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KOSS ESP-950 Thread - Page 42

post #616 of 1418

Bob:

 

Could be my source, could be me cranking them too much, but I've heard sssssssssssssssssibilance.  It diminishes significantly if I lower the volume.  I'm using the same sources for my other headphones, except for using the rear RCA outs for the Koss, vs. the headphone jack for the others, and do not hear the same sssss from my other headphones, even when I crank them.  Maybe they are just hiding the flaws in the material better, or maybe the Koss just need more break-in time.  In any case, they are very nice cans, with some design advantages (portability being one) that make me like them even more.

post #617 of 1418

You find the ESP950 sibilant but not the T1? confused_face_2.gif

post #618 of 1418
I'm with nerdling on this - the 950 are *not* sibilant headphones (they have extremely clean treble); I generally contend that sibilance is not a "speaker based" thing, but usually crap on the recording (it usually is). The 950s are forgiving, but not of garbage input - I'd wager you're probably hearing a more accurate representation of your music over the 950s being "sibilant."
post #619 of 1418

Maybe sibilance isn't quite what I'm hearing.  More a bit too much treble -- or not enough mids or mid-bass -- at high volumes.  I admit to being intolerant of much sizzle in treble -- I couldn't listen to HD 800s for more than about 10 minutes at a time -- but I find the Koss just don't like to be as loud as the T 1s or LCD-3s, and it manifests, for me at least, in "s" and cymbal sounds being difficult to listen to for very long at higher decibels... Could break-in make a difference in this area?

 

I agree that the problem diminishes significantly with a good recording.  I have Red Hot Chili Peppers on CD/FLAC and MP3, and the Koss hate the MP3 but are fine with the higher quality sources as long as I don't play them too loudly.  The problem really isn't noticeable until I crank the sound up, which I tend to do with rock music (doesn't everybody?).  

 

Actually, I don't find the T 1s sibilant, though they are certainly hotter in treble than the LCDs.  In fact, I think that the ESPs have a similar sound signature to the T-1s, though I find the Beyers meatier, the Koss more "open" or "airy".  As a result, I think the Koss are a good fit with classical or small-group jazz type music, and right now I like the Beyers better with rock. 

 

I also like the physical lightness of the ESPs and their portability.  While I won't be carting my other headphone gear around, I anticipate moving the Koss around the house, and even bringing them on road trips.  I'm actually considering getting a quality portable player to create a nice rig that I can move around to various rooms and take on trips.  Anybody got recommendations on FLAC players that would be a good fit?  How about one that doesn't cost too much, like under $150? (Gotta save $ for other toys... Schitt keeps coming out with stuff I think I want... or at least that head-fiers are making me think I want...).

post #620 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post

Maybe sibilance isn't quite what I'm hearing.  More a bit too much treble -- or not enough mids or mid-bass -- at high volumes.  I admit to being intolerant of much sizzle in treble -- I couldn't listen to HD 800s for more than about 10 minutes at a time -- but I find the Koss just don't like to be as loud as the T 1s or LCD-3s, and it manifests, for me at least, in "s" and cymbal sounds being difficult to listen to for very long at higher decibels... Could break-in make a difference in this area?

Sibilance is specifically that "hissing" "essing" effect - it's usually indicative of poorly recorded material, but some really bad speakers/headphones will produce the effect too (seriously I wouldn't even say my $20 KTX-Pro do it though - I can't think of a headphone offhand that will "add" it to material); what is more common is that you'll get a pair of headphones that will exaggerate it or be aggravated by it (e.g. a lot of Ultrasones).

The ESP/950 are a mid forward, quasi-n-shaped kind of headphone (they aren't really rolled off, but the bass and treble aren't as forward as the mids); I would say they lean more towards "bright" than "dark" and "top-heavy" than "bassy" or "bottom-heavy." But overall I would describe them as lean, warm, mid-forward, and well extended.

As far as break-in goes, I'm not sure how to explain - with my 950s I notice that sometimes they sound bassier/richer and other times not, and the only thing I can attribute it to is room humidity (which fluctuates more than is probably "good" for me (my house dances between ~20% and ~60% fairly regularly - and there isn't much I can do about it)).
Quote:
I agree that the problem diminishes significantly with a good recording.  I have Red Hot Chili Peppers on CD/FLAC and MP3, and the Koss hate the MP3 but are fine with the higher quality sources as long as I don't play them too loudly.  The problem really isn't noticeable until I crank the sound up, which I tend to do with rock music (doesn't everybody?).  

Hold on. Are we talking about Californication? (even if we aren't, since you mentioned RHCP, I'm going to blame the recording here - you're not really talking about "well done" material). If so, we're talking about one of the worst put together albums of all time, and a MODEL example of sibilance and ringing on a recording (and basically a poster child for everything that is wrong with modern music). The ESP/950 will bring that right to the top warts and all. Try something that's mastered half-coherently, Santana's Supernatural would be an acceptable choice. Or go back in time. Or pick a genre less abused by loudness warring. If you can get a track that has sibilants in it, and there is no "esssing" coming out of them, it's not the cans. And given that you mentioned RHCP, I'm gonna bet you can find such a track if you look around.
Quote:
Actually, I don't find the T 1s sibilant, though they are certainly hotter in treble than the LCDs.  In fact, I think that the ESPs have a similar sound signature to the T-1s, though I find the Beyers meatier, the Koss more "open" or "airy".  As a result, I think the Koss are a good fit with classical or small-group jazz type music, and right now I like the Beyers better with rock. 

The Koss are certainly "airy" - it's just the nature of ESPs (you can run the bass up pretty heavily before the stators actually over-extend, but it'll never have the same visceral impact of a dynamic driver). As far as playing loud - it really depends on how loud we're talking; the system's theoretical top-end is enough to take your face off, but I know the E/90 itself is relatively insensitive (compared to modern equipment at least).
Quote:
I also like the physical lightness of the ESPs and their portability.  While I won't be carting my other headphone gear around, I anticipate moving the Koss around the house, and even bringing them on road trips.  I'm actually considering getting a quality portable player to create a nice rig that I can move around to various rooms and take on trips.  Anybody got recommendations on FLAC players that would be a good fit?  How about one that doesn't cost too much, like under $150? (Gotta save $ for other toys... Schitt keeps coming out with stuff I think I want... or at least that head-fiers are making me think I want...).

I like my Walkman mp3 player, but it isn't made anymore. You might consider an iDevice with an LOD though - given that the E90 will take both 3.5mm and RCA in, and likes line sources (it'll deal with a variable source, I just don't like multiple volume control set-ups). Or keep in line with the ESP/950's era, and get a CD player. tongue.gif
post #621 of 1418

Amazon has just dropped the price back down to $599. No telling how long it will last.  They seem to do this every few months.

 

--Mark

post #622 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by verber View Post

Amazon has just dropped the price back down to $599. No telling how long it will last.  They seem to do this every few months.

 

--Mark

It's actually not that great of a price after tax, which many states have. It can definitely get lower but if people get it now the price will likely go back to $999 for a while, so probably best to wait still.

post #623 of 1418

$599 is good, only lower for single/few days, at many-month, few time/yr intervals - have to be a lot more patient than the average to beat 

 

http://camelcamelcamel.com/Koss-160416-ESP-950-Electrostatic-Stereophone/product/B000056ULH


Edited by jcx - 12/20/12 at 7:36am
post #624 of 1418
Thread Starter 

I had not used my ESP-950's for a while, I was off doing other things....

 

Well, I needed some music at 2 AM, so plugged them in to my Stax SRM-T1   which happened to be set up and... hey!  One channel is WAY quieter / distorted!

 

I had to dial in ~12 dB more level in the right channel than the left to "center" things, and even them the right channel didn't sound "right."

 

What the -?

 

So I left the amp on and the ESP-950's plugged in for a good long time, like overnight.  No audio playing, just plugged in and "on" so the bias was supplied.

 

Today, they were fine.  No channel imbalance, same audio quality left  and right.

 

Seems that sometimes these can take a while to charge up. Maybe not all of 12 hours were needed,  that's what I happened to do.

 

I recalled that electrostatic transducers have high resistance coatings on their diaphragms to prevent "charge migration-"

 

This quote from a thread in DIY AUDIO puts it nicely: 

 

 

"A high resistance diaphragm is used for ESLs to maintain "constant charge" operation. By having a very high resistance, the charge on the diaphragm is prevented from moving toward the center of the diaphragm when the diaphragm is deflected toward one stator or the other by the audio signal.
 
If the charge were allowed to move (low sheet resistance diaphragm), at extremes of excursion all the charge would move to the center of the diaphragm so only the central area of the diaphragm would be driven and the result would be distortion."
 
So I guess if you take the really high equivalent series resistance and capacitance of the driver and do your RC time constant math you come up with a fairly long time to reach a full charge.  And maybe the 'phones normally store some of that charge so they don't take an hour to charge back up-  long charging time means a long bleed-down time -  but maybe my headphones were sitting while idle with the connector pins laying on an amplifier chassis and the charge for the right driver got totally bled off.
 
Anyway  I am glad it wasn't something actually wrong with the ESP-950's.  I like them.  I like my Stax, too.  
 
Stax I would say try to achieve neutrality. The ESP-950's I would say are voiced to give a punchy sound that has a bit  "fun" built in.  Both offer transparency, impressive extension at both ends of the the audio spectrum,  VERY low distortion and detail.  
post #625 of 1418
milosz - that actually explains another phenomenon I've noticed with the ESP/950. Very interesting.
post #626 of 1418

I never considered these at all because I always thought they were around $900-1000.  Then I found out $750 is a common normal price and that put them back on my radar.  I was getting close to jumping until I found out you can wait them out for 600 now.  I'm pretty sure I'm snagging these the next time they're at that price.

 

Anyway, what's a reasonable DAC with USB to use with these cans?  I'm coming off of DT770s and an Audio-gd Compass.  I skimmed the thread and couldn't get a good read on anything in particular.  Furthermore, I'm pretty leery of FOTM components now (not many people still talking about audio-gd, though back when I bought it it suited my needs perfectly), so I'm a tad skeptical of Schiit and FiiO.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jcx View Post

$599 is good, only lower for single/few days, at many-month, few time/yr intervals - have to be a lot more patient than the average to beat 

 

http://camelcamelcamel.com/Koss-160416-ESP-950-Electrostatic-Stereophone/product/B000056ULH

post #627 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post

I never considered these at all because I always thought they were around $900-1000.  Then I found out $750 is a common normal price and that put them back on my radar.  I was getting close to jumping until I found out you can wait them out for 600 now.  I'm pretty sure I'm snagging these the next time they're at that price.

Anyway, what's a reasonable DAC with USB to use with these cans?  I'm coming off of DT770s and an Audio-gd Compass.  I skimmed the thread and couldn't get a good read on anything in particular.  Furthermore, I'm pretty leery of FOTM components now (not many people still talking about audio-gd, though back when I bought it it suited my needs perfectly), so I'm a tad skeptical of Schiit and FiiO.

The price on these has been variable for a while, $600 is not a new thing - in fact the recent leap on Amazon up to the $1k mark is probably the result of a resurgence of popularity of this model. $600-$800 is where they tend to dance around, or at least a year ago that was fairly normal. As has been said a dozen times in this thread, if you want to wait out the pricing, use the Camel, but they aren't a bad buy at whatever price.

As far as the DAC thing - out of curiosity why is the Audio-gd no longer suitable for your needs? Simply because people aren't talking about them anymore? Why do you feel you need a new DtoA because you're getting new headphones?

Personally I've tried the E/90 with a wide range of sources and honestly will say there's not much improvement to be had by throwing a ton of money in a hole (and in general think that expensive DACs are a great way to make someone else richer) - the only thing I'll note is that you do need to keep in mind that it's sort-of insensitive as far as amplifiers go, so don't be surprised if you're turning your PC or other variable output device up to 0 dB or 100% or similar to have good usable range on the volume dial (the advantage is that you can tweak variable outputs to pretty much decide what kind of usable range you want, instead of being forced to live in the bottom quarter).
post #628 of 1418

Well, I wouldn't necessarily replace the audio-gd, but I am prepared to, and probably would use it in the short term at least.  I just wasn't sure if it was the best solution for the ESP-950.  I'm definitely not going to spend some absurd amount compared to the (hopefully) $600 spent on these cans.  I already keep the PC at 100% volume and rely on the volume knob since it's just much easier to do.

 

Also, I realize these phones have a lifetime warranty, but realistically, how are they going to hold up to heavy use (use, not abuse)?

post #629 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by GoodRevrnd View Post

Well, I wouldn't necessarily replace the audio-gd, but I am prepared to, and probably would use it in the short term at least.  I just wasn't sure if it was the best solution for the ESP-950.  I'm definitely not going to spend some absurd amount compared to the (hopefully) $600 spent on these cans.  I already keep the PC at 100% volume and rely on the volume knob since it's just much easier to do.

I would honestly tell you two things:

1) If what you have right now works, don't mess with it.

2) You're putting the cart before the horse - if you get them and decide you need a new DAC (and have ruled out that it isn't their sound signature not jiving with you, and understand what a DAC can and cannot influence in the sound, and so on), THEN worry about it.
Quote:
Also, I realize these phones have a lifetime warranty, but realistically, how are they going to hold up to heavy use (use, not abuse)?

Define heavy use...

Being thrown around, dragged around, stepped on, sat on, taken into a bouncy castle, and whatever other insanity I've watched kids do with their headphones or laptops (which they will all describe as "normal use")? Not at all.

Being used at home by a responsible person on a regular basis for long periods of time? Fairly well.

They won't survive being tossed about, sat on, lifted up by their cables, being taken to the gym, extremely dirty (dust or other particulate mass) environments, getting wet, or that sort of thing. Honestly I don't think they'd be a good candidate for studio use, and they're a terrible candidate for mobile use (ignoring that they provide no isolation) - they're well made, but they're still a relatively fragile precision instrument. If that makes sense. I'm not trying to condemn you if you're the type of person who does chuck their headphones in a backpack and drop books and water bottles and so on on them - the ESP/950 are just an awful choice for that. I would say that compared to your DT770 they're probably going to seem less durable overall; especially if you plan to cart them around with you (remember, zero isolation). But they don't seem to have any problem with running 6-10 hour days as long as you're relatively sedate during that period (e.g. sitting at a workstation or on your couch, they shouldn't have a problem just running day in and day out). The pads mine came with seemed to wear worse than the set I got as a replacement, but they're only $5/pr with free shipping from Koss to the US, so it's nothing I'd worry about.

If you've ever had a Grado, I'd say they're about like that. Treated with respect and used at home they should last forever (or at least, if they fail it will be due to "natural causes"), but they aren't for the "action kid generation" by any means.

Hope that helps.
post #630 of 1418

Alright, I just wasn't sure how electrostatics held up since I'm not familiar with them (I have demoed these phones though).  They just sit on my desk 100% of the time, but any phones I get will be my primary computer audio device for games, music, general usage and as such will be used extensively.  Being in an older home in Vegas, I might have to consider getting some sort of little dust covers to help protect them while not in use, though.  My Beyers unfortunately have not held up particularly well because I waited about a year too long to replace the pads, which led to unnecessary contact between my ears and the inner foam, causing some ick to build up on the paper covering the drivers.  That won't happen again now that I'm cognizant of the issue, but damage has been done.  I also have a buzz in the left cup I can't seem to get rid of despite being 95% sure it's just a hair.  Every time I fix it, it comes back a couple weeks later.  Would be nice to be able to keep them for backups/travel phones.  Anyway, the 950s wouldn't go through smacked around abuse (other than the rare fall off the desk), but would get very heavy use.

 

Regarding the DAC, I'll have to play around with the preamp settings.  SQ upgrades aside, it would be nice to have a smaller unit that puts out less heat, but I'm not going to upgrade just for that obviously.

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