KOSS BT540i: Bluetooth Wireless Mobility

Disclaimer: Ricky is one of our readers who has written a couple of reviews on Cypher Labs gear in the past for his own account. I asked him to do the Koss review for us. This is his first guest review on Headfonia.com. I hope you like it. Lieven

The Intro

Before I get started, I would like to point out that I know how a lot of those in the audiophile fiefdom seem to abhor Bluetooth for its lack of true lossless sound quality, so this will strictly be a review of the BT540i based on its functionality and sound quality as a portable Bluetooth device.

As a more portable oriented person who likes to be able to just pick up his music and go whenever the need should arise, I am always looking for great portable gear in any place I can find it. When I was offered the chance to give the new Koss BT540i a listen, I jumped on it. I haven’t owned many Bluetooth headphones in the past.  Just one, in fact, and that was the Logitech UE 9000, but I do have some experience with Koss products since I currently own two Koss Porta Pro headphones and their KSC75 clip on headphones as well.

While extremely lower on the Koss food chain, so to speak, I mention them only to acquaint you with where I will be drawing my experience with Koss products from. With that being said, let us move on to what you are all really here for. The Koss BT540i is their first foray into the Bluetooth market, and I would have to say that as far as easy connectivity goes, they absolutely nailed it. I only own two Bluetooth capable devices. They are my MacBook Pro and my Samsung Galaxy S4, and when it came time to connect both of them, it was a breeze. For both devices it took all of ten seconds, if that, for the BT540i to be recognized and then paired and used.

Build Quality, Comfort & Fit

The build quality on the BT540i is… Well, it isn’t bad, but it isn’t the best either. If I were to make a direct comparison to another headphone, I would say that it is of slightly lesser build quality than the older version of the Audio-Technica ATHM50.

The BT540i uses high quality plastics, with metal hinges, metal slide adjustments, and a velour padded headband. The ear cups are over ear, but smaller and shallower than I would like, allowing my ears to be pressed up against the drivers inside. This made for some uncomfortable listening sessions when I wore them for a period of more than 2 hours at a time. The cushions however, are pretty comfortable and made up of soft, pliable leather and filled with memory foam to boot, so they aren’t too bad when you have them on for any amount of time under that 2 hour time period. Take my experience with a grain of salt though. I have somewhat big ears. The Koss BT540i cable, which allows for the headphone to be used passively should the battery die on you while you are out and about, isn’t very noteworthy. It is a standard 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable, isn’t very robust and is made of some kind of rubberized material. Not a huge deal at this price point and since Bluetooth is the main functionality of this set of ‘phones, I don’t foresee anyone using the cable much anyhow, but felt it should be noted.

Features & Battery

Let me get some of the more secondary features out of the way. Like the case these came with. It’s a hard case. Has an attachment inside for your cable and a pocket on top. Pretty durable and protective.  And that’s it for the case. Moving on.

The Koss BT540i features aptX NFC technology for better (or as good as you can get via Bluetooth) sound quality and extremely easy pairing with your Bluetooth devices as well as dual microphones for calls. On the headphone itself, on the outermost edge of the right ear cup housing, there is a built in control for you to sync your device or turn it off for when it isn’t in use. You just push it back for about 4 seconds to pair with your device, or forward to turn it off. There are also controls that let you play, pause, stop and skip any music that you are playing from your device that are easy to use, and worked fine with both my Mac and my Galaxy S4, but if I’m being honest, I only used them a few times before reverting back to controlling everything the way I am used to doing. It just felt strange for me to be reaching for my ear every time I wanted to change a track, or pause, play, and stop playback. There are also volumes up/down buttons placed towards the front end of the right ear cup housing.

As previously mentioned, the BT540i comes with a detachable audio cable terminated in a 3.5mm termination on both ends as well as a USB charging cable. It boasts an 8 hour listening period on a single charge, and I have to say, it did deliver on that promise, making it about 8 1/2 hours or so on a single listening session before I had to charge it again. Charging it up took about 3 hours before it was up and ready for use again.

It continues after the click

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

14 Comments

  • Reply October 23, 2014

    George Lai

    I feel that one hurdle to more widespread acceptance of BT for audiophile headphones is that BT keeps evolving so even though it is only USD140, I won’t know if it will pair to my next computer or smartphone with BT 4.0 or the next one, 5.0 or whatever.

    Those of us who use BT headsets in our cars for example know that they don’t always connect or disconnect flawlessly. And when you get one that does behave flawlessly, things might change when you change phones or BT headset.

    When on a phone call, it can also cut off and irritating though that might be on a phone call, imagine when you use it for music and you’re right at, say, the middle of the guitar solo in Hotel California.

    • Reply October 23, 2014

      Headfonia_L.

      It isn’t my thing either. I’ve always been a fan of wires 🙂

      • Reply October 23, 2014

        George Lai

        You’re a cable aficionado.

      • Reply October 23, 2014

        dalethorn

        Same here – I can recommend the B1, for example, for sound quality, and give it a 98 percent recommendation for reliability, but it still has a few tiny glitches.

  • Reply October 23, 2014

    dalethorn

    I have the little Audioengine B1 Bluetooth DAC “receiver”, and its sound quality is audiophile grade**, so apparently a device being Bluetooth doesn’t have a bearing on the sound quality.

    **At least as good as a FiiO E17.

  • Reply October 23, 2014

    Anthony Kimball

    I was curious if Ricky did any listening while “wired” to the BT540i…I have noticed from some other reviews that the sound quality changes (sometimes dramatically) when connected..

    Great review!!

    • Reply October 23, 2014

      Ricky Sterling

      I actually did quite a bit of listening with it wired, but there was no real change in the overall quality that was worth mentioning, in my opinion.

      Thanks for the kind words!

  • Reply February 22, 2015

    Steve Matzura

    I’ve been a Koss fan since the Pro 4-AA’s I got as a Christmas present in the late 60’s. I’d give my left **** to have another pair of their Sound Partners (vintage mid-80’s); their Porta-Pros, of which I’ve now gone through three pair, weren’t nearly as good. Their high-ends were muted, and their small size precluded good bass responsde, plus the ear covering always degraded and came off quickly. I’m happy to tell you the BT540I’s suffered none of these problems, but yes, even when hardwired to a sound source, they do lack some bass. This was disappointing. I’d like to hear a comparison of the BT540I v the Avantree Audition, which sells at half the price.

  • Reply November 12, 2015

    Justin Myers

    Ya, these aren’t bad at all. I started off with just a smaller pair of wired Panasonics and
    didn’t like the range at all. It was very distant and tinny sounding so I
    started reading around. Something I read at CNET led me to get a pair of Sonys
    but I wound up sending them back. They were loud and bass’y but didn’t offer
    anything crisp. I think if I would have spent a little more on Sony, I would
    have been fine, but I was led to these Koss by a review from POC Network (http://pocinc.net/blog/product-reviews/review-koss-bt540i-bluetooth-over-the-ear-headphones
    ) who thought very well of them. They were the same price as the more expensive
    Sony option I probably would have ended up with outside of the fact that the Koss
    were wireless. I’ve never owned a pair of wireless headphone before so I thought
    hey, this would be cool. Well it was as I use them all over the place. I walk to
    work since I only live about 3bocks away and tend to wear them there as well (when
    I can get away with it at least) ^_^. If they were waterproof, I would bring them
    to the gym with me and listen to something zen-like, but they aren’t. I look back
    at the Panasonics and laugh 🙂

  • Reply March 4, 2016

    Laurajia

    nice review

  • Reply March 4, 2016

    Laurajia

    Hello Ricky, could you please review our earphones?

  • Reply May 9, 2016

    Wayland Couch

    Every year, a week or so after Black Friday, Koss has a 40%-off sale which would put these at $120. Now, THAT, is an incredible deal. The only thing to note with these is that they have a 1-year warranty instead of the standard Limited Lifetime Warranty.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.