🔶 KOSS ESP/95x

I bought the Yaxi pads from Japan. They’re smaller than stock, and it was a little tough to stretch them on.

They’re way more comfy than stock. Smoother and softer. I just wish they were a little thicker.

They maybe add a little more low end over the stock pads, but overall the sound is still amazing and I couldn’t hear any negative differences. I think they improved the sound.

They arrived in like 5 days or so from Japan to Quebec, I was pretty surprised! For $76 CAD landed I’m happy with them.

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I bought this guy to test if I could do a modern take on the classic battery pack the Old Koss ESP 950 used to have. It totally worked! So technically you could just get this cable and use any powerbank/USB-C PD Charger with the 95X.

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Hey! So I know it’s been a hhhwile now, but maybe you or someone reading this can remember: where would the 95X be sitting among similar Hifiman models, strictly in terms of detail capability? Let’s assume EQ is not a problem, so personally I would make them just as bright as any Hifiman we’re comparing. You already placed them above the Ananda, do they reach Arya levels for detail? Or maybe even HEK levels?

Hmmmm I’m not really up to speed on a lot of the new hifiman models like the stealth updates for the ananda or ayra, but I’d say that on the base level koss system and assuming the hifiman have reasonable ish chains to drive them for their performance level, in terms of specifically detail, it’s clearly above something like a sundara or 560 or edition xs, above the ananda (although not next tier better imo), and below the ayra. In comparison to the he6 especially an og it would more wildly depend on the chain but I’d also say that on an appropriate chain that’s also going to be a step ahead for sure in terms of detail. It’s def not at the level of a hek (either v2 or se) or above in any case imo

If you upgrade from the stock energizer and get a pretty nice one with some adapters, it can scale and that would make it compare more favorably to something like the arya imo in terms of resolution (hard to do apples to apples but potentially similar level if you boost it far enough?, although if you then keep boosting the arya it would widen the gap). Hard to really do a proper comparison as it would also depend on the chain you drive the hifiman with in terms of what they could do, since for lets say something with the arya it’s going to depend on the level of your chain for how far ahead it might be. Also going too far on the stat amp for the koss really calls into question value prop, and at that point it might make more sense to consider moving to a more capable estat. While great for the price, the koss energizer does hold them back from what they can potentially do imo

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OK, thanks! Of course I meant this question as a potential buyer of the base versions of everything, so what makes this a fight in the Ed.XS/Ananda price class is the stock 95X vs. the Hifiman if powered by something decent, nothing too crazy, no special purchases just for this shootout, just like no special Stax energizer for the 95X. Otherwise the comparison gets unmanageable real fast, with everything you could upgrade around each headphone. :slight_smile:

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Gotcha gotcha, yeah I’d say from an overall resolution perspective the 95x system on it’s own is going to be ahead of an edx or ananda with a typical chain for those imo, really don’t think you can go wrong with the 95x for the price, imo my favorite estat + energizer combo under 1k, personally prefer it to the l300/500 and accompanying entry stax amp

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OK then. I’ll see which of these competing tall/oval cup models I can get a good deal on, as I’m also trying not to stray too far from the 2017 price of my 400i lol. With the 95X the one worry still holding me back is that some reviews say they’re not that big on staging while comparable egg-shaped Hifimen get worshiped and offered baby goat sacrifices for their soundstage size. :stuck_out_tongue:

Man I have to get mine looked at or open it up. Got my left channel cutting out on the Koss and it basically killed me inside. Really hate not having them around due to the detail. :frowning:

So, while I do think the lower end egg shaped hifiman like the ananda or edxs have a fairly grandiose stage, having decent wow factor off the bat, they actually aren’t as deep and accurate as the koss, and the koss is still honestly on the larger side of things in comparison to other headphones. It’s just really a case of the hifiman having a more immediately “wow that sounds large” stage but the koss providing more spatial information more accurately that gets smoothed over or is absent on the hifiman imo

Doesn’t the 95x come with a lifetime warranty? Pretty sure you just register the headphones then ship it to them along with a check for like 15 bucks or something, would have to check though

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Yea I drag my feet on that stuff. I will here eventually this year. I tend to like to fix my own issues since I got an iron if its just a connection issue, but with estats not sure if its an issue with the membrane keeping charge due to a mechanical issue etc. Even the box smh.

Re: comparisons, this angry power supply builder man who’s blasting everyone for changing wall warts on the 95X seems to think they’re a bit better in detail than even the 1266 and the HEK: Massdrop x Koss ESP/95X Electrostatic System Reviews | Drop | So...after a few...
Just what I needed to hear while waiting for that shipment to come in. :star_struck:
(I mean on both counts - including the “you don’t have to spend extra on a different power supply”.)

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OK, I need to stop listening to these and get some food in me. Real “gotta re-listen to whole collection” thing going with these, god damn.

So on first listen after 1-2h of energizing them I was not impressed. Most importantly there was a surprising lack of any “magic”, of any eye-widening realization of “a-ha, this is the electrostatic sound everyone’s been gushing about”, they just sounded like good headphones with good extension, deep enough bass, not a lot of impact, wide enough stage, mayybe more detailed than the 400i, couldn’t be sure without an A/B.

Today I went for the A/B after 21-22h of keeping them plugged in, both 95X and 400i driven by the Oppo HA-2, except of course with the added energizer for the 95X (fed from the separate line-out of the HA-2). For the first few songs I got the impression that yes, they were definitely more detailed than the 400i, but there was also a lack of depth to the soundstage, like their stage was a 2D version of the 400i stage: just as wide and tall but with no depth and no “body” to the instruments, and hence no realism. What the hell? I didn’t get these to trade 3D realism for some extra detail.

But as I kept listening the depth and body got more and more indistinguishable between the two, I started to hear the taller cups producing an umistakeably taller stage for the 95X, to the point that switching to the 400i was like trying to listen to music through that “horizontal slot” opening of a cashier’s booth, the ones where you have to bend down to talk to the cashier. :stuck_out_tongue: The detail advantage also got way more obvious and even the bass impact got up to where it was effortlessly spanking the 400i. From memory I would say not even the Verum 1 mk1 with stock pads had this level of impact, though there’s still more impact that I’d like to add on some songs, maybe because I’m used to what dynamics and subwoofers can do.

It seems Nottagorilla was right, and I count myself very lucky to have found his comments before getting these in my hands: it matters a lot how long you give these to energize properly (something about uniform distribution of charge across the stators and/or membrane?) and how long you play them to warm them up before judging. I mean it’s still possible that some of the changes I perceived while continuing to listen were from ‘brain-in’, but I was also A/B-ing, so… no, not likely that every transformation I heard was me adapting - it was transforming vs. a reference that I kept going back to compare to, a lot of it must’ve been real, and due to some warm-up effects.

So really satisfied with the sound so far: when these are taken care of and energized for hours and warmed up with some playback, they become just-better than the 400i: at least “two classes” above in detail, better bass, taller and more enveloping soundstage, almost as dynamic/3D/full-bodied (this one I will have to re-check because I’m still not convinced; might do several days of energizing and several hours of warm-up playback before listening).

As for defects, nothing I could spot so far - no hum, no buzz, no whine, no intermittent contact on either side. For a second-hand pair that came to me with a layer of dust deposited at the top of both earcups and even some little yellow dots that were probably insect droppings… I was lucky to find no functional problems whatsoever. Getting rid of these fast seems to have been the careless previous owner’s best decision ever. :rofl:

As far as that “electrostatic magic” goes… because I heard what these do better in such a gradual way, I can’t really say there is such a thing here, at least not once you’ve heard at least entry-level planars. Maybe I could’ve been mildly shocked had I pre-energized and played them on their own for warm-up beforehand(?), but as my experience stands, I can’t recommend them to anyone looking for some kind of eye-opening “first time listening to estats” experience. If such a thing even exists, it’s not in the ESP/95X and not if you’ve already heard planars.

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Glad you’re enjoying them, great headphones :+1:

That’s a pretty big deal with most all stats, you really want to make sure they’re charged fully to get the most out of them, for some of my higher end stats I’d literally leave them charging for days before I listened because they’d have such radical changes lol. That’s honestly one of the aspects that started to put me off from estats in general since it became inconvenient but I think with the koss being a bit more robust and not as long of a wait/not as drastic of changes it didn’t bother me as much as some other stats

It also makes tube based energizers that much worse knowing you’re wasting tube life for charging and not listening lol

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Ohh, no problems with that here. I only use my top-end cans for critical listening sessions where I do nothing else and my attention is 100% on the music. And of course these don’t happen every day, not even every week actually, they’re special occasions and I prefer them that way. A few hours of preparation or some set-up that has to be done the day before is perfectly acceptable in this context, hell it might even enhance the experience, like preparing a traditional tea ceremony or something. :smilingbuddha:

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Jesus, that sounds horrifying. You’re lucky they have insulation coating, I think on both membrane and stators, or they would set you on fire when they do that. I would never want to find out if that insulation degrades over time by having the membrane routinely touch the stators during playback and at max excursion when the voltage difference between them is at its absolute highest. Them hundreds/thousands of volts ain’t no joke. :fire:

Your description just helped me eliminate thick fully-sealed pads from my options list real quick. :slight_smile: I think I’m just going to buy a pair that’s similar to the ESP950 originals for like $13 and be done with it, just as a backup because I’m seeing small cuts in the ones I got them with.

As for a more even distribution of pressure I think I’m just gonna stick some extra material under them behind and below the ear where the largest gap is, but without creating a seal-seal all around. Should be good enough without pushing things into the “danger zone”.

I could be wrong but the crinkle sound should be it touching, but maybe it is just the sealed pressure pushing the membrane one way until the pressure is released etc. Hopefully someone else can comment on the phenomenon since last I heard it was stator contact but it could be telephone game. Sorry if it disuaded you.

I’ve had my 950s running vespers for years without issue, although driver crinkle does happen with the pads (but not to the degree where I’m personally super worried about it), but who knows it could be causing a small amount of damage each time that I don’t know, but been fine for me. Don’t think it’s that big of a cause for concern unless it’s extreme, but can likely be a bit annoying for some

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I wouldn’t accept it either way: 1. I don’t want crinkle sounds in my music, 2. I will never be sure it’s not stator-touch based, 3. it might be out-of-spec deformation of the membrane even if it’s not touching, and might degrade it faster.

If you mean Vespers, I’m not considering those anyway, as they’re way too expensive vs. the cost of the headphones. I was actually looking at some simple sheepskins with no hybrid materials and no perforations, for about $20. (Even more little cracks on my existing pads today, so I should really put in some order or another soon.)

Hmm, also good to know. I guess I could take the risk for $20 on the off-chance that mine don’t generate any crinkling and just improve the comfort and sound (they’re not angled so there’s still a chance of that desirable imperfect seal that Zeos was also modding-in in one of his Stax reviews).

LE:
Oooh, you know what, I could get those, and mod them to create a permanent “channel” opening in them right where they would otherwise press against my eyeglasses’ arms. Crinkle-prevention, temple pressure relief, eyeglass compatibility, better bass - multiple benefits for the price of a single mod. :slight_smile: