Man... these things feel like they're made out of styrofoam. Seriously. It weighs next to nothing and doesn't inspire any confidence in it's build quality. These definitely feel like they need to be babied. That's not too bothersome for me, as I take real good care of my cans overall. Clamp? What clamp? These are incredibly loose fitting, though not Audio Technica wing design loose. Not as much clamp as I'd like (I tend to like some sense of being secured on my head), but it's still better than the AT wings. The pads are made of the cheapest pleather like material usually found on budget headphones. At least it's thick enough to where it's not offensive in comfort, but it's definitely the kind of material I hate the most on pads. Overall, the ridiculously non-existent weight and little clamp make these are pretty decently comfortable headphone that may have been one of the MOST comfortable headphones if they used better pads.
The volume adjustment is a downright pain in the neck. Why? I have a LOT of OCD tendencies, and well, each side has it's own volume adjustment, so you'll have to match decibel level by ear. It's not too problematic, but as I tend to constantly adjust volume between songs, well, now I have to resort to making these a little louder than my listening level, and adjusting with my PC's volume control. I think just for the sake of this headphone, I'll set my Compass 2's dac to pre-amp out than line level out, just so I can use it's volume control. In the end, while I'm pretty good at setting volume properly, I would prefer a machine to match the levels and not by my own ears. Oh well. I guess that's another good reason to modify the extension cable to use with Stax amps, as FWIS, have just one master volume.
Okay, so how do they sound? To put it as simply as possible: They sound like open Mad Dogs. Seriously, that's is almost exactly what they remind me of. Doesn't have the weigh or body in the sound as the LCD2, but it is incredibly neutral sounding, with some warmth/darkness. If you like the Mad Dogs, the ESP 950 is the closest thing I've heard in terms of tonal balance. That is actually a very, very good thing. As the biggest shortcoming of the Mad Dogs is that they're closed, which means closed sounding. The move to an open design already has so many benefits over closed, which I won't discuss as you guys should know all this by now. No reason you WON'T love the ESP 950 if you like the MD.
The main worry sound-wise: How's the bass? Hmm... neutral, slightly bass light. It lacks a little presence and lacks impact. The Stax SR-407 definitely, definitely has more bass in both presence, impact, and weight.
The mids? Sublime. You can absolutely tell the mids are are the main focus point of the ESP 950. They are beautifully present and natural sounding, without a doubt. They're not as romantic and intimate as the LCD2, but they are wonderful.
The treble: Smooth, completely non-fatiguing, and honestly probably MY personal point in preference out of anything I've heard. Not SR-407 level clear or pristine, but it's soft, and without veil. The LCD2 sounds harsher, if that can be believed. I don't think they lack treble or air, but I guess technically, they are slightly glazed over.
This is without a doubt the most neutral headphone I have ever heard, just lacking a teeny bit of body in the bass and could be slightly brighter (not an issue, as I personally prefer a warmth/dark coloration) to make it COMPLETELY neutral in my ears. It's a grand headphone from what I hear so far, but it's not a headphone that suits my specific tastes overall. This one is more of a technical headphone than a musical one, IMHO. If pure technicality and neutrality is what you want, the ESP-950 makes one hell of a case.
Is it boring? Absolutely not. It still has plenty of emotion, but it's a bit too flat sounding to me for the most part. I still do enjoy it immensely, but not as much the LCD2 or SR407 in comparison.
I know that's a bit long for a first impression, but there you have it. Oh yeah, either the Koss amp or the headphone itself retains some static noise with nothing playing, and it's a bit random. The headphone can STILL make some very slight noise right after even when unplugged. I guess I can now eat my words and say that there can definitely be an improvement over this amp, at least in terms of noise. Not something I've heard from anything else, but it could be my outlet/extension cord, etc. I'll play around and find out.
It's absolutely not a dealbreaker, as you won't hear it when music plays.
I haven't tried them for gaming yet, but something tells me these are gonna rank quite highly for competitive use.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 4/25/13 at 11:32am