K500

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NO SMOOTHING is applied to the shown plots. Most measurement sites have some smoothing applied which ‘irons flat’ sharp peaks and ‘wiggles’. I do not use smoothing because some info about sound quality is lost when plots are smoothed.

Aside from a small correction of the microphone itself also some correction in the lowest frequencies is applied to the plots to compensate for the perceived loss of bass when using headphones. This is described HERE in more detail.
A ‘horizontal‘ frequency response curve on the shown frequency response plots on this website thus indicates a perceived ‘flat’ tonal signature.

ALL measurements are made with a good SEAL on a flatbed measurement rig.
The
shape of your head, bone structure, pad size, pad ‘softness,  (compliance), hair or no hair and or wearing glasses may (drastically) change the frequency response of some headphones, so… your personal experience may differ substantially from these plots.

 

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AKG K500

AKG K500

The K500 was the more expensive bigger brother of the K400 with more luxurious looks and headband as well as a different colour scheme.
The elastic bands that pull down the headband do wear after time and need to be replaced sooner or later.
It has the familiar AKG look and is simple and elegant. The pads are cloth instead of pleather or velour and very comfortable for longer listening sessions.
It is an open headphone design and sounds from the outside enter almost unattenuated. People around you can hear what you are playing.

It sounds quite similar to the K400 but the treble is somewhat more refined sounding. Still not as refined as the better headphones though.
Bass and mids sound identical to the K400 and with the same shortcoming… the lack of body and bass extension. A very ‘open’ sound. left, right

AKG K500 stock L+R

NOTE:
This headphone does start to distort at higher listening levels much sooner than most other headphones.
While it did have an edge to it at normal listening levels (around 80dBA) it certainly did not sound as bad as the measurements would suggest.

The CSD shows a shorter lived ringing around 8kHz but also has a substantial ringing around 2.5kHz. Fortunately our ear canals also ring (resonate) around that frequency and thus our brains don’t really mind this as much as the ringing at higher frequencies. For the K500, even though it is slightly better sounding, still means the treble isn’t as smooth/refined as some of the better headphones can produce. The K500 also has a bright ‘edge’ resulting in a slight feeling of ‘extra detail’. left, right

CSD AKG K500 stock L+R

The owner (known in forums as ‘deepfunk’) also had K601 pads which can easily replace the original pads. The K601 pads are velours type and feel a bit stiffer to the touch but still very comfortable. The picture below shows what a K601 padded K500 looks like. Together with the grey leather headband looks as if it could be an original combination.

AKG K500 with K601 padsThe question is what it does to the sound as replacing pads often alters the sound and can do so in various ways. Fortunately changing the pads only has positive results. The treble at 8kHz is lowered in amplitude and frequency. This may be because of a different amount of air in the ‘ear chamber’, or because of a somewhat different driver-to-ear distance or absorption/reflection of sound waves by the pads… who knows. Also you gain 3dB of gain below 50Hz. As most bass instruments do not have fundamentals much lower than that the K500 with K601 pads sounds somewhat better in the bass area. It still lacks bass extension though and while slightly improving the treble quality (which isn’t bad but below that of better headphones) it still has a somewhat artificial treble. Tonal balance is ‘accurate’ and very realistic.

Differences between stock pads and the same headphone fitted with K601 pads.

AKG K500 orig pads vs K601 pads L

NOTE:
This headphone does start to distort at higher listening levels much sooner than most other headphones.
While it did have an edge to it at normal listening levels (around 80dBA) it certainly did not sound as bad as the measurements would suggest.

Below the CSD of the left channel with original pads and K601 pads. As can be seen resonances are still there and do not appear to have changed that much except shifted in frequency (the ones above 6kHz). It also shows the K601 pads have somewhat more resonance around 1kHz but don’t feel it is audible.

CSD AKG K500 orig pads vs K601 pads L

K500 #2

The owner of this headphone had 2 of these K500’s and one would think that they would measure quite similar. This one was already fitted with K601 pads. The frequency plots indeed resemble each other quite closely and with both headphones having similar pads the sound very similar as well. left, rightAKG K500 with K601 pads

The CSD, however, shows a quite different behaviour. No resonances around 1kHz and no resonances around 2.5kHz and a much shorter lived 7kHz resonance. The 13khz resonance is still the same. I would be hard pressed to find audible differences between the 2 different K500’s which, in the end, may be proof of a 2.5kHz resonance to not be so detrimental to sound quality. The K601 pads on this version were already used while the ones used on the other K500 (the one with the 2.5kHz resonance) were new unused ones.
Because this K500 didn’t show the 2.5kHz resonance I figured the K601 pads would be responsible for this improvement in the 2.5kHz area.
Fitting new K601 pads on the other K500 showed it was a difference between drivers. left, right

CSD AKG K500 with K601 pads

The positives are a very neutral sound, no muddy-ness with good comfort. Sounds good with Jazz and classical.
Negatives are the lack of body (bass extension) and the slightly ‘artificial’ treble though an improvement over the K400.
The K601 pads bring some improvements which are most noticeable in having slightly more body.
See this in a subtle way as it remains a headphone that still lacks bass extension.

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