CNET First Look
AKG K 551 no commuter's dreamThe AKG K 551 are a set of portable headphones with an airy sound, but their relative lack of bass mean they're better for use at home.
Hi. This is Ty Pendlebury with the look at the AKG K551 Headphones. There are two schools of thought when it comes to buying headphones. For use in public, you can need to be discreet and blend in or you can go all out and buy the biggest headphones you can find. The AKG K551 fit firmly in the latter category. These phones are based on the in-home K550 models but include a none very discreet bright blue cable and a 3-button remote. As you'd expect for $330 pair of headphones, these are very well built with swiveling cups for better transport and comfortable leatherette e-pads. These are closed headphones and so offers some degree of noise isolation that you may need to adjust them to get a good seal. Despite being closed, these AKGs are designed to sound open. That is a design to sound airy with a wide sound stage. This they do very well and music doesn't have that inside your head feel. Detail is very good with a slightly exaggerated, though not sibilant upper register. The issue is that while there is deep bass, it is a little drained up by the treble and on a rumbly subway [unk], you won't hear any bass at all. As a result, these headphones are more suited to light music like jazz, classical or acoustic. But I'd still say get the K550s instead and save a bit of money. If you're looking for a pair of headphones with a bit more discretion and are actually suited to use in public transport, I'd suggest you look at the Sennheiser Momentums or the B&W P5s. This has been Ty Pendlebury for CNET.com.