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I've been meaning to post a review of these since getting them from the last drop:
I was really not impressed at first. I got them the same week as a pair of Hifiman HE-400s, and those just blow these out of the water (they also cost twice as much, are open, and require a decent bit more power to drive, so it's not really a fair comparison - but it's the one I faced). Since then I've warmed up to them a decent bit, but I don't think they're a great value IF you're just looking for sound quality for the buck and don't care whether it's open or closed. If you don't mind open cans instead I'd pick up HD598 instead for roughly the same price.
The highs are fantastic but can be somewhat sparkly. I found the mids to not be very well-defined and kind of mushy. Bass is fairly weak. Isolation is good but not mindblowing. They are extremely comfortable cans. Everything had kind of a tinny/distorted sound at first but have since opened up a bit and sound more accurate, but still not on the level of my other cans. Build quality is excellent - they feel really solidly constructed.
In short: they're ok. I don't think they live up to the hype that followed them based on the success of the 7XX. I still use them for when I want to listen while traveling in public places and don't feel like IEMs.
More people need to consider reviews like this before buying. I was so very underwhelmed by these. They're all the negative things you said, especially compared to other options in my budget fleet: Sennheiser HD598, HD439, HD428, Grado SR80i, Beyerdynamic DT770, even some of the basic $20-30 IEMs I've bought here and elsewhere.
Hollow, anemic, tinny...they basically make every song sound like a bad mix.
It's a shame, because they're really well built, classy looking, and pretty comfortable. Noise isolation aside, they just sound like old freebie Walkman headphones. I'd be disappointed even at $50.
What are you using to drive them? Pretty much the same impression with mine after I first received my K550. But when I later plugged them to a desktop setup and after 100+hour of run time, it sounds much much better.
I've driven them with just about everything: iPhone, NAD separates, NAD D3020, Bravo V1, Audioengine D1...they never sound appreciably different, and they never sound better than other headphones using the same sources.
Tried a long loudish burn in, just in case that mythical process actually affected these. If it helped at all, it didn't help enough. Maybe I just got a bum pair.
Could be that the K553 sound just doesn't fit what your looking for in terms of sound characteristics. The K553 from what I gather is supposed to have a somewhat neutral or flat sound to them. All the cans you've listed in your previous post have a colored sound to them which you enjoy. No amount of amping or burn in going to change the sound of the K553 to make them sound more colored like the other cans you've listed. You could try using an eq to make sound a little better to suit your listening taste.
It's definitely true that the K553 doesn't have sound characteristics I find personally appealing. One could say it's because they're flat, and that the massive spike in the upper midrange I'm hearing is what flat really sounds like. But to me, Massdrop's description of "strong, accurate bass response that doesn’t muddle the midrange, delivering music that sounds engaging and impactful" could more accurately read "weaker out-of-the-box bass than any full size headphones you've ever bought, with speakerphone-style mids that dominate the shrill yet rolled-off highs."
I have some ancient 600 ohm AKG 240s that are intended for accurate mixing and presumably represent the classic AKG sound. They are significantly more "engaging and impactful" than the K553s. I've EQed the hell out of the K553s, and they're suitable enough for my tastes now on EQed sources, but they still don't deliver on the promise of an "expansive soundstage", even considering the caveats for all closed cans. Beyerdynamic DT770s put them to shame in that regard too.
Different strokes and all that. I guess I just wanted to make sure people considered the sparse (but consistent) negative reviews on here, so they weren't as surprised as I was if they find the 553s really disappointing. Especially in a no-returns scenario like Massdrop.