KOSS ESP-950 Thread

Discussion in 'High-end Audio Forum' started by milosz, Nov 22, 2011.
  1. Kukuk
    These headphones have made me absolutely fall in love with Nick Drake's Bryter Layter. It's such a soft, clean, open sounding album which absolutely plays to the Koss's strengths. I was never really the biggest fan of the album before, but these have sorta breathed life into it.

    Poor headphones haven't gotten the love they deserve over the last couple weeks because of work, but I finally have a little time off. Sorry family, Christmas is going to have to wait. :)
  2. ratboi
    Wow, I'd missed that one; Fairport, Donovan, Pentangle, Steeleye Span, yes, not so much the Cale or Lou Reed or even Bowie - more a prog rock junkie combined with hippie rock addiction eg CSN&Y. Those truly were wondrous times for exposure to all sorts of music. Too bad mental health care sucked then even worse than it does today.

    WRT that album, I find most of it engaging, except maybe the title track. Sorta glad I missed Pink Moon though. Hey, I know - I'll go cheer up and listen to some Jeff Buckley!! /jk
    doctorjazz likes this.
  3. Starionn
    Well, I received my ESP950's yesterday from girlfriend (wish some suggestions from me...) and I have to say that they're quite nice so far!

    I actually ordered them quite a bit ahead of time, so with the advanced notice I was able to buy some pads and my Vesper Audio pads came in today as well. Excellent timing. I wanted alcantara (I usually use velours on all my headphones, and that was closest) rather than the leather pads from Fong Audio, so I had to order straight from the source. They are really good; I'm not sure how they fit in, in terms of a value perspective, given the stock pads aren't really that bad at all, but I figure the headphones are a reasonable investment (my most expensive cans to date) so I may as well spend a little more and "max out" my pleasure with them. They're a bit softer and deeper, but honestly with how light the ESP950's are, pretty much just floating on your head, the feeling impact was smaller than usual. I do think the extra space maybe gives a better seal? Or maybe the lower frequencies just sound better to me after having a night to sleep on it and get used to the electrostat sound. Either way, not a bad upgrade, but probably not "mandatory" either.

    Next up, a dac upgrade. :beyersmile: I was thinking of getting a mimby, but massdrop still has the nuforce dac-80 for $250 as well (today is the last day), so I'm thinking of getting that. Does anyone have any thoughts? I'm using the MusicStreamer II right now, which I have been for the last ~5 years or so, but it may be time to move up. I'm going to dig a bit deeper back into this thread as well. Good luck to me haha. At least I can listen to some good tunes while I do so.
  4. VRacer-111
    Mimby may work fine unless you want to go up to even higher end DACs. I will say the Bifrost (AKM4490 version) just didn't cut it for me, didn't sound right with the rest of my gear (too sterile/cold sounding) with a VERY noticeable difference in capability between it and the Gustard X20U I now use (which is said to be a near Yggdrasil level DAC).
  5. escknx
    I've just sold my ESP and the buyer is asking on how to remove earpads. I dont really remember. Could you please describe the process in a few words?
  6. Starionn
    They were pretty standard in that regard. You/they can just pull them off; I found it easier to start on a "middle" side rather than the top or bottom.
  7. ThurstonX
    You just gently pull them off so as not to tear the vinyl (it's pretty durable, so wouldn't worry too much). I just trashed my hacked up thicker pads and replaced them with a new pair. You can tell the buyer to be very patient getting the pads (new or old) back on. It's easy the first 75% of the way (I went from bottom to top, but whatever), then took patience. Totally doable, though.

    I'm not sure I'll be keeping mine, either. No hurry to sell, as there won't be another big discount for a while, but not sure they're for me.
    escknx likes this.
  8. Brahmsian
    Why? What don't you like about them?
  9. escknx
    I'm not ThurstonX, but I just sold mine cause I prefer Hifiman Edition Xv2 after all. Convenience of not using additional amp-energizer. And sound is a tad better to my ear.

    Other that that ESP950 is very good.
  10. ThurstonX
    With a lot of the music I listen to, they can be glaring and/or shouty in the mids (upper mids, lower treble? I can never tell). That tends to smear a lot of details, where my HiFiMAN planar magnetics don't suffer from those problems. OTOH, for certain things they're absolutely brilliant. Thus, I'm on the fence. I've put over 100 hours on them (nearing 200, maybe), and I'll definitely try them with a wider variety of music as time goes on. But if they're not getting that much head time by, say, early summer, I'll have to think about unloading them. We'll see what the ol' bank account and other gear lust have to say about that :wink:

    Happy New Year, all! :champagne_glass:
  11. Brahmsian
    What kind of music do you listen to? I've heard stats are the bomb for classical. My current classical music headphones are the Hifiman he560, whose sound I like but not a fan of the pads, which I'm thinking of changing. I know the ESP doesn't have the best pads but at least they look more roomy. If somebody on here has both the 560 and 950, care to compare and contrast their pads and their sound?

  12. escknx
    I don't really listen classical on a regular basis. You can't call Sarah Brightman classical, rite?
    All genres from old russian rock to vocal trance and pop.

    I've had HE560 and they're not even close to Edition X in terms of comfort and sound. I'd pick ESP950 any day over 560. Just IMO. But Ed X over ESP950.

    I've used ESP950 with Vesper pads, and they're must have for any 950, stock pads are not roomy, they very shallow. Vesper upgrades ESP950 to ESP950 v2 literally. I have many phones and the biggest upgrade from all I've done was Vesper for ESP950.

    HNY :santa:
    ThurstonX and Brahmsian like this.
  13. fpantalone
    I've listed my new ESP's for sale here on Head-fi ...
  14. ThurstonX
    All sorts, but mostly prog rock and older indie stuff. It's definitely a recording/mixing/mastering issue. e.g., most of Rush's catalog (the 24/96 versions from HDtracks) don't play well with them. Some Yes sounds great, some not so much. Oddly, the Steven Wilson mix of Close To The Edge is pretty good, but his mix of Fragile has the problem in a major way. Some King Crimson is good, some not so much. Same pattern holds for a lot of indie stuff. I haven't tried any jazz yet. Maybe the Koss will get me to explore more classical.

    re: pads, I'm good with the stock, though if I end up keeping them, the Vespers are an option. For the HE-560, I love the leather Ori pads from ZMF. I ordered their non-leather, but they're not shipping yet. February is what I've heard. I'll try them, too, of course. I use the Oris on all three of my HFM cans, and I've gone through so many to arrive at the Oris it's not even funny. HFM pads, IMO, are the worst. Never heard the Edition X. Maybe someday.

    As far as comparing sound, my HE-560 are far more forgiving, hit harder, have a better sound stage for me, but the Koss resolve to a ridiculous level. They almost make the HE-560 seem "dark", but that can vary depending on what tubes I'm rolling. They're pretty complementary. The way I modded my HE-5LE, they are closer to the Koss sometimes. I had to dampen them a bit to cut out the glare. What I don't hear with either HFM can is the smearing congestion that the Koss sometimes exhibit. Better staging/imaging...? I guess.

    Brahmsian and escknx like this.
  15. Brahmsian
    I hear that stats share some characteristics. If that's true (by the way, is it?), do you think your problem is with stats in general or specifically with the ESP950? Also, I'm not sure I understand that the Koss resolve to a ridiculous level but that they sometimes exhibit smearing congestion. Finally, if the ESP make the 560 sound almost dark, would you say the former is excessively bright or that it has any glare? I'm not sure I want a brighter headphone than the 560. Or do you mean that the 950 is just clearer? I would also imagine that electrostatic headphones make a smoother sound.

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2018

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