- Aug 24, 2013
- Knoxville, TN
Likely to be an upgrade.Would the KPH40 be a good replacement for my broken Sennheiser PX100 II?
Came to this thread to see if anyone else has needed to re-attach the black plastic to the headband. Lo and behold, it was in the very first post. Thanks for the advice.I didn't see a main thread, so I thought I'd start one at least with my review. My reviews typically go to my headphone guide, but I share them to other threads when it makes sense.
Hey guys, happy belated new year! Don't ever say I haven't at least posted a review each year.
Here's my Koss KPH40 Review!
note: any errors found, I'll fix them as I see them.
Koss KPH40 Utility
$40 as of Jan 2022
Where To Buy: Koss.com, Amazon.com
Disclaimer: While I'm now under the employ of Audeze, I am still a reviewer at heart, and have the freedom to continue doing reviews as long as it's not in direct conflict with Audeze. As the KPH40 is a value product in a niche form factor where Audeze hasn't quite gone to (trust me, I'd kill for an on ear planar with ear clips like the KSC75), I do not see any issues or conflicts of interest here. That being said, everyone, go buy some Audeze headphones, please and thank you. Let them know I sent you.
I purchased the KPH-40 with my own money, and have not been influenced in any way to speak positively or otherwise about the product. I do my best in being 100% honest with my views and opinions. If I don't like a product, I will refuse to write a review of it, or at the very least mention what I don't like about them, though I like to focus on products that people would like or at the very least are interested in. The only bias I have is to my readers. No one, Koss or otherwise, paid or asked me for anything.
For anyone asking for KPH30i comparisons, I'm sorry, but I had zero interest for the 30i, the simple reason being entirely because they were not compatible with the Koss ear clips. No ear clips = no go. My attachment to Koss has really only ever been with the KSC75, KSC35, Sportapro, and Portapro, all which have interchangeable clips/headband mounts. Now you can add the KPH40 to that list. Nothing against the KPH30i which I'm sure is an absolute banger, judging by all the praise it receives.
update 1/28/2022: Like a self fulfilling prophecy, the KPH40's right side side has already went silent. As you can probably surmise, just as I mentioned on this review, this likely means the cable connecting to the driver has gone bad. Record setting pace for the cable defect. So the fancy, swappable cables means jack squat in the face of an issue up the chain and next to the driver.
As a decades-plus fan of the venerable Koss clip-ons (and owner of about 300,000 broken KSC75s and other 60-ohm Koss variants mainly due to cable failures), the moment I heard of the KPH40 and saw the rear housing being updated from the older housing used on the KSC35, PortaPro, SportaPro (all variants of these models), I knew I had to see if there was a legitimate change apart from the housing.
Being accustomed to buying SportaPros (as they're usually the cheapest model that use the same drivers as the others), and attaching a headband to them (in my case, KSC75 clips), I needed to see if Koss finally gave us a true alternative to sourcing your own headband to use with all these drivers (for those that do not want to use clip ons, or the original, chunky SportaPro or PortaPro headbands).
Then there's the fact that Koss finally, FINALLY decided to use detachable cables. But wait...Koss, this isn't what we meant by detachable! Ah well, at least they tried. The idea and execution is actually pretty good, albeit still lacking the one key component that would make Koss rise well above the heavens: MMCX connectors. Maybe one day Koss. MAYBE ONE DAY.
So have we finally received an official Koss version of "clipping on good Koss drivers to a Parts Express like-headband"? Yes, we have, and it's actually BETTER than that.
What's In the Box
Not much here. I like it this way. You get:
KPH40 - The main headphone is just the headband, the drivers, and up to the y-split portion of the cable, which terminates into a FEMALE 2.5mm input. This where you'll be buying the optional (and pricey) cables direct from Koss. You can get a Lightning cable, or Type C cable for all your specific needs. If there's one thing I like, it's options. It's simple and easy to understand.
3.5mm utility cord - the add on cable which attaches to the Y-split of the headphone's cable via 2.5mm (balanced?) connector. So you're telling me I can source a balanced 2.5mm cable that terminates into 4.4mm or XLR? This will need verification on my end, as it may just be for microphone purposes. I don't know. We'll see. My biggest gripe with the cable is that it's just too short. I understand that these are very portable friendly, but would it have killed Koss to add at least one more foot? The additional (optional) cables you can purchase are rated at 4ft, but I sincerely doubt the included 3.5mm cable surpasses 3ft. There is no slack. It's like they REALLY want one to buy the optional cables. As an audiophile, if you plan on using your own analog gear, you may need an extension cable of sorts. I'd rather pay someone to mod MMCX connectors instead.
Literature - Not much but the simple manual/booklet that I've long since lost and can't remember it had. Probably the warranty information.
All in all, the goodies are all you need, though I'm a bit saddened they they don't come with a 1/4" adapter. I mean, that was a Koss staple, so not sure why they didn't include one now. Yes, I have a drawer of about 7,000 adapters, but normal consumers getting their first headphone for their new cool mini desktop amplifier will now have to source their own. Ah well. Keep that in mind, if you somehow don't happen to have 1/4" adapters hiding between your cushions.
What's NOT In The Box?
For $20 a pop, Koss sells their Utility Series Lightning Cord Bundle (for Apple products), and the Utility Series USB-C Cord Bundle (for the vastly superior "everything else that ain't Apple" group). I kid guys, I kid.
I should mention, if you plan on buying these later than when bundling it with the KPH40 through the Koss website, they will set you back $45 each instead. More than the cost of the KPH40, which I find....questionable?
Last but not least is a nice Utility Series Hard Case for $15. Oh wait. The Utility Hard Case, made for the Utility series is NOT compatible with the KPH40 Utility. Huh? Koss...just...why? Even if it was bigger, I think you should've made a case that fits ALL of them, not just 2 of 3 Utility headphones. This case lacks... *pause for effect*... UTILITY.
Build and Comfort
Let's be real. This is the main reason you want the KPH40. Utility cords? Nah. It's the headband, 100%. And what a nice headband it is. This design was first used in the collaboration between Koss and Retrospekt with the P/21 (though with slightly different looks, as the headband on the P/21 was a brushed, shiny metal, while the KPH40 headband is essentially a matte, metallic grey). I think the P/21 wins out in terms of headband colors and finish, if just slightly. Not a big deal either way. I think they both look great.
The headband is very, very similar in size to the old Parts Express headband everyone knows by now, but with much better design, and without your hair constantly getting caught. The headband is all metal with the exception of the adjustment mechanism's accents and the rear of the portion that the drivers snap on to. It's minimalistic, and retro futuristic. It's beautiful, weightless, and malleable.
I have a huge head, and there's still enough extension here to fit me juuuuust right.
There's no padding to speak of, but when you're essentially wearing nothing, you won't even think about padding or any lack of. It simply disappears on your head. Mind you, I still would much rather detach the KPH40 drivers and attach them to KSC75 clips (which I normally use in this manner), but even for me, there's very little to complain about here with the headband. It's nearly perfect.
I DO have to mention one thing: One of the black circle covers of the headband popped off as I was trying to re-attach the drivers back on. It seems the glue that holds it in place detached from the main headband portion and stuck to the black plastic circle. Unfortunately, once that happens, there is no way to attach the black plastic back onto the headband without removing all the glue (trust me, I tried), so you'll need to crazy glue the black plastic's outer rim (on the inside) back onto the metal headband in order for stay firmly in place.
This won't really matter to you guys that don't plan on detaching the drivers to use with clips, but if you do, just be mindful and try to hold the black plastic portion in place while snapping the drivers on or off. It's no big deal to me as I planned to use the KPH40 with KSC75 clips, but just be mindful you can damage the headband, and it's not a simple process to pop the black plastic back into place. Say that 4 times fast.
Can you even call the Koss 60-ohm driver housings cups? I think it's universally agreed that Koss basically just has drivers that happen to attach to clips or headbands. No cups. If you want to be technical, sure, the housing is where the pads and rear plastic cover attaches to, but tomatoe, tomatoh. If you ask me, it's just drivers on clips.
I need to mention the KPH40's housing is different from the older housing on the KSC35, PortaPro, and SportaPro. It's minute, but the design HAS changed. I didn't even realize it at first!
On the left is the KPH40. On the right is either my MMCX modded KSC35 Wireless, or MMCX modded PortaPro Black editions. It doesn't matter which it actually is (they're identical in sound and looks). Notice the lack of segmentation walls between the holes. This is the big indicator that Koss has finally started to update their designs. The question now is whether this new outer design will be shared with other models in the future, or if it's relegated to the Utility series. I say this, because it does appear that the PortaPro Utility also uses the newer design. Unsure if the non-Utility 60-ohm driver models will retain the old cup design or move on to the new ones. This also pertains to sound, which I'll mention later.
These pads still feel the same as it's always been on the 35, Porta, Sporta driver variants. Note that the KSC75 uses a scratchier, less pleasant feeling pad than the others. I'd say that the edges are less rounded on the KPH40 pads compared to the others, but it may just be because these are newer, and aren't a change that should affect the sonic attributes.
I may be sentenced to death for this, but I'm not one of those Yaxi pad enthusiasts. I didn't like how they affected the sound on the older drivers, and they're also less comfortable when using clips (don't @ me). They MAY be worthwhile checking into for the KPH40 if you plan on using its headband. I'm not. Your mileage may vary. I think the stock pads are perfect with clips and sounds fantastic, so no Yaxi pads for me.
Unfortunately, the KPH40 STILL doesn't have detachable cables where it counts (the area prone to always, always going bad on Koss 60-ohm driver models: the complete and utter lack of strain relief where the cables attach to the drivers. Every single Koss headphone I've bought (including the KSC35 Wireless and PortaPro wireless,) has gone bad at the same exact spot on the cables (update: It has also gone bad on this KPH40 just 2 1/2 weeks after the review posted). I don't see this changing even with the KPH40. It's an eventuality. I don't mistreat my headphones either. I don't ever hold my headphones from the cable, knowing full well that's an easy way to kill these. And yet, it still happens.
On the positive side, I like that the new cable is flat. That's nice.
Now, what are my grievances with the cable, aside from its eventual death? I think the Y split could've been made about 4-6 inches further down. I also think the Y split could have a small dot or other indicator to connect the utility cords symmetrically, as the 'barrel' isn't perfectly cylindrical. It's not a big deal, but those with OCD may be irked by it. There are very faint plastic molding lines on the side that can help guide you, but they're practically invisible.
Now the big issue with the cable is something I previously mentioned: It's simply too short. The Utility cord is about 3 feet (by guesstimation). 1 foot added by the cable portion attached to the KPH40 itself. That leaves you with so little slack, any movements will likely tug at the cable and add strain to the already questionable connection between the driver and the cables. 4 feet? Come on Koss, I understand you intend the KPH40 to be for portable use, but no headphone should have anything less than 5 feet of cable length, personally. Tucking in a foot of this cable into a pants pocket where your or DAP is is no major biggie. Having so little cable, however, is.
For a model that's focused on cable swapping, if the other options are this short... there's gonna have to be another redesign. I literally can't lean back on my computer chair without the cable wanting to snap off from the amp on my desk which is within arm's length.
At the ends of the cable are the plugs: a 2.5mm plug which may or may not be balanced or carries a mic channel. I'll need verification. On the other end is a 3.5mm TRS connection. There's an error on the website's image that shows TRRS instead. Not sure why. Perhaps the stock cable was meant to have an inline mic, but may have been changed before release. As stated earlier, there's no 1/4" snap off adapter included, so you'll have to source your own. If these aren't your first pair of headphones, you likely have some laying around. This is another sign that makes Koss seem like they really don't want you to use these at home on desktop gear for some reason. I wholeheartedly believe most of us will want an extension cable of some kind.
Weight and Clamp:
The KPH40 is literally two drivers strapped to a very thin piece of lightweight metal that I'd say barely qualifies as a headband. As such, the KPH40 may as well weigh absolutely nothing because that's how it feels when worn. You really can't get any better than weightless. It's one of the reasons I'm such a diehard fan of the clip on Koss models. It's like wearing nothing, and the KPH40 continues that trend, headband or not.
Clamp is probably the only minor quibble I have with the comfort at least when it comes to the headband. Now, I need to stress this: The KPH40 does not really have a clamp by traditional means. You're essentially just getting two drivers that are gently being pressed towards the ears by the headband. If you've ever used on ear headphones before, you will think the comfort is essentially 9.9 out of 10. I'm not most people. I've become used to clip-ons where instead of pressing in towards the ears, the drivers essentially rest near the ears. The only potential discomfort there would be how you feel about the clips hanging on to your ears. For me, this is MUCH more comfortable than any headphone in existence, especially with the KSC75 clips. One can complain about the KSC35 clips being a bit sharp where it rests on the ears, but even that is more comfortable than practically any headband (including the KPH40 headband), personally-speaking. Still, as most people aren't going to switch from the headband, you can rest easy. The headband is fantastic.
Final Build and Comfort Impressions:
One should come to expect some things with the venerable 60-ohm Koss products.
1. The cable will go bad. It's just a fact of life by this point. (update: DID GO BAD, and fail on the right side)
2. They headphones weigh nothing (even the chonky SportaPro headband weighs nothing)
3. Due to how insubstantial they feel to the touch, they won't inspire confidence in terms of durability. However, outside of the cable, they can last forever, aside from potential driver rattle.
So really, I am and will always be happy with Koss build here, outside of the cables. Did I mention cable durability is questionable? No? Well, let me tell you that the cables will likely go bad. Don't say I didn't warn you. Yes, it's a new design for the cable, and yes they're flat, and break away past the split which is new and different, but connection strength between the cable and the drivers is, and has always been a Koss problem. I don't see this changing. Nothing has happened yet at the time of review, but I'm not holding my breath.
Comfort-wise, the KPH40 is excellent with the new headband or replaced with any of the other mounts. PortaPro headband, SportaPro headband, Parts Express headband, KSC35 clips, or KSC75 clips, they're all what I'd consider going from quite comfortable to incredibly comfortable. Some people don't find clips to be comfortable, but I'd call these people dead wrong. Yeah, I said it.
In short, the KPH40 as it comes out of the box may as well be 8.5/10 personally, and I'm sure most others will say it's 9/10 or higher, until they yank the cable (and trust me, it will happen).
The KPH40 is fully open. They leak in sounds from the outside world about as badly as if you wore no headphones at all. To be honest, that's actually a selling point for me, as I'm likely to wear these when I'm out and about, and the last thing I want to do is lose situational awareness. I honestly don't know how people can walk around with IEMs and other high noise isolation headphones. Aren't you afraid of literally anything in the world surprising you? That randomly speeding car that is paying more attention to his phone than the death machine they're in control of. That mugger coming up behind you. That rabid dog making a beeline straight towards you, fully intent on taking a chunk out of your behind. Really, I think IEMs in public are absolutely illogical and unsafe. So thank you Koss, for letting me stay aware of my surroundings.
As far as noise leakage out, the KPH40 leaks out as if you didn't even have them on, but really, small dynamic drivers don't tend to project very far past one room, let alone enough to really disturb anyone past 10-15 feet of you. If you close the door in the room you're in, you may as well be wearing closed headphones. You're not going to bother anyone with the KPH40. I probably wouldn't blast them at max volume in a library when sitting next to someone closer than 6 feet away, but for all other real world scenarios, I think people overestimate how much non-planar headphones leak. Compare a KPH40 to something like an Audeze LCD-2, and then tell me what noise leakage actually sounds like.
Disclaimer: My frequency tests are purely by ear through frequency tests. If you want objective, you won't find it here. This is my review, and how I personally feel about what I'm hearing. Just needed to reinforce this. My hearing perception may not match data measurements or your own perception.
Warning: The PortaPro Utility has also received an update in its rear housing design. Does it stop there, or did Koss ALSO use whatever drivers are in the KPH40 with the PortaPro utility? That's a question someone else will have to answer. For now, I'm under the assumption that the KPH40 and PortaPro sound different, simply because all the PortaPros I have owned all sounded like all my previous KSC35 and SportaPros. There is a distinction of those units being darker and more bass prominent than the KPH40 I have. IF Koss updated the PortaPro Utility to use the same drivers as the KPH40, then the tonal balance has shifted a bit towards more neutral, and not AS bass-centric and laid back. Perhaps in the future I'll try out the PortaPro utility to confirm whether they retain the old sound, or have changed. So just a word of warning. Any comparisons I make are with the KPH40 and OLDER PortaPros and its brethren. I know nothing of the new PortaPro Utility sound.
I highly doubt Koss will give anyone a solid, firm answer on whether they use the same drivers or not. So I leave it for others to measure the KPH40 and PortaPro Utility (on the same headband/mounts for proper 1:1 comparison). Though it may be the PortaPro utility still has the old sound which (to me) is obviously different. Time will tell.
Ok, with that out of the way... how does the KPH40 sound? Putting it simply? Glorious. Koss has run this particular game for 30+ years now, and it'd be insane to think they'd fumble from the winning formula they garnered with the PortaPro. It's a little less leaning towards the bombastic PortaPro sound, but it's still very much in the family.
The KPH40's bass can be heard as low as 25hz or so, but not much in terms of rumble and omnipotence. The KPH40 has an enjoyable and punchy mid bass with relatively quick decay next to the slower, fuller, more looseness found on the PortaPro and others. It's a nice balance without being bass heavy or lacking. Subjectively it seems to level out at 55hz and up. Very good presence towards lower midrange. Exceptionally volume matched. Outside of utter bassheads (which would do better with a SportaPro/PortaPro/KSC35) I doubt many people will complain about the bass representation on the KPH40. It's solid and well controlled. Something that puts headphones costing much higher to shame.
I personally prefer the darker, fuller sound of the more bass driven Porta/Sporta/35s for my bass needs, but if you're someone who wants a bit more control without verging on being 'lean', the KPH40 is the superior option, without question. It still presents bass really well, enough to do bassy genres justice. I have no complaints here. It still thumps and will make you want to dance.
Midrange to Treble:
Clean, well maintained presence, though a considerable dip just past 4.2khz. Most prominence between 5-6khz, with a dip at 8khz, and good, controlled treble from 9k-14k presence. The peakiness at 5-6k is the only area that I feel could be flattened/contained a bit, though it's really only a noticeable flaw in frequency tests, and doesn't come up as a problem during normal, varied listening. It does add to upper range brightness which can be heard in normal listening.
As I was accustomed to the older variants, the KPH40 does come across as a more refined, better balanced headphone. The midrange and treble presentation are just outright better in practically all aspects next to the older models. It sounds cleaner, clearer, and more vibrant, without stepping into zesty, fatiguing sound. Ultimately, again, I prefer a more laid back sound, but I think the vast majority of people will agree that the KPH40's midrange to treble presentation is a step above its predecessors.
Soundstage and Imaging:
This is an area I will never feel comfortable giving too many thoughts on, as I've never been too worried about soundstaging and imaging presentation of stereo/2ch sources. I mainly care if there is separation and a sense of space between notes and sonic objects, and the KPH40 does not disappoint there. With some music, it can even sound out of my head, which is all I need to be content with a headphone's soundstaging performance.
I would not expect magic with Koss drivers in terms of staging, but these do quite well. As the sound is quite open, there is no wall to stop the sound from extending into the room you're sitting in. It's not going to match the better open over ear headphones, but it can certain reach a size bigger than a lot of closed-back headphones. There's nothing overly intimate about its staging. I'd consider it medium in size overall. That's perfectly adequate for me, which in my book is an utter success.
Sound Signature and Clarity:
The KPH40 surpasses all other Koss variants with a very fleshed out, balanced sound without leaning too far in one direction. It still retains plenty of that Koss warmth and easy to listen nature of its peers, but it does have some sparkle and vibrancy that the PortaPros and its ilk lacked. In comparison, the others are boomy, looser sounding, with a lack of restraint. While I do find their qualities enjoyable, I do know it's of a lesser quality than the cleaner, higher fidelity sounding coming off the KPH40. It's just....better.
Depending on range, some may believe it can be bright, and some will believe it's laid back. I'd say it's a slightly lower than neutral color tonality and forwardness, but the lower treble peaks adds some bite that keeps the KPH40 from sounding overly relaxed. I can see amplification coloration making some difference to this, despite the KPH40 not needing any real amplification.
Where some find the KSC35, Portapros/Sportapros too warm, too bassy, or too smooth, the KPH40 exudes a better level of clarity and definition. Where some find the KSC75 too dry, bright or thin, the KPH40 offer a meatier, more grounded sound. The KPH40 is a solid middle ground between the others, being the bridge between their strengths, while eschewing their biggest weaknesses. The KPH40 is the true evolution of the Koss sound. Now that it exists, there's very little reason to go for the other models unless you specifically want to lean into their more extreme tonal balances.
The KPH40 can be driven by the electric output of a potato. Meaning, there's no real reason to even think twice about any amplifier you'd even consider using for the KPH40 (unless it's some OTL tube amp meant to be used for high impedance loads). If your source outputs essentially anything, the KPH40 will have more than enough supplied power. I'd worry more about the power being clean and noise-free. That's it. So if you're someone that doesn't want to utilize an external amp, then by all means, the KPH40 is for you. The old PortaPros were meant to be played by portable cassette players. Those were not powerful machines. Even at 60ohm (which some of you probably thought that sounded high next to typical 32ohm headphones), the KPH40 is very efficient. This makes the KPH40 a perfect companion. Seriously, if you have a main headphone, the KPH40 will always be a lovely secondary or tertiary headphone in part due to the effortlessness and versatility on what it sounds good off without any real power requirements.
I always had a great time with the KSC75, KSC35, Porta and Sportas, and this does not change with the KPH40. One could make the argument that the non-titanium coated Koss drivers are a bit darker and too bass focused for competitive, or serious gaming. They make great cases for fun, casual gaming, where single player, action heavy, atmospheric-driven games. They may lack in subtle nuances for the new cream of the crop online multiplayer games.
The KPH40 makes its case as a budget option that can work relatively well for those genres than the others lacked in. Now, the KPH40 isn't a complete turnaround from what made those drivers special and so beloved. It's simply more mature and articulate sounding, so details will be easier to pick out, allowing you to focus more on getting Ws.
In terms of virtual surround, I've always found all the earlier Koss drivers to sound fantastic and viable for proper surround emulation. The KPH40 doesn't change my mind. It works, and it works well. Give them a try with Dolby Headphone, Redscape Audio, Creative's SBX, SXFI, etc. They will perform admirably. They're not the BEST at rear depth like the higher level, full-sized headphones, but they works well enough where I don't feel the need to swap out for the high end.
Gaming with headphones is more than just pure sound quality. Long-session comfort in both the physical and aural sense is just as important, and that's one big area where the KPH40 triumphs. You can simply wear it all day and night with no fatigue on the neck or ear drums. The only area that may be a bit sore after a long session is the outer ears being a bit worn out from having them pressing in all day, but with some clips, this is also something that can be mitigated.
There simply isn't much in gaming I wouldn't grab the KPH40 for.
The KPH40 is a great, well balanced headphone that goes well with practically anything. Yes, it may not be the ideal, critical listening headphone, but for those with realistic expectations, you'll find the KPH40 to just achieve greatness, and perform above and beyond with everything you throw at it. Games? Check. Action films? Check. Jazz? Check. Classical? Check. LoFi? Check. Really, it does not disappoint (within realistic expectations). If you're an shameless basshead, you may perhaps opt for the Koss Porta/Sporta/35 models instead. Even then, the KPH40 has plenty of bass bite, so I'm speaking of the 10% that will want more.
Are the KPH40 practical? The KPH40 may not be as portable as the KSC35 or KSC75, but it's something you can easily wear around the neck, or toss in a bag, and have zero worries about the disintegrating. They are a perfect portable solution. I love that they're fully open so you can stay aware of your surroundings. They weigh nothing. They're easy to power by anything, and they sound great on the go, or at home. It is truly a do it all headphone. The better question is why wouldn't you use the KPH40 for essentially every need? The only thing I'd probably not use a KPH40 for is air travel or on subways. Hey Koss, make some true closed-back versions, at the very least, for these kinds of environments! Not sure how, and they'd likely use some god-awful pleather pads that would ruin comfort, but I'd like to see them try.
Who Is It For?
Let me be clear. The KPH40 is for everyone. If you have $40, get the KPH40. Oh you own $4000 headphones? I don't care. Get the KPH40. Hell, get the KPH40, and get a KSC75 so you can use its clips for it. Then you can wear the KPH40 while laying down in bed without fear of them sliding off your ears.
The KPH40 is for all of us. I mentioned it earlier, but the KPH40 is a perfect secondary or tertiary headphone, for when you want to use a headphone in places that your main headphones don't fit, like bed, or running, or breakdancing.
The sound will appeal to essentially everyone that isn't a complete nutjob with trash ears. I'm mentioning what should be known as a fact of life. The KPH40 should be in everyone's arsenal. Even your kids. Even your grandparents. Give it to everyone in your family and friend's list. Seriously. Unless they're animals that yank on cables. Don't give those kind of people the KPH40. They don't deserve one.
Likes and Dislikes
- Well balanced and lively + simply amazing sound
- Performance to price ratio/insane value
- Great for gaming for all genres, systems, etc.
- Some peakiness between 5-6khz
- Still no detachable cables where it counts (at the driver)
- Frustratingly short stock cable (yanks will ensue)
- The continued lack of strain relief, which will (update: ALREADY DID) undoubtedly lead to cable failure at some point. Koss, fix this, and fix it ASAP. FIX. IT.
- Expensive optional cables that cost more than the actual headphone. (Pay someone to mod MMCX connectors instead, seriously)
- Did I mention that I don't trust the connection between the cable and the drivers?
The KPH40 sound is exceptionally high quality at its price tier, with little to nothing being able to rival them without the cost of losing the musicality and toe-tapping engagement they bring. Sure, you can save up 40-ish dollars more for a Grado 60 series, but those are a fair bit more unwieldy, and lose the practicality. They're also far, FAR less comfortable. They may be on ear, but they may as well be full sized headphones. So really, I wouldn't put them in the same category as the KPH40.
The KPH40 certainly performs favorably all the way up to around $100, but I think the $100+ tier has some absolute bangers like the K612 Pro, and X2HR which are next level above. The KPH40 has its place below, and has no direct competition for the best sub-$100, portable open-back. Nothing but Koss offerings, all inferior to the KPH40 in general. They stand alone. You'd ask about the SHP9500 which I unfortunately haven't heard. Maybe those can give them a run for their money. I can't say. I CAN say that I bought the SHP9600, and....the less I say about it, the better. I was NOT a fan. I thought I heard muffled before. I was wrong. I digress.
I love all my Koss 'driver on a headband/clip' headphones. I will never live without one. I have a problem in that Koss has supplied a product that I can't live without. The KPH40 is the new formula that is simply better than the past iterations. Yes, the cable is too short and (likely) will break (as it already has on mine 2 weeks after review), but that's what their lifetime warranty is for, if you're okay with that.
I know I said that I prefer the darker, smoother sound on the other past models (with the exception of the KSC75 which is inferior in all respects, although still fantastic on its own). However, I can't deny that the KPH40 is simply the best model overall. No question about it. For 99% of you, there is a new top choice. Throw away all your KPH30i, Sportapro, and Portapros and anything remotely near this price range. There is a new king of the budget tier. KPH40, I kneel to you.
New Drop colorway (and at a little cheaper price)