Performance is a highly subjective matter. We try to offer as impartial and as thorough a review as possible and for this reason we evaluated the SRH550 DJ Headphone’s across a variety of different applications.
With the words “Professional DJ Quality” emblazoned in the title, music was expected to be the forte for this unit. During our listening, the headphones fared extremely well. The techno track Elements of Life by Tiesto came to life when played with great detail for the phasor effects used for the synths. The tempo and feel of the music was retained and replicated proving to be an enjoyable listen.
For Sail on Soothsayer Buckethead’s chiming guitar notes cut through the mix and the subtle nuances of his guitar playing taking center stage for the song, as they should. The interplay of all the different melodies was melded together in an excellent, spacious soundstage enhancing the overall experience. Adele’s voice on Melt My Heart to Stone also soared above the base tracks with all of her voice’s husky tones preserved. Two individual and distinct shaker beats could be heard on Hotel California which provides further proof to the same effect.
Overall we found that the SRH550DJ Headphones were excellent at reproducing every detail of the music tracks. However The treble for the headphones felt weak and thin during our listening and on the whole you can expect the tone to have a warm tinge about it. This is was where it let us down slightly. But any music aficionado would be pleased with the music capabilities of these cans. It seems that the DJ Quality title is well merited.
Testing the SRH550DJ Headphones with a variety of material at our disposal gave us a better gauge of its abilities. Sound Effect heavy track such as the Lift Off Sequence from Apollo 13 has good upward momentum and clear dialogue. However the engine sounded weak and distorted. Similar problems were found when listening to the T-Rex Sound Effects where the entrance and roar of the carnivore lacked punch. Interestingly though, when the same tracks were heard in the lossless format as opposed to the more popular compressed format, the problems encountered were cleared up significantly. This was however unusual, because the compressed files were encoded in a reasonably high bitrate that rarely resulted in the delta of audio performance heard when compared with the loseless format. Nevertheless, it's an interesting finding.
DVD Testing with Swordfish provided a better look at the SRH550DJ Headphone’s soundstage. Stereo effects were passable. Coupled with our listening of the Pod Racing Scene from The Phantom Menace we found the overall soundstage to be slightly lacking when it came to the breadth of the soundscape painted. The attention to detail once again came to the fore in the scene where the ball bearings fizz around causing havoc during the opening sequence, proving that the headphones do provide some degree of versatility.
Orchestral tracks like the Lost World Theme and Fanfare for Louis provoked a mixed response. The SRH550DJ’s leaning towards a warm sound palate meant that the horns lacked color and vibrancy. However, the headphone’s eye for detail meant that each individual instrument could be heard and the collective melody was rich in texture. Overall, performance when handling movies could be considered good but short of spectacular as it lacked the punch and grandness, which one would have thought a DJ-class headphones would have no problem handling.
Tested with Battlefield 2: Bad Company, we found that the Shure SRH550DJ Headphone’s quality with respect to rendering details enhanced the overall experience. Individual ambient sounds helped set the scene and build atmosphere when playing through the single player campaign. Slight nuances such as muffled footsteps, wind rustling through the foliage add immensely to the enjoyment of the game. And since the headphones are closed-back, they sufficiently cut out noise bleed to the surroundings ensuring that others do not get disturbed when you get down to some hardcore gaming.
The SRH550DJ offers a great degree of comfort and user-friendliness. The padding is soft and we found that our ears did not heat up even after extended usage. The adjustable headband means that everyone can find a level that sits on their head as they would prefer. This feature also helps in increasing or decreasing the snugness of the fit. The only feature which we found to be cumbersome was the 2m long cable which is a blessing when using it with your desktop, but annoyingly long if you intend to use the headphones with a portable music player.
|Pod Race Scene from The Phantom Menace||7.5|
|Theme from Jurassic Park||7.0|
|Apollo 13 SFX||7.0|
|Theme from Cutthroat Island||7.5|
|Fanfare for Louis||7.5|
|Hotel California - The Eagles||8.0|
|Sail on Soothsayer - Buckethead||9.0|
|Melt My Heart to Stone - Adele||8.5|
|Elements of Life - Tiesto||9.0|
|Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Starting Sequence)||7.5|
|Swordfish (Starting Sequence)||8.0|
|Battlefield 2: Bad Company||8.5|