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REVIEW: Koss Pro4AA Titanium

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Review: Koss Pro4AA Titanium



Equipment used:

Philips 963SA DVD/CD Player
Virtual Dynamics Nite ICs
Signal Magic Power Cord
Corda HA-1 mkII head amp
Archos Jukebox Recorder 20
Panasonic LA95 Portable DVD/CD player

Other headphones used in comparison:

Koss Porta Pros
Sony MDR CD3000
Sennheiser HD540 Reference

Music Sampled:

Nils Lofgren Acoustic Live “Little on Up” & “Black Books”
Clint Black “Like the Rain”
Tim McGraw “The Cowboy in Me”
Basia “Promises” & “Run for Cover”
Marky Mark “You Gotta Believe” & “Gonna Have a Good Time”
Patti Scialfa “Rumble Doll”
Band of Brothers “Main Theme”
Hairspray Broadway Cast “Good Morning Baltimore”-Marissa Janet Winokur
Oklahoma “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning”-Hugh Jackman

After reading the interest that these new Koss phones have been generating here, I decided to plunk down my $99.95 at Radio Shack and give them an audition. After all, one of my favorite pair of headphones are my Koss Porta Pros, so I had high hopes for these “higher up the line” closed cans.



Out of the box, they are quite heavy and sturdy. They fold up somewhat to about half their size. The two ear cups are of similar size and shape to the Senn 600s I have had. The hard rubber two-layer headband looks as thick as a billy club and some may find it a bit bulky and hard for comfort. The cups also clamp on the ears like the Senn 600s and the slick patent plastic pads create a great isolating seal. The best I have experienced since I auditioned the Etys. But they do have quite a head-lock. The drivers are covered with what looks like black plastic screen door netting. While I have been burning them in…I have had them clamped to one of my tower speakers to try and stretch the band a bit.




The coiled cord is quite short at an advertised 8 feet, so some may need an extension depending on your listening position. The 1/8” plug comes with a screw-on ¼” adaptor very similar to the one on the Sony CD3000s. There is slight micro phonics noticeable when touching the cord, but nothing like the Etys.

A black velour drawstring carry bag is also included.



The following sessions were held after 40 hours of continuous burn-in time for the Pro4AA Ts.

Although I know these phones need an amp to really sound their best, my initial tests were with my portables just to see where the starting point would be. Part of me was also hoping these might be my new traveling DVD cans due to their isolation and folding feature.



I played the opening scene in Gladiator and had to crank the volume all the way up to get a listenable volume. It was loud enough but rather lifeless and dull sounding. I then tried my trusty Porta Pros and at 1/3 the volume the Pro4AA needed…the Porta Pros left them in the dust and put me in the movie with their dynamics.

I then tried the Pro4AAs with my Archos and had slightly better results with various music MP3s. They were getting plenty of power, but still had a canned sounding lack-luster presence that improved the moment I switched them out with the Porta Pros.

OK…so in all fairness….these phones need an amp…..so onto the Corda HA-1 mkII.
For this session, I looped all my test songs on “repeat” and alternated between the Pro4AAs, Senn 540s, Sony CD3000 and for the first time with an amp…my Porta Pros.

I have to say right off the bat that hearing the Porta Pros amped with the Corda was an ear opening experience. If you thought these mighty-mites sound great out of a portable…they are absolutely awesome amped. A Bass-head would be a very happy camper. And what a soundstage these tiny little retro blue & black babies have with the Corda. I was stunned. They sounded better than the Pro4AA on every cut I played. I even double checked a few to be sure.

So, how do the Pro4AA sound after 40 hours of burn-in time? In a word…”canned”. The sound is all there, it just never blooms. There is an artificial quality that never allows me to believe the singer is in the room. The bass is tight and vaguely present. The mids are congested. Male voices seem to do better coming forward out of the mix than female voices. The highs varied from tolerably sweet to grainy and “ice pick” sharp. I actually let out some guttural noises a few times that woke up the cat. The acoustic selections faired the best out of everything played.

Putting on my CD3Ks afterwards was blessed relief. My old Senn 540s even bested the Pro4AAs in all respects except isolation. But, the big surprise was the Porta Pros…why spend $100 on a “high-end” Koss headphone when the lower cost funky-looking portables smoke the big boys?

PROS:
Great Isolation
Semi-portable

CONS:
Heavy
Vise-like clamping
Canned sound
Congested midrange
Overly bright and grainy high end
post #2 of 15
Great review. Thanks for another opinion of the Koss Pro4AA Tutankhamuns.
post #3 of 15
Did you let the Koss burn in a little? I think I remembered reading that these will improve after some burn in.
post #4 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by MadDog5145
Did you let the Koss burn in a little? I think I remembered reading that these will improve after some burn in.
Yes...for a full 40 hours...But, they are still burning in and I plan to update in a couple days.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
and as you can see..they are getting their exercise

post #6 of 15
I auditioned the Pro4AAs at a radioshack once for a while with my supermini and PCDP. I compared them to the Sony V6, I was not impressed at all. They were definitely bested by the V6. Those earpads on the Koss get REALLY hott and sweaty too.
-Mag
post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
OK...at hour 80 of continuous burn-in and band stretching...I have given these another listen. I used the same musical material I had before and the same other cans for comparisons. I listened out of my laptop, Archos jukebox, portable DVD player and same results as 40 hours ago...not enough juice to power them (but we knew that already) and what was there was lifeless.

Then onto the Philips 963SA with the Corda HA-1 mkII....I even added several more music selections for the test.

These phones are just plain dark and canned sounding. The mids may have loosened up a tad but it was still pretty congested in there. Even with the cans dark nature...the high vocals were still shrill & really hard on the ears at a "normal" volume. This is on male baritones, tenors and female altos....I cannot imagine the pain a soprano voice would inflict. If I turned it down a bit to cut the high harshness and graininess...the life got sucked right out of all the sound.

Plus...the headband stretching did not help much.

I'm sorry...I just cannot stand another test after 40 more hours...my ears have suffered enough. I have repacked the Koss Titanium Torture Helmet and will be returning it to Radio Shack tomorrow.
post #8 of 15
Thanks for the great review. You saved me $99. I was really hoping that these Koss cans would be a great extension of the KSC line. However, remembering past "high-end" Koss cans, my hopes weren't that high. Oh well. Thanks again.

Hiker
post #9 of 15
LOL.... I took mine back too. But I did find them fascinating. If they weren't $100 and didn't weigh so much I probably would have kept them for the isolation and the occasional listen.

Quote:
Originally posted by JMedeiros
I'm sorry...I just cannot stand another test after 40 more hours...my ears have suffered enough. I have repacked the Koss Titanium Torture Helmet and will be returning it to Radio Shack tomorrow.
post #10 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Hiker
Thanks for the great review. You saved me $99. I was really hoping that these Koss cans would be a great extension of the KSC line. However, remembering past "high-end" Koss cans, my hopes weren't that high. Oh well. Thanks again.

Hiker
Those were my thoughts as well...I liked my Porta Pros so much, but they let lots of sound in...I was hoping these closed, foldable Titaniums would be perfect for DVD viewing and music on the go...but that was not meant to be.

Has anybody done a direct comparison between the Porta Pros and the Sony V6's?

John
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally posted by JMedeiros
Has anybody done a direct comparison between the Porta Pros and the Sony V6's?

John
Probably has been done, i own both as well. The porta pro's are quite heavy in the mid bass, making them pleasant for recordings which sound thin but head-rattling with recordings that are already jacked up in the mid-bass range, the mid bass hump can also mask other frequencies i imagine, it's just too much of a good thing, i found myself lowering the bass setting on my MD walkman constantly with them. The portapro's are grainy also in comparison. If i had to choose, i'd definitely stick to my 7506's over the porta pro's. However, the porta pro's are kick ass for the bucks.
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks gloco...I may pick up a pair at Etronics downtown and give them another try. I had a pair for years I used with my walkmans that I sold when I joined up here at Head-Fi.

Now...I'm wondering if they might provide that little bit more isolation I need than my Portas give me for DVD watching on my bus trips with motors and chatty folks. Man...I wish my CD3Ks folded up nice like the Portas and V6s

John
post #13 of 15

Bought a pair

I purchased a pair of the Koss Pro4AAT phones earlier this week to give them a try.

I already have a pair of Senn HD-600s that I really like, but I was looking for a pair of closed headphones to block outside noise which is a capability the HD-600s just don't provide.

My initial impression was that while heavier than the HD-600, they fit my head confortably and the wide rubber top band distributes their weight (21oz) very well. Even though these phones outweigh the HD-600s by quite a bit, they were comfortable to wear. The earcups do get a bit warm, but not uncomfortably so. This is indoors with the AC running. These headphones would make nice earmuffs for outdoor winter use.

The sound out of the box was a bit rough, so I let them play for a total of about 25 hours so far. This has helped smooth out their performance. My listening has been to classical FM radio on a Marantz 2235B receiver. I also tried them on a Dynaco SCA-35 tube amplifier and a Sansui AU-5900 integrated amplifier. These vintage amps all worked very well with the high impedance load (250 ohm) of these headphones.

In an attempt to understand what the differences are between these phones and the HD-600s, I have been switching between these two on my Marantz receiver. Although many shudder at the thought of tone controls, I have always thought they have their place.

Through a little judicious use of the bass, midrange, and treble tone controls on the Marantz I have reached a few conclusions about the frequency response of the Pro 4AATs. I believe there is a peak in the upper treble at around 8-10KHz. I am able to tame this peak in the upper response fairly well by adjusting my treble control (10KHz turnover) down one click (3db). Similarly, there is a bit of a broad hump in the upper bass, say from 100 - 200 Hz. I am able to improve the low end response by adjusting the bass tone control (50 Hz turnover frequency) down by 3db. While this also affects the low end bass response of these headphones (not their strongest area) the overall sound was much improved. All attempts to better the sound of the Pro4AATs by adjusting the midrange control (centered at 700 Hz) did not produce any improvement.

With the treble tamed a bit and the bass hump under control, these become very smooth easy listening headphones. The sound of these headphones is not at all fatiguing to listen to for extended periods. However, even after effectively applying the tone controls they will never be mistaken for the Sennheiser 600 headphones.

I think that with any closed headphone, there are going to be reflections and resonances that will affect the sound. Open back designs such as the HD-600 minimize these effects. For a similar reason, most box speakers suffer from the effects of box resonances and sound diffraction that just are not a factor with a planar loudspeaker (insert Magneplanar or electrostatic panel speaker). Properly done, the boxless speaker design just plain sounds better and (i.e, more musical) than most box-type speakers.

While I am still breaking in my Pro4AATs, I think I will keep them as there are definitely times I want to be alone with my music, and block out the sounds around me.
post #14 of 15

Re: Bought a pair

Quote:
Originally posted by mkmelt
Through a little judicious use of the bass, midrange, and treble tone controls on the Marantz I have reached a few conclusions about the frequency response of the Pro 4AATs. I believe there is a peak in the upper treble at around 8-10KHz. I am able to tame this peak in the upper response fairly well by adjusting my treble control (10KHz turnover) down one click (3db). Similarly, there is a bit of a broad hump in the upper bass, say from 100 - 200 Hz. I am able to improve the low end response by adjusting the bass tone control (50 Hz turnover frequency) down by 3db. While this also affects the low end bass response of these headphones (not their strongest area) the overall sound was much improved. All attempts to better the sound of the Pro4AATs by adjusting the midrange control (centered at 700 Hz) did not produce any improvement.
Will be interesting see if the tone control setting changes as the 4AAT breaks in.
post #15 of 15

This review made me sad. And there I was, hoping to one day get these...

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