2 brothers, the Koss A130 and A250
Dec 21, 2007 at 11:11 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

nc8000

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Having some months ago bought a set of A250 from Antonyfirst and liked them a lot for my hotel room rig I noticed that Johnanderson was selling a set of their closed back brothers the A130 so I went for it and they arrived here today.

156304.jpg


The only difference seems to be that one has a closed back panel where the other is grilled/meshed, other than that they appear identical.

From the sound it is also clear that they are closely related as there is very little difference at least to my ears. I have tried them both from my main rig playing the shown Copland cd "Fanfare to the common man". This is brass, cymbals and kettle drum and is a Prof. Johson Reference recording HDCD coded and has a huge dynamic range and slam. I first played it on my balanced L3000 to have a frame of reference. I then tried both Koss's. They don't reach the level of refinement nor viceral brute force of the L3000 but then that was not to be expected. Tonalilty between the 2 Koss's seems to be the same but the A130 seems to have a bit of an edge to the trumpets and a bit of a (for lack of a better word) rattle/vibration with the slams of the kettle drum, both traits that the A250 does not display. The A130 isolates better than the A250 but the A250 seems slightly airier in the sound.

I will keep them both in the travel bag and use the A250 when I'm alone and the A130 when I have to consider other people or if there is some background noise.

For their going price round $70 give or take I think these phones are fantastic value and I have previously tried the A250 against HD595, K701 and SA-K5000 and each time I prefered the A250. Just a shame that the build of these phones really is outclassed by almost any other phone you care to mention almost even by my son's HD201. They are however very comfortable to wear with the big circumaural pads.
 
Dec 21, 2007 at 6:55 PM Post #2 of 8

facelvega

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I'm really surprised by this review. nc8000, can you tell through the foam if your A130 has the same size drivers as the A250, or are they the much smaller ones that we've seen so far, as I had in my pair of A130, which I photographed next to my A250 in the old A250 thread.

Here's what I found: the drivers are different and much inferior, the housing is much smaller than the ESP950 housing used for the A250, and there is a poorly-designed mounting plate that only loosely holds the driver to the baffle, allowing it to rattle in its place on low bass frequencies. Also, the closed back of the A130 gave only a very limited isolation.

The mounting plate problem was easily repairable, but even so it didn't bring the A130 anywhere near the A250's performance, nor did they have a similar signature. The A130 were fun and easy to drive, with a signature very similar to a Beyer DT531 but closed (with the related narrower and less-realistic soundstage; I happened to be closely testing about a dozen dynamic headphones against one another at the time I had both Koss around, so I'm fairly sure about the comparative attributes of the sound signatures.) The A250, on the other had, is bright and brittle-sounding, much faster, picky about source, but also in general a far better headphone-- a race car next to the A130's practical sports sedan. So you see why I'm surprised that they sound similar, and wonder whether there exists an A130 with the larger 250 drivers, something that seems to have been indicated by at least one reviewer in the A250 thread.
 
Dec 21, 2007 at 8:23 PM Post #3 of 8

nc8000

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I don't disagree with you as I find the A130 to be both more closed in, have an edge to the treble and also the rattle to bass that you describe so that is obviously a trait of the model. I have just taken them out again and I can also confirm that the housing for the A130 is shorter than the A250 by about 1", thinner by about 1/5" and about the same width. I don't doubt it when you say that the A130 uses a smaller driver but without taking them apart I can't confirm it as the baffle they are fitted on looks the same. The A130 also does not have phenomenal isolation but it is better than the A250 and enough that my wife will not complain about me using them in bed which she does with the A250. Isolation is no problem for me as I normally only use full size headphones in reasonably quiet environments. I still don't think the difference between them is huge but the A250 is the overall winner for sound quality and I still think that both are very good value for their price (I paid less for the A130 than for the A250).
 
Dec 21, 2007 at 9:30 PM Post #4 of 8

cclragnarok

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The A130 (tak-modded and with the drivers glued down) is a fun headphone that sounds great for the price. They sound especially good out of tube amps.

Before the mods, however, the A130 was rather edgy, bright, and brittle-sounding. That said, I only listened to the A130 for a few seconds unmodded, even though I have 3 pairs of them.

My guess is that facelvega's A130 is modded, and that's why the impressions are so different.
 
Dec 22, 2007 at 5:31 AM Post #5 of 8

nc8000

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Quote:

Originally Posted by cclragnarok /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The A130 (tak-modded and with the drivers glued down) is a fun headphone that sounds great for the price. They sound especially good out of tube amps.

Before the mods, however, the A130 was rather edgy, bright, and brittle-sounding. That said, I only listened to the A130 for a few seconds unmodded, even though I have 3 pairs of them.

My guess is that facelvega's A130 is modded, and that's why the impressions are so different.



How do you take them apart to perform these operations ? I have listened some more and the ratteling driver is going to bug me no end. Is the tak mod simply a matter of laying a layer of bluetak or the like on the inside back of the cup ?
 
Dec 22, 2007 at 6:09 AM Post #6 of 8

appophylite

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nc8000 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
How do you take them apart to perform these operations ? I have listened some more and the ratteling driver is going to bug me no end. Is the tak mod simply a matter of laying a layer of bluetak or the like on the inside back of the cup ?


There are screws under the foam that you can loosen to take the cups apart. You got the Tak mod right. You can use some (or glue of any sort) to remount and hold the drivers in place and then line the inside of the cups with a very thin coating of Tak and keep adding Tak until the sound signature is right to your ears.

I've added the blue-tak to my A130 and I love them, but I have no basis of comparison to the A250 as I haven't tried it yet.
 
Dec 22, 2007 at 1:54 PM Post #7 of 8

nc8000

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Thanks, will try both at some point
 
Dec 23, 2007 at 12:58 AM Post #8 of 8

facelvega

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Quote:

Originally Posted by nc8000 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I don't disagree with you as I find the A130 to be both more closed in, have an edge to the treble and also the rattle to bass that you describe so that is obviously a trait of the model. I have just taken them out again and I can also confirm that the housing for the A130 is shorter than the A250 by about 1", thinner by about 1/5" and about the same width. I don't doubt it when you say that the A130 uses a smaller driver but without taking them apart I can't confirm it as the baffle they are fitted on looks the same. The A130 also does not have phenomenal isolation but it is better than the A250 and enough that my wife will not complain about me using them in bed which she does with the A250. Isolation is no problem for me as I normally only use full size headphones in reasonably quiet environments. I still don't think the difference between them is huge but the A250 is the overall winner for sound quality and I still think that both are very good value for their price (I paid less for the A130 than for the A250).


Now I think we're pretty much in agreement, except maybe I hear a little more sq gap between the two pairs. This is not to say that the A130 are not very good headphones, though; no question there.

Quote:

Originally Posted by nc8000 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
How do you take them apart to perform these operations ? I have listened some more and the ratteling driver is going to bug me no end. Is the tak mod simply a matter of laying a layer of bluetak or the like on the inside back of the cup ?


Yes, as appophylite has mentioned above, it's merely a question of the four screws under the foam. You only need to temporarily push back the foam directly over the screws, and it should more or less slide back into place when you're done with the mod.

Lining the back of the cup with tak is up to you (I'd probably try felt instead to kill the bass backwave, though YMMV), but the main thing is to get the driver to sit still in its clips. You can use tak, or glue the drivers down; I had both on hand when I opened up my own pair, but upon seeing the simplicity of the real problem, I just did the mod by pressing a tiny scrap of paper into the gap between the driver and the mounting plate. Problem solved. A very easy and reversible mod.
 

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