You want quality sound. But you also want your headphones to match your jacket. Audiophiles are quick to ignore aesthetics, but you’re wearing these things on your head every day. They better look good. Well, Audio-Technica has you covered, promising their classic sound signature in one sexy package for only 100 bucks. And they’ve thrown in some solid bass to boot. But just how bassy are these cans, and will they live up to Audio-Technica’s reputation for great quality sound? Let’s find out in this Audio-Technica ATH-WS550iS Headphones Review.
If you like the feeling of leather on your ears, then you’ll like the feeling of pleather on your ears. These fat, cushiony pads will engulf your ears with mushy goodness. They’re big enough to fit around the goofiest of ears, offering a luxurious feel while maintaining a snug fit. Given the size of these earpads, I expected the sound isolation to be more effective. But I heard my boss yapping away behind me. And he’s a whisperer.
These cans are a Cadillac. Smooth-ridin’, blinged out and not afraid of size. But how about portability? The ATH-WS550iS swivel flat but don’t fold. And given their size, they’re not the easiest headphones to fit in your bag. That being said, they do come with a mic and remote that allows you to play, pause, skip and answer calls on the go. But you’ll have to control volume from your phone.
With respect to build, the ATH-WS550iS looks sturdy enough, though not indestructible. The stitches around the earpads, for example, are not precisely straight. The seamstress was a little drunk while sewing these cans. And the durability of the remote button is questionable. Finally, the cable is not detachable, so if you’re cable goes kaput, you’re screwed. The goods news is that the cable is flat, minimizing tangles, and the L-shaped connector looks solid enough to withstand some wear.
As for specs, the WS550iS boasts 53mm drivers, a venting system to dampen the bass and aluminum finishing to minimize vibration. The frequency range is 8- 24,000 Hz with an impedance of 38 Ohms. But basically, Audio-Technica is telling us to expect a rich bass with low distortion across frequencies. Let’s see if this claim holds up.
(The WS550iS comes in black, red, gold and white.)
Those who are familiar with Audio-Technica and like their sound signature should be happy with these cans. We’ve got a significant bass, though not overpowering, and light, playful highs. The midrange is a tad hollow, but that’s how Audio-Technica likes it. So, what genres do these headphones work for?
Pop music is what sounds best on the ATH-WS550iS. The present and punchy bass combined with the equally forward high frequencies make these cans really snappy. The bass is tight and percussion is crispy. It’s funk without junk. But hip-hoppers or bass-heads might prefer a more bass-heavy sound signature. It’s okay. You like big low-ends and you cannot lie. In fact, rock fans might have a problem too. Because the middle frequencies are kind of scooped out, big rock choruses sound a little anemic. You’ll get a freqload of vocals, but little meat in your burrito. So, if you’re looking for a warm and full bodied sound, keep looking. But the pronounced high frequencies work well for classical music as well…As long as the highs don’t get too high. Violins and brass in the top registers can pierce your ears out. In terms of clarity, these cans are not bad. Listening to acoustic guitars, the strums were a little lacking in separation in the lower-midrange. But once acoustic instruments reached the higher frequencies, transparency improved.
This is one phat headphone. And if you care about style, you won’t find a cooler headphone for the price. But Audio-Technica advertises WS550iS as being a “solid bass” headphone. True, it is solid, but not thumpy enough for the serious bass-heads out there. Still, at the end of the day, if you like Audio-Technica’s sound signature (e.g. M50x), these cans won’t disappoint.
You can find these blinging babies here:
Audio 46: ATH-WS550iS Headphones
Driver: Dynamic 53mm
Frequency Response: 8 – 24,000Hz
Sensitivity: 106 dB
Impedance: 38 Ohms
Plug: L-shaped 3.5mm gold plated
If you have any questions, let us know in the comments below or call us during the store hours to talk to one of our headphone experts.