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:
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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! :)
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!
Wish I had the cash for this one!
I've been considering a set of electrostatics for a long time. How do these compare to traditionally driven headphones such as hd600s, k712s? Are they worth the upgrade?
spidum
These are a few levels above the HD600 in details and transparency, and also are completely different sound signature. I never had a chance to listen to AKG K712, so cannot say. But I do have old stax SR-X, and I am absolutely in love with the electrostatics, as they sound so much more involved, powerful, and, at the same time intimate, than any dynamic headphones i ever tried. I do wish I had gumption to grab the ESP950s...
On the fence about these-- Having used dynamics and planars/orthodynamics (I'm a fan of the planar sound, if that's relevant) before I've been investigating the possibility of grabbing a set of electrostatic headphones.
I know STAX are the gold standard for electrostats, but are these worth looking into for someone on a restricted budget or should I hold out and do a one and done on an L300 or L700?
I've read different accounts about tonality and frequency reproduction (low end and high end), build quality of the amp and headphones, and how they compare to the STAX sound signature. Unfortunately, these have only put me more up on the fence.
I'm also curious if anyone knows where I can find a complete STAX set? I seem to only find the amp or the headphones where I've looked thus far.
TheDisruptor
I've heard both the ESP950 and STAX SR-L500 and do prefer the STAX lamda series. That said, I did really like ESP950, slightly warmer/mellowed sound than the STAX lamda series, do prefer both the ESP950 and STAX Lamda series over the STAX Omega series, HD800, etc.... The L series STAX do have a certain special presentation of music, and the SR-L700 is my end goal for a headphone. The reason you go for the STAX is a unique sound experience you can't really get from most any other headphone. But, the ESP950 is VERY nice sounding headphone, better than HD800, Audeze LC series, or STAX Omega series to me. This drop has me thinking...
VRacer111
Thank you for your thoughtful response. Shortly after posting I was pointed to a slick deal on a full 3100 set of STAX for slightly over $600 and couldn't pass it up. That said, your comment certainly has me watching for future drops/deals on the ESP950 because it appears to be the case that build quality in electrostats is pretty ho-hum across the category (excluding unobtainium models) and thus it becomes a sound quality/signature battle from then on.
These are great cans. I loved my pair and they now live with a friend who enjoys them even more.
I remember seeing these headphones go for around $400 on a black friday a couple years back. I regret never jumping onto it.. Maybe if they're a little bit cheaper I'd buy them
I did a review of these a couple years ago. Might be of interest?
https://youtu.be/s1RQhYTnOEo
How do these compare to the Stax L300 / SRS-3100?
DarthShader
In my opinion, they don’t. I have more time with the stax than these. But all I needed to know that stax are still at the top. And that has a price. I am saving up for the SR-L700 now, and will then sell the L300.
DarthShader
These aren't even in the same league as the Stax, and they don't pretend to be either. Koss is a budget oriented brand, Stax aims to make world class headphones
I have these and love them. They lack deep bass, but their mids are some of the best that money can buy, bar none.
I am by no measure an audiophile or expert or anything, but I used to work with these. I have listened to dozens of these, and I have to think you can get something better than this for that kinda money (yes, I know electrostatic headphones are generally very expensive).
cheaper right now on amazon.ca (finally better price in Canada). With our terrible exchange rate, it is practically free for you americans!
https://www.amazon.ca/Koss-160416-ESP-950-Electrostatic-Stereophone/dp/B000056ULH/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511541215&sr=8-1&keywords=koss+950
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good point, i didnt see that red text as I am in Canada.
Edwg
Holy smokes but they won't ship to US from what I see. Converts to $518!!
lmfao, this headhpones is back on the market!
Would there by any issues buying these as an Australian whose mains electricity is 240v, not 120v? Would I simply have a product I cannot use?
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japan std is 100v/50hz...u need an adaptor to use the japanese version in countries with 240v/60 hz
Clioman
you are correct. thank-you.
I got a pair of these about a year ago from Amazon's warehouse deals. It looks like someone purchased these, took them out of the leather case, hooked them up and, probably being a bass head, as most of the younger set seem to be these days, was totally disappointed by their lack of bass. Not so. If the bass is there it will reproduce it, just not at "Beats" level. These cans are wonderful. From sub bass to mid bass, upper bass, lower mids and so on. So smooth and clean. Women's voices will knock your socks off. When I first got these I kept thinking I was hearing noises from outside as it appeared to be coming from down and behind me. It was the sound stage. Unbelievable. I am disabled and watch a lot of television and these are the most comfortable headphones I have ever worn. 8 or 10 hours at a stretch with zero discomfort. Light weight plastic construction gets confused with bad build quality. Metal is used where needed. The plastic that is used is exceptionally strong. I have at least 40 pairs of headphones and 8 or 10 earphones. They are by far are the best all around headphones for listening to all types of music, except rap, dubstep etc. I am an old guy, 63, and love Metallica. They sound fine. I have thousands of hours on this pair of ESP950's without any problems. Well, one problem and it's not the phones fault. I have a ground loop hum that I have almost eliminated but this old house (1950) has some screwed up wiring. Used them at my neighbor's mid 70's home and no hum. I got mine for $534.53. They were perfect. The retail packaging is trashed,looked like crap, but everything in the case was as new. I have a friend with a Stax Lambda, and these are better, no doubt. Buy them, you can't go wrong. Hell, the pads are easy to replace too and are $5.00, including shipping from Koss. Lifetime warranty. I had purchased a pair of Pro4s, again from Amazon Warehouse Deals for around $85. Well, my female friend, ran over the cord with the vacuum cleaner, ripped the end of it right off. Didn't think about using their warranty as it was our fault. I called them to purchase just the cable and was told that I would have to send hem in for repair. I told them what had happened, and that we threw the cable away. No problem, send them in. I am glad that is their policy. I had read many articles about them before I purchased them. Everyone was saying that the Pro4S we're not a true studio headphone as they have a generous amount of bass. Mine were very flat in the bass department. They were wired incorrectly internally and were out of phase. You have to put a $9 check in with your return to cover shipping, that's it. Got a brand new pair. I didn't send them back in the factory box or it's case. I got a brand new pair. Case and all. Put them on and was floored at the sound quality. Now these had bass. You can't go wrong with Koss, good people! Thank you! Charles ♿🔊😵🎧
Enginepartsguy
Excellent write up, EPG. You say not for bass heads such as Beats but what about production of bass music? I'm looking for accurate representation to mix my tracks while having an excellent soundstage.
Gosh, I missed this one.!
Hope it will be another drop. (With improved MASSDROP -style headphone) -- maybe vesperaudio pads :D
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Thanks, man! I've seen that, but I am too low on funds right now, and the holidays are coming! :D I wanted improved massdrop (massdrop made, or at least new earpads) , because the price on these default is not that good.
Woot-Zee
Yeah, I hear you on the price. But I saw your comment and thought I'd ping you in case you hadn't seen the drop. Happy holiday month!
Hey everyone, We’re happy to report that all of the orders have been shipped out! Tracking info should start updating in 24 hours. Thanks again for the support guys. Make sure to share your experience with the Koss ESP950 Electrostatic Headphone System on Massdrop. If there’s anything else we can do to make your Massdrop experience better, feel free to email us at support@massdrop.com. -HS
Hey everyone, We just got an update from Koss that the order is scheduled to be shipped out to you on Monday. We’ll notify everyone once the shipment is on its way. Cheers!
Hi, missed this one, but need a backup pair, what was the final drop price? Thanks.
Hey everyone, We’ve just submitted our order for the ESP950 Electrostatic Headphone System with Koss. Now that the order has been placed, Koss will prepare it for shipment. In the meantime, we will also be getting our warehouse ready to handle the reshipment of the product to everyone as soon as it arrives. The moment we receive confirmation regarding the shipment schedule from Koss, we will provide you guys with the updated information. Cheers!
:( i Get paid in 5 days
does Koss stand behind the warranty in Canada? Or is it a US based warranty?