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KOSS ESP-950 Thread - Page 58

post #856 of 1418

Credit card? No problem... I mean, I'll just pay it back in increments before it's due... yeah... once I get this pair, there's no way I'd consider getting another set along the way anyway, refractory period and all that...

 

That's been refraining through my brain for a while on these 950's.

 

EDIT:

 

You know, with all that being said, I have a thought, suddenly. This is me just thinking aloud, so feel free to ignore.

 

When I began this journey, I kept saying to myself that I'd keep myself from going too deep, where diminishing returns started to set in. Of course, the newbie in me didn't think that my relative measure for when that would occur would actually change. You see alot of people asking is x worth it for y price, 'how much' of an upgrade it would be and if it was worth the money. Looking back now, those are silly, naive questions because since the audio experience is a subjective qualia, the only measure for whether or not the change is worth the money is with you. This has been said again and again and again. I thought my $50 grados would be the end of it, then it was the $100 B2's, and then my $300 Mad Dogs. The Magni and E10, then the Bifrost and Asgard.

 

'People compare these to the LCD 2's," I thought, 'Even if they aren't, they seem to be close enough to the point where I'll be happy' I concluded, 'I just don't see myself reaching for that last 15% for such expense'. There's this sort of "reaching without stretching too much" mentality that pervaded my head-fi existence. But to expand on this awful metaphor, my muscles have adapted to the stretching and I feel like I can afford to keep reaching upwards. Upwards $600 to spend on a pair has become reasonable to me now, compared to when I began where $50 was the most I would spend.

 

The 950's are headphones where that next tier of stretching is taking me, and i can't help but wonder if this'll "finally be the breaking point", or if it'll leave me wanting more. It's a conundrum that's a little scary and a little exciting, and it's one of the reasons that this is exactly an addiction.

 

Sorry for the rant, I just felt the need to speak aloud since this would really be my first deep dive into end-game-ish gear.


Edited by vaed - 4/24/13 at 11:34am
post #857 of 1418
Originally Posted by RedBull View Post

Ooohhh, I so envy you .....

 

bigsmile_face.gif

 

I've had my eyes/ears on the ESP950 for a long time.  I've read practically every review/impression of them I could find (including this entire thread).  I was contemplating getting them last summer when the prices were regularly hovering around the $600-$650 mark.. but waited too long cause the secret is (apparently) out on them and it seems tough to find them at that price these days.

 

I've owned the HE-400, HE-500, HD600, and (currently own) the HD800.. so I'm really interested to hear how the 950 compares.  The impressions in this thread have been very helpful since there's a good consensus that's been formed about the 950's sound and abilities.  What sold me on the ESP was the lifetime warranty, the lack of any glaring sonic weakness, the fact many are quite happy with the E90 Energizer, and that the technicalities & sound signature are typically described as a (rough) amalgamation of the LCD-2, HD600, and HD800.

post #858 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by vaed View Post

That's been refraining through my brain for a while on these 950's.

 

EDIT:

 

You know, with all that being said, I have a thought, suddenly. This is me just thinking aloud, so feel free to ignore.

 

When I began this journey, I kept saying to myself that I'd keep myself from going too deep, where diminishing returns started to set in. Of course, the newbie in me didn't think that my relative measure for when that would occur would actually change. You see alot of people asking is x worth it for y price, 'how much' of an upgrade it would be and if it was worth the money. Looking back now, those are silly, naive questions because since the audio experience is a subjective qualia, the only measure for whether or not the change is worth the money is with you. This has been said again and again and again. I thought my $50 grados would be the end of it, then it was the $100 B2's, and then my $300 Mad Dogs. The Magni and E10, then the Bifrost and Asgard.

 

'People compare these to the LCD 2's," I thought, 'Even if they aren't, they seem to be close enough to the point where I'll be happy' I concluded, 'I just don't see myself reaching for that last 15% for such expense'. There's this sort of "reaching without stretching too much" mentality that pervaded my head-fi existence. But to expand on this awful metaphor, my muscles have adapted to the stretching and I feel like I can afford to keep reaching upwards. Upwards $600 to spend on a pair has become reasonable to me now, compared to when I began where $50 was the most I would spend.

 

The 950's are headphones where that next tier of stretching is taking me, and i can't help but wonder if this'll "finally be the breaking point", or if it'll leave me wanting more. It's a conundrum that's a little scary and a little exciting, and it's one of the reasons that this is exactly an addiction.

 

Sorry for the rant, I just felt the need to speak aloud since this would really be my first deep dive into end-game-ish gear.

 

Great post.  That's a perfect summary of my journey as well.

 

A few years ago, it started out with a pair of Maximo iM-590 IEMs for me.  At that time, spending $50 on a pair of IEMs felt like an exorbitant amount of money.. then I was certain the Fischer Audio DBA-02 was my end game.. then came a custom IEM which certainly would end my addiction, right?  Nope.  More phones, more upstream gear.. buying/selling/buying/selling.. and here I am now, with an HD800, a nice desktop rig.. and a ESP950 on the way.  What the hell just happened?  LOL.

 

My only fear with the ESP950 is what you mentioned: that it'll get me addicted to e-stats.

post #859 of 1418

More comparisons to the newer planars are always welcome! I hope to hear from you!

post #860 of 1418

Folks, I hate to throw turds in the punchbowl (okay, I take that back, I do like throwing turds in punchbowls, so what), but we need to avoid excessively hyping the ESP-950s, for a few reasons:

 

1.  I own them and I like them a lot (listening to them right now), but in my view they aren't close to as good as HD 800s, and they can't touch my LCD-3s for sound quality, no way, no how.  Period.  (Reliability might be another issue, since my LCDs are on their way back to Audeze for repair.  Grumble.  The Koss may be plastic instead of fancy wood and metal, but both channels still work).  I don't think they sound as good as the LCD 2.2s either, but I like the Audeze house sound.  At least the ESP vs LCD-2 is a close enough thing, depending on taste, that being able to buy the Koss for hundreds less is a good deal, if you can get it. They are very nice mid-range headphones that are appropriately priced in the $500-750 range.

 

2.  If these cans keep being described as super-high-end-HP-killers, there are lots of folks who are going to be let down when they A/B them against the best stuff, and that isn't fair to the Koss, which are really nice... just not the equal of the real elite.  It doesn't do these cans' reputation any good if they end up being seen as over-hyped.

 

3.  If folks keep hyping them here, and Amazon and WWS can keep selling them for the high $700s and up, they will stay at those prices and won't drop to where they should be -- below $750.  Think of all of the happy campers there would be if they could all buy these very nice cans for <$600 like I did last fall.

 

So let's all be smart buyers and not stoke up demand unreasonably.  Some guys are still trying to get these nice headphones at an attractive price.

post #861 of 1418
I don't think anyone is hyping them up to be better than flagship level cans, aside from one person saying they personally preferred them over the HD800 and HE6 (not impossible as perhaps they prefer a warmer, less revealing but pleasant sound signature.) I know I'd rather have a musical, slightly warm headphone, than a world class, but bright headphone.

Just that they may be the best value in their price range, as you get an electrostatic headphone with an amp, and lots of linearity, etc. The jump from dynamics to a well respected electrostatic headphone is a change on it's own.

I'll finally have these on hand tomorrow, and will compare them directly to the LCD2, in which I believe they'll trade blows with rather than being better/worse overall.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 4/24/13 at 9:09pm
post #862 of 1418

I think you have a valid point, and I've seen much of the same things in the Mad Dogs thread as well. There have been many comparisons in voicing of the ESP-950 as compared to end-game gear, but you can do that with any headphone. The fault lies with people mistaking the comparisons for putting them on the same technical stage to each other. Add in the "mysterious stranger from the past" vibe to it, and they're really easy to hype up. Also, there's the fact they're the cheapest electrostat out there.

 

Personally though, I like the idea of an amalgation of an LCD-2/HD800 voicing, even if it doesn't get to the quality of either. 

 

To your other points, well, I'll be evil and say I can't wait for those disappointed buyers to load them off into the FS forum! devil_face.gif (I'm being facetious.)

post #863 of 1418
Oh yes, I'm quite critical of headphones, and would be very quick to point out what I don't like about them.

Like for example, I'm not a fan of the Mad Dogs, despite all the hype. They didn't do anything for me. It's a great closed headphone, but that's it (I'm not impressed by almost any closed headphone). Certainly not comparable to the LCD2 unlike what others claim, IMHO.
Edited by Mad Lust Envy - 4/24/13 at 9:14pm
post #864 of 1418

I'm one of those "others" who is a vocal proponent of the Mad Dogs.  In fact I'm one of the very few that prefers them outright to the LCD-2.  However, I'll readily admit that they may not be for everyone.  I just know that - for my tastes - I prefer them.  I could say the same for the ESP-950's, though my preference for the 950's is nowhere near as "overblown".  Now, if the ESP-950's were closed (and still as comfortable), I'd be the steam engine at the front of the hype train.  I probably wouldn't shut up about it.

 

I'll certainly say though that anyone considering the HD650's, DT880's, or K701's and a Schiit Lyr would be wise to consider the ESP-950's.  

post #865 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary in MD View Post

Folks, I hate to throw turds in the punchbowl (okay, I take that back, I do like throwing turds in punchbowls, so what), but we need to avoid excessively hyping the ESP-950s, for a few reasons:

 

1.  I own them and I like them a lot (listening to them right now), but in my view they aren't close to as good as HD 800s, and they can't touch my LCD-3s for sound quality, no way, no how.  Period.  (Reliability might be another issue, since my LCDs are on their way back to Audeze for repair.  Grumble.  The Koss may be plastic instead of fancy wood and metal, but both channels still work).  I don't think they sound as good as the LCD 2.2s either, but I like the Audeze house sound.  At least the ESP vs LCD-2 is a close enough thing, depending on taste, that being able to buy the Koss for hundreds less is a good deal, if you can get it. They are very nice mid-range headphones that are appropriately priced in the $500-750 range.

 

2.  If these cans keep being described as super-high-end-HP-killers, there are lots of folks who are going to be let down when they A/B them against the best stuff, and that isn't fair to the Koss, which are really nice... just not the equal of the real elite.  It doesn't do these cans' reputation any good if they end up being seen as over-hyped.

 

3.  If folks keep hyping them here, and Amazon and WWS can keep selling them for the high $700s and up, they will stay at those prices and won't drop to where they should be -- below $750.  Think of all of the happy campers there would be if they could all buy these very nice cans for <$600 like I did last fall.

 

So let's all be smart buyers and not stoke up demand unreasonably.  Some guys are still trying to get these nice headphones at an attractive price.

 

You make a lot of really good points, but ultimately, at this level, I think it comes down to taste. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here, but for some, the sound signature and presentation of the Koss will be superior to "higher end" phones. I put "higher end" in quotes, because there is no actual hierarchy except that which we create in our minds based on prices until we are able to actually test them.

 

In my personal opinion, I found the ESP-950s to be on par with the Stax SR-507, though I liked them better for the bass and sound. I have not had the pleasure of listening to any Omegas side-by-side, so I can't make that comparison. On the other hand, while I appreciate the technical achievement that is the LCD-2/3, they're not for me and I don't think they're that much better than these [disclaimer: I never auditioned them side by side, and only had limited time with the LCD-2]. Granted, I'm not a basshead, so perhaps this is why I'm more partial to the electrostats. Also, this is not a sound related issue, but the ESP-950s were light as a feather and comfy as heck. 

 

I hesitate to say whether a headphone deserves to be in "$XYZ" range because that's really a moving target, no? The range that is considered to be high-end is constantly shifting (and unfortunately, in the wrong direction) as are the quality of products. It's better to instead say the Koss are comparable or inferior to ABC competitor. In this vein, I do think they are worth the ~$750+ price right now because that's what comparable headphones are selling at (remember, it also comes with the E90 amp). If in the future, headphones like the SR-507 or the LCD-2 (comparables in my personal opinion) drop below their ~$1000 MSRPs, then whatever they're at would be the market price for this particular tier of headphones. 

 

But you're right, I'm a bit bummed the cat is out of the bag so to speak. I've been waiting for the price to drop so I could get these babies again, but it's looking more and more like this isn't going to happen.

post #866 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzerdave View Post

I'm one of those "others" who is a vocal proponent of the Mad Dogs.  In fact I'm one of the very few that prefers them outright to the LCD-2.  However, I'll readily admit that they may not be for everyone.  I just know that - for my tastes - I prefer them.  I could say the same for the ESP-950's, though my preference for the 950's is nowhere near as "overblown".  Now, if the ESP-950's were closed (and still as comfortable), I'd be the steam engine at the front of the hype train.  I probably wouldn't shut up about it.

 

I'll certainly say though that anyone considering the HD650's, DT880's, or K701's and a Schiit Lyr would be wise to consider the ESP-950's.  

 

As far as I know, there was a very limited run of closed-back ESP-950's. It was most likely from Koss experimenting with closed back designs (considering the fact that their earlier 'stats were all closed back).

 

Here's a pic:

post #867 of 1418
Quote:
Originally Posted by DefQon View Post

$250 for a Lambda? That is indeed a good price and a worthwhile collectors item.

 

$350 for a ESP950? Why the heck didn't you buy them? mad.gif

 

I didn't buy them because I didn't have the money at the time, and it would have incurred debt. Debt that I couldn't be sure about paying back when I had NO regular income (in other words, a job) at the time. I probably could have flipped them for a good profit if it came down to that, but that's just not my style.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tintin220 View Post
That's what credit cards are for. And when you use em up, just throw them away and get a new one. That's how it works, right?

 

Oh, don't I wish money was free like that...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vaed View Post
Also, there's the fact they're the cheapest electrostat out there.

 

Not if you count the used market. $350 fluke eBay listing from a year ago aside, this is the reason I've had the chance to sample a few Stax Lambdas, but not the ESP/950.

 

Even including a dedicated 'stat amp, some of 'em are less than the ESP/950 system, though things get a bit fuzzy there because most of the cheaper Stax systems (and vintage 'stats in general, including the older Koss ESPs) come with transformer boxes that need speaker amps.

 

Anyway, as for voicing impressions...I still have a disconnect here, because I've sampled a Normal bias SR-Lambda with rebuilt drivers and an SR-202. The SR-404/407 is well out of my price range, especially considering the need to get another Pro bias amp, having sold my SRM-212 with the SR-202.

 

All I know is that I like a somewhat forward midrange with no weird grain/texture over it. The vintage Lambda delivered in spades. The SR-202 did not, and neither did the HE-400 that I can't help but think sounds very much alike. And if other people's impressions are anything to go by, the ESP/950 just might deliver, albeit at a possible cost of soundstage.


Edited by NamelessPFG - 4/25/13 at 3:13am
post #868 of 1418
Flysweep, please compare with hd800 and let me know what you think.
I am a movie lovers, I recently enjoying hd800 so much with movie and would like to consider using 950 for movie too.
I LOVE listening to movie with 800 with its hyper detailed sound and large soundstage. I can easily differentiate room size when the scene move from room to room. Even some background conversation in a cafe/restaurant i can hear too. I feel like i am really IN the movie. Very very nice.
post #869 of 1418

I have the esp950 and the LCD2, and I have to say the esp is better. It has the electrostatic detail and still smoothy, also much more comfortable.


Edited by BoogieWoogie - 4/25/13 at 5:05am
post #870 of 1418

The Koss and Stax SRS-2170 share being the cheapest electrostatic.  The 2170 is down to 660$ on ebay and will go even lower with the falling Yen. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taowolf51 View Post

 

As far as I know, there was a very limited run of closed-back ESP-950's. It was most likely from Koss experimenting with closed back designs (considering the fact that their earlier 'stats were all closed back).

 

Here's a pic:

 

Those are still being made for medical purposes.  Not cheap to say the least (2k$) but probably just an ESP950 with a closed back and no tricks to make up for that. 

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