Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › KOSS ESP-950 Thread
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

KOSS ESP-950 Thread - Page 45

post #661 of 1418

I received an ESP950 in the mail today and at first listen I was greeted with a high-pitched squeal even though the tranducers, pads, and amp are all brand-new from Koss frown.gif. Regardless of the noise (which hurts my brain a bit, actually) I soldiered on to get a feel for the sound. First off, I was surprised by how close the soundstage is. I'm not usually a big stickler for soundstage, but this is like almost Grado-level soundstage. Bigger pads would have gone a long way here. Next I found the treble extension to be pretty lacking, more than I expected from an electrostatic. It doesn't do cymbals well, and the upper registers of piano feel a little strained, but the rolloff is pretty smooth and isn't that offensive. Bass extension is acceptable but nothing to speak of, midbass levels are decent but lacking impact. The midrange, though, this is where the sweet stuff is. Guitars and vocals are where this headphone shines. It's fast, has great body and decay characteristics, is good at picking detail out, and is aggressive, but not offensively so. I'd put it somewhere between Sextett and Grado levels of aggression. Definitely likeable if you're a midrange fan.

 

I think my views are a little skewed due to how I hyped up this headphone in my head. I expected a lot from it, being an electrostatic, and wanted it to perform way above its price bracket. I've been listening to a K501 and HD700s for the past week, so that doesn't help. Unfortunately, the lack of treble extension hurts a lot, as I listen to a lot of cymbal-heavy music (metal). Again, these are my rough thoughts, after AT MOST an hour of listening time with a small subset of genres. Time will tell if my opinion on them improves.

 

As an aside, I find that the ESP950 would actually do very well with poorly-recorded music, as it doesn't excel in extension on either end or in super-detail. Actually, it sounds kind of... vintage-y. Like from the 80s. Which I suppose makes sense, but Stax don't sound that way.


Edited by Ikarios - 1/31/13 at 4:17pm
post #662 of 1418

People claim that they can hear the difference in the way that the noise coming from the mains affects their music between day and night. People have stated on here that replacing an aging capacitor can make a big difference in the quality of their music. If something is so wrong with your set that its actually making an audible squealing noise I think that you can safely assume that your sample isn't valid for testing. Lots of people seem to like the 950's and I'll be the set is as good as you hoped it would be so once its fixed or replaced don't lose hope yet.

Good Luck!

post #663 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceace1014 View Post

People claim that they can hear the difference in the way that the noise coming from the mains affects their music between day and night. People have stated on here that replacing an aging capacitor can make a big difference in the quality of their music. If something is so wrong with your set that its actually making an audible squealing noise I think that you can safely assume that your sample isn't valid for testing. Lots of people seem to like the 950's and I'll be the set is as good as you hoped it would be so once its fixed or replaced don't lose hope yet.

Good Luck!

The squealing issue on the ESP950 seems to be a widespread and common problem. No one's been able to pinpoint why it happens, but it seems to have something to do with the transducers themselves. I haven't heard any reports that link the squealing issue with any other degradation in sound quality.

 

Anyway, as I suspected, the ESP950s do fantastic with music that isn't as treble-heavy as what I usually listen to. I popped on some Floyd and it sounds... really damn good. Am listening to them over the HD700s at the moment.

post #664 of 1418

I returned my ESP950 because of a squeal in one channel.  I knew I would be constantly listening for the squeal between songs and during quiet passages.  While the ESP950 was pretty good I found the HE-500 to be a better headphone in all aspects from soundstage, transparency, detail, to tonality.  Maybe I got a bad ESP950.  If I hadn't been spoiled by the HE-500 I may have been more likely to keep the 950 had there been no squeal because the Cyber Monday sale was great at $600.  The feather weight of the ESP950 was very appealing as well.   

 

   

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ikarios View Post

The squealing issue on the ESP950 seems to be a widespread and common problem. No one's been able to pinpoint why it happens, but it seems to have something to do with the transducers themselves. I haven't heard any reports that link the squealing issue with any other degradation in sound quality.

 

Anyway, as I suspected, the ESP950s do fantastic with music that isn't as treble-heavy as what I usually listen to. I popped on some Floyd and it sounds... really damn good. Am listening to them over the HD700s at the moment.

post #665 of 1418
As far as why the squealing - usually dust or other particulate matter. If you tap the cups does it stop?

As far as soundstage - heavily content dependant. They aren't artifically wide like some headphones, but they aren't "huge" in general. Intimate voicing will translate, spaciousness will translate to an extent (they're "ok" for large orchestral pieces, better for jazz, acoustic, spoken word, that kind of stuff).

I'm not trying to hawk them as perfect - they have limits and aren't for everyone, I'm not sure how I'd feel about them with metal, thrash, or other similar music - they're fast enough to handle it, stage well enough, but are never biting or aggressive. I'd say get them replaced with a fully working set, give yourself a week or two, and decide if you like them. They may not be the best fit with the music you like; for me they're at times too polite (same as the HD 580), but that's why God gave us Ultrasone. tongue.gif
Edited by obobskivich - 1/31/13 at 8:00pm
post #666 of 1418

Hey guys,

 

From what I read, the esp-950 and lff's paradox are fairly similar in that they are both relatively neutral headphones. Some say the paradox offers a better low end (being a ortho). What are the advantages the esp-950 has over the paradox?

post #667 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by DairyProduce View Post

Hey guys,

 

From what I read, the esp-950 and lff's paradox are fairly similar in that they are both relatively neutral headphones. Some say the paradox offers a better low end (being a ortho). What are the advantages the esp-950 has over the paradox?

I've got both and they are both keepers. Both have great sound, but I really don't think they are all that similar really.

 

The 950's are more open sounding and detailed. The Paradox is very open sounding for a closed design, but not like the 950. The bass is more present on the Paradox than the 950, but TBH, the bass on the 950 is impactful and very much there though it rolls off a bit below 50 Hz. The 950 is sharper and quicker to my ears. Clarity is excellent. The Paradox measures much flatter.

 

I use the 950 for late night classical listening. The Paradox is better suited for use when isolation is called for. The Paradox is more forgiving of bad recordings and poor sources than the 950 also. 


Edited by lmswjm - 3/10/13 at 10:04pm
post #668 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by lmswjm View Post

I've got both and they are both keepers. Both have great sound, but I really don't think they are all that similar really.

 

The 950's are more open sounding and detailed. The Paradox is very open sounding for a closed design, but not like the 950. The bass is more present on the Paradox than the 950, but TBH, the bass on the 950 is impactful and very much there though it rolls off a bit below 50 Hz. The 950 is sharper and quicker to my ears. Clarity is excellent. The Paradox measures much flatter.

 

I use the 950 for late night classical listening. The Paradox is better suited for use when isolation is called for. The Paradox is more forgiving of bad recordings and poor sources than the 950 also. 

The last thing I found it good at is classic~~~ Don't get me wrong, I like this phone a lot, but the sound stage is just very wired to me. Maybe because it is not angled or at that time they do not have a term sound stage in headphone~~~

 

The thing is, like the detail of the phone, I like the bass, I like the roll off they have, for any genre but classical. I still prefer my HD800's presentation over the 950. The sound has separation of frequency, but not that much for the space. Most of the time, I think it sounded somewhat narrow and not faithful.

 

Well, just some thought, not saying you are wrong or something. :P

post #669 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlanHell View Post

The last thing I found it good at is classic~~~ Don't get me wrong, I like this phone a lot, but the sound stage is just very wired to me. Maybe because it is not angled or at that time they do not have a term sound stage in headphone~~~

 

The thing is, like the detail of the phone, I like the bass, I like the roll off they have, for any genre but classical. I still prefer my HD800's presentation over the 950. The sound has separation of frequency, but not that much for the space. Most of the time, I think it sounded somewhat narrow and not faithful.

 

Well, just some thought, not saying you are wrong or something. :P

 

I definitely can see that. Not saying they are ideal for classical, just that I would prefer them over the Paradox for that particular application.

 

The 950 is very source dependent IMO. Also, the included amp is fair, and I believe limits the 950. In my setup, the E/90 actually sounds much better out of my preamp than out of my DAC.  I've ordered a new stat amp recently, so we'll see. A pre-production impression of the amp reports great things for the sound stage in particular when paired with the 950.

post #670 of 1418

Is there anything inherently different sounding about the stats? Or will is that "ethereal" sound only limited to high end stax?

 

Alan: Do you still have the ESP-950 then? If you do, what do you use it for?

 

Imswjm: Your sig says that you previously had the LCD-3, HE6 and HD800. Any reason why you sold them over the current headphones you're using? (I also don't see the koss in your sig, do you still have them?)


Edited by DairyProduce - 3/11/13 at 6:41am
post #671 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by DairyProduce View Post

Is there anything inherently different sounding about the stats? Or will is that "ethereal" sound only limited to high end stax?

 

Alan: Do you still have the ESP-950 then? If you do, what do you use it for?

 

Imswjm: Your sig says that you previously had the LCD-3, HE6 and HD800. Any reason why you sold them over the current headphones you're using? (I also don't see the koss in your sig, do you still have them?)


Koss will be the last thing I will sell. Most of time I use it to listen to mainstream music. It has a very forgiving sound signature that makes most of low quality recordings sound very very good~~~~~ Pop and Rock for exmaple will not suffer from sibilances due to the cutoff in high frequency.

The separation is also very good. Since most of the pop song is mix digitally which has no space information been recordered, Koss can deal with it well by its excellent mid range detail and the precision of the separating the frequency itself. 

For these kind of genres, my HD800 and T1 all suffers from their treble boost around 10K makes it way too reviling. 


Edited by AlanHell - 3/11/13 at 12:06pm
post #672 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by lmswjm View Post

 

I definitely can see that. Not saying they are ideal for classical, just that I would prefer them over the Paradox for that particular application.

 

The 950 is very source dependent IMO. Also, the included amp is fair, and I believe limits the 950. In my setup, the E/90 actually sounds much better out of my preamp than out of my DAC.  I've ordered a new stat amp recently, so we'll see. A pre-production impression of the amp reports great things for the sound stage in particular when paired with the 950.


Was thinking about getting a STAX amp too, then find out I have to either mod the cable or buy an converter. Both of them is very hard for me to do since it is hard to find the connecter or cable locally. Where do you get all the modification done?

post #673 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by DairyProduce View Post

 

Imswjm: Your sig says that you previously had the LCD-3, HE6 and HD800. Any reason why you sold them over the current headphones you're using? (I also don't see the koss in your sig, do you still have them?)

 

My signature hasn't been updated in a while. Truth be told, since getting a taste of electrostats with the Koss, which I still have, I've been clearing out my dynamics to fund an upper level estat rig. As far as what's in my sig, I haven't sold my W3000ANV's or my open D7k's as of yet. I'm after an open, detailed, clear sound on a level that dynamics can't match. My preferences of what's in my sig from greatest to lowest:

 

Open D7000: Though technically inferior to the TH900, the more open sound stage wins me over.

     TH900:     Best closed can I've heard

W3000ANV:  Second best closed can I've heard

     HE6:        Great sounding, but missing that certain extra something.

    LCD3:       Very uncomfortable and don't like the sound sig

    HD800:      Just didn't like the sound. Would like to hear the Anax mod'd version on a properly matched rig though.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by AlanHell View Post


Was thinking about getting a STAX amp too, then find out I have to either mod the cable or buy an converter. Both of them is very hard for me to do since it is hard to find the connecter or cable locally. Where do you get all the modification done?

 

DIY is the only way I'm aware of:

 

http://wiki.faust3d.com/wiki/index.php?title=ESP/950_Electrostatic_Stereophone

 

http://www.moon-audio.com/diy-audio-parts/other-connectors/stax-cable-mount-5-pin-din.html

post #674 of 1418
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by AlanHell View Post


Was thinking about getting a STAX amp too, then find out I have to either mod the cable or buy an converter. Both of them is very hard for me to do since it is hard to find the connecter or cable locally. Where do you get all the modification done?

 

 

These guys  =>  http://apuresound.com/ehrc.html   offer recabling of ESP-950's to a Stax cable, they also sell Stax =>  ESP950  and  ESP950 =>  Stax   "adapters"

 

The ESP950's I bought had been recabled by them, they did a very professional job. And I also have a STAX 5 pin headphone plug-to-Koss E90 amplifier dongle from them as well, that lets me use the Stax cabled ESP950's or one of my Stax headphones on the E90.  

post #675 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffreyfranz View Post

In truth, this observation has been made of most electrostatic headphones (e.g., Lambdas) and speakers (e.g., Martin-Logan CLS) at one time or another. I currently listen to Stax SR-507s (love them) and Quad ESL-989s in the main room (love them, too, but they are finicky). I have had a more difficult time tolerating the upper mids and low treble of my AKG-K701, though they do some things very well. In fact, it is that experience that has scared me off of the HD-800. In short, high-resolution transducers are made for high-resolution, well recorded music, usually meaning classical, jazz, vocal, folk, etc. I am a rock lover from Beatles forward (and technically, most of their records were atrocious), but it is the rare hard rock, grunge or metal record that is meant for such high-end devices.

 

Don't blame the messenger.

 

Sometimes a speaker or headphone will exaggerate any irritating mid to upper frequency (brightness range) problems of a recording due to the equipment's own disrtortion artifacts.  Many times such pieces are "excused" for  this due to their big name or high price, the excuse being "they are so revealing that they show any recording problems".  I have seen this phenomenon many, many times with harsh components that folks make excuses for.

 

However, the Koss 950 do not have fall into this category. They are so natural, so low in irritating distortion that even for any other  sensitive-eared listener like me I am positive that any harshness / brighness / irritating forwardness you hear is from the recording or components upstream of the 950's.

 

It is a fact of life that the more clear and detailed headphones are the more you will note how many recordings recordings are just plain old bad, loaded with irritating distortion.  The poster I quoted above is right on the money in his last 3 sentences.  Three decades in the audio industry and I could not possibly say it any better or more concisely than he did.      

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: High-end Audio Forum
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Summit-Fi (High-End Audio) › High-end Audio Forum › KOSS ESP-950 Thread