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Are these better than the akg 553?
Akg 553 Pro Studio are over the ear headphone... they are more comfortable in my opinion! you can wear it for hours!
I would say that the K553 would be more comfortable and have a wider soundstage. However the K181 is probably a much better portable headphone since it has the ability to fold up into a nice compact package. The K553 is best suited for studio or home listening while the K181 is better for taking quality sound with you on the go. The K181 also comes with a coiled wire versus a straight wire which you may find useful for not having tons of slack wire when listening while travelling but a straight wire proves to be much more handy in a studio situation where you may not always be right next to the headphone jack.
(I personally own the K181s and I love them)