Audio-Technica’s ATH-A550Z is the no frills entry-level headset in the Z series of their ART Monitor range – aimed at the audiophile market. But I tell you what, for a sub $250 buy, they pack a punch. With a frequency response range of 5Hz-35kHz you aren’t going to be missing anything on a hi-def audio file, no matter how super human your hearing is.
With a 40-ohm impedance, you’ll get away with using them on smartphones/music players as well as amplified sources. Whether you’ll actually want to use them with portable devices on the move is more a question of bulk and style though. These puppies are large; the massive ear cups and the ‘3D wing support system’ will soak up considerable real estate in any bag. And while they’re certainly comfortable and handsome in functionality over form kind of way, they’re going to look comically oversized on all but the biggest heads. Having said that, if you’re looking for some really comfy, great sounding and relatively lightweight headphones for home use these might be your ticket. The huge ear cups create such a massive soundstage it’s like wearing open back headphones. It’s glorious.
That trademark Audio-Technica clarity is also in full effect, particularly noticeable in the lower midrange this time. With newly designed 53mm drivers they aren’t going to struggle with bass heavy music either, that’s for sure.
Included with the headphones in the box is just a ¼ inch adaptor for the non-removable 3m cable – as I said, no frills to be found here. On the plus side, 3m is probably going to be long enough to reach your stereo or computer from the couch and it features an elastomer sheath, which provides some resistance to tangles.
The fit isn’t adjustable in any way; supposedly the wing support system makes the headset one size fits all. However, I found that they did slide down a little over time, and I have a biggish head. Had I been able to shorten the band a little I think the fit would have been perfect.
Overall, there are some hits and misses here – but the misses will not be applicable to everyone. So if you’re looking for an affordable entry-point into very good sound in a comfortable headset for use at home (or other times when looking goofy doesn’t matter), give these a whirl. They may well suit your needs perfectly.
For more details, head to audio-technica.com.au.
Hits and Misses
Bottom-end clarity is very good