example if an editor did not time an audio crossfade transition properly between two audio clips, you’d be able to pick up on that. The K553 Pro doesn’t hide any of the imperfections and that’s what makes this headphone so necessary for any serious audio work. If you get a pair, make sure to pick up an extra set of thicker ear pads as well for better comfort as otherwise, the K553 Pro is an excellent solution for a studio.

We are giving away a pair through MASSDROP, just sign up here for a chance to win: http://dro.ps/hardwarecanucks


Make sure to watch our full video review above.
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