Pros: detailed sound quality, great design and build quality, accessories
Cons: stiff cable
I get a chance to review and to compare a lot of different headphones some of which represent an amazing value with an OK sound while others have a great sound with a price tag that makes you question their value. Once I got a chance to listen to Ostry's latest KC06 and KC06A headphones, I knew right away these represent a rare combination of both amazing sound and value!!! As a matter of fact, these headphones got quickly escalated to the top of my all time favorites. Let me tell you more why I'm so excited about these.
Due to similarities in packaging and design, most of the review will be combined with an exception of sound description where KC06 and KC06A have their own individual style.
Starting with a packaging, I was truly impressed in how much thought went into its design details. Everything from a foam padded outer sleeve with a distinct cutout to reveal headphones under a plastic display cover to an etched out spec on the back of it (which unfortunately I wasn't able to capture in pictures due to unique nature of it) and ergonomics of accessories placement inside of the box - represent a great level of pride this company took to showcase their flagship product. I also noticed that original packaging of KC06 from 5 months ago has been re-designed, and now KC06 and KC06A look similar with an exception of red details of "A" version.
When it comes to accessories, both models include an ample amount to keep everybody happy. You get a pair of soft earhooks to assist with wearing these wire up in addition to a default wire down, a shirt clip, a soft velvet drawstring pouch where surprisingly KC06A had a wider one (more appropriate in my opinion), a warranty/spec card, and plenty of custom eartips. Both include a set of S/M/L wide-bore short stem eartips (enhances high frequency) and a set of S/M/L narrow-bore longer stem eartips (more balanced with bass emphasis enhancement). In addition, "A" model includes a very unique set of S/M/L eartips with a built in filter which I found to enhance bass performance even further. All these eartips look to be custom made, rather than cheap generic ones, and I was able to achieve a great fitment comfort and the best sound with narrow-bore tips. But for enhanced sound isolation, since I do have a relatively wide ear canal opening, I settled with my go-to UE900 eartips.
Moving on to a build quality, I was very impressed with what Ostry had to offer. Unlike your typical cylindrical in-ear shape that sticks out, these have a flat vertical design with a very comfortable fitment. For me personally, these didn't require any additional adjustment after the initial insertion. As a matter of fact, you can lie down with these on a pillow and they still feel comfortable. The body of the earpiece supposed to be made with some lightweight titanium material with a very durable construction. Both models have a similar pinhole opening at the tip and the body of earpiece, overall have an identical size/shape, and the only difference is the design graphics with a more neutral sort of question mark of KC06 and a more aggressive KC06A with red accents. The wire is attached to the back/side and gets wrapped in a strain relief which blends with a tear drop shape of the earpiece.
The cable between two models is identical with an only exception of red accent marks on KC06A model. The cable jacket, though offering a great protection, unfortunately is stiff and has a "memory" effect where after unfolding it doesn't get straight. I guess it's one of those things you have to live with. Y-splitter has a very interesting "Y" shape design, and the end of the cable is terminated with a very slim 3.5mm gold plated straight connector. It has a short strain relief, and I would prefer it a little bit longer considering wear of straight plug. Also, surprisingly there is no chin slider, though it's not a deal breaker and mostly useful for behind the ear wire fitment. Furthermore, I didn't sense any microphonics.
But as you know, all these eye-candy design details would mean nothing without a sound to back it up. Here, both KC06 and KC06A deliver with a top notch performance! Starting with KC06, I was very pleased to hear a well balanced sound with a touch of mid-centric brightness. Starting with a bass, you get a great quality with a detailed performance. I can clearly hear separation of sub-bass and mid-bass, but sub-bass quantity is just there to give sound a body rather than a rumbling to make you feel it. Mid-bass punch is snappy and quite satisfying to my taste. The bass feels a step above of the reference performance, and it's pleasantly well controlled within it's frequency range. Mids are very detailed, clear, slightly upfront but still in great balance with the rest of the sound. I really like how this performance translates into vocal delivery, very organic, with a touch of brightness, and still smooth. Treble is well extended, detailed, with enough brightness without being too overwhelming, and still very easy on your ears. For the comparison, if I consider RE400 to have warm reference sound, KC06 has a balanced reference sound.
Now, the KC06A kicks it up a notch into a direction of a more commercial sound signature with a slight v-shape cut (relative to KC06). Luckily, they did it a smart way without doing any extreme tuning to kill the mids which sounds a bit warmer in comparison to KC06. The bass here gets a refreshed quantity of rumbling sub-bass that can even put a smile on some bassheads. You still get a great separation between sub and mid bass where the later one is on par with KC06 performance. Bass is still well controlled without spilling into lower mids or the rest of frequency range. Mids are still detailed but now just a bit recessed to bring up a power of the low end. I was very pleased Ostry didn't reduce the quality of the mids except for smoothing out some brighter peaks, and just slightly scaled down the quantity while keeping most of the original attributes from KC06. Treble is still well extended, has a similar crisp performance without any hint of sibilance. Also, I didn't find any significant difference in soundstage width. A principal change from KC06 and KC06A is enhanced/additional sub-bass and slightly recessed warmer mids. As a matter of fact, I'm still on a fence if what I'm hearing as "slightly recessed" could be an effect of enhanced bass and a bit of brightness reduction.
Overall, I was very impressed with everything about these fantastic headphones. Well, almost everything except for the cable where I would prefer a softer jacket to get rid off that wire memory effect. Now, when it comes to ergonomics of the design and it's comfortable fitment and the sound signature - both KC06 and KC06A quickly got elevated to the top of the list of my current favorite headphones. I was actually thinking which one I would like better, and it was a hard decision to make because I enjoy both of them very much, and would highly recommend either. With a current price of around $60-$80 (newly introduced KC06A is higher in price), these headphones represent a true "giant killer" value in every aspect of their design and sound performance. Can't wait to see what Ostry going to come up with next!!!
Here are the pictures of individual models.