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Koss KPH40 headphones vs. Sennheiser HD650

Brian Hall

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I've had the Koss KPH40 headphones ($39.99) since 2022 and had only used them with my previous phone until today and had not listened to them since I got the HD650. I received a new longer cable for them that will reach both my main and office systems and I'm very impressed with the sound quality.

Switching back and forth between them and my HD650 for an inaccurate actually SIGHTED (for Mr. Timmons) test.

The main thing that stands out is the bass reproduction. The Koss headphones blow away the HD650 there. I'm also surprised at how well they sound in the mids and highs. Not better than the HD650, but at least 95% as good. Even better on some albums, Hayley Westenra for example. Her vocals can be a little too piercing on the HD650 - always have to eq the treble down a bit for her stuff. I guess that means the highs are toned down on the KPH40.

Anyway, I highly recommend the KPH40 headphones.

Example song:
 

Merkurio

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I've had and tried a large number of headphones over the years; my ears have experienced items from all price ranges, ranging from HD600/650, K701 or HE400se to HD800, Stax SR009 or Susvara, including Focal Clear, Audeze LCD2, Beyerdynamic DT1990, Koss ESP950, and virtually everything that has been acclaimed or praised at some point within this hobby for the past decade.

The major issue with all of them, whether those I've owned or those I've tried, is the continuous feeling of wearing something on my head (no matter how comfortable they are, and very few are truly comfortable), which is why I've always ended up parting with them and relying more on IEMs... except for Koss.

With Koss, it's a completely different story. Since the KSC75, I knew what they were capable of in terms of sound, and both the Porta Pro (I currently have a pair with a microphone, the Communicator) and the KPH30i (unfortunately broken) have passed through my hands, and now the KPH40.

The KPH40, with the personal EQ I use, are my endgame for a while now. I won't delve into the absurd subjective evaluation of whether they are better or worse than a $5,000 headphone; I simply don't miss anything relevant from the music with them. Yes, the sub-bass response may not be the best (even with EQ) for very few content, but they are at a level where I wouldn't give up all the joy they bring me in other aspects just for that, as I use IEMs if I want that clean bass presentation anyway.

Best of all, they almost instantly disappear from my head, especially when using the famous Yaxi pads with them!

I absolute adore them, however, to achieve perfection, I wish they didn't creak when moving my head and that they had a compact-sized planar driver (similar to the Audeze iSINE) that would allow for a linear and distortion-free bass response, serving as the ultimate canvas for EQ.
 

markanini

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I absolute adore them, however, to achieve perfection, I wish they didn't creak when moving my head and that they had a compact-sized planar driver (similar to the Audeze iSINE) that would allow for a linear and distortion-free bass response, serving as the ultimate canvas for EQ.
Planar won't solve bass extension on an on-ear design. You might think it's planar tech, but in reality it's that many planars have a fully closed front volume, while many dynamics only have a partially or fully open front volume.
 

solderdude

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Bass extension won't be solved but, most likely, such drivers would EQ a lot better in the bass.
They won't be as cheap and weigh a lot more too...
The Koss drivers start to distort audibly when bass, higher than 'normal' levels when using 'Harman type' bass EQ is required.

Koss thingies are great VFM.
 
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stalepie2

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Planar won't solve bass extension on an on-ear design. You might think it's planar tech, but in reality it's that many planars have a fully closed front volume, while many dynamics only have a partially or fully open front volume.

What is meant by "front volume"? Are closed on-ears like DT 1350 and Beats examples of planar-like dynamic design, in this regard? (I link to Tyll Hertsen's review because he described the bass as "bottomless" at the time. I remember some dynamics were starting to be described as having "planar-like" bass).
 

markanini

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What is meant by "front volume"? Are closed on-ears like DT 1350 and Beats examples of planar-like dynamic design, in this regard? (I link to Tyll Hertsen's review because he described the bass as "bottomless" at the time. I remember some dynamics were starting to be described as having "planar-like" bass).
DT1350 Is a closed front and back volume.
Having said that closed front volume is not always necessarily always closed, if the pads leak or have incomplete seal.
 

stalepie2

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I feel I've gone through a similar experience as the TC. I don't have the HD650, but I recall a long Head-Fi thread which compared the PX 100-ii to its sound signature, thinking of it as like a baby HD650. I don't have the headphone anymore (unfortunately they no longer make it), but I remember it having a rich and inviting sound, very "correct" in its soundstaging and frequency response, but not as fun of a listen as the PortaPro, which I ended up keeping instead. (The two were often compared, back in the day). I also have the KPH30i, which is a little smoother and easier to listen to than the PortaPro, but largely sounds the same. Sometimes I will listen to it and think the midrange sounds more true to voices and guitars than I do more expensive studio monitors I have. Rock music (especially stadium sound) can sound right on it in ways that make my Beyers seem cold and analytical by comparison.
 
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