Koss ESP950 Electrostatic Headphone Systemsearch

Koss ESP950 Electrostatic Headphone System

Koss ESP950 Electrostatic Headphone System

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My ESP950 works well, once I figured out the left/right volume knob. It does have a certain intimacy, especially with female vocals. It has a very liquid midrange but the treble can sound grainy and the bass lacks impact. I did try it with a higher-quality amplifier (KGSS) and it gave the sound more weight and less grain, but I still preferred my HD800S (I understand it's not a fair comparison) with most music. Definitely a unique sound and very comfortable, though I wish the earpads were of higher quality.
I am concerned about comments by Thomas Norton on Inner Fidelity (https://www.innerfidelity.com/content/koss-esp950-electrostatic-stereophones-page-2).
I have been following this site for a long time and delight in their realistic but un-sarcastic reviews. There will always be design related critiques regarding any device. But Norton’s observations are rather more serious.
He complains about humming and rustling noises, specially on head movement. He suspects that the volume pot may be generating noise when turned. Much more seriously, he reports small electric shocks from the headphone housing!
As others do, Norton reports fantastic sound from these headphones.. But problems of such a basic nature smack of tacky and careless production. I wondered if the reason why the ESP950 is so much cheaper than the Atax is that it is just that much more cheaply made.
I read this review as soon as the Koss came up for the drop. It worried me and I decided to look around a bit more. By then it was gone.
Any similar experiences?
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Reassuring. Will try that trackwhen I have the phones. I listen to a lot of classical music. I am told that too sounds awesome on the 950.
Thanks.
Sujay Rao
Mine had a small almost inaudible electrical "whir" sound in the left ear that would come and go when they were new. It was there when running from wall-wart or the batteries. However, after a couple long listening sessions it's gone (and has been for a long time). I'm actually shocked by the silence of the energizer (fantastic noise floor). I have also never gotten any shocks. You should also consider that the review you cite is really old, and if you do have an issue, Koss has incredible warranty service.
Got them in last night and have been listening to them since. Tried on the Vesper pads, but am very dissapointed with how they sound - don't like the change in sound they give, seems like they introduce some reflection/reverb and are slightly harsher. Also seem to introduce a very slight, HD6XX like veil to the sound. Overall think the Vesper pads, even though more comfortable and help bring out more bass, are a detriment to the sound quality to me. More than happy with the stock pads.

As far as how they sound on my system with the stock pads... absolutely fantastic! Incedible detail and intonation changes come across. Slightly bass light for my taste, but the Loki fixed that no problem with 20Hz knob to ~3:00 position. Very nice body to the bass now and feels right playing Haywyre songs, even if not the same bass quantity as my modded TH-X00PH. That's the thing with these, the music feels right and is smoothly presented - like an HD6XX with much more detail and clarity, but less bass output. Waiting on Koss to STAX adapter cable to come in for the used STAX SRM-323S Driver Unit I recently picked up from someone local.

Really loving the ESP950 so far: they are my work setup today with laptop -> Gustard X20U DAC -> Schiit Loki -> E90/ESP950:

VRacer111
What vesper are you talking about, can you take a picture of the earpads? There are many types listed on their site, which did you chose?
All leather, or part leather part suede?

Thanks! :)
Woot-Zee
They are the leather/Alcantara versions from the Fongaudio website:

https://fongaudio.com/store/default/headphones-31/headphones/headphone-accessories/koss-esp950-custom-replacement-pads.html
So upset I missed this! My Stax amp that I got used cost more than this package! Will this get dropped again?

The Koss drops are some of the best deals on MD ($599 for this, $99 for the KDE250)
Can we have this drop again or how about a stax drop.
Wow this went fast. It must have sold out in 12 hours.
Swampy
45 is a ridiculously small drop for a deal like this. I got in when it was at 35 sold at about 1 AM, and when I woke up it was sold out completely. Kind of a big impulse purchase, but in the short time I had to research them I found very little bad anyone had to say about them, and a lot of people loving them, so I'm really looking forward to these headphones.
gardibolt
If it makes you feel better, I own a pair of these and they're absolutely amazing. Complaints are around build quality, but given how heavy some of my headphones are, I actually think the plastic-ness of these is what differentiates it.

I'm also a big live music listener, and it absolutely changed everything for me!
What was the final drop price please?
kaiL
599
GeorgeTse
holy fock, thx
These are end game cans, on a budget. I bought mine on an extended black Friday from the Big A last year for $649, paid tax. There is an enthusiast's thread on Head-Fi, you can do better price-wise, if you work hard at it, but usually second hand. For transparent sound, stellar transient response, electrostatics are hard (impossible?) to beat. These are well known for their wonderful midrange, but I'm awed by their high and low end as well. If they have a frequently mentioned shortcoming, it would be lack of booming bass. Hey, we are used to the low end distortion of dynamic speakers. If your playback includes a computer, the best solution isn't EQ, it's a harmonic exciter. Really! Go nuts and swap out for Vesper Audio pads, you'll thank me later. Plus, you don't need a super duper headphone amp to make them sound great. Well, a high current Stax amp someday, maybe. So much for end game on a budget...
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luger
What, specifically, is your harmonic exciter solution? Interested in learning more.
winterfog
Really, give a try to the product thread in Head-Fi.
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/koss-esp-950-thread.581491/
Someone, I think a recording engineer, recommended I stop beefing about not having enough bass distortion, recommended a harmonic exciter. Was harder to find than I thought, but I found one that works with Foobar2k...
https://hydrogenaudio/index.php/topic,86083.0.html is the (now defunct) working site for the developer. Settings to use can be found there.
DSP_BassExciter_EN.rar can still be downloaded from http://www65.zippyshare.com/v/vb7aMrzA/file.html
all the other mirrors, etc look like they've expired. Even that one is over 1.5 yrs old.
Enjoy!
I used this headphone 8 years ago and it has one of the Best midrange, vocal.
Check the measurements here.
http://en.goldenears.net/15022
This is an incredible deal!