Koss ESP950

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

  1. Dr. Higgs

    Dr. Higgs Boson - Member

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    Last edited: Jun 14, 2016
  2. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    Great work. I would also be interested in a source for the memory foam. My only criticism of this would be that the electrical tape could get gummy after time? What do you think of taking this one step further but using some adhesive to glue a thin piece of leather over the area that was cut and stuffed?

    I might have to experiment with this. I have an extra set of pads laying around.

    I don't have any experience with this, but I wonder what it might cost to commission a run of 50-100 pairs of these in leather from alibaba.com or someone equivalent.
     
  3. AllanMarcus

    AllanMarcus Friend

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    Those pads look great! I'm getting my 950 back from Koss repair soon, and I will make a decision on ordering custom pads. Looks like $47 for custom leather pads might be a good deal. How thick are you pads?
     
  4. New Reformation

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    Since there is nothing very dangerous about these mods, you could always give it a try and only be out $10 if it doesn't work out. The craft materials are from Hobby Lobby and Michaels. Both stores always have substantial coupons available, so you can get all the materials you need for cheap.





    We should see what the smallest order we could order in "bulk" for memory foam pads with leather covers. I would definitely be in on getting custom pads made. Before we did a mass order, it would be awesome if we could develop a prototype and have it tested by someone who has a measurement rig.

    I definitely understand your concern about the tape, as I had a similar concern when I was first buying materials. The best thing you can do to prevent this is to not cheap out when buying electrical tape. Don't buy the dollar-store stuff. You will have to pay $4-$6 for a small roll of professional grade tape that won't turn into a gluey mess. Long term, I will be looking into a 100% permanent solution, but while experiments are still be conducted permanency is actually counterproductive.

    For the memory foam, I picked up a 1 inch memory foam topper on Amazon. After actually working with the stuff, I now know that the pads really need 2 inch thick foam once compression takes its affect. I can't find the one I purchased so it might not be for sale anymore. It was in the $40 range so it represents a larger investment than the other components required for modification. You do want to make sure that it is some decent quality foam though... scratchy foam that isn't dense enough would be disastrous.

    In regards to how thick the pads need to be, I might be an outlier, but because I am very tall I have proportioned ears that need a little more room than the stock pads offered. After the modification of the pads and baffle there is around 1/4 inch in added room for the ears.
     
  5. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    Good point about the electrical tape. I have rolls of cheap Harbor Freight crap for general use, and I also try to keep some 3M stuff around when it matters.

    This may be a Fall project for me, but I might call around about seeing if someone in the US could make these to avoid the language and shipping issues with having them made overseas. The trick will be to find someone that won't ask $5k to do a small run of them.
     
  6. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    The ESP 950 is one of the best kept secrets on the market today.

    1. Buy for $600 or less on Amazon or with Koss when their annual post Black Friday sale hits
    2. Find or make a Stax adapter.
    3. Plug into a good stat amp. The SRM-717 is what I like to use.
    4. Enjoy some of the best musicality of any e-stat at any price point. I'm serious. These things are true flagship level. They ROCK.
    5. Be prepared to take advantage of Koss' lifetime warranty. These things like to get squealy from time to time.
     
  7. landroni

    landroni Friend

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    I'm curious... Do you include the SR-009 here?
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2016
  8. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    I personally feel the ESP 950 out of an SRM-717 is more musically engaging than an SR-009. Certainly not as refined. But for sheer "get up and dance" factor, the ESP 950 is at the top of the heap.
     
  9. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    I've owned a pair of ESP-950s for almost 2 years now to affordably check out the electrostatic sound. I like them a lot but they're kind of a gateway drug. For the last year or so I've considered taking a leap up into some higher level Stax and a KGwhatever amp, but that's not something you can ease into financially so I've decided against it.

    I bought a pair of HD-650s recently and enjoy them at least as much. They don't sound the same and for certain kinds of music the Koss' are a little better. But for what I listen to my other headphones have gotten more use and the Koss have been sitting for a few months. I might end up just selling them to simplify things a bit. I'm not a collector so if something doesn't get used for a while I sell it or donate it.
     
  10. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    It's a shame the SRM-717 is so rare on the used market these days, cuz I picked mine up for about $1k and find it drives e-stats beautifully. A used SRM-313 will work nicely too, but the SRM-717 is just the tits.

    A used SRM-727 might be a good alternative if you have the ability to modify it (or know someone who does). Supposedly mods turn it into the best Stax amp that isn't a T2.

    The little driver box that the ESPs come with is not as horrid as it's sometimes made out to be, but I'd guesstimate it gives you like 50% of what they're really capable of. You absolutely don't need to go with a KGSSHVGGBRB or anything like that. Though reports say they sang from the ill-fated Electra.

    Also just an unsolicited opinion on the side here, but the ESP 950 isn't too stereotypical of the "e-stat sound." Those who are curious to hear what a lot of folks mean when they yammer on about ethereal stats should check out one of the Lambda systems. You could prolly find an old normal bias setup for around the same price as the ESPs on sale. And Stax last a long time, so the lack of lifetime warranty shouldn't be too much of a concern.

    Of course flippers kinda ruined the vintage headphone market, so don't hold me to those price quotes..,
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2016
  11. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    I ended up with a 717 when I was after a pair of headphones it was being sold with. I am SO glad I grabbed it. Solid STAX amp. I don't always have it set up and often think about selling it, but then I came to my senses.

    STAX seems to be off the FOTM radar, in fact it seems like the New England Patriots of headphones... people love to hate 'em; so perhaps it's time to find some deals on a Lambda set up. I listen to them (Currently the 404LE) daily and they never cease to engage me in the music.

    Of course this is the 950 thread, so I can't leave without giving them some love! It's too bad that some folks only hear the 950 from the stock plastic box, because they are darned good with even a modestly good stat amp. Affordable options seem difficult to come across, but if you're patient the deals come around.

    While not "cheap" I still think the Woo GES is still a good deal at $1500... it's a looker, is based on a good design, and sounds pretty good. Probably not the ideal 950 pairing, but would be better than the stock gear by a lot. It's also a decent all around amp if you want sample some stats.
     
  12. crazychile

    crazychile Eastern Iowa's Spiciest Pepper

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    I run my ESP-950s with a Mjolnir Audio ExStata amp where Birgir upgraded the power supply. It was an improvement over the stock Koss amp, but not a huge improvement. I suppose it would get better with a more expensive amp, but as I mentioned before, I'm not really willing to sink more money into a large electrostatic upgrade to do it.
     
  13. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    Like all headphones, unless you're significantly under-powering or otherwise improperly driving them, amplification is going to make the headphones suddenly transform into a unicorn. I agree, I would not throw too much money trying to make the 950 into something it's not, instead I'd enjoy it for what it is.
     
  14. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    I dragged the 950's to work today for a change of pace. They really are good, and I forgot just how light and comfortable they are. I'll be keeping them here for a while.

    Just using a little 252A to drive them.
     
  15. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    Plug em into the SRM-717 and listen to some Kendrick Lamar.
    It was truly an "oh shit!" moment for me.
     
  16. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    I dragged the 717 into the office today to give it a go. Yep, great match to the 717. They were feeling a little lean from the the 252... 717 puts some meat on the bones.

    Firing up "To Pimp a Butterfly" now.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. MuppetFace

    MuppetFace Sultana of Seafoam Green - Moderator

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    Ah, that gloomy Houston skyline. Boo boo!

    But it will forever be in my heart.

    (Also be sure to listen to "Swimming Pools" from GKMC with those bad boys...).

    Edit: also does that model ship have anything to do with your username?
     
  18. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    Good eye, the little ship is a model of one of the large LNG carriers I manage. I've been involved with designing, building, and operating ships for a long time. Shipsupt is short for "Ship Superintendent", a job title I held many years ago. Like many, I think, as a nickname became needed on the interwebs I choose that title and have used it as my moniker ever since.
     
  19. AllanMarcus

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    [fyi: cross posted on HF]
    I finally got my custom ESP950 pads from http://vesperaudio.com ([email protected]). Price was about $50 for the pair. Pretty darned reasonable.

    It took two tries to get the pads right, but I think they are pretty good. I would still like the pad cavity (the ear-hole) to be a few mm wider, but the pads fit the cans well, are very comfortable, and add a little lower level energy to the sound. Leather outers and alcantra pad hybrid. vesper audio can make them all leather if preferred.

    They are in Russia (I think), so transit time is a week or two to the USA. I paid with PayPal, but they prefer western union or unistream. Throw a few extra bucks in there if you pay PalPay. They are legit.

    The pads are a bit of a pain to get on, but patience and perseverance will overcome. Since VA already has the measurements, it's easier for them to make pads for the ESP950. Again, I would ask them to make the cavity 2mm larger, but even if they used the template from my pads, they are very good pads.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. AMW1011

    AMW1011 Friend

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    Are there measurements for these pads, as in FR/Thd? I'd love to see the ESP950 get some good news, but I'm always wary of pad rolling.
     

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