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Apr 6, 2019
After some time with the Koss ESP/95x I am still appreciating their range and clarity. They make the HD 6xx sound kludgy and muddy by comparison. Bass extension is greater in the ESP/95x but also far, far cleaner. It is interesting that there is a different "feel" to the bass (as opposed to the sound) between the two. The HD6xx's "feel" heavier in the bass but the actual sound is both muffled and rolls off higher up. Going back and forth between the two I perceive the timbre of bass instruments with the ESP/95x's where there is more of a sort of low frequency rumble with the HD6xx's. One of the enjoyable qualities of the ESP/95x's is the sense of distance and layering of instruments and voices in good recordings. Sound source placement is obviously not the same as with loudspeakers but there is a strong sense of placement and distance that is well outside my head. The HD 6xx do nothing like that. The ESP/95x's are much more comfortable to wear. I can wear them as long as I want to listen without comfort becoming an issue. The HD6xx are heavier, hotter, and tighter. The band starts to annoy the top my head after extended listening as does the squeezing of my skull between the earcups. I use the Dekoni Pads which seemed to be of marginal benefit. Build quality is not so important to me. As a furniture maker I see very few electronics products as attractive or well made as far as their exteriors go. But I'm after sound and don't consider the aesthetics of the exterior that important an issue (except for loudspeakers) and even less the packaging. I'm careful with these objects and don't worry about breaking them. I'm using an iFi Pro iDSD to drive these. The HD6xx's are run balanced. On that note, the HD6xx's did improve substantially from a SE portable player to this arrangement. I was very pleased with that jump in performance. But the Koss ESP/95x represent another substantial improvement in sound. I listen to a range of music genres but generally not current pop. I like to use Mickey Hart's "Temple Caves" as a start to see where bass response is. I listen to jazz, fusion, different electronic genres, fingerstyle, classical and Brazilian guitar, Classical Indian traditions, some Western Classical symphonic and chamber music, classical piano, some rock and pop from my youth like Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, David Crosby, or Hendrix, and slightly more recent guitar oriented rock like Joe Satriani and Ozric Tentacles. I do a lot of exploration of these and other genres on Tidal and Spotify. Those are my musical bases of comparison. I don't have a large basis of experience in the headphone world as these two are the only decent headphones I've owned. I have listened to others briefly and long ago and my memeory of those was essentially not enjoyable. Thus the review is based on these and may not be useful to others who aren't familiar with the HD6xx. Someday I hope to try a planar magnetic headphone to see how they compare, and perhaps a better dynamic driver headphone. But I'm pretty happy with where I am with the Koss/ESP95x.
Apr 6, 2019
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