Hey guys and gals, its Your Friendly Neighborhood Reviewer with InToit Reviews coming at you with a very special review. This... is the KOSS, KSC75, and this is a special headphone to the channel because the KSC75 was the first giveaway item to the Neighborhood by the channel. And guess what? At 1000 subs we’re doing it again, and I’ll be giving away another set of Koss KSC75’s!
So, let’s get InToit!
The Koss KSC75 is a cheap open-backed, on-ear headphone that looks like it is straight out of the late 1980’s or early 90’s, but man does this thing have the chops sonically. By now, I would assume that most people know about the legendary sounds that this thing ironically produces, but if this is your first exposure to the Koss KSC75, man, are you in for a treat! $13 to $20 dollars typically buys your entry to the Koss KSC75 party!
And, let me say, first and foremost, that although this is not a perfect headphone, it is my belief that EVERYONE should own at least one of these. Why do you ask? Because this little gem has the capacity to TEACH- the ability to show people what good head-fi can sound like.
Want to know what a great, respectably-wide soundstage is? Listen to a KSC75…
Want to know what accurate imaging is; with decent spatial placement, adequate separation, satisfactory instrument distinction? Check out a KSC75! The stage is arched from left to right, but it also has, what I would call, a natural bend to it. There is good depth to the staging and the listening seat is a pleasing distance from the stage; without pushing the listener to close, or too far, from it.
Vocals are also presented well; with a rather clear and neutral character to them. They are silky, smooth, and neither too far forward, nor too far recessed.
The KSC75 does so much right, it is uncanny; especially for its low price-point. Because of this, I would say that the KCS75 is a good baseline headphone, from which to measure others against.
But like I said, this is not a perfect headphone. There is some grain to the overall presentation, and individual notes lack definition if you pay too close of attention. Resolution could be better in general, but for a cheap headphone these are plenty resolving; you just have to have proper expectations here given the price, and these will still blow you away.
One should also have appropriate expectations regarding isolation. These are open-back, over-ears, and as such, there is virtually no isolation here. These are great for listening in quiet, solitary environments, and although you can take these on-the-go, it will compromise the experience. So, I wouldn’t exactly recommend these for the train, or a plane, or anything of the sort- unless you’re into irritating yourself, and others…
Additionally, while micro-dynamics are pretty good, macro-dynamics are rather limited, and outside of the treble frequencies, the global presentation has a certain softness to its general character.
In general, the Koss KSC75 has a mid-forward sound; with elevated treble, and audiophile levels of bass.
While these certainly have the potential to turn bass-heads into treble-heads, it would be overly kind to call the treble “splashy.” In fact, I would say that the treble can be somewhat problematic, at times, as there are peaky-bits, here or there, which escalate a little too high for me, and grate on my nerves over time; becoming fatiguing to my ears over the course of a day or so. I would not call them shouty, per say, but there is some particular shout, here or there, and this is mostly what vexes me with this Koss.
When it comes to the KSC75, I can usually tolerate its treble for about a day, or so, give or take, and then I want to switch to something else with a more neutral, and pleasing sound signature. But, if you are a treble-head, the KSC75 will most likely be right up your alley, as its other attributes are mostly top-notch.
If you’re a bass-head, you might find these lacking; however. In their stock formation with the attached ear-hooks, the bass is generally less emphasized, and dare I say it, rather one-note and thuddy. Despite these criticisms, the bass is also rather fast, and audiophile-like.
Swapping out the ear-hooks for a headband of some sort results in a bit more low-end representation, and increased wear-ability over time; but you will sacrifice a small amount of stage by doing this. Yaxi Pads, while not sonically necessary with the Koss KSC75, sure as hell do increase the comfort when using a headband. On my particular set, I ended up swapping out the ear-hooks for a Sporta Pro headband, and included red and blue Yaxi Pads for comfort. On a side note, the Sporta Pro has the same driver as a Porta Pro; so this is a Porta Pro alternative, and it does quite well for VR when mounted on the ear-hooks from the KSC75.
Unlike its cousins; the Koss KPH30i and the Koss Porta Pro, the KSC75 commonly sounds just as good off of a phone as it does off the right amplifier to my ear. In general, I’d say that you need to be particularly careful not to overdrive the KSC75, as its problematic treble can become aggressively over-emphasized, and you might induce grain and distortion, at both its upper and lower limits, if you do.
If I’m going to grab one of my three budget Koss headphones to take with me to the office for a day, I tend to reach for the KSC75 if I have the treble bug, or if my portable amplifier lacks a charge. If, I’m simply relying on my phone the Koss KSC75 is my pick between the three.
Having said that, there is always an exception to the rule. And, in the course of this review, I was privileged to discover that the Gold Note DS-10 with the Koss KSC75 is a special pairing. The DS-10’s goldened, honeyed tones tame the treble just enough to smooth out the sound signature and retain the KSC75’s other sonic capacities.
But, what crazy person is going to pair a $13 dollar headphone with a $3,000 dollar amplifier; besides me of course! I’m not suggesting that any sane person go out, and buy a DS-10 only for the Koss KSC75, but, if you’re lucky enough to already own this rare breed of amplifier, definitely give this pairing a listen. Its most enjoyable to do so.
*Gold Note DS-10 available at: https://gestalt.audio/
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