AKG-K545 – Review
I’ve owned its bigger brother, the AKG-K550 for a good while . In some ways it is one of the best closed headphones out there as I’ve rarely heard such an open sound from a headphone in this category. It is also a very detailed, neutral and fast headphone accompanied by a very fast, controlled and punchy bass.
2 things made me look at the competition: the isolation and the sibilant treble. The isolation issue made it really hard to get a good seal, and if you didn’t manage to get one, you got an even more sibilant sound with less bass body. The treble was very detailed, but it was too much sometimes, making it kind of tiresome to listen to after a while.
I was really curious to hear its smaller brother, the AKG K545 and see how it stands compared to K550.
Design, Build Quality and Specs
The two headphones have very similar looks. Practically, K545 almost is a K550 with smaller cups. What impressed me about this aspect is that they managed to keep the size of the drivers to 50 mm, just like in the larger cups of K550.
I found the build quality to be very sturdy and the design to be very appealing. There is one thing that bothers me here. It seems that AKG didn’t completely solve the seal issues from K550, as I still have to press on the cups a little to get the most out of them.
If I were AKG, I would have a serious talk with the guy that designs the headbands. Besides this, I found them to be very comfortable and fit for long listening periods.
They also have a detachable cable compared to K550. Actually the packages contains the following:
- 1 pair AKG K 545 headphones
- 2 Detachable cables with inline remote control and microphone for iPhone and universal usage
- AKG warranty card
You can find more about them here.
|Frequency Response||10 Hz-25 kHz|
|Maximum Input Power||50 mW|
|Input Impedance||32 ohms|
|Sensitivity||97 dB SPL/V|
Listening Impressions and Tests
Compared to K550, the bass on K545 had more body with better extension, making the sound in general to have a fuller presence. Even though the bass is deeper on k545, I never felt it was too much or over emphasized. The sound was overall more detailed and more open on K550, but it sounded more natural and engaging on K545.
I clearly enjoyed this song more on K545 as even if it gets a little tiresome because of the treble, it’s not as bad as with K550 where I was bombarded with lots of “sss”….”sss”…”tssssss” “ssssssss”.
K545 managed to impress me on this song. The bass was clearly deeper than on K550 giving better extension, body and presence to the electric guitars. Again, the sound was missing some air compared to K550, but overall it was more engaging and fun on K545.
Leonard’s voice had more body and presence on K545 but it was more detailed and textured on K550. K550 won again in terms of details and openness.
While barely listenable on K550 during to its sibilance, with K545 I managed to listen until the end of the song. Also, the song had more energy and impact with K545.
K550 was a clear winner here, as its soundstage was considerably bigger than with K545. K550 certainly have their moments, as when they shine, they really shine. Besides the soundstage, the details, transparency, instrument separation on K550 were clearly superior to the ones from K545 as well making this song to sound gorgeous on them and dull on its little brother.
The bass is very fast, engaging, with good extension and control. I found the bass on K545 to be superior to the one on K550, being more detailed and extended.
The mids on K545 might sometimes be more natural. The male voices have a fuller body and are more present, but not as well detailed or textured as on their bigger brother. Overall, the mids on K550 are still more detailed than on K545. I feel like the K545 is missing some of the fun as the instruments are not so well extended and rich as on K550. Actually I think that the mids are a little recessed here compared to other headphones, giving a little u shaped presentation to the sound, described very well by the number in its name “545” (5 for the bass, 4 for the mids, 5 for the treble 😛 )
The treble is also better on K545, as it solves the sibilant/unnatural issue it had on K550. It is still very extended and detailed. I found it to be quite true to the recording, but it still has a sign of sibilance/brightness sometimes.
Even if it is a little warmer than K550, I still find it to be a neutral headphone overall.
K550 still wins overall in this department, with the exception of the instruments that are on lower frequencies, which are better extended on K545. The voices and instruments have a better extension & texture overall on K550.
The sound is quite open for a closed headphone. It doesn’t reach the level of K550 in this department, but very few closed headphones manage to beat it here. The soundstage is overall smaller, but well defined and still good for a closed headphone.
Instrument Separation and Imaging
The layering, instrument separation and imaging are very good on K545, one of the best in its category, but it still doesn’t manage to reach the levels of K550 here.
I found the sound presentation of K545 to be more engaging and energetic than on its bigger brother.
K545 wins in this department, as the sound seemed overall more natural to me than on its bigger brother.
Compared to Focal Spirit Classic
While the K545 has a bigger soundstage, I find the Spirit Classic to be more engaging, fast and energetic. Besides this, the bass goes quite deeper on Spirit Classic and still has better impact, detail and extension. The whole presentation on Spirit Classic is more detailed than on K545 with richer, better extended voices and instruments and mids in general. The treble is also more pleasant on Spirit Classic without signs of sibilance or harshness, but still pretty well extended and sparkly.
I clearly prefer the Focal Spirit Classic.
Compared to Sony MDR-1R
Even though the soundstage on the Sonys seemed more spacious at first, presenting a very good height and decent depth, the soundstage on K545 seemed a little more natural to me on various occasions as it was quite wider and I think the difference between the height and width on the MDR-1R is not quite proportional, the width being sometimes too small for my taste.
The MDR-1R has a more in your face presentation moving you in the front rows, while K545 moves you a few rows behind. The instrument separation, layering and imaging are better on K545.
Also the sounds seem to go more accurately in space with K545 giving it a more holographic presentation than on the Sony.
This also gives a more accurate and natural sound presentation to the AKGs, making the 1R sound a little artificial in comparison.
The voices have better presence and are better textured on MDR-1R, while they seem a little further in space with K545 but a little more holographic as they are better layered. The 1R has better detailed mids, with better attack and extension. These being said, the mids on the MDR-1R are richer and more fun than on K545. Actually the 1R are quite special in the mids department.
K545 has a better bass with better impact, control and extension. Even if not on the same level of performance, the bass on the R1 is still very fun and engaging as it is fast and has a strong punch.
As you can see, this was a serious competition right here. Overall, I think technically K545 is superior, but I must take my hat off to the MDR-1R that showed one heck of fight and in the end managed to push through as my favorite between the two, as the rich mids and engaging sound signature won me over.
Compared to NAD-VISO HP50
I have already written this comparison right here, but from the reverse perspective : HP50 compared to K545:
Compared to AKG K545
I’ve recently heard these headphones for the first time as well. They are very interesting as well. Their isolation and grip are better than on their bigger brother, the K550, but still not good enough, as I felt that they sounded better if I pressed them a little towards my ears. It’s safe to assume that the NADs have better grip and isolation.
Compared to the NAD HP50 , they have a more neutral presentation that sends you a few rows back. The bass is punchy as well but not as powerful as on HP50. It goes deeper on K545 but it doesn’t have the same control and speed. Also the voices are not so present, clean and well extended. The treble is not so natural and presents a little sibilance, but less so than K550.
HP50 is also more detailed with a richer and more extended mid-range. The treble is extended on both headphones but it is cleaner and less harsh on NAD.
The soundstage is not as tall or deep but it has better width on K545.
The HP50 sounded more natural to my ears in both the instruments and vocal departments.
Overall I liked the NADs better as it has a more energetic, transparent, more detailed & natural sound presentation.
Even if it couldn’t top K550 , very few headphones in this category manage to beat it in some specific areas, areas as: soundstage, imaging, instrument separation, details. However, K545 is still a decent headphone and has some very interesting strong points compared to K550 as the sound is more natural, lacking some of the treble harshness found on K550.
Also the bass is deeper, having better extension and is overall more detailed. This gives more body to the sound presentation, sometimes making it more fuller and more engaging than its big brother.
If there were some genres that were not quite suitable on K550, its smaller brother is closer to a genre master as I managed to enjoy some hard rock on them as well as classical music.
Aside for the comparison with K550, while its smaller brother is a good headphone, It didn’t manage to impress me as much as some of the others in the test like: Focal Spirit Classic, Spirit One S, Sony MDR-1R or NAD Viso HP50.
- Fast, well extended and controlled bass
- Well extended treble
- Neutral sound signature
- Good instrument separation & Imaging
- Good soundstage for closed headphones
- Sturdy build quality and nice design
- Detachable cables
- Doesn’t come with a carrying pouch or anything like it
- Seal problem similar to its bigger brother
- Sometimes the treble is a little too harsh
- Recessed mids compared to other headphones