Koss ESP950

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

  1. AMW1011

    AMW1011 Friend

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    Very neat, thanks @cskippy. The ESP950 is probably the only E-stat I'm interested in. Now I'm a bit more tempted.
     
  2. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Yup, reference quality sound for a reasonable price, especially with the Vesper pads.
     
  3. Mach3

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    Extremely under rated for a 20 year old headphone.
    Sometime I feel certain tech has gone backward after acquiring this headphone at the same price point.
     
  4. spwath

    spwath Hijinks master cum laudle

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    same with hd650/600
     
  5. FL Guy

    FL Guy New

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    I currently have a pair of Koss ESP-950s, which sound good - surprisingly good, powered from a Stax SRM-T1W (via an adapter cable) and mostly FLAC encoded music. A really nice blend of tonality, speed & detail, with plenty of body, energy & 'impact' for more dynamic genres imho.

    The treble is perhaps a little bit rolled off - the nature of both the T1W and the 950s perhaps. It's better for my taste with an increasing 1-2 dB boost above ~12K (as I recall, not in front of that rig now), and there could ideally be a _bit_ more 'air' and/or more '3D' to the sound. Yeah, I know, these are what they are, and I'm really pleasantly surprised that they are as good as they are at this price point, so maybe this is as good as these can sound. (I'm not expecting that a different amp will turn them into SR-009s :))

    I'm curious though how good can these headphones get? Is this combo close to as good as the 950s can sound or has anyone heard them from a T1 or T1W or similar, _and_ from an amp on which they sound better? If so, which amp have you found sounds better than a T1(W) with the 950s?
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  6. shipsupt

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    If you take the time to read back through this thread you'll find some opinions and recommendations for amps.

    I really like the 950 from the STAX SRM-717.

    The KGSShv and BHSE bring some of their technical traits to the game but don't make a huge step change in the 950 performance.
     
  7. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    Vesper pads will fix the rolled off treble, an will not.
     
  8. FL Guy

    FL Guy New

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    Thanks! I have indeed read quite of few of the posts on this topic (I probably should have mentioned that). What's harder to tell is whether the result from a 717 is better than from a T1(W).

    I understand from your posts that you have the 950s and have heard very many of the electrostatic headphone amps. Have you by chance heard the 950s on a T1 or T1W? If so, any further comments or comparisons you'd care to share would be appreciated!
     
  9. FL Guy

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    Yeah, I was reading those posts with considerable interest. Worth a try... on the other hand, the stock pads fit me really well and are light & comfortable for me, and I'm not sure about the fit on the Vesper pads (for me - largish ears :)), and EQ works pretty well, so I haven't ordered a pair yet. (I did see that Mr. Fong offers them, and likely order from a supporter if/when I do).

    I'm certainly interested in any more in depth impressions of how the Vesper pads affect the sound with the 950s though, so keeping an ear/eye on this space...
     
  10. cskippy

    cskippy Creamy warmpoo

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    @M3NTAL is buying my pair so hopefully he can chime in once he has some head-time. I also have large ears and find the Vesper pads more comfortable since they provide more depth and cushion, where stock pads my ears touch the foam inside.
     
  11. shipsupt

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    I have not spent a lot of time with the T1; there may be others more direct comparison experience. I find the 717 to be more dynamic, punchier, and provide more bass control. There are traits of the T1 that lend themselves well to headphones like the 009, but I feel let it down with headphones like the 950 and 007.

    As I always say, don't expect your headphones to pull a transformers act and turn into something completely different from amp to amp.

    What is it about the T1 - 950 combination that you find lacking now?
     
  12. FL Guy

    FL Guy New

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    Could be a bit more air and presence, and more 3D imaging. Before someone says - sounds like you need an 009 :), now if I can just get that without trading off their energy & fundamental character, which I do like.

    An amp (like your upgraded GES perhaps) that works will for the 950s now, and being a good match for bringing out the best (potentially) in 009s later, hmmm... that could be interesting :) I'd need to find some opportunities to hear 009s again before I go down that path, my time with them so far has been short and under less than ideal conditions.

    Of course, I'm looking also at source components before I throw out the baby (the 950s) with the bathwater... I'm finding the Koss headphones resolving enough that I do hear differences in the source component chain, so I plan to try a few tweaks there before (or perhaps along with) upgrading elsewhere in the chain.

    So on the amplification front, it sounds like maybe a SRM-717, or perhaps an upgraded GES might fit the bill... Any other suggestions for an upgrade to bring out the best in the 950s? Or comparison of either of these amps with member(s) of the SRM-T1 family?
     
  13. AllanMarcus

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    Anyone try the "DIY SRX Plus electrostatic headphone amp"? I heard one from the the author of the paper referenced below (in Albuquerque) with his SR-009 and my Koss 950, and it sounded wonderful. I really didn't spend a lot of time with it, but I will if he brings it to the next meet. I think it's a Kevin Gilmore design.

    Here's some info on it:
    http://www.head-fi.org/t/789874/the-srx-plus-a-tube-hybrid-electrostatic-headphone-amp
    From JimL11 on HF:
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2017
  14. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    I'm trying to remember who here has a SRX+... I know they really like it. Post up in the Stax thread and I'm sure he'll chime in.
     
  15. No_One411

    No_One411 Fired by Jude

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    @sorrodje has a really nice commissioned SRX+ build.
     
  16. shipsupt

    shipsupt Admin

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    That's right! Thanks!
     
  17. shipsupt

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    The GES is really a bit of making something work that I had around... I had purchased the amp when I was waiting for a BHSE build to hold me over with full intention of selling it later. Well, I never got around to selling it so when I wanted to set something up at work I figured I'd break out the GES again. Now I'm kind of happy with it there. Not to mention, people love to ask about the tubes when they visit my office. For the price, especialy if you can stumbe across a used version, I think it's a really good and often overlooked option.

    I'm glad you're not forgetting about the front end. It certainly can have an effect on things.

    I know some folks won't agree, but I'm not alone when I say that I like the 950 with quite a few of the Keving Gilmore designs. The KGSShv and others. You can find good used builds in the wild or pick from a builder who's selling. The only down side is you'll need to jump up in price a little.



     
  18. Big D Design

    Big D Design RIP 2021

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  19. Big D Design

    Big D Design RIP 2021

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  20. FL Guy

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    Hmmmm... that's interesting, Thanks for the alternate suggestion of the KGSShv, it's an interesting possibility. I hadn't heard/read that, makes some sense though since I understand that at least some of the KGSS variants lean toward the brighter side at least in some systems. That could help bring out the treble in the 950s, which would be a good thing for my taste as I mentioned.

    For that reason I had actually been considering a mid-range KGSS variant as a possible driver upgrade mainly for the 950s. Not sure whether it would be an improvement though... It would be great to hear from someone(s) who have heard the 950s from a T1(W) and a KGSS.

    I don't know how directly you've had a chance to compare the 950s with the KGSS vs your GES... Is it possible, and if so would you care to, compare your impressions of these amps with the 950s?

    I've not ruled out spending more for an amp if:
    a) Its possible to confirm that the result would be an improvement with the 950s? So far at least, I'm just not sure how close to maxed out these are with the SRM-T1s, and
    b) If I consider one of the more expensive amps, ideally that amp would also enable a potential future upgrade path - the usual candidates: SR-007, 'Milostat' Senn clones, or SR-009, TBD. I've been leaning toward planning for an -009s at some point, unless the clones become available and affordable, both of which are TBC of course. Of course, including this sort scalability / flexibility consideration does complicate the question a bit :)

    Since it seems the folks that can compare the results of different amps with the ESP-950s may be rare (we _are_ talking about a niche within a niche within a niche here :)), it sounds like it I may want to find an opportunity to try a KGSSxx and/or some other candidates with my 950s. That would have been easier while I was living in eastern Virginia. I did make it to Capital Audiofest while I was there which was great. It was earlier in my time with the 950s though, and didn't have the adapter cable, or as much time with the 950s. Now that I'm back in Florida, headphone meets and other listening opportunities seem to be harder to come by.

    (Just for completeness, I did hear a pair of -009s with a BHSE (briefly, and under less than ideal conditions), and wasn't immediately sold on that combination. Could be a lot of factors in play there though...)

    Any other suggestions - ideally with comments / comparisons for probability of an improvement vs a SRM-T1 based system for driving the 950s would be welcome!
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2017

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