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Koss KSC-50 and Sony MDR-301

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I just bought the KSC-50's and really hated the loose earclip for these phones.

I have had a pair of Sony MDR-301's laying around for a while, and though I like the fit of these phones, the sound was just too muddy for use.

So, I decided to combine these headphones together to get one great set of portable cans.

I took the foam off the Sony's to reveal a large, earshaped plastic pieces that had the drivers set in them with tabs that could be pushed back. One great thing about these Sony cans is they are designed to be disassembled, so you don't have to break the headphones to get them apart. After removing the driver, I cut the wires to it, and then I unscrewed the silver screw connecting the front portion to the back. Then, I removed one smaller screw on the back portion so I could get to the cable. I cut it again and pulled it out of the hole.

I put the earpiece back together, stuffed the foam covering in to the large void where the driver element was, and applied a small amount of superglue to each of the approx. 6 small jutting pieces where the element for the KSC-50's would rest.

But, I'm getting ahead of myself. Now, I took the 50's and using a butter knife pried the earclip off the headphone. I don't know in retrospect if it was necessary to do this, but it did make it a bit easier to work in the unit. I removed the foam portion covering the driver and gently pried the driver element off its housing. It was then necessary to remove the mesh grille by bending the tabs up and popping them out. Then, I used a pair of pliers to break the plastic that was holding the cord in place.

Now, I was ready to use the superglue to glue the Koss element in place. The Koss piece is a little larger than the opening of the Sony's, but I tilted the piece slightly backward to have the driver fit flush in the front and slightly raised in the back. I firmly set the driver in the housing and held it in place for a few minutes.

This is the weakest part of the mod. I am not sure how long the superglue will hold, considering how little surface contact there is between pieces, but I'm hoping for the best.

Now, to listen. The headphone is much more comfortable now, and since the element is on a swivel, it conforms to the shape of my head well. Since the driver is now lightly pressed against the ear, the bass is much improved and the details of the headphones are better. Plus, the foam in the back helps to reduce reflections, improving imaging.

No digital camera, so I can't provide any images. Anyone in the L.A. area, if we have a get together, I'll bring my Frankenstein monster along.

post #2 of 9
I just bought the KSC-50's and really hated the loose earclip for these phones.
That's one reason the KSC-35 are worth the extra 5-10 bucks But nice job on the improvisation (and you used a butter knife without destroying anything... I didn't think that was possible )
post #3 of 9
What is it with people still using the butter knife? You'd think after the Grado incedent people would learn, but nooooooo
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
I would never dream of modding an expensive phone like the Grado until I was reasonably certain I knew what I was doing. P.S. the clip and housing for the 50's had to be destroyed to get the element out.

Addendum: after listening a bit more carefully to the monster, they felt a little dark. I removed the foam from behind the drivers and instead of re-gluing them, I just stretched the foam over the drivers in the same position they were before the mod. I cut a hole in the foam to let a little more sound out. They are now a much improved set of cans.

For home listening though, they still are a bit mid-bass boomy and a little treble shy. Using the graphic eq on my roomates receiver, a -1db adjust at 250 hz and a +1db adjust at 10000hz made a world of difference. But the bass still felt a tad bloated, and the highs felt just a touch crisp. I thought that a drop at 200 hz and a rise at 8000 hz would probably be perfect.

Which leads me to a question: it seems counter-intuitive to pure sound, but with cheap headphones, wouldn't an in-line tone control be neat to build? Has anyone done such a thing? I'm thinking of a female mini in and female mini out, with a circuit board in between processing the amplified signal at whatever frequencies the user wanted, with two little attenuation knobs so you could raise or lower the tone to your taste.

I'm not currently a solder soldier, but I will be getting a little kit together to start learing the basics. This seems like it would be a great basic project.

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Doesn't seem like very many people are interested in my Frankenstein monster. For those of you in the silent majority, here's my final update...

First of all, modding these headphones has taught me A LOT about what makes a headphone sound good. Second, I now own a pair of headphones that looks/sounds like no other headphone in the world. Frankie is completely unique, and I love him!

I trimmed bits and pieces of the plastic around the 50 driver and inside the 301 housing until the driver fit flush and flat inside the earpiece. To do this, I had to remove the plastic strain relief for the cord, but I re-glued the cord on to the driver housing. I then superglued the driver on to the earpiece, and voila! A nearly seamless integration.

Then, I just stretched a Rat Shack replacement earpad over the drivers and gave them a listen. Sadly, the headphones were bright with little sound stage.

I remebered the sock mod for Grados that I read about on Headwize, so I took a pair of brown dress socks, cut them to about two inches in length, stretched them around the earpiece and rolled the ends into themselves until I had only the area where the drivers were exposed.

The visual results are great, and the sound is quite nearly perfect. Highs are still a touch bright, the mids a little veiled, and the midbass a tad boomy without low bass extension. The headphone still does not have much of a soundstage, but it is greatly improved with the sock mod. I have not heard PortaPros, but I cannot imagine them sounding measurably better than Frankie.

For the price of about 40 dollars (KSC-50's $20 + Sony MDR-301's $15 + replacement pads $2 + superglue $2 + dress socks $?) I have what I feel is the best portable headphone for the money.

In my omnipotent mood, I have felt haughty enough to try my hand at modding a pair of Koss plugs, but I have learned with the Sony MDR-EX70LP that without good drivers, no amount of mods will help.

I might try my hand next at finding a closed can to stick some Koss drivers in. Anybody got a busted pair of closed cans they want to send me?


P.S. The "speaker" part of the headphone, which I refer to as the driver, is in electronics terms a transducer, right?
post #6 of 9
A very nice mod and I'm off to try it my self
post #7 of 9
I swear, if I find those Sony V-200s, I will be making some Sony V-KSC-50s out of them. Of course I will make them completely open, because the enclosures just completely suck on the V-200s. You have given me more inspiration to do so!
post #8 of 9
Heheheh... Had I baught those Sennheiser 570s, I would have also baught those notorious Sony MDR-V700DJs, and mod the @#$% out of both of them (i.e. put the HD570 drivers into the V700DJ shell, and the V700DJ drivers into the HD570 shell). Maybe then the Senn 570s won't sound so f***ing bright, and the V700DJs won't sound so @#$%ing boomy.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
I mean to tell you, these KSC-50 drivers are just the bees knees. If you're patient and take all the know how you have (and are willing to make some know how that you don't have) you can turn these in to an extraordinary pair of headphones. With all the modifications that I have done, I will honestly put Frankie up against an SR-60, or even SR-80, any day.

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