Koss ESP950

Discussion in 'Headphones' started by OJneg, Sep 30, 2015.

  1. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    [​IMG]
    Right now have it hooked up to a modified SRD-7 for adjustable bias.Definitely better than stock amp. I might try some mods eventually.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
  2. Bill-P

    Bill-P Level 42 Mad Wizard

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  3. keanex

    keanex Martian Bounty Hunter - Friend

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    I've been wanting to hear these for a while, what's your thoughts on them?
     
  4. sorrodje

    sorrodje Carla Bruni's other lover - Friend

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  5. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    They'll scale pretty well with better amps, but only to a point. They don't turn into 009's when plugged into the BHSE. Still great value for the money headphones... lifetime warranty!
     
  6. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    Slight sibilance on vocals that I don't remember being as bad as before. Might be different chain.

    Other than that, very neutral and very relaxed. This is a loudspeaker neutral if you know what I mean. Technicalities still aren't on the same level as a top-notch dynamic (HD800, HD6xx, maybe a few others)
     
  7. keanex

    keanex Martian Bounty Hunter - Friend

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    Thanks! The price on them seems worthwhile when available new for $600 or so
     
  8. recarcar

    recarcar Friend

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    I ended up selling my HD600s (paired with the Vallhala 2) after I got the ESP950s even with the stock amp. I definitely miss the 600s. With those pairings the technical abilities of both phones seemed relatively similar but I got sucked into the e-stat effortlessness. They are definitely nice for the price and a good introduction too e-stats but I miss the all the great qualities provided by a good DD phone like the 600. The 600 definitely seems to scale much much more than the 950s do, at least with the stuff I've tried both phones with.
     
  9. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    While I love the wide staging of these, they don't exactly have the sound stage depth that I'm used to coming from dynamic headphones. Things are placed on a string from left to right. What's most bothersome is how there's a sort of missing point when thing is something is panned just outside that ear point.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. keanex

    keanex Martian Bounty Hunter - Friend

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    I doubt that I will ever sell my HD600. They are my reference cans at this point for a multitude of reasons.
     
  11. recarcar

    recarcar Friend

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    I also really like the staging of the 950's but it does lack depth and height. It is a very L/R stage. The nice thing compared to a phone like 600s is that to me (with the Vall 2 at least) the 950's are less grainy and seem to provide clearer or less fuzzy imaging. The downside is that they are so soft sounding they they lose out on the crispness and texture of the 600s. Just a trade off in technology I suppose.

    I definitely miss them and will probably get them down the line. I think with the sources I had/have, the 950's and 600's were pretty equal, each just having different strengths and weaknesses. I mainly sold them because they were just not that comfortable for me even after some mods and headband stretching (probably have a weird shaped head or something). Might be time to revisit the 600s though.
     
  12. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    So after some trial and error with different bias voltages I've come to conclusion that 620V seems to be the sweet spot. Pushing it beyond actually seems to strain the treble and make it less smooth and refined. No lack of dynamics with power amp + SUT. :punk:
     
  13. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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    So a bit of an analysis of the 950's performance:

    The 950 is very neutral headphone. Surprisingly so. The SRD7 does improve technicalities (better slam and dynamics, less solid-state coldness, better blackness) to a slight degree but still not enough to turn it into a technical marvel. What it really does is improve those aspects enough to let you enjoy the neutral and midrange rich tone that the 950 already excels at. I have some minor nitpicks that are worth pointing out though.

    tHQXtQK.jpg
    • 950 has a broad but slight elevation around the 1.5k region. A lot of estats seem to have this characteristic. Possibly indicative of plastic, more artificial vocal timbre that estats can exhibit. I didn't feel it was bad enough to bother EQing
    • 950 has slight bump around 6-7k. I did notice this as added sibilance on vocals. It's small in the scope of things but is noticeable because everywhere else is so smooth and coherent. Sticklers like Hans will want to EQ.
    Funny how many have commented on the ESP950 lacking bass extension while it always shows up as having pretty excellent extension on measurements. What people are probably experiencing is a breaking of the seal in the rear bottom corner that's right above the jaw bone and below the ear lobe. The 950 is a relative tall headphone so this is going to be a problem with most. What happens when you break the seal there?

    950leftbroken seal.png
    In short you'll get a bump somewhere in the upperbass (depending on how much you break) and a severe roll off below that. For reference this is what the response looks like completely uncoupled.
    950leftinchaway.png
    If that's what your 950 sounds like to you (no bass + upward tilt) then tighten up the headband and make sure the seal isn't broken in the back. Stat gurus can correct me if I'm wrong but the location of that bass peak is a function the diaphragm tension in free air. Other notes:
    • Very light and comfy but can get sweaty
    • To reiterate, very wide staging
    • Not shown but good channel matching
    • Free air measurements (which are always interesting) show extension out to 35k. Most dynamics can't touch this. Ultrasonic response becomes obscured and peaky when coupled
    • Slight modifications were done but these are more or less comparable to Marv's plots on CS
     
  14. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Yes. Seal is why I think I have difficulties with these and the lambdas.

    Well put together post OJ! :headbang:
     
  15. recarcar

    recarcar Friend

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    Had a comparison with these (stock amp) and Bill's modded HD600 (w/Bottlehead crack) with the Yggdrasil at the most recent Bay area meet. Bill's modded HD600 improves on the stuff I found really frustrating with the 600 in comparison to the 950's, mainly their fuzzier imaging. His mod also improved on their staging abilities IMO. However, even with the stock amp I still came out thinking these headphones are very comparable, with the 950's sounding slightly cleaner to me and the 600's having better dynamics and texture.

    To Ojeng's points, I still think the 950 is a bit more even in terms of FR than the 600. I found that just making a loose neck cinch with a rubber band eliminates the bass extension problems. I also modded the pads a bit so that might help. YMMV of course depending on the shape of your face/head because of the long cups. They definitely pick up sibilance at times but nothing that sounds unnatural to me.
     
  16. OJneg

    OJneg The Most Insufferable

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  17. recarcar

    recarcar Friend

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    Nothing elaborate. I just used foam from older pads and cut them to 1/4 inch in thickness, opened up the new pads and sewed it back together. It added that little bit of extra thickness to provide a better seal and also kept my right ear from touching the inside of the cup. It has helped a bit with improving bass response due to the better seal.
     
  18. New Reformation

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    I have recently ordered some extra pads and another headband from KOSS when they had their 40% off sale. Going to try and see if using memory foam to fill out the normal KOSS pads will provide an even better seal than the standard foam.

    Furthermore, while modifying my NAD HP50's I noticed that the bottom portion of a pad (the part that rest nearest the jaw) often fails to seat properly and results in a poor seal. I used asymmetrical padding on the HP50's to create a shape that extends more along the bottom and vastly improves comfort and ease of seal. I will test to see if the design method is worth carrying over.
     
  19. AMW1011

    AMW1011 Friend

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    That diagram gave me a really good laugh. Thanks man.
     
  20. New Reformation

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    I have the Valhalla 2 as well and have recently tested using it as a pre-amp for my esp-950's with very nice results. Did you ever use the preamp functionality of the Valhalla 2 with your Koss cans?
     

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