Massdrop x Koss ESP/95X Electrostatic System

Massdrop x Koss ESP/95X Electrostatic System

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Product Description
A revival of the standard-setting ESP/950 released by Koss in 1990, these headphones bring electrostatic quality into a whole new price bracket. Initially designed for live recording, the ESP/950 came with a large carrying case and a battery pack to power the required energizer: a special amplifier for electrostatic drivers Read More
Here's what our community has to say
All of our reviews are from verified customers.
4.3
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310
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85%
would recommend to a friend
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W8TERM3LON
8
Apr 20, 2022
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lots of treble
The headphones are not the greatest and lack treble. Otherwise they're ok.
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Would not recommend to a friend.
SuperScope96
283
Feb 9, 2022
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At the Price, an Unparalleled Experience
The Koss ESP/95X are arguably the most intense, impressive, and eye-opening personal audio experience you can have at their price point. Weaknesses include their energizer, but this is hardly upgradeable without switching to discontinued STAX or iFi units and custom adapters for considerably more money. The bi-channel volume knob is best used by setting & forgetting it; use a variable knob on your DAC/PC/Preamp instead. On the B-Stock Dekoni fenestrated leather pads I've upgraded mine with, they're possibly the most comfortable headphones I have in my 40+ pair collection.
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Would recommend to a friend.
LordBorg
321
Jan 3, 2022
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Great sound experience for price!
These are my first electrostatics and I'll be keeping them in my collection. For the price, they sound very good: clear, punchy sound with a bit of warmth depending on your equipment.
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Would recommend to a friend.
janksd
3
Dec 29, 2021
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Great headphones, but not plug-n-play!
I have had them for almost a year. Initially, it was a hustle and the first impressions were quite bad. Sounded so bad, I thought of returning. After the equalization, the headphones became alive! Using my laptop built-in sound card they sounded decent. After the purchase of iFi Zen DAC, I have been using them almost daily and they are great! By using convolution equalizer in Roon or "Equalizer APO" for other media sources, the sound has been amazing! For electrostatic headphones, I think this is still the best entry. It is not fair to compare with my Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros as sound with ZenDAC and proper equalization is mind-boggling. You can get a heavy bass if you want, just do some equalization and they will tickle your head. As others have mentioned the construction seems flimsy and cheap, but they are light. With proper bending, I achieved a nice clamping force that they seal and don't press too much on the head. This way they can be worn for hours. There are some creaking noises, which I have gotten used to and mainly comes from the leather of earpads being noisy. I have read that lot of other users bought a different power supply for the energizer. I bought a medical-grade XP Power VEP24US09 cheap one that seemed with low enough noise output. As the energizer is stepping up the voltage then I assumed that the energizer's circuit would introduce more electrical noise than the switching power supply. I have not checked the spectral changes but to the ear, I could not notice differences from the original supply. In addition, the switching supply is much lighter. Have not looked into a new energizer as STAX ones usually cost the same amount as the headphones themselves, but might improve the sound even more.
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Would not recommend to a friend.
octokid321
13
Dec 7, 2021
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TL;DR-Amazing and recomended but have certain quirks that you must deal with. Ive owned these for almost two years now. If i had written this review when i first got them i wouldve given them 5 stars. However things have changed and i have since acquired and listened to better headphones that have completely changed my definition of 5 stars. With that out of the way lets get into it. These headphones are great and in some areas amazing. They were my first set of electrostatics so naturally i was blown away by the speed, clarity, etherealness of the sound. The bass on this headphone is decent. Its very neutral, if not slightly bass light. However it is clear, punchy, and fast. But this along with most other electrostatics, isnt gonna blow you away in the bass department, unless EQ is applied. If you are a bass head this is not the headphone for you as are most other estats with a few notable,but very pricey, exceptions. Stick to planars and dynamics for that. However if that doesnt describe you and you are someone that revells in the mids and treble then please keep reading. The mids and the treble are nothing short of transformative. If your have never experienced estats before this is the area of the sound that they are known for. They have speed, clarity, impactfullness, and an almost "ethereal" quality to them. Youll hear that word alot if you decide to go down the estat rabbit hole. While it almost sounds pretentious, after owning a few sets of estats now, it is an accurate description. The sound is so quick and so clear that its like it appears from thin air and then vanishes as quickly as it came. Now you might be thinking "holy crap this sounds amazing let me buy these right now!" STOP! Before you purchase these there are a few very important quirks and features (doug demuro would be proud) that you MUST be aware of with these headphones and other estats in general. I will list them as follows:
  1. DUST, DUST,DUST- I cannot stress this enough. Due to the nature of electrostatic driver construction (something which i wont get into here to save time, google is your friend) dust is the kryptonite of estats. Dust will weigh down the driver and cause popping, hizzing, and other electrical noises that deminish sound quality. It will, not it can, it WILL cause these problems aswell as channel imbalances. Store these in a dust free enviroment. I literally just drape a big ziplock bag over them when not in use. Cheap but effective.
  2. Wierd noise- These headphones can make wierd noises when music is not being played while turned on. It sounds like electrical noise or squealing. Usually tapping the cups gently with your fingers fixes the problem. This is my only pair of estats that do this, my other ones dont have this problem. However this problem while remedied easily is just a part of this headphone's character as it is very common among owners. Sometimes these noises can become permenant so its a good thing koss has a legendary no hassel life time warranty. Most of these noises are due to the energizer unit being subpar which is will expand on in the energizer section of this review.
  3. Energizer- An energizer is just a fancy word for an electrostatic amplifier. This heaphone comes with one, which is part of the reason this deal is game changing. These headphones by themselves are already a steal at 500$. That being said this energizer, the E90, is the weakest link in this system. It is very cheaply made and has had the same design since it was released in 1990. As such it is very prone to electrical noise and makes the headphones operate at a fraction of their potential. The electrical noise can be remedied by buying an aftermarket 9v power supply. IFI makes a great one for 50$. The sound quality can only be remedied by buying a better STAX amp(used ones start at around 500$ and only go up from there) but you must also purchase a cable adapter and those cost atleast 100$. Now before this is disheartening, the stock amp still sounds great and is likely leagues above anything else most people are used to hearing. I only mention its short comings to give you an idea of an upgrade path with this headphone as well as inform any estat enthusiasts that read this.
  4. Warranty- As stated above the koss lifetime warranty is legendary and you WILL use it at some point when owning this heaphone. They are very delicate and will accumulate dust causing all the previously stated problems no matter how careful you are. My personal pair has to be sent out due to a channel imbalance that appeared a couple months ago and i babied them. Now this isnt too big of deal because it is a lifetime warranty but its still an annoyance and unfortunatly just another part of owning this headphone.
  5. WORK- If all the afformentioned quirks and features havent spelled it out yet, owning Estats is work. They have problems unique to them. They cost a mountain of money(exluding this bundle). They have to be stored properly. They require special hardware to work properly. I could go on but i think you get it.
Now youre problably thinking at this point "why would i bother with these if they are so difficult to deal with?" Its a valid question. Im here to tell you why. Its because the reward is so high. The audio experience you get is so lovely and so rewarding that its addicting. I bought these headphones on a whim to satisfy my curiosity about estats. I now own several pairs of estats with one of them, The $1800 ES Labs ES-1A, being the best headphone ive ever heard and ive heard ALOT. All of this because of the Koss ESP 95X. These headphones hold a special place in my heart because of this and as such i will never sell them. Despite owning better estats and several standard dynamic and planar headphones i still come back to these because there is something magical about them. It might be because they are the little engine that could of estats. They are the cheapest ones available but they sound so good and punch wayyyyyy above their price bracket. Their most direct competitors are the Stax L300 and in my opinion the koss sound a little better and actually come with and energizer. The L300s cost aroud $450 and dont come with the energizer unless you get the $700 bundle available on ebay that ships from japan and requires a D/C converter to work in american and european electrical outlets. It also might be because they were my first forray into the magical world of estats. I believe its a bit of both reasons. I could sing you the Koss ESP 95x swan song for the rest of my years but instead ill end with this: BUY them and enjoy real sound for the first time but also know the work you have to put in. Thanks for attending my TED talk.
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Would recommend to a friend.
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Er1ckOh
23
Nov 22, 2021
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Great intro to electrostats
I got these babies on sale and I'm pretty happy with them. Very fast, very detailed, imaging is excellent. Cheap build quality though.
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Would recommend to a friend.
ukmichaeldavid
55
Nov 22, 2021
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other worldly
It was so clear I thought the singer was in my head, no distortion, bass is not as good as a dynamic driver, but midrange and treble make up for it in spades. Own a piece of electronic hifi history....
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Would recommend to a friend.
irina.savenko2
0
Nov 13, 2021
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The sound from this kit exceeded all expectations. This is very different from dynamic, magnetoplanar and armature headphones.
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Would recommend to a friend.
notsimar
2
Aug 26, 2021
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A great way to enjoy the 80's again
These offer a fun presentation of classic 80's music. You will have to eq the bass to your taste
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Would recommend to a friend.
nahct
9
Jul 17, 2021
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Good, affordable entry level electrostatic headphone
The Koss ESP/95X is very comfortable and very lightweight for extended listening sessions. The plastic construction is somewhat fragile. The headband clamping force is light and the large, oval circumaural ear pads are comfortable. Earcup position is less sensitive than that of dynamic driver headphones.  The overall sound signature is polite bass, natural mids, smooth highs, and large sound stage. The ESP/95X is non-fatiguing, easy listening for extended periods. It lacks the punchiness of dynamic drivers, but the articulation of the mid bass through lower treble range is very good. The upper treble is slightly laid back. The sound stage is big with good width and height, but constricted in depth and dynamic range. These shortcomings could be due to the energizer unit rather than using a true amplifier (at significant additional cost) as with my Stax Lambda Pro and SR-507 electrostatic headphones. I have not tried using an adapter cable to drive the ESP/95X using the rather bulky Stax Class A amplifier unit. One issue I encountered with my unit is susceptibility to AC hum/EMI interference due to the unshielded plastic energizer case. I had to replace another system component's wall wart power adapter to eliminate AC hum picked up and amplified by the ESP/95X energizer unit. Hum was never an issue with this other component until paired with the ESP/95X.  The earcups do not swivel about the vertical axis, but it was a nonissue for me. The headband adjustment sliders do not have detents and the friction is too loose for my preference. The dual concentric volume control knob is a major disappointment. It is loosely ganged to provide balance control as well as volume, but it is too loose. I wrapped some electrical tape around both knobs so they rotate together without having to fiddle with (or simultaneously gripping) each knob when changing volume. The ESP/95X is a good, affordable entry level electrostatic headphone. They complement, but do not replace a comparably priced set of dynamic driver headphones. Lifetime warranty is a major plus. 
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Would recommend to a friend.
TerryKim
2
Sep 12, 2021
Then you should send it to Koss for warranty. I had left and right balance difference issue and noise issues so I had it sent for warranty. When it came back, there was no noise and left right balance is perfect.
ds60
77
Mar 15, 2022
I went through a few and ended up just getting stuff from Stax and Mjolnir. Never worked right and always either had a problem out of the box or developed one after time.
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