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KOSS ESP-950 Thread - Page 37

post #541 of 1440
Thread Starter 

Also note that the Stax SR-007  Mk 1's  sound different from the Mk 2's and quite different from the Mk 2.5's  (Mk 2.5  SR-007's can be identified by a serial number starting in 'SZ3xxxx')

 

I'd say that the ESP-950 shares more sonic characteristics with the SR-007 than it does with other Stax headphones.  The Lamda's  have a bit of treble emphasis that distinguishes them from the ESP-950's which have more neutrality in their treble range.  The SR-007's don't have treble emphasis either. So in that sense, both the SR-007 and the ESP-950  give you a good midrange without being "overbalanced" by treble emphasis.  Both the SR-007 and the ESP-950  have extended and very capable treble, but there is not a treble emphasis like many other headphones.  But they don't sound dark, either.  

 

I'd say the main differences between ESP-950 and SR-007 are these:

  • SR-007 is quite neutral in character, with perhaps just a little emphasis on a warm, liquid midrange.  The ESP-950, on the other hand, has a bit of upper midrange emphasis, giving them a slight forward quality.  Also the treble in the SR-007 is 'smoother' sounding than the ESP-950.  The ESP-950 doesn't have treble emphasis per se, to my ears, but does not sound quite as neutral as the SR-007.
  • Koss ESP-950 has more bass impact.  Both have extended taut low-distortion bass but I think the ESP-950 with it's larger diaphragms is capable of a little more excursion, so you get more bass 'punch.'  Not as much as from good planar or dynamic headphones, but more 'punch' than other electrostatic phones.

 

So that's really the difference- the ESP-950 has a bit of 'up front, midrange-detail & bass punch'  character while the SR-007 is smooth / mellow / neutral.  I'd say the SR-007 is closer to a "reference"  or  "lab standard" sound, while the Koss has been given a slight "voice."

 

Both are VERY VERY good headphones, capable of very revealing audio presentation.  Both have very very low distortion and very good time-domain behavior indicating very tightly controlled diaphragms with very little in the way of resonance or stored energy.  

 

 

Also:  While it is not made of luxury materials like the SR-007, the ESP-950 is more comfortable. All that Koss plastic is lighter than the aluminum used in the SR-007.

 

KOSS ESP-950 WATERFALL PLOT  http://www.head-fi.org/t/566929/headphone-csd-waterfall-plots/30#post_7724844

 

 

 

One last thing:   Koss ESP-950,   LIFETIME warranty.  SR-007,  one year warranty.  

post #542 of 1440
On the downside, the ESP950 suffers from the recurring squealing issue, while the 007 is essentially bulletproof. As long as you don't yank too hard on the cable.

I agree, both headphones have a certain smoothness and an even-handed presentation. Both are more than capable of being used at high volumes for lengthy periods of time with little fatigue. The 007 kills the ESP950 on resolution, but hey it's a far more expensive headphone. Overall, they're more similar than they're different.
post #543 of 1440

thanks for those impressions, milosz. Do you happen to notice any difference in speed/decay or other technical proficiencies between the two headphones? Imaging precision?

 

I've owned a SR007 mk1 before and just ordered a Koss ESP 950 so it's nice to hear that the Koss has some similarity with it. I've been considering getting a stax 4170 combo system the last few months but decided to try the Koss after hearing it's less bright (and less than half the cost), I'll offer some impressions later this week

post #544 of 1440
The squealing thing seems to be inconsistent though - has anyone tried to correlate it to serial numbers?

milosz,

Great post! I agree with the voicing bit, but I think most Koss headphones are voiced to sound that way (at least the five I have are redface.gif). They certainly have some personality/voicing/coloration/whatever beyond "let me sing you the song of my people: DC-to-light" - and are extremely comfortable for their size (I can't even imagine if all of that was done out of aluminum or some other heavy material).
post #545 of 1440
Quote:
Originally Posted by LCfiner View Post

thanks for those impressions, milosz. Do you happen to notice any difference in speed/decay or other technical proficiencies between the two headphones? Imaging precision?

 

I've owned a SR007 mk1 before and just ordered a Koss ESP 950 so it's nice to hear that the Koss has some similarity with it. I've been considering getting a stax 4170 combo system the last few months but decided to try the Koss after hearing it's less bright (and less than half the cost), I'll offer some impressions later this week

I can't speak for the Koss but I have the 4170 combo and it is not at all bright. In fact, it is very similar in voicing to the 009 although certainly not it's equal in other respects.

post #546 of 1440

mine squealed, sent them to koss 15 days later i got the same pair (that i sent ), without any issues , with clean sound.

 

i dont think it can be serial-ised

post #547 of 1440
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chodi View Post

I can't speak for the Koss but I have the 4170 combo and it is not at all bright. In fact, it is very similar in voicing to the 009 although certainly not it's equal in other respects.

 

That's true. I did have an SR407 with an old T1-S at one point and it wasn't very bright. But when I wrote my post I was thinking "relative to the SR007" but wasn't explicit about it.

 

At one time, I had the SR407 and the HD800. the HD800 setup was more bright. So was an RS1 that I had, too. But I liked the SR407 so much, it got me to try out the SR007. And that was much darker than any of the other headphones. And it turns out I preferred this approach (plus the SR007 had amazing speed and soundstage which was incredible). 

 

The reason I said that I had been thinking about the SR407 recently is because I remembered how much I liked it before. I only sold it to move up the ladder to the 007. But I didn't feel comfortable keeping something so expensive, hence my recent thought of moving back to a "mid level" stax setup. (I know, I know... too much time thinking about headphones :)

 

Anyway, all that to say that when I read that the sound signature of the ESP950 has more in common with the SR007 than the other Lambdas, it gives me hope that it might be the right kind of compromise for me. electrostatic detail but with with a darker sound. and without having to spend over 3 grand to get it

post #548 of 1440
LCfiner, I wouldn't say the ESP/950 are dark - if you want a truly dark ESP headphone, try the ESP/10 (if you can find a pair that is). They're something silly like 15 dB down at 15khz. Very n-shaped, very mid-focused, etc.
post #549 of 1440
Quote:
Originally Posted by LCfiner View Post

 

 

 

Anyway, all that to say that when I read that the sound signature of the ESP950 has more in common with the SR007 than the other Lambdas, it gives me hope that it might be the right kind of compromise for me. electrostatic detail but with with a darker sound. and without having to spend over 3 grand to get it

I should have mentioned that I have changed the ear pads on my 407 to the 507 leather ear pads (ordered from Audio Cubes). That simple change transformed the sound of the 407's into the slightly darker and more bassy sound of the 507's. Considering that it only cost $100 to order the leather ear pads it was a simple upgrade and had a positive effect on the sound and the comfort.

post #550 of 1440
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LCfiner View Post

thanks for those impressions, milosz. Do you happen to notice any difference in speed/decay or other technical proficiencies between the two headphones? Imaging precision?

 

I've owned a SR007 mk1 before and just ordered a Koss ESP 950 so it's nice to hear that the Koss has some similarity with it. I've been considering getting a stax 4170 combo system the last few months but decided to try the Koss after hearing it's less bright (and less than half the cost), I'll offer some impressions later this week

 

 

Gee; speed?  Decay?   

 

Not sure I can really discern those qualities clearly enough to separate them from overall sound.  I think in terms of decay (waterfall plot type stuff) they are both in the VERY EXCELLENT category, but they have differences. Koss might have a little more stored energy at a frequency where Stax does not, and vice versa.

 

I think the Koss sounds a little 'faster' and a little more detailed, really this is just a result of slight upper midrange emphasis in the Koss, along with a little better bass "punch."  Not sure if this is entirely accurate speed/detail, though, it might be a little of "emphasized detail."  The Koss sound suits a lot of the more popular musical genres,  sounds really good on a lot of the stuff I listen to.   Dzihan & Kamien, Tosca, Afterlife, etc- that kind of stuff. The voicing brings some things forward that add to my enjoyment of the music.  The Koss "coloration" is nicely done, not overdone, I think; there is some subtlety to it.

 

The Stax being more neutral they sound good on just about all music, while maybe favoring acoustic / jazz / classical / vocal where a really neutral sound gives a very "natural"  or "you-are-there" impression.  Listening to some binaural recordings I have is a lot of fun on the Stax.

 

The Stax are very non-fatiguing, while the Koss can induce a little high-frequency fatigue at loud levels after a while.

 

The similarity between these two headphones is:  they both are really, really good transducers in terms of low distortion and time-domain stuff, and they both have really great midrange. From there on out, they differ.  The Stax goes on an utterly straight line to a highly finessed neutrality, while the Koss rolls out to have some fun with slight upper midrange agression and bass punch.  

 

I've heard that the Stax 007  "open up" more on fancy electrostatic amplifiers.  Right now I use a Stax SRM-T1 for my 007  and ESP-950 listening, but I'm building a DIY T2.  (A daunting project.  Very costly- about $2,000 in parts alone.  Not hard to solder together, although there are A LOT of parts to install-  the hard part is making a chassis that does justice to the grand scale of the thing.  It's been over a year I've been amassing parts, soldering,  and learning the casework skills needed to fabricate to a high level of finish....  loads of fun for me, though, I LOVE building things.)

 

-------------------------

post #551 of 1440

Thanks so much, milosz.

 

@Chodi. good point with the 507 pads. I've read that they make a nice change to the sound. depending on how happy I am with the 950 system, I may try out that 407/ 507 pad combo.

post #552 of 1440

Today has been a busy day. I got the ESP 950 this afternoon. plus I got my old Mad Dogs back with the upgraded Dog Pads. plus I got the Schiit Gungnir DAC! phew!

 

So, to speak very briefly about the 950, my first impressions are incredibly positive. They are exactly what I was hoping for. They have a slightly darker presentation than most high end headphones I've owned. They're not as dark as these new Mad Dogs or the Audeze cans but they don't have a highly tipped up treble either (eg: HD800 or Q701). I can hear that slight upper-mids focus that milosz talks about. When comparing to the Mad Dogs, it does seem a bit brighter. But it's not excessive. My tests tracks for nasty glare and treble shrillness don't make me wince at slightly above average volumes.

 

They throw a very nice, open soundstage. It's not HD800 sized but it certainly sounds nice and expansive with good height and 3D depth. 

As expected, they are very detailed and don't mush together instruments. Very clean, very nice. And the bass really does hit quite hard. A nice surprise. (I remember that one of the issues I had regarding the SR007 was a slight lack of bass slam. I couldn't get that dynamic punch running them from a GES or 323S. And a BHSE wasn't in the cards)

 

My only complaint about the setup is the dual volume knob on the E/90. the left and right channels don't lock together like on Stax amps so I need to grip both firmly and turn. If I'm lazy about it, I'll end up adjusting just one channel and not the other without wanting to.

 

I really love the Mad Dogs and the 950 are, I believe, an improvement on them in most areas when I listen to tracks back to back. Larger soundstage, subtle details in the back of the mix or off to the sides become more clear with more subtle detail being audible, there's a bit more clarity and life to vocals. 

 

As someone who believes the Mad Dogs are amazingly good for their price, I'm glad that the Koss didn't disappoint. (I've owned other $500+ headphones that I've felt are bested by the Mad Dogs) They're more expensive but not drastically so and offer the kinds of improvements I was looking for. Oh, and the comfort is quite good too. better than the SR407 for my head - they exert less pressure on my cheeks and in front of the ears.

post #553 of 1440
Glad you like'em!
post #554 of 1440

I just got these babies!  And man, I will spend the next few days listening to them.

 

They really aren't as ugly/toy-like as I thought they would be, and they are light and comfortable.

 

Man, this hobby is getting expensive quick for me.  Starts off with a set of Shure e4c, and now this.  Just killing me.

post #555 of 1440
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambchang View Post

 Just killing me.

 

Ahhh.....but what a way to go!

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