Most helpful positive review
335 of 352 people found the following review helpful
Best for the money.
on May 13, 2005
Being somewhat of an audiophile, I went researching for a good pair of headphones. I was looking at the product lines from Sennheiser, Beyerdynamic, Grado, Shure, and Etymotic.
I considered what I wanted these headphones for and it was to study in places like starbucks or barnes and nobles. So naturally, I decided on sound isolating headphones. This left me with either closed full-size over the ear headphones or earbuds. If you haven't seen them, full-size headphones are huge! They pretty much cover the entire sides of your head, we're talking Princess Leah hair buns (star wars). Besides that, the higher quality headphones require an additional portable amplifier to sound good because most portable devices aren't powerful enough to drive them.
Now I focused on earbuds. After reading review upon review about Shure and Etymotic, I would always come across reference to Koss "The Plug" and Sony's isolating earbuds (forgot the model) from an audio forum. Out of the box, the Sony is supposed to be better than the Koss model. However, what I found was that for a fraction of the price of Shure and Etymotic brands (I think the top model is $500) and a bit of elbow grease, the less expensive Koss earbuds could sound better than the Sony's and nearly as good as the Shure and Etymotic. Doing a search resulted in many websites referring to methods of "modifying" the Koss earbuds.
I was convinced and went looking back in April. However, when i got to the store, I couldn't find any "The Plug". All I found was "Spark Plug". I was confused but I bought them anyway. I searched amazon and realized that they must be the 3rd iteration of Koss's earbuds because I only came up with one result, and it said it was added to amazon only 2 days before I bought it locally. Since I've never heard the 2nd iteration (purple/silver) I can't comment on sound. However, aesthetic wise, this new version was definitely designed for use with the Ipod (which I don't own, but that's okay, it matches my stuff anyway) It still has that silver ring with Koss on it, but the rest of the earbuds are all white and more of a retro simplified shape. Looks clean, nothing fancy.
As for fit. No problems here. I read many complaints on the second version about the fast expanding foam. The foam on this version expands slowly. It's quite comfortable and after awhile I forget I'm wearing them. I even wear them in bed sometimes.
Sound wise, out of the box, the bass is really boomy, i prefer a tight bass (as with many audiphiles, thus the mods). If you like to listen to music heavy in bass, like rap or house, or whatever, then you'll like these earbuds straight up. You can feel the bass "pound" in your head.
Unfortunately, for me, I don't listen to that when I study. So, I decided to modify the earbuds. The only mod I felt necessary was the one to tone down and tighten the bass, which is done by covering the ports. Did that with some trimmed clear tape (didn't want to open the earbuds and place eletrical tape inside, as most DIYs state). The result, nice, very nice. With the lower frequencies toned down, I can now hear my mids and highs quite clearly. This is especially important since I listen to mostly light vocal music while studying, such as Sarah Brightman. In fact, after this mod, I can say these are the best headphones I've ever used, especially FOR THE PRICE.
As for sound isolation, the tape mod helped that too. On an airplane it completely drowns at the engine noise on only the 2nd tick of volume (out of 25 or so?!?) Keeping the volume low also cuts back on battery use and distortion. If I study with my friend, he has to wave his hand in my face or shake me to get my attention (again, only 1 or 2 ticks on volume). I've found you don't actually need to compress the foam to get them in your ear, just a little pressure and twisting does it.
I plan to get another pair for my new "workout" mp3 player arriving soon, so then I'll be able to comment on how well it stays in during high activity and sweat.
-Great sound for the money
-Sound isolation is awesome, even better than the $300 Bose active sound cancelling headphones (I wasn't impressed at all, not even with the sound of those).
-Looks clean and somewhat stylish (ipod style). Has a sort of classy, expensive look to them, not the traditional black eggshape of most earbuds
-extra pair of foam buds included (they're backups/replacements, not an alternative size, but I don't think an alternate size is needed)
-Boomy bass out of the box. Drowns out the mids and highs. This is easily solved by the tape mod, i.e., covering the ports. (porting is a trick used by companies to make bass more "bassy") although this isn't a problem if you like the "feel" of heavy bass.
-no case included. (hey, it probably cuts down on cost)
-earwax (no problem here since I keep clean)
-wires are thin and COULD become tangled b/c no case included (i've had no problem with this actually, because I found the perfect sized case for it from an old mini rectangular shaped flashlight. I've read some people use a 35 mm film roll case/tube to hold it, which would be good too)
-you may have to "play" with the placement in your ear for the best sound quality, I've found what works best for me, just be patient. Depending on placement, the sound may be muddy. For me, that means i have them too deep in the ear.