I feel like I have not seen many posts about these headphones, and I do feel that they might be a bit underrated. Costing me only £16, these are one of those bang-for-your-buck kind of items in the audio world.
Build Quality, Fit & Comfort
The packaging reflects the budget-fi nature by looking like something hanging on a checkout aisle at a Walmart somewhere. The build itself is expectedly not stellar, the cups are made of hollow plastic with holes. The foam is not particularly soft but not particularly rough either. The cable is another issue, being really flimsy and rigid. I would not recommend being too rough with the cable or headphones, as it does feel like it’s prone to fraying – and generally being one caught door handle away from being pulled out of the socket.
Because of such build materials, these are extremely light and do not weigh down your ears. They stay in place quite well too thanks to the clips, but don’t expect the wearing experience to be one where the headphones disappear on your head – I’m always aware that they’re on me due to how they sit, balanced on nothing but your ears.
The main draw of these headphones is the price-to-performance ratio. The sound is very, very impressive for its price range and form factor. The bass is punchy and has impressive extension for being such a seal-less and light fit. While I can’t say that I preferred EDM with the bass performance, it was certainly stellar for rock and metal music – with kick and double kick drums ringing out clearly in the mix along with the bass guitar, when it came to the low end. I would not characterize the bass as bloomy either, it does not overstay its welcome in more delicate genres of music. However, because the bass is of this nature, and also because there’s no real seal, wearing these in public makes the bass quite anemic – with it becoming a substantially brighter headphone.
The midrange is very, very clear and impressive. Listening to Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence, the original acoustic version, shows off just how clean vocals can sound on the KSC75. Quite the contrary to the more forwarded mids on some headphones, the midrange of these are actually a little recessed – leading to a remarkably effortless transition from the bass to the midrange, something that I found lacking in both the Sennheiser Urbanite and Beats Solo 2 – which are both headphones that are several times more expensive. However, despite the impressive nature of the Koss
in this regard, do not expect a very “natural” or full-bodied sound from the midrange – it actually has an artificial nature to it and a bit of grain. But, for its price, it is the best I have heard yet in open-back on-ear headphones.
The treble is probably the most impressive frequency of these headphones to me. I usually prefer a bassier and more mid-forward sound, but I could not deny just how much these headphones breathe. Stringed instruments such as acoustic guitars and violins have so much air around them – with the treble being very well extended without reaching immensely problematic peaks. Due to this extension and the slightly subdued nature of the mids, I would actually say that this headphone is bright overall – despite the punchy bass. However, as with the midrange, the treble is more metallic sounding than natural – but again very satisfying and impressive for its price. I will admit that I do prefer using the Ibasso DX80 digital-audio player, with its slightly warmer and treble-rolled sound signature, with the KSC75 rather than my SABRE DAC based AUNE M1s, which is a bit brighter. I also tried it with my VE RunAbout Plus portable headphone amplifier, but headphones do not really need to be driven as they can sound great out of a smartphone.
Another quirk of these headphones is that the soundstage is not very large by any means – which surprised me a bit due to how little they isolate and how punctured and open the cups are. The imaging is largely a miss, with the emphasis of sound reproduction being squarely from the left and right channel instead of projecting in a larger space. Due to this, songs with a lot more layers, tracks and tones can find themselves without enough room to truly shine on the KSC75 – but most songs are not of the nature where it would truly bother a listener using these for what they are intended, which is casual listening.
Probably the biggest compliment I can give these headphones is that I am critiquing them as if they cost above £100. They go neck to neck with many headphones several times the price on a purely sound quality basis – and even leave some more premium offerings in the dust in the same regard. I personally love when I encounter anything with this price-to-performance ratio in any hobby that I have – not just audio. With that in mind, I can strongly recommend these to anyone reading this review.
One final thing though, I did notice that it said on the bottom of the packet that some chemicals used in the construction of these headphones can cause severe health problems, such as cancer, according to the state of California’s regulations. However, I am told that Californian requirements are very strict, and the state has a long list of chemicals that receive this classification – deservedly or not, so make of that as you will.