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I recently pulled out my K553s and tested them in my headphone reference chain:
- Custom audio server (fanless, Fidilizer Pro, Paul Pang USB)
- Battery powered I2S bridge (DSD 256 conversion)
- Gustard X20U using Audio Sensability Statement XLR balanced out and LessLoss Original power cable plugged into a dedicated audio circuit.
- Schiit Mjolnir 2 with Holland Bugle Boy tubes, using Audio Sensability Testement power cable into a dedicated audio circuit.
The K533 scaled up well with my system, taking it from harsh, metallic low-resolution lo-fi into a somewhat respectable mid-fi listening experience: the metallic signature was largely eliminated, something I had and failed to fix with EQ in the past. Resolution was brought into mid-fi territory. Does it compete against my TH900, HE-6 or Utopias? Well...no. But the difference isn't nearly as massive as it used to be. So I can move these headphones off the "lo-fi junk, ignore" list to something that might be respectable if you're going to invest in quality electronics.