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KOSS ESP-950 Thread - Page 3

post #31 of 1418

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by charliex View Post

False - the warranty has absolutely no conditions.  You don't need any proof of purchase whatsoever. I am from Canada and purchased my pair used from a fellow  Head-Fier from the States.  I sent them back with a broken head-band and no cable (I removed the Stax retermination cable before shipping them back).  They were sent back to the USA Koss address in a plain used shipping box with nothing more than my name, address and concern.  Six weeks later, a brand new pair of ESP 950's complete with Koss cable landed on my Canadian doorstep.  They ARE true to their warranty - NO conditions and NO questions asked.


Really? I don't know what gave that other Head-Fi poster that impression, then...

 

With a warranty like that, buying a used ESP/950 suddenly seems quite tempting, once I've got the cash.

 

Speaking of that headband, how comfortable do you find it? I get the feeling that the big reason I find the Lambda so comfortable is its headband design.

post #32 of 1418



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by J-Pak View Post



 

 

I could never get past their wall of sound effect like a pair of Grados. Even on hard rock and really loud metal I preferred the Stax O2 mk1 to them.

 

For less than the price of an ESP950 I would get an SR-Lambda and a normal bias transformer box.


Are you surprised that you prefered your $7,500 BH/O2 rig to the $750.00 Koss ESP950 system?  The Koss is a "popularly priced" entry level system that will give you a nice taste of the electrostatic sound. Nobody claims it's an ultimate "destination" system. To even compare the two systems is quite a compliment to the Koss.

 

I had a Lambda Sig. mated with a transformer box. Everybody has their own opinion, but I prefered the Koss by a wide margin.

 

Never quite associated Grado with a "Wall of Sound".
 

 

post #33 of 1418

It's great to see a discussion about these headphones as I really do think they don't get the respect they deserve.  Like others have said, it most likely is the cheap build quality, coupled with their fairly low price that causes most people to dismiss these headphones as being mediocre.  This is unfortunate, as these headphones sound good.  Very good in fact!

 

I purchased my ESP 950 system after seeing a couple of favorable reviews about it.  I had wanted to try an electrostatic system for a while, but I wasn't prepared to pay the big bucks for a Stax setup.  Seeing as how the ESP 950 was only around $600, my decision was pretty easy. 

 

Listening to these headphones for the first time was a real shocker.  I couldn't believe how good they sounded considering how much they cost and how cheaply they appeared to be made.  The clarity of the sound was unbelievable.  I'd go so far as to say that they have a higher resolution than my LCD-2.  I'll admit that some of this perceived clarity may be attributed to the fact that the ESP 950s are brighter compared to the LCD-2, but the ESP definitely had the speed to reveal details that the LCD 2 was glossing over.  Don't get me wrong, I think the LCD 2 is an awesome headphone with great clarity and bass definition.  The ESP 950s, however, just have the upper hand when it comes to speed and details.  The ESP 950s have great bass definition as well, but they don't seem to go as low as the LCD 2.

 

So far I've only listened to my ESP 950s with the stock E90 amp that comes with the headphones.  I know most people chuck the E90 as soon as they take it out of the package since they plan to plug their ESP 950s into a Stax amplifier, or some other high quality electrostatic amplifier.   I haven't felt the need to upgrade the amplifier, though.  I honestly think the system sounds great the way it is.  I don't think a $2000 or so investment in an electrostatic amplifier will boost the sonic quality of the headphones by a significant margin anyway.  Some may argue otherwise, but I'd personally rather save my money on a more worthwhile investment...like the new LCD-3 headphones that I've had my eyes on for a while. 

 

Anyway, the bottom line is that these are crazy good headphones for the asking price of about $600.  If you've been curious about the sound of electrostatic headphones, but have stayed away due to the high prices of Stax headphones, these Koss ESP 950s would be a good place to start.  If you have $10K dollars to blow on a Stax 009 system, however, then by all means buy the Stax.   From what I've heard, they're apparently so good that you'll eventually start to become discontent with going to live music performances because their sound just seems so compressed and 2 dimensional compared to the music you listen to through your Stax system. 

 

Seriously, though, everyone needs to buy these Koss ESP 950s to add to their headphone collections if they haven't already done so.  If Koss' sales drop and they go out of business, I'm going to be very upset.  I'm counting on that Lifetime Warranty to repair my ESP 950s if they should ever break.  Have you seen the cheap plastic used to build this thing???  Breakage is inevitable.  Please don't go out of business Koss!

post #34 of 1418
post #35 of 1418

@milosz,

 

Thanks for starting this thread.

I agree wholeheartedly with everything you posted about these plastic-fantastic stats!

 

I bought mine about a year ago, lucked out and found them new for $500.

The ebay seller who sold them to me received them as a gift but wasnt a headphone guy.

They sat in his closet for a year still sealed in the box before he sold them.

I was the only bidder. Go figure...

 

My ESP-950 have no problems whatsoever.

I fashioned a stax adapter so they could be run on my KGSSHV.

Oh My! The bass is killer with this setup.

The E90 amp works OK, I was pleased with it. Decent bass too.

But the KGSSHV pushed these into another realm. I get the boom-boom-de-boom now.

I've never heard a stat capable of this.

 

I will say that I do prefer my Stax Lambdas for all the obvious reasons.

More air, transparency, and above all I am a treble junkie.

But occassionally I need da boom-boom-de-boom. The ESP-950 delivers.

 

post #36 of 1418

Huh...so if we're talking in terms of those clubs, then the ESP/950 is just as much of a basshead as a midrangehead can, while Lambdas in general are more treblehead?

post #37 of 1418

Not with the E90, it's not.  It has less bass than the ER4S, not to mention not as tight.  It's there, but the headphone doesn't quite sound filled-out properly unless the music has no bass for it to be lacking.  Even very bassy tracks don't sound what I would even call neutral.  Is it acceptable?  Yeah, usually.  And the mids and highs are really fantastic on it.  Not bright at all, actually maybe even midrange emphasized.

post #38 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by NamelessPFG View Post

Huh...so if we're talking in terms of those clubs, then the ESP/950 is just as much of a basshead as a midrangehead can, while Lambdas in general are more treblehead?

 

In general stats lack bass thump.

Some even sound "flabby" in the lows, especially if not amped correctly.

 

My Lambda has tight bass, no flab, but lacks the visceral thump thump of dynamics.

 

The ESP-950 is still a stat, so yes the bass is "acceptable" compared to the better dynamics.

As far as stats go, the ESP-950 coupled with the KGSSHV renders some of the best bass

that I have ever heard coming from a stat can. A few others can also testify to this.

post #39 of 1418

Electrostatics are incapable of producing the kind of 'thump' you might find in orthos or in regular dynamics.

post #40 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reticuli2 View Post

http://www.head-fi.org/t/262845/the-koss-esp950-thread-esp-owners-please-contribute/345#post_7912771

 

Anyone want to comment on my latest posts?


There's probably very few people here that have worked extensively with the E90. Most ESP950 owners use aftermarket amps. If you think you have a problem, simply send it back to Koss for free warranty service.

 



 

 

post #41 of 1418

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by livewire View Post

In general stats lack bass thump.

Some even sound "flabby" in the lows, especially if not amped correctly.

 

My Lambda has tight bass, no flab, but lacks the visceral thump thump of dynamics.

 

The ESP-950 is still a stat, so yes the bass is "acceptable" compared to the better dynamics.

As far as stats go, the ESP-950 coupled with the KGSSHV renders some of the best bass

that I have ever heard coming from a stat can. A few others can also testify to this.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dagothur View Post

Electrostatics are incapable of producing the kind of 'thump' you might find in orthos or in regular dynamics.


That's fine. I'm satisfied with the punch my Lambda has, though extension could be a bit better (30 Hz isn't really audible at normal volumes without EQ, and due to the quirk mentioned earlier, most of it is coming from one driver at that range). Frankly, I'd rather not give up the clarity and atmospheric presentation that electrostatics have, but extension both ways can only be a good thing.

 

(Also, if you check the basshead thread, the Stax SR-007 is on the headphone list. Yeah, an electrostatic in a basshead can list, albeit a very expensive one that also needs a very expensive amp to back it up.)

 

The only thing is...I'm NOT a basshead. I only notice the lack of extension with testing in SineGen. Most of my preferred music doesn't extend that low, and when playing games, I'm less concerned about being rumbled by explosions and more concerned about knowing exactly where sounds came from and what kind of sounds they were. Perhaps this is the reason why I've been nothing short of thrilled with my Lambda, even with the quirks that come with it being a used headphone with rebuilt drivers.

post #42 of 1418
Thread Starter 

I think the SR-007 has pretty good bass, but electrostatic drivers can't be allowed the excursion possible in a dynamic or orthodynamic and so even the wonderful SR-007 just doesn't have the "punch" possible with dynamic/ortho drivers.

 

My SR-007 and (to a lesser degree) my Lambda Pro Signature have deep, tuneful, textured non-boomy bass, but they lack that nth degree of  'slam.'  The Koss ESP-950, with very large diaphragms, do manage to come a bit closer to HD-800 / LCD-2 'slam' but don't quite get there either.

 

The Lambda Pro Signatures are so "fast" sounding, though, that upper overtones of bass activity take on a special quality that my hearing seems to "backfill" back down into the bass, and so while there's not as much actual "impact"  there is a kind of apparent bass detail and "speed" that gives a very nice quality to their bass.  The ESP-950's aren't as detailed as that, and although their bass is tight sounding, it doesn't have as much 'speed.'

 

There is a kind of wonderful sonority to the mids on the Koss ESP-950's, or midrange detail, or midrange texture- I can't quite put my finger on the exact quality, but there something I like about the way the mids sound on the ESP-950s, that, along with reasonably extended and well-behaved highs and the decently low and tight bass, make them sound pleasantly different from the Stax. They present the mids differently than the Stax, and compliment these well-articulated mids with bass and highs that don't misbehave.  And, on some music, I do get a good dose of that "hear through" quality on the Koss that the Stax produce in abundance.

 

I wonder what it would sound like if Koss did more R&D and improved the ESP-950's to bring them up a few notches. That might be quite a headphone. However, an even higher-end electrostatic headphone is not a product that Koss would likely reap big profits from, due to the fairly small market.  Koss is a pretty large outfit, with lots of overhead and marketing costs, so I imagine they're spending their R&D to come up with products that will sell zillions of units in the mass market, not tooling up to make uber-electrostats for a handful of obsessed headphonophiles.

 

By the way, I did put in a summer of work at Koss in 1976, between college semesters. I did not work with their headphone stuff at all, I did a variety of odd jobs for Koss such as wiring up John Koss's new house with audio gear and TV and FM antenna signal distribution, and also worked with their Acoustech division, which was all but dead by that time.  The last remaining engineer at Acoustech had me fixing some of the last Acoustech power amps that were still in use, which would come in for repair from time to time.  And I remember having to sort through a big pile of output transistors, making sure that none of the stock we had of these old devices were open or shorted.  Also, he had an idea to design and manufacture a "student" model of an electron microscope. I wired up some prototype circuits that he sketched out, and we were trying to use some high voltage low-current transformers they had left over from Acoustech electrostatic speakers to breadboard early concepts of this electron microscope idea.  Mostly what we got was smoke and some sparks, the circuits were very early in the design process of the thing. I left and went back to university, and as far as I know nothing ever came of the "budget" electron microscope.  This was at the same time that Koss was selling Model 1, 2 and 3 Electrostatic Speakers.  I kind of liked the Model 1, but the others did nothing for me.  Maybe there was also a Model 4, I don't recall.  They tended to run the Model 1's with G.A.S. Ampzilla's  and they sounded OK  I thought.  More bass, and generally louder than the KLH 9 which was the only other full range electrostatic speaker I'd heard up till then. I knew about Quads and Infinity Servo Statik's but I never heard any of those.  

 

These were certainly not the "good old days" -  I am much happier with the audio gear I have now!  But, I DO miss having hair.....


Edited by milosz - 11/25/11 at 4:19am
post #43 of 1418

The Koss is rather slow sounding and very forgiving. It seems like the perfect balance between liquid and dry, though, and there is zero grit or added texture or anything overtly objectionable going on the mids or highs. It's strange hearing so far into the music without any etch, hardness, glassiness, frequency holes (until the extremes) or other stuff you become accustomed to hearing with audio gear.

 

It also has this sort of big sound thing. I don't mean the soundstage is large, but rather the individual sounds aren't teeny tiny. They're substantial like listening to Magnepans or Martin Logans. It certainly has a very forgiving, slow (don’t mean the highs), quality that combines with forward but again forgiving midrange. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a combination of traits like this before, yet it seems very familiar, like something I recognize. I keep trying to remember what the other gear was that sounded exactly like this, but I really can't put my finger on it.

 

Some old 80's analog recordings sound terribly bland on it and murky, though. Like comparing Depeche Mode's Black Celebration album to Ultra or their later stuff, the newer frequency balances match far better with the ESP. If we were talking vinyl, it's the sort of headphone I'd match an AT 440ML or moving coil (even high output ones) to; definitely not something from Shure. It is certainly a headphone from the digital age, not voiced in the analog era to compensate for response deviations of most vinyl or cassette.

 

This is the kind of headphone that Neil Young could listen to with any CD player and not feel like it's needles and ice picks in his ears.

 

If it had the extension of the ER4S and the lack of resonances (I assume… Tyll hasn’t posted the measurement PDF yet) in the bass, it would be very hard to fault.  Newer recordings or older pure digital recordings (you know the ones I’m talking about) bring it just into the neutral range with the right source DAC stage feeding it.  Otherwise, it’s a colored sound.  If I'd never heard the Etymotic, or for that matter the new DT1350, I would be totally content with the sound of the Koss.  That hum is bugging me on the right channel when the music is very quiet, but none of you have mentioned that problem.  Maybe I damaged something inside when I had both inputs connected at once.

post #44 of 1418

What happens if I connect the battery supply when the AC is connected.  Does one bypass the other or does it blow something out?

 

Heh heh.  Nevermind.  there's only one power connector!

post #45 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by milosz View Post

I think the SR-007 has pretty good bass, but electrostatic drivers can't be allowed the excursion possible in a dynamic or orthodynamic and so even the wonderful SR-007 just doesn't have the "punch" possible with dynamic/ortho drivers.

 

My SR-007 and (to a lesser degree) my Lambda Pro Signature have deep, tuneful, textured non-boomy bass, but they lack that nth degree of  'slam.'  The Koss ESP-950, with very large diaphragms, do manage to come a bit closer to HD-800 / LCD-2 'slam' but don't quite get there either.


Thank you, I've been trying to convey that missing low end quality to folks but haven't been as clear as you were.  I wouldn't mind so much if I didn't notice it also effect acoustic instruments like guitar and piano.  You notice lack of excursion more in the low-end obviously but it can certainly affect more than bass.

 

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