The Koss KSC-75s are the best headphones we have heard for anything close to its price. We found that the sound quality from regular, unamplified consumer electronics rivals headphones costing four times the MSRP. The sound quality is similar to the KSC-35s, which was reviewed earlier, but sports a much more comfortable fit and updated aesthetics. Overall, you simply cannot go wrong with these headphones for exercise or on-the-go listening.
Features and Design
In July 2003, we reviewed the Koss KSC-35 headphones. They had excellent sound quality, but lacked build quality and comfort. Koss must have realized that they had a winner on their hands, because they updated the line with the KSC-75, which addresses all of these issues. The result is one of the best sets of headphones you can find for under $100–way under $100.
The KSC-75s are individual, over-the-head, clip-on headphones. The design is unremarkable, but not as 1970s foam-and-plastic-looking as the KSC-35s. The external housing is a light gray, faux metallic, finished plastic. The piece that fits the body of the ear is a soft, translucent, rubber-coated chrome wire. The entire earclip piece is a single wire, which is stiff but flexible. This makes the KSC-75s extremely easy to customize to any ears and any preferred snugness. The drivers are surrounded by the same foam pads as on the 35s, which are comfortable but slightly cheap looking. Over all, the aesthetics are much improved, but not as cutting edge as some of the options from Audio Technica or Sony.
The obvious intended uses are outdoor and leisure listening. They are very easy to drive, though not quite able to attain the levels of some other offerings. Still, MP3 players and laptops will sound great through these headphones. While we try not to make price a driving factor for purchasing a product, it is undeniable that the price point is so low that as a workout headphone, the KSC-75s are perfect due to their low cost to replace. At $20, you won’t be breaking the bank the next time you snag the cord on the elliptical trainer. Also, the cord is black, which means that would-be iPod thieves looking out for those iconic white strands leading from your ears will pass you by.
Sound Quality and Use
The deep, strong bass of the KSC-35s is one of the factors that attracted us. The KSC-75s continue in this tradition with the same strong, vibrant bass that does not come off as boomy or distorted. We find this best for workout headphones, since it helps the listener keep beat with the music. Another factor to consider is that the 75s overcompensate for lower bass levels, which the iPod is weak at reproducing. The match results in a much more balanced sound than when either is used with another product.
We burned in the KSC-75s for over 24 hours, and then tested them with the same music selection as the KSC-35s. We also added a few select tunes and sources.
Music selections were
Â· Bjork’s Vespertine (DVD-Audio and MP3)
Â· Berliner Philharmoniker, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, Mahler Symphony 10 (DVD-Audio)
Â· The Cure’s Disintegration (Audio CD and MP3)
Â· Gary Numan’s Exile (CD and MP3)
Â· Delirium’s Karma (CD and MP3)
Â· Assemblage 23, Storm (Audio CD and MP3)
Â· VNV Nation, Futureperfect (Audio CD and MP3)
Â· Louis Armstrong, All-Time Greatest Hits (Audio CD and MP3)
Sources used were
Â· SoundBlaster Audigy 2 Platinum (for DVD-Audio, CD, and MP3)
Â· Apple iPod photo (MP3)
Â· Creative Nano Plus (MP3)
Â· Sony Playstation portable (MP3)
All MP3s were encoded with VBR 160kbps-300kbps/44kHz or better.
We found the KSC-75s to perform almost completely identically to the KSC-35s, with the exception of slightly stronger highs. The soundstage was of an appropriate size, though more forward than encompassing. One thing worth noting is that 3D specializing was better than with canalphones. Atmospheric music, like Delirium and Gary Numan, sounded excellent, with an almost overpowering backdrop to the vocals. Strong bass lines in VNV Nation and Bjork tracks were well represented, and vocals clear. The treble in Assemblage 23 tracks was slightly distorted and a little fatiguing. The bass was a little too unbalanced for jazz without messing with the equalizer. Classical music sounded good, but not as rich as we would like. Still, a fine music connoisseur is better off dropping the extra money for a good amp and pricier headphones. Also, only a slight difference could be heard between DVD-Audio quality and MP3s, which leads us to believe that the headphones are not giving the truest representation of the original sound. Not a surprise for $20.
We also tested the headphones with a couple of popular PC games: World of Warcraft, Half-Life 2, and Doom 3 on the PC, and Lumines for the PSP. Directionality was decent but not spectacular. Sounds directly to the side of the player were slightly quieter, giving the impression that everything was either directly in front of somewhere behind the player. Explosions had a satisfying rumble, but gunshots and sword clanging sounded too shrill. Lumines sounded absolutely awesome, and we enjoyed many eye bleeding hours of block stacking, musical goodness.
If you are looking for a great set of headphones for use with your laptop or MP3 player, you can’t go wrong with the KSC-75s. They are ideal for working out or walking down the street to class. While the aesthetics could be slightly improved, the sound quality for the price is second to none. Fine music listeners into jazz and classical will probably want to shell out the extra money to get a more rich music experience, but for everyday, bass-driven music and atmospheric selections, we highly recommend the KSC-75s.
– Very affordable
– Exceptional sound quality
– Comfortable fit
– Low quality appearance