Koss ESP-950 Electrostatic System
People beware, as you’re about to be lured into the most kickass headphone ever for ~$600. I am so tempted to get these to complement my HD800. They are THAT good, even with the stock amplifier.
When talking about Electrostatic Headphones, Stax is probably the first brand that comes to mind. Even I missed the Koss ESP-950 when I wrote about Koss in the Guide to the Headphone Companies. Unless you’re quite an avid Electrostatic headphone fans, or you really read a lot about headphones, chances your radar would’ve missed on this great electrostatic system.
The Koss ESP-950 is listed for $999.99 on their website. Supposedly the price was close to $2000 when it was first introduced. Browsing around in Amazon.com will find you an ESP-950 for $640. The Koss ESP-950 includes the ESP-950 headphones, E 90 electrostatic amplifier, an extension cord, a battery pack, and a leather bag. The battery pack supposedly lets you run the amplifier off of battery power.
For $640, the ESP-950 is a truly excellent deal, seeing that it would seriously challenge the Grado RS1 that sells for about the same price. I won’t go into a dynamic versus Electrostatic war here, but when talking purely technical qualities, the ESP-950 is heads and shoulders above the Grado RS1 in terms of speed and instrument separation. And of course, owning an Electrostatic headphone will put you in that elite electrostatic headphone owners group.
Talking about elite electrostatics, the build of the ESP-950 is actually plasticky and rather cheap. The headphone is mostly plastic, with a synthetic leather headband and pads. It really looks like a budget headphone, and its build quality cannot compete with $600 dynamic cans or entry level Stax headphones. Even the $100 Sennheiser HD555 has a better build quality and is more sturdy than the Koss.
The ESP-950 is very, very light. Think of Grado SR-60 light. The pads doesn’t have much clamping force, but it just exerts a light force to make sure they stay on your heads. The pads are very comfortable, and really are one of the best headphone for long term listening.