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Koss Pro DJ 100 - The Budget King

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This is one of my favorite headphones ever. It's sound is just so addicting. It has my near perfect signature and just makes music so much more fun to listen to. After all the time I spent listening to this I can't believe I never gave it a full review. This isn't a headphone for everyone, but people who love headphones with good mids, should give this a try. I keep looking for a closed budget headphone under $200 that can top this as a favorite. The KRK KNS-6400 has come so close. Recently I've been listening to this headphone so much because of finding out that the M50 pads fit them! It may seem hard to believe, but the M50 pads really transform this headphone into something better. Due to this, my new K501 has sat unused for nearly a week!

I think it's a good idea to just totally forget the idea that they're labeled as a DJ headphone! They don't sound anything like what I normally would expect one to sound like. As a DJ headphone it would be quite good I imagine.

Since the DJ100 fanboy went overboard in his review, feel free to skip to the end for a quick summary. The full review is just a bunch of random notes basically and a bit all over the place. Some of it may not even make sense.

Got a question about the headphone? Ask anything and I'll do my best to answer them.



COMFORT

The comfort is just average for me. The main problem is that the pads are round and are not that deep. I've found that often the pads will touch the tips of my ears too much. Many people have had the same problem and stuff something under the pads. I have not tried this. I suggest to immediately buy the M50 pads for them. This improves the sound and comfort. The DJ100's pads are round, but the M50 pads fit perfectly despite being oval shaped.

I had the impression of a much larger soundstage and more treble. The mids are a touch less forward, but it's not enough of a change to be a problem. I took the foam backing off my M50 pads and this was a mistake. The M50 foam backing smooths out the sound and makes it less fatiguing, but gave me the impression of a little more bass. Nothing to really ruin the signature. The JVC RX300, M30 and MDR-V6 pads also fit. RX300 pads offer a signature the most similar to stock, but make the mids maybe 1-3% less forward due to the angled pads. The M30/V6 pads reduce the treble a little. The M50 pads REALLY improve the entire sound so much that it's almost a requirement to me. Despite the foam backing, it does not seem to muffle the sound. I can't say this enough, but the M50 pads are a MUST!

 

The clamping force can be strong right out of the box, but it goes away within a day or two. Trust me on this!

 

7-27 UPDATE:

 

I've tested some older pads and the comfort is much better than right out of the box. They're more broken in and softer. I also took them off the DJ100 and stretched this out a little. They no longer touch the tips of my ears and fully surround them. My idea is that the pads will get softer and more comfortable after use. Maybe try stretching them out slightly.

 

PAD IMPRESSIONS

 

The wrong pads can ruin the sound of the DJ100. I came to the conclusion that oval shaped pads seem to offer the best sound, but maybe it's just a coincidence? If your ear is closer to the driver, you get more bass (it seems like). If there is more air inside the pad, then it seems like you get a little extra treble. This is all a guess. I didn't notice this until I pressed the cups against my ears and got more bass.

 

BEST PADS - Pearstone / Auray (new name) Deluxe Velour pads (modded)

 

I think the trick to getting the best pad for the DJ100 is to make sure it had foam backing on it. I don't know why. These pads take about a week to get comfortable and a little less scratchy. You may need to stretch them out a bit.

 

To me they're way too warm and bassy without mods. This is even with a very transparent amp/dac. It may be OK to some, but not me. Nope, it doesn't make the DJ100 into a bass monster but it just bloats the mid-bass and makes everything sound a bit congested. Some may not even hear this or it will take a long time to notice.

 

To trick here is to sort of re-create the M50 pads! What you do is look under the edges of the pads and put a tiny hole in each corner. Four in total. The top, two sides and bottom. The size of an eraser head almost. This makes the pads have the PERFECT amount of warmth. No bloated mid-bass at all. I'm surprised this helped so much. The m50 pads have two holes in each pad, so you may want to start with two.

 

How does it change the DJ100? It makes it sound even smoother. Soundstage size has increased, there's much better bass and more detail. There is just a tad more warmth than stock but I think it's only due to getting a better seal! At first I thought there was less treble, but now I don't think so. The treble is just a lot smoother sounding. You have some warmth but yet the soundstage didn't decrease in size!

 

The M50 pads perhaps offer more treble, but the soundstage seems the same. I do think the modded Pearstone pads are a little smoother sounding.

 

Modded Pearstone pads are just really impressive for gaming. Try them with Bioshock 2 and Fallout 3.

 

If you have huge ears you may want to avoid these pads. I find them very comfortable.

 

 

M50

These pads really offer some huge benefits. To my ears they seem to balance out the sound more and give it a tiny bit less of that front-row like experience. They do seem to make the DJ100 a little less warm, but offer slightly more treble, more detail and a clearer sound. If that wasn't enough, my brain is being fooled into thinking the imaging is better! M50 pads are a MUST for any serious gamer when using the DJ100.

 

The only negative of the M50 pads is that they tend to get harder after 6+ months. I don't know why.

 

UPDATE: I once said they gave you maybe 1% (or so) less forward mids, but I don't think this is really true. They still sound very fun/engaging. The M50 pads definitely help the treble and make everything sound more open, less congested (not that they ever were!) and crystal clear.

 

The negative is that M50 pads can get slightly hard after 6 months to a year. I think it's due to air and not really skin oils or dirt. Storing them away in a hard case might help. I will try to restore the pads in a washing machine if I can! Despite being hard, they're still comfortable!

 

You may think i'm nuts, but I really do think the M50 pads improve the sound of the DJ100 by 10% or so. Not even kidding.

 

You can get a "taste" of the M50 pad sound by stuffing very small amounts of tissue in the edges of the stock pads. Not too much! Strips of foam works too. No material should be sticking out.

 

Sony MDR-V6 (don't use generic ones! They're much worse and smaller)

Sorry, I barely remember what they sounded like. I think perhaps similar to stock, but even better comfort.

 

JVC RX300

These are angled and fit. Sound was ok, but I didn't like the comfort. They look like angled V6 pads.

 

Shure SRH-1840 (similar as SRH-940 pads I believe)

The bass went bye-bye. I'm talking completely non-existent. They're slightly too large as well.

 

Shure SRH-840

WAY too much treble. Sounded awful. Too much air inside the pads.

 

M40

At first these confused me. I was thinking it made the mids too distant, but in fact it makes the sound more accurate to the recording. Just like an open headphone would be. When I hear a recording with very up-front vocals (in the recording itself) they'll still sound this way. If they're distant, then these pads won't magically make everything up-front. These offer the best soundstage and imaging. I would say get these if you want accuracy and a more analytical sound. These may not be a safe bet since these are early impressions. You can always try M50 pads.

 

I think the M40 pads work so well is because they're much taller, you have more room for your ears and that they will be closer to the driver than M50 pads. They not quite as deep it seems like. These actually SEEM to have a tad more bass than the M50 pads. You can even make them even more bassy (and reducing sound clarity) by putting foam inside the pads. It has to be super thin stuff like found on the M50 pads. The M40 pads have no foam backings.

 

Please note that my impressions of M40 pads may change. I've used them for maybe a week and like them so far.

 

BTW the M40 pads are really impressive when it comes to soundstage size. When listening to classical it often feels like I have an open headphone on my head. They're a must for those that listen to only classical.

 

UPDATE: These somehow offer LESS treble than stock pads. Possibly more bass than stock too. The mids with these are not as forward as with the M50 and stock pads. The sound is also not nearly as clear as the M50 pads. I no longer suggest these. They kind of suck the life out of the mids.

 

Beyerdynamic DT-250

These make the DJ100 way, way too fatiguing and shouty. They killed my ears and no modding seems to have fixed it.

 



BUILD QUALITY AND DESIGN

The cups are aluminum, but the insides are plastic. The headband and a screw is metal. Everything else is plastic. Since I bought these in June 2010 I've never had any problems. They do come with a lifetime warranty. The cups are THICK aluminum. I was really surprised about this!

I love the simple design of these. For me, they don't have a lot of clamping force and I like this. They still have a secure fit on my head. I can even use them during exercise without any problems. I'm not a fan of coiled cables, but this is not a problem.

BURN-IN MYTH

 

UPDATE: My last pair purchased on 4/10/12 sounded great out of the box. Zero burn-in required.

Best advice is that if they sound good (and very clear) out of the box, skip this part!

Now I am a believer of burn-in for sure, but I skip burn-in on 95% of the headphones I buy. If they sound great out of the box I will usually just let them burn-in while I listen to them! With the several dozen pairs of headphones I've tried, only 2 or 3 made me feel they improved with burn-in (KRK KNS-8400, DJ100 and K601).

Now if you don't believe in burn-in, the DJ100 WILL possibly make you a believer of it. Since these came out I've owned four pairs of them. First pair needed zero burn-in to sound good. Second pair needed 3 days to sound like my first. Third needed FIVE DAYS!

Most people will say there is no way a headphone can sound terrible out of the box and then sound great with burn-in. I wish this was true because my last 2 DJ100's sounded like garbage out of the box. In a few of my old posts you can see that I actually thought some pairs were defective!

If the sound is not clear and very muffled with a lack of treble, they need BURN-IN. I don't know how this is possible, but something seems screwy with the soundstage when not properly burned-in. Something a bit strange about the mids too.

Of course most pairs should sound great out of the box. I just want to warn people that if they sound terrible out of the box, PLEASE give them a chance with burn-in. It kind of makes me sick how bad my last two pairs sounded at first. I even compared them side by side to a good pair.

Koss really needs to do more burn-in at the factory. I think this could keep many people from keeping them. If I didn't know any better, I would have returned them.

I can't say it enough, with these headphones (unless you get lucky) you can't just open the box and judge them right away because they won't be at their best.

AMPING

I always said these sounded horrible without an amp and sure that is a bit overdoing it. They sound bad enough without an amp that I refuse to use them without one. I think the main problem is that a very small MP3 player can't drive them very well. On some music it will sound great and on others really bad.

Just recently I was listening to them straight out of my Cowon Iaudio 7 with FLAC. I was shocked at how bad they sounded. Felt like sound was coming out of a tin can. The sound was just very fatiguing and not very clear. I was wondering what the heck had happened to my poor DJ100. I connected them up to an E5 and it was a tiny bit better. Switched to the Nuforce Mobile with the High Gain setting and the DJ100 was back to it's old self.

I wrote down the symptoms of how these sound unamped and they're spot on with ljokerl's impressions of them when going without an amp. Fatiguing treble, reduced soundstage and less forward mids. Most definitely less clear for whatever reason. It's as if the entire sound just isn't very well controlled in any area.

Now if you use them without an amp and just the Ipod Touch, then the results are a little bit better. I always felt like an Ipod Touch + Fiio E5 is the bare minimum. Then the bad part of all this is that often the sound will vary between sources and amps. On my Ipod Touch and E5 they're actually kind of bright and a little more fatiguing! I think they'll sound better with an Iaudio 7 and say an E7. I like them a lot with the Total Airhead and an Ipod Touch. It seems they sound best on portable amps for whatever reason.

 

UPDATE 4/17/12:

 

Sometimes these sound much better straight out of a portable device instead of using a LOD cable to an amp. This is rare. Here's the setups i've tried:

 

Excellent:

 

Fiio E17

Ipod Classic 3G > LOD cable > Fiio E9 (large jack ONLY. Doesn't seem to negatively effect the DJ100. Good soundstage with the right music)

Ipod Classic 3G > LOD cable > Headroom Micro Amp

HRT Music Streamer II (DAC) > Fiio E9  (larger soundstage and more detail from DAC)

Ipod Classic 3G > 3.5mm cable > Total Airhead (makes no sense)

Sansa Fuze > LOD cable > Total Airhead (near perfect to my ears and quite balanced sounding)

Ipod Touch > 3.55mm cable > Fiio E5 (I have no clue why this is so good)

Sansa Clip+ > 3.55mm cable > Total Airhead (surprised this didn't hurt the sound!)

Sansa Fuze > 3.5mm cable > Fiio E11 (MUCH fuller sounding than when using LOD cable)

Technics receiver headphone jack (330ohm output. What...the..heck. How does the DJ100 still manage to sound great?)

ODAC > Headroom Micro Amp (Just amazing)

ODAC > Schiit Magni (Crystal clear sounding)

Ipod Classic 3G (Monochrome + Firewire, Wolfson DAC)

Schiit Modi > Headroom Micro Amp or Schiit Magni

 

NOTE: LOD on Fuze sounds a bit harsh and shouty in the mids with most headphones. Don't know why. Headphone out is much better to my ears.

 

Gaming:

Xbox 360 (RCA) > RCA to Mini > Fiio E9 (Wow! Note: large jack ONLY!!!)

Xbox 360 (RCA) > RCA to Mini > Headroom Micro Amp

Compared to the E11 from Xbox 360 I noticed more foward and fuller mids, clearer sound, more detail and better bass. Biggest difference was soundstage size increase.

 

 

Very Good:

Sansa Fuze > LOD cable > Fiio E11 (thinner sounding, I suggest using headphone out instead)

Sansa Fuze (Rockbox used for testing)

Sansa Clip+ (M50 pads. Without them on this is sounds a tad congested and too warm. I find the Clip+ to be quite warm. The M50 pads reduce some of the DJ100's natural warmth, but not by much)

Ipod Touch 2G (very flat and not warm to my ears, which I like)

 

 

 

Good:

Sansa Clip+ (sounds a bit too warm/congested when using stock pads, but not too bad)

 

Not suggested/did not like:

 

Ipod Classic 3G/Ipod Touch 2G > LOD cable to Fiio E5 or Headroom Total Airhead (not sure why this is so bad. On the Ipod Touch with this setup it seems almost like a V-shape signature compared to what it should be)

(When using the headphone jack to amp, they're perfect?!)

Panasonic Portable CD player

Sansa View > LOD cable > Total Airhead

Sansa View

Cowon iaudio 7 (more testing required)

Sansa View (bass seemed a bit sloppy with some bass bleed. Will test more soon)

Creative X-Fi Go Pro (messed up signature with DJ100. Output impedance too high?)

Fiio E10 (muffled sounding. Some may like this, so it's worth a try)

Ipod Video 5.5 (totally does not sound right. Awful to my ears and not balanced sounding)

 

7/27/12 UPDATE:

 

Tried them out of my Sansa Fuze and the sound got quite fatiguing and harsh with some music. It wasn't a case of just garbage tracks. I was going to take them off and rest my ears but instead connected them to an amp. The sound was much smoother and less fatiguing. I guess an amp gives more control over the DJ100's sound signature. I've always found that the more power you give them, the more full sounding the mids are. Straight out of some portable players the mids are a little thinner sounding.

 

When I used a Fuze with LOD to Fiio E11 I was surprised how much thinner the sound was when compared to using the headphone out to the E11. No idea why, but my idea is that the DJ100 likes the extra power from the amp. The sound doesn't sound degraded in any way, but very much improved to my ears. My DJ100 never sounds good with a LOD cable until I connect it to a full desktop amp. A LOD cable to a portable amp with the DJ100 just doesn't sound as good.

 

The Fuze/CLIP+ headphone out method makes the DJ100 sound similar to how it is with a full desktop amp! Very full sounding mids and it's signature is very smooth and non-fatiguing to my ears. You've still got those engaging mids, but they're not so forward that they're fatiguing.

 

 

1/30/13 UPDATE:

 

I've noticed they sound a LOT flatter and more neutral when used with very transparent gear. They're the most balanced sounding with the ODAC to Schiit Magni or Headroom Micro. If you use them with a slightly colored amp they can sound much worse. I don't like them with warm sounding sources or amps. Some slight warmth is OK. I'm probably just too picky!

 

It's interesting how they're almost too warm with stock pads on the Clip+, but with M50 pads (that reduce warmth very very slightly) they're OK. Bizarre right?

 


SOURCE QUALITY

Despite being only $50 these are actually quite revealing of the source quality. I've found it very easy to pick out all the garbage tracks. No, not as much as a DT-880! They're much less forgiving than my HD-598, K240 Studio and K501. Not quite sure why. They can pick up lots subtle details including recording hiss etc. They're much more detailed when using a computer DAC, desktop amp or my CD player. They're less detailed on my Ipod Touch with amp. Despite this, they're not analytical in any way, but fun and engaging. Level of detail is up to the M50, MDR-7506 and the KRK KNS-6400. The 6400 would be some serious competition for the DJ100 in this area.

 

I actually think these are as revealing as my Q701 and HD-600 (modded!!). Recently I discovered two issues with my setup on my new ODAC and with my Q701 it's like the problem did not exist. It took the DJ100 to reveal these issues to me. Very bizarre. It seems the DJ100 will only be as good as what it's connected to. If the device has any weird coloration, then the DJ100 seems to pick up on this and can sound worse. My DJ100 was rather bloated in the bass and too dark on the HRT MSII. For the longest time I blamed my Headroom Micro Amp. Wow, was I ever wrong!

 

Some will think i'm nuts, but with my Headroom Micro Amp and ODAC, the Tony Bennett/DJ100 I have is clearer than the Q701. When my DJ100 doesn't sound crystal clear it's the recording's fault. With M40 pads and this setup I feel like i'm almost hearing the equipment the recording artist is using in the studio. I only experienced such a thing only recently. Probably not since I had the DT-880. The sound quality on the DJ100 with a good setup and M40 pads now seem to vary with the quality of the recording. You can go from having a song sound thin and harsh (random Cantopop) to very warm and full sounding (Buena Vista Social Club and some Pearl Jam songs). Basically what the recording is supposed to sound like. If you listen to the "Inception" soundtrack, it's almost muffled! Now this whole thing varies with pads. No joke and I know that's hard to believe! I think it has a lot to do with signature variations. It's almost like the difference between a modded HD-600 and one that's not. The non-modded one is much more forgiving and almost everything sounds good and none of your music is put under a microscope. Obviously it still needs high bitrate files to be at it's best.

 

WHY WOULD I WANT TO AMP A 38 ohm $80 HEADPHONE? YOU'RE CRAZY!

 

To me this is one headphone that benefits more from a good amp and dac than any other cheap headphone i've ever tried. It's benefited from every single piece of equipment in my setup just as much as my HD-650 and Q701 has. If you think i'm nuts, that's OK! People can tell me all they want that they don't require an amp, but I just prefer to use one. The source itself is actually even more important I think. Pair this headphone up with a very transparent amp and DAC and it will be at it's best. I don't suggest any warm equipment, but I haven't heard enough of them and I might be wrong. I really would suggest this headphone to those that already have other headphones and a good setup.

 

An amp makes it sound much fuller (not due to coloration of the amp!) and much smoother sounding. There's better controlled bass and improved sound clarity. From some portable players the bass can sound a bit sloppy, but not always. If the DJ100 ever sounds harsh in the mids or treble, it's probably needing an external amp.

 

With my ODAC the soundstage gets larger and theres perhaps more detail and better imaging. Hard to believe, but that's what i'm hearing. With the ODAC and Pearstone pads I often feel that with a good recording I'm listening to an open headphone! Instrument separation is a bit better and everything is a tad more spacious sounding. To really increase this effect, new pads are suggested for best results.

 

If there is something that sticks out too much on the DJ100 to MY ears, it's usually caused by the equipment or the recording. The mids are not so forward that they'd cause fatigue.

 

They're not at all treble happy to me, but new pads might smooth out the treble for you. I would say they have more treble than the HD-650, but less than a Q701.

 

Best advice I can give is to try it with various portable players and see if it's fine for you without an external amp. The DJ100 is quite OK from my Ipod Touch 2G. It does sort of sound like it's treble is a bit more edgy than normal from that player though despite measuring flat.

 

IMO saying it doesn't need an amp is too much of a general statement since there is about a million different portable players out there. I've yet to get it to sound as good as my main setup with any portable players. Maybe some day!



WHAT DO THEY SOUND LIKE?

Take a very detailed (and completely flat) studio monitor and then give it a good sized bump in the bass. No excessive (and annoying) mid-bass hump! Then give it another peak in the upper mids. Then roll off the treble very slightly. Make the treble not too fatiguing, but don't make it a really dark headphone.

I always felt these were one step under being bass heavy. The bass is just enough so that it NEVER bleeds into the mids or makes any part of it's signature less clear. If I was to guess, I'd say they have maybe 5% less bass than my new white boxed M50, but putting this into a percentage is kind of stupid. The bass of the M50 sacrifices the mids more than the DJ100 does. Not too badly though. If you remove the foam from the M50 pads the bass quantity is even closer. I have a feeling the DJ100 has more sub-bass and I wish I knew if I was right.

The bass itself is very well controlled and not bloated at all ever. If it ever is, it's due to improper amping or bad synergy. On some of my desktop amps, the sound becomes less clear.

The main focus of this headphone is on the mids, the bass and then the treble. If anything suffers the most, it's the treble. You can't have everything, but this headphone makes me think otherwise! To me, it's NOT a dark headphone and I don't understand how anyone could think this. Out of the box, it's easy to be fooled into thinking this. I hate dark headphones but I love non-fatiguing treble.

If there anything that could fatigue me with these headphones it's actually the treble first! Yes, really. The mids are never a problem if the music is well mastered. Some really bad recordings can be an issue. Taking the foam off the M50 pads made the treble on these a little more fatiguing. I wish I had not done this. Yes, it's possible to make the DJ100 have fatiguing treble! It seems like the more open the pads are, you get the impression of more treble. I think the stock pads give some people the impression of them being too dark. They kind of kill the treble a bit.

With stock pads the sound often sounds somewhat less clear and the treble suffers a bit. The RX300 and M50 pads offer the best treble. With upgraded pads I don't see a lack of treble at all. I really do believe the stock pads negatively effect the sound and make them sound darker than they really are. It took me awhile to figure out why some people found them too dark. It's most likely the pads.

I remember someone once describing the DT-48E as like having music from a USB cable being plugged straight into your brain. That's what the DJ100 feels like to me! Female vocals are so impressive with this headphone.  Crystal clear sounding! Now this may be a negative to some but at times it feels like someone is singing into your ears. Of course this varies between recordings. The overall sound is like a front-row like experience for me. One that's not too fatiguing.

If you love the mids of a Grado, you may love the mids on this headphone. They're some of the most engaging mids I've heard. Now, this front row experience is reduced a little with M50 pads. It makes the soundstage a little larger and more accurate. For those that are wondering, the DJ100's treble is much, much less fatiguing than that of the Grado SR-80. The DJ100 is similar to the SR-80 in some ways, but much more clear, more bass and less treble.

With lots of burn in and good pads, the sound has always felt crystal clear. This varies between amps. It seems noticeably less clear on my Micro Amp than when using a portable amp and mp3 player. Further testing is needed though. In comparison it feels more clear than even my HD-598. Comparable to my KRK KNS-6400, but the KRK might have a slight edge.

The sound is very, very clear on the Fiio E9. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this is a fairly neutral amp?

If I had written down everything I wanted in a FUN headphone, the DJ100 would be a perfect match. How often does that happen?! Almost never!

 

10/13/2012 Mini-update:

 

One thing that has always impressed me with the DJ100 is it's bass. For me it has no huge mid-bass hump that sticks out like a sore thumb. It also doesn't have tons of nasty upper bass that makes everything veiled sounding. It's just right. The best part about these is the low bass extension. Yes, i'm not kidding. Koss claims these go only from 10hz-25,000. Well, they lie! They go much lower than 10hz! Test it out and you will feel it. These have better lower bass than my Q701, HD-600 and every headphone I have. Notice that it's very present, but not bloated. Believe it or not my KRK KNS-8400 also has impressive sub-bass. These are two headphones that a couple of people have claimed are bass-light. Nonsense! It's more like accurate bass and NOT bass emphasized! It will not magically add any extra bass to a recording. OK, maybe a little. I have to admit that hearing them being called bass light is good for a laugh!



WOULD I LIKE THIS HEADPHONE?

If you want some engaging mids with good bass that's not overkill, definitely try these out. I'd suggest them ONLY if you're willing to burn them in if they sound bad out of the box.

People who listen to a lot of female vocals, especially Jpop or any kind of Asian Pop, would love these. I have a very good feeling that people who love the HD-598 or K501 would love these! They did have a few similarities to my Sextett also, but my pair wasn't all that clear sounding and probably not at it's best. I sure hope Koss released these in asia somewhere!

Take some things from a Grado and an M50 you may get close to the DJ100's signature. The DJ100 is less warm than the M50 and a bit thinner sounding I believe. Not like say the DT-880 though.

Despite the forward mids and extra bass, the DJ100 to me still sounds fairly well balanced. I don't know how they managed that.

I think "trebleheads" would be the ones who would dislike these the most. If you love good mids, you should give these a try.

 

If you hate headphones with forward mids, these are not that bad. Despite the forward mids, they're not fatiguing. When under-amped the mids are MUCH more shouty, harsh and fatiguing. When well amped, the entire signature is very smooth sounding to my ears without anything jumping out at me.

How do they compare to...

M50

DJ100 has more forward (and engaging) mids, less bass, but it's better controlled. Treble on the M50 and DJ100 (with M50 pads) is similar, but the treble on the DJ100 I believe rolls off earlier. The M50's treble is a little more fatiguing. M50 is also less dependent on amping, but not by much.

Soundstage of the DJ100 is a little bit better. Detail between the two is similar. Sound clarity might have the edge on the DJ100, but i'd have to compare them again. Definitely more mid-bass on the M50 too. M50 seems just as picky with source quality as the DJ100.

As much as I like the M50 (believe I gave it an 8/10 for sound), it's not all that fun to listen to. It's signature just kind of doesn't do it for me. M50 does have some fairly relaxed mids and I like this at times.

SR-80

DJ100 is a lot more clear sounding with more detail, but less treble. DJ100 has more sub-bass and perhaps less of a mid-bass hump. Both are good with female vocals. When it comes to tonality of specific instruments, the DJ100 is a closer match to a Grado than a Sennheiser.

HD-598

DJ100 sounds more clear and detailed. Pretty sure the DJ100 has more treble and definitely more forward upper mids. Female vocals are far better on the DJ100. Obviously the soundstage is huge on the HD-598 compared to the DJ100. Most instruments carry more weight on the HD-598 though and this is good sometimes. DJ100 is a little thinner sounding, but not in a bad way. HD-598 is much more warm. DJ100 has much more bass than the HD-598 and almost makes it seem bass light, which it's not.

HD-598 has a much, much more relaxed and smoother signature, yet still fun and engaging. However that is. The DJ100 is much more aggressive in it's signature and even makes the HD-598 sound very, very slightly muffled..and it's really not! With m50 pads the DJ100 isn't really fatiguing for me unless I remove the foam.

KRK KNS-6400

DJ100 has MUCH more bass impact for sure, but less treble than the KRK I think. Mids on the DJ100 are more forward. My guess is that the KRK has more detail and a MIGHT be a little more clear. I'd need to compare them more. This is the headphone that came close to dethroning my DJ100 as a favorite. You can even buy memory foam pads for it! I wish the DJ100 had those, but the M50 pads are close enough!

K501

This is a tough one. If I felt that everything on the DJ100 was "just right", this is even more so! The K501 is so much smoother sounding, but more clear and detailed than the HD-598. I'm going to guess than the K501 is more forgiving of source than the DJ100, but I'd have to verify this. The K501 is fairly forgiving, but less so than the K601. Unlike the more aggressive DJ100 I could listen to the K501 all day without fatigue. Like an HD-600 that doesn't bore me to death. DJ100 is every bit as engaging as the K501 for me. K501 is just more relaxed. Not like a Sennheiser.

DJ100 obviously has a ton more bass, more forward mids, but maybe less treble. No surprise here.

I think the DJ100 has more similarities to the K501 than the HD-598. At least when it comes to the mids and treble. The K501's soundstage is massive compared to that of the DJ100. BTW the K501's soundstage doesn't ever make vocals sound too distant, which is nice.

 

HD-580

 

This sounds far different than the HD-600 to me. I consider the HD-580 to have a more fun and engaging sound compared to the HD-600 (despite the same driver). More forward upper mids, more treble and less mid-bass compared to the HD-600. Better sub-bass perhaps.

 

People who have only heard the HD-600 should ignore this, because the HD-600 doesn't really sound anything like the DJ100. With the HD-580 it's is a bit closer. In fact, the HD-580 has MANY similarities to the DJ100.

 

The DJ100 doesn't have the "thick" and full mids of the HD-580. When you have amp and dac overkill on the DJ100 the mids are only just slightly thinner sounding. They're still full, but the entire sound isn't as warm and full sounding as the HD-580.

 

I would say the DJ100 has a similar amount of treble, slightly more forward upper mids and less mid-bass. The DJ100 has far better sub-bass. Things that barely register on the HD-580 are heard on the DJ100.

 

Sound clarity is actually about the same with the same setup. Obviously the HD-580 has a much larger soundstage.

 

K240 Sextett LP

 

This is another close one. The DJ100 has the better extended sub-bass that the Sextett lacks. The upper mids on MY Sextett LP are actually more forward than that of the DJ100. The DJ100 also has more treble and is not as dark as my Sextett. Sound clarity sadly is better on my DJ100. Level of detail is about the same. If you love the addicting mids of the Sextett, you should love the mids of the DJ100!  As weird as it sounds, I think the DJ100 actually has more mid-bass than the Sextett.

 

What the Sextett does better is how easily you can pick apart all the instruments with pinpoint accuracy. The Sextett's very accurate soundstage is impressive, but it's not very large even with specific music. I would say that on the same setup, the Sextett's soundstage is only slightly larger.

 

What you can do is imagine the DJ100 having similar sounding mids as the Sextett, but with a sound signature closer to that of the HD-580, but with better sub-bass. I think the Sextett's mids are very full and natural sounding just like on the DJ100, but completely different sounding than those of the HD-580. The Sextett and DJ100 have very full sounding mids, but yet don't sound like warm headphones at all to my ears. I guess this is strange.

 

SRH-840

 

This is based on when I had the SRH-840 a long time ago. I believe the SRH-840 has similar forward upper mids, but much more of a mid-bass hump. The DJ100 has more extended bass and isn't as warm sounding. DJ100 also has a much larger soundstage, but is much harder to drive. The DJ100 also sounds much more clear and is far more revealing and detailed.

 

SRH-940

 

I compared the DJ100 to the SRH-940 and KRKs for hours and hours. The SRH-940 was a loaner and I ended up liking it, but not enough to want to buy a pair.

 

The DJ100 has more sub-bass, but it's mids are a tiny bit thinner perhaps (I DID NOT use the SRH-940 without an amp and perhaps my setup made the SRH-940 warmer than it should be. It was the Headroom Micro Amp + HRT MSII). In comparison the mids of the SRH-940 seemed very slightly muffled on all my amps. That's the first thing that caught my attention. Clearer than the HD-600, but not as clear as the KRKs or DJ100. The mids on the SRH-940 (despite what some say) were quite full sounding and not even remotely thin. I actually felt the SRH-940 was some weird combination of the K702 and the HD-598. The mids were similar to the HD-598 (not talking about the forwardness etc), but with the treble of the K702. It's hard to describe really.

 

The SRH-940 EASILY has more treble than the DJ100, but does seem to have a much smaller soundstage. I felt that even the KRK KNS-8400 had a larger soundstage than the SRH-940. IMO the SRH-940 isn't any more of a detail monster than the DJ100 and KRK KNS-8400. I'm not convinced there's something on the SRH-940 that can't be heard on the DJ100. I'll give you $50 if i'm wrong normal_smile%20.gif

 

I actually can't think of anything the SRH-940 does better. I guess maybe it's more comfortable with stock pads.

 

Sennheiser HD-650

 

DISCLAIMER: My HD-650 sounds a bit different than most pairs or so it seems. This one is very well balanced. It doesn't really have much of a mid-bass hump, is very clear sound and is not dark.

 

For me when the DJ100 is at it's very best, they're quite similar. This is say a Headroom Micro Amp or ODAC. Even the Schiit Magni or Fiio E9 is fine.

 

The DJ100 has slightly more forward mids (especially upper mids), slightly more treble and maybe a tad more bass. The DJ100 still has smooth treble to me just like the HD-650. Overall i'd say they have similar amounts of bass, but the DJ100 to my ears has better low bass extension. The low bass is just a tiny bit more present. There's stuff I can hear on the DJ100 that's not present on the HD-650. I can give examples if needed!

 

The DJ100 is much less forgiving and bad recordings sound considerably worse on the DJ100. They're still not too bad, but the HD-650 seems to make almost everything quite listenable.

I also find the DJ100 more accurate to the recording and a bit more detailed. Even clearer sounding. Sometimes when the DJ100 sounds less clear it's actually the recording that's not clear. Game soundtracks don't sound so bad on the HD-650. On my KRKs and DJ100 they're often more muffled sounding. It's 100% NOT the headphone.

 

Of course since the HD-650 is open the soundstage is a lot larger and is more airy sounding. Quite a bit better instrument separation. The DJ100 competes better with the HD-650 and open headphones when you use M50 pads.

The HD-650 like the DJ100 has VERY, VERY well controlled bass. The DJ100 does often seem a bit less warm, but both are very full sounding. The DJ100 never sounds thin. If it is, it's due to the recording or not enough power. The sound of the DJ100 varies between recordings. It's just that accurate. Sometimes when it sounds bad it's really due to my recordings! Like my Q701, it will randomly go from sounding like an AD700 or Denon D1100 depending on the recording. It's really amazing how many songs sound thin and too trebly and then too muffled and having bloated bass.

 

The hard part for me to figure out is which headphone is more colored. Both are fairly balanced sounding. The HD-650 for me makes bad stuff sound almost too good. It seems to take the edge off really bright recordings. To me this is a slight coloration. The DJ100 does this a little, but not as much. The DJ100 has more forward mids. Vocals especially have some slight forwardness. Then again, in some recordings they can sound distant. It depends on how they recorded. On some Pearl Jam stuff, Eddie Vedder sounds like he's in a cave and his vocals are getting drowned out. It sounds the same on other accurate headphones.

 

IMO the DJ100's imaging is as good as that of the K601 and Sextett.

 

I would say the DJ100 when very well amped (with transparent gear) sounds like a mix of maybe an SR-225i and an HD-650. Maybe more like the Sextett and HD-650.

 

GAMING

With the M50 pads, these get my vote as one of the best closed headphones under $200 for gaming. For competitive gaming where less bass is best, the KRK KNS-6400 is another idea. The DJ100 has enough detail and has a little extra bass, so it's a little more fun than a boring studio monitor. I tried these with Uncharted 2 recently and was very impressed with how well they did. With stock pads they're not great for gaming and just good.


TL;DR (TOO LONG, DIDN'T READ!)

Plus:

  • Extremely good for vocals, especially female.
  • Impressive and well controlled bass with no excessive mid-bass hump (not bass heavy! Slightly above neutral bass perhaps)
  • Better than advertised low-bass extension. Not "Extreme Bass Response", but accurate bass.
  • Crystal clear sound with lots of detail
  • $80, Lifetime Warranty, made with actual metal and built like a tank
  • Good soundstage with M50 pads
  • Forward and very engaging mids. Full sounding and still crystal clear.
  • Simple design and very portable
  • Not forgiving of low bit-rate sound files (yes, this is a positive for me!)
  • SOMEHOW still sounds well balanced and non-fatiguing despite it's signature
  • Amazing for Jpop/Asian pop music
  • Very good as a closed gaming headphone (M50 pads are a must. I suggest Fallout 3 or Skyrim)
  • Scales up with better equipment (in my experience...please don't buy a $1000 amp for them though! Actually please do and report back biggrin.gif )
  • Fairly forgiving of some harsh/badly recorded music (not low bit-rate material)
  • Can alter the sound signature very slightly with different pads


Negative:

 

  • Quality might vary between pairs (I'm sure Koss has made improvements)
  • Some need 3-5 days of burn in to sound great
  • Coiled cable (I don't mind it)
  • Needs an external amp to be at it's best (IMO)
  • Can be picky about portable players, computer DACs and other sources (best with very neutral gear)
  • Stock pads not that comfortable, not deep enough and negatively effects the sound IMO (for some!)
  • Could be fatiguing if you're ultra sensitive to a forward sounding headphone. It's not THAT forward
  • Can be slightly more fatiguing or harsh with a weak source (or bad synergy!)

 

Despite being very detailed and revealing, they do seem to be extremely good for recordings that are harsh and fatiguing. Do you know the type of music that sounds as if the treble and mids were cranked to max in the studio? They're made to be a little more bearable on the DJ100. How? I have no idea. This is even with the M50 pads. If this makes them less accurate, then so be it. I'll let people decide if this is a negative or a positive.

 

Do you know how the HD-600 is quite easy on the ears with bad (harsh) recordings? Well the DJ100 is similar, but not due to any lack of treble. I don't know how Koss did this. Both have forward mids and the DJ100 (IMO) has more treble.
 


Edited by tdockweiler - 6/27/13 at 11:07pm
post #2 of 2267

Your lack of pictures to amuse my tiny mind confuses BotByte

 

Otherwise, a very nice summary. You should put this is a link in your signature.

 

Yes i read the entire thing. And yes, I do believe the E9 is neutral, or it could be a little sweet.

post #3 of 2267
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BotByte View Post

Your lack of pictures to amuse my tiny mind confuses BotByte

 

Otherwise, a very nice summary. You should put this is a link in your signature.

 

Yes i read the entire thing. And yes, I do believe the E9 is neutral, or it could be a little sweet.


Thanks. Yeah I need pictures. Almost nobody has heard of these or has seen them. Here's one stock picture (just to give people an idea) and one I took of them folded a year ago. They don't collapse quite as well as the M50 though, but are still smaller and not as heavy.

 

d5345115_Koss-ProDJ100-d3_enl.jpg

 

1000x500px-LL-799a42d2_kossdj100folded.jpg

 

post #4 of 2267

Only a few posts so far? I'm surprised. I think the word Koss scares most members away...

 

But seriously, nice review! It's great to finally see your favorite, time tested headphone get a review. And hopefully, more people can catch onto this really quite impressive headphone. Back when I had it with just stock pads, I was actually thoroughly impressed. A very fun headphone to listen to indeed, while still maintaining great sound quality across the board. Definitely gets the thumbs up from me.

 

Now, just need to try them with the M50 pads. Maybe then, I'll actually keep a headphone for once...

post #5 of 2267
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

Only a few posts so far? I'm surprised. I think the word Koss scares most members away...



I'm thinking of buying DJ100's myself.

 

Last time I got them to compare to the HD598 really quickly. Burned them for 3 days btw. I just settled on the HD598

 

I really like Koss, but their plugs fuel the internal flames of my soul! God, those plugs suck!

 

If I get a hold of some extra change here and there, I might just test out a couple.

post #6 of 2267

I'm so glad you agree with me about the M50 pads .. these are just a must on the ProDJ100. It just brings out the sound so much more and just becomes so much clearer.

I agree with description of the Koss 100% ... great review.

 

It is a very enjoyable non-fatiquing headphone and it's very light and comfortable with the M50 Pads. For $80 it's a bargain in my opinion.

 

It even compares really well the Shure940. Overall sound of the 940 is slightly thinner .. I think because of the less bass. The Koss has such  lucious bass and mids which sound very full and solid.

Both have their strong points and I love both of them .. and the Koss at $80 is certainly not half the quality of the $200 Shure.

 

I'm waiting on the version 2 of the digiziod ZO which might turn the Shure940 into the perfect headphone .. for me anyway as I love the highs and mids of the shure but also love that bass and lower mids of the Koss.

post #7 of 2267

Wow, comparable to the SRH940? I only got rid of that headphone because of comfort and too light of bass. Sounds like the DJ100 with M50 pads is the remedy headphone to the SRH940. In that case, I'll definitely pick up a pair once they come on sale and once the M50 pads get back in stock. I need a new full sized anyway, preferably a closed. This is definitely first on my list, yet I'm still thinking about getting the HD598 one of these days again.

post #8 of 2267
Thread Starter 

I think Joey99 was the one who told me about the M50 pads. All this time and I didn't have a clue that the M50 pads fit! Sure, they're oval and not round, but don't screw up the sound signature. They do give me an impression of a tiny bit of extra bass and I'm not sure if I mentioned this in the review. Anyone who has issues with the DJ100 should try out the M50 pads with it if they can. The sound is even more balanced with the M50 pads. I suggest not removing the foam backing.

 

I still have a new pair sitting here somewhere. Sounds funny and I keep being lazy about burning it in. I think there has been others who've experienced bad pairs or ones that have sounded bad out of the box. Re-shelling an old DJ100 into an open pair with the HD-497 made me really believe how capable these drivers are. It seems like the more open they are, the more treble they have. I think this has to be why the M50 pads seem to give them a little more treble. I also experienced something similar to this when I put some M50 pads on the Kicker HP541. I think the fabric covered holes surrounding the DJ100 driver effect the sound a lot. Everything I did to mod the insides of these altered the sound in some way.

 

I got that extra pair to recable them ($60 on a J&R deal!). It's not easy and not suggested. I plan on doing it again with some Belden 1192A, but this time I'll drill holes into it. Despite being super thin, the Koss cables are fine with me.

 

90% of all DJ100s "SHOULD" be fine out of the box and sound great. I think the last two I got were some from a goofy batch and not at their best. I only point this out because some may get them and be disgusted with the sound at first. I was. Because of all this I even now want to give the Pro4AAT a try again. That also sounded muffled out of the box and I'm now thinking it also needs a lot of burn-in. I'm sure Koss does do a lot of burn in for the DJ100, but maybe they need even more?

 

Someone is loaning me an SRH-940 soon, so I'll see how it compares to the DJ100. Now I'm sure the SRH-940 is far better in many areas. My guess is that overall sound clarity (and maybe detail?) of the SRH-940 has the DJ100 beat..or maybe not? I'm thinking the SRH-940 also will have more treble for sure. If the SRH-940 does vocals better than the SRH-940 then it'll be an instant purchase for me. I felt the DJ100 was far better than the SRH-840, so maybe the SRH-940 would be the one to top my DJ100 for specific genres. Comparing the two is hardly fair since the DJ100 isn't trying to be a studio monitor. I'm all for picking apart my DJ100 and making it look bad!

 

BTW these really deserve to be as popular as the KSC75 and Porta Pro. I think the DJ label really holds them back maybe? I hope they don't end up like the K501 and Sextett and are only appreciated 5+ years after they're discontinued normal_smile%20.gif Now some people can be critical of Koss selling them as a celebrity headphone, but I think it was a good idea to get more people to try them.


Edited by tdockweiler - 9/11/11 at 10:03am
post #9 of 2267
Thread Starter 
Quote:

Originally Posted by joey99 View Post

It even compares really well the Shure940. Overall sound of the 940 is slightly thinner .. I think because of the less bass. The Koss has such  lucious bass and mids which sound very full and solid.

Both have their strong points and I love both of them .. and the Koss at $80 is certainly not half the quality of the $200 Shure.

 

I'm waiting on the version 2 of the digiziod ZO which might turn the Shure940 into the perfect headphone .. for me anyway as I love the highs and mids of the shure but also love that bass and lower mids of the Koss.


Ever thought of doing a Shure SRH-940 vs DJ100 comparison review? normal_smile%20.gif

 

post #10 of 2267

Great review!

 

Thanks for the really thorough comparisons especially. Really looking forward to seeing how these stack up against some sr80s.

post #11 of 2267

Thanks for the nice comparative notes. These are very attractive phone, Both in looks and by sound signature that was described. Not to mention the price, which is around 60$ atm at Amazon.

post #12 of 2267
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amarphael View Post

Thanks for the nice comparative notes. These are very attractive phone, Both in looks and by sound signature that was described. Not to mention the price, which is around 60$ atm at Amazon.



I see Electronics Expo has for them for this price (on Amazon Marketplace). It seems that for nearly the first year only Best Buy and J&R sold them. Not sure why.

I bet if the $62 sale expires you could haggle with J&R on the phone to try and get them to bite on their old $60-$70 sale normal_smile%20.gif When I got mine they were $60 with free shipping.

Best Best sold them in 2010 twice on a $50 deal, but hasn't done that this year from what I can tell.

post #13 of 2267
Thread Starter 

BTW I found another source for M50 pads:

http://www.soundprofessionals.com/cgi-bin/gold/item/ATH-M50-EARPADS

 

$19.99 for one set (two sides). I bought mine from Sweetwater, but they're out of stock until 9/16

At Sweetwater they're sold for $9.00 for each side and you need two.

post #14 of 2267
Quote:
Originally Posted by Katun View Post

Wow, comparable to the SRH940?


They're certainly comparable enjoyment wise for me. Technically I think the Shures are better. The Koss losses out on details which I love about the Shures. They're just very different headphones and that's why they're the only 2 I've kept. Shures have tons of detail, great vocals, great mids and highs .. the bass is not too bad .. it's very tight and impactful when it needs to be. The Koss has the smooth mids and more bass (also very tight and not bloaty) and I think due to the rolled off highs it just feels like something is missing when you do a A-B comparison .. but on their own .. I love both of them for different things. The Koss I can wear all day and forget I have them on .. while the Shures are more fatiquing and after 2-3 hours, I have to take them off for a break.

 

For me, I can't choose between them .. they're both excellent as I love mids/ female vocals .. and they both do a great job at that.

 

post #15 of 2267
Quote:
Originally Posted by tdockweiler View Post

BTW I found another source for M50 pads:

http://www.soundprofessionals.com/cgi-bin/gold/item/ATH-M50-EARPADS

 

$19.99 for one set (two sides). I bought mine from Sweetwater, but they're out of stock until 9/16

At Sweetwater they're sold for $9.00 for each side and you need two.

 

For anyone else looking at these, Sweetwater has their stock in early, mine just shipped out. Much better price, soundprofessionals actually comes out to $30+

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