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335 of 352 people found the following review helpful
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.

Pros:
-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)

Cons:
-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)

Concerns:
-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.
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74 of 80 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon February 3, 2006
The ear buds that come with the iPod won't stay in my ears and those little foam slip covers always come off and they generally drive me crazy. So I normally use good over-the-ear headphones. But I needed some in-ear phones to wear at certain times. These Koss ear phones have been great, and you could buy 10 pairs or more for the price of some others!

I'm not an extreme audiophile, but I do appreciate good clean sound. I like medium-strong bass, but it has to be clean and not muddy and not overpower the rest of the frequencies. The bass in these Koss plugs might be just a bit too much, but certainly not enough that I'm going to bother trying to modify them with straws and duct tape. You can adjust the position of the phones in your ear to reduce the bass, too. Overall, the sound is quite good, but not as clear and bright as I would expect from expensive phones.

Someone said they look funny in your ears. I suppose that's true, but I don't care all that much.

In summary, they sound very good (but not excellent), they are comfortable and stay in my ears, and they are incredibly cheap! Highly recommended. (P.S. please be careful with volume levels to avoid long-term ear damage. Really. Can you imagine not being able to enjoy music when you're 40 years old? How horrible! Turn down the volume and your ears will adjust to the lower level.)
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2007
Verified Purchase
I don't demand the utmost in sound fidelity, but like so many others have commented I also found the bass on these earplugs to be so overwhelming that it drowns out all other frequencies. I put tape over the back of the plugs, and that helped muffle the bass enough that I can now hear the higher frequencies.

Still, these are cheap earplugs, so don't expect top sound quality. I find that the foam tips on these earplugs fit my ears better than a pair of more expensive Sony earplugs that take those replaceable foam covers. Granted, the sound quality is less than those higher-priced earplugs, but I can wear these Koss earplugs for far longer in comfort.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2005
I bought these things because I needed a replacement for my broken earbuds.. I have owned some nice Koss studiophones, and I know they make good gear.. So I decided to grab their earbuds off the shelf instead of Sony's.. Wow! These things are incredible! Hearing is believing.

My only complaint is that they are a bit bass heavy. EQ is kind of a must. Also, I like to trim a bit off the end of the "plug" with some scissors. I have listened to all kinds of music through these things, nothing is muddy, not deep house, not trance, not trip-hop, not bluegrass, not anything. Clean and crisp. Amazing.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2006
Verified Purchase
I've been using Koss Plugs for about a year. I forgot them in my pants pocket once and sent them through the washing machine. At first the high frequency was a little messed up, but after a few days they returned to normal.

I threw away the foam pads that came with them almost immediately and fitted them with a pair of normal squishy earplugs. These are the kind of earplugs that are made of memory foam that you roll between your fingers and let them slowly expand in your ears. To prepare the earplugs you have to shorten them a bit with some scissors then "drill" or actually melt a hole through them with a hot piece of coat hanger. Then you fit them over the plastic tubes that come out of the Koss Plugs. To me the prepared ear plugs are much more comfortable and seal much better than the foam pieces that come with the Koss Plugs.

I have a Sony active noise canceling headset, which is good for environments with low levels of back ground noise, but are not adequate for very noisy environments, such as when you are using a leaf blower or working around heavy equipment. In this type of situation I use the Koss Plugs and a pair of muff style hearing protectors. When using them like this however you must be very careful because the sound isolation is so great that even persons shouting will have a very difficult time getting your attention.

The Koss Plugs take much less energy to run compared to other headsets. You must use a much lower volume setting. The sound quality is excellent. They are cheap and durable; unlike ear buds they stay in your ears when you are working or playing.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 21, 2005
Verified Purchase
wow.

very very impressive. paid 20 bucks including shipping, and these headphones put my bose, sonys(DJ and fontopia) to absolute shame....treble response drops out a little early for my liking (not hearing much of the 16+kHz range, even the 14k band on the eq has little effect, but i have yet to hear a pair of truly full-range headphones...except the shure 2 way's, you;re not gonna get it.) midrange response is very clean, bass response is actually not muddy at all....perhaps they changed something? many of the other reviews that i found helpful in making a choice mention muddy bass.....im not experiencing it at all honestly...I'm an audiophile and im a straight up prick about audio....spent thousands of dollars in my life on audio electronics (im 20)...and although it's no rocket science, im a junior in the e.e. curriculum at school, and ive managed to aquire a decent amount of know-what about what can be expected what differnt headphone designs...and i am simply amazed by these headphones. main idea is, simplicity and efficient design. number one thing i look for with ear bud headphones is shape, efficient headphones will establish an airtight space between your eardrum and the driver (speaker) of the headphones; that way, no (generally) sound energy is wasted at all. these headphones defintley do that, the music also seems considerably louder, which is expected after pulling the foam off to see that there's a tube piping the sound straight to your ear drum, i have over 4kilowatts of audio power in my car and i listen to that mighty loud, yet when i crank these headphones, they are loud, very very loud.

havent had them in my ears for more than 20 minutes but they seem like theyd be plenty comfortable to wear for many hours....

hope this review could help somone decide as the others helped me alot.

PROS:

small

awesome midrange and bass

um.....can you say CHEAP!

efficient, i.e. loud.

CONS:

i could ask for more high-end trble

thin cord im sure will be prone to tangling

you'll look like the rest of the world with white heapdhones lol

...cant think of aything else....

perhaps the foam pads will get dirty....thats always a pain with in ears 'phones...

hope it helped.

-pat
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2005
I'm a typical teenager that ride the bus to school. The Bus, it's always so loud, with the engines and people talking, etc. I could barely hear my music with those regular earbud headphones. I decided to look for noise cancelling headphones, so I can have a better listening experience. Most of them were in the $20-$60 range. I couldn't have the Bose, because it was too big and pricey, I couldn't have the phillips because of bad reviews, and the price.

And then I read about Sound isolating headphones. I decided to look for them, and had no luck. The one's I found cost about 200-300 bucks, for "optimum listening experience".

Then I found the Sparkplug. It was 15 dollars, cheaper than regular headphones. It was well with in my budget, too. It was sound isolating, so I decided to give it a shot. I'm glad I did. They were wonderful. First time I tried it, it drowned out most of the outside noise. The Bass was great, Rock, Hip-hop, Rap, anything goes with it. It fit perfectly, and didn't fall off. I was confortable wearing it for hours and hours and hours. I noticed that it was even good for earmuffs. I could put it on and go to sleep, eliminating noise.

The only thing I didn't like about it was it's design. When you put it on the little white things stick out of your ears like horns. And it has a very thin wire. And, you should clean your ear for earwax on occasion, because they do sort of build up in the foam. Not a good thing to see. :(

Pros:

GREAT noise cancellation

great fit

Confortable

BARGAIN. 15 bucks!

Cons:

Earwax

Thin Wire

conclusion: It's a great sound isolating headphone that's also cheap. Much better than those rip-off "noise cancelling" headphones.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2005
I bought these for a replacement for the standard ear bubs that come with the IPOD. I could not be happier. I have uses these every day for the last 4 months and I think the sound is great. I have had more expensive ear phones in the past and I honestly can not tell the difference. Why pay alot for great sound. The trick to great sound is placement with in the ear canal. I alway squish my plugs down and insert then. You can actually feel the plugs expand to an air tight fit with in your ear canal. The closer to the ear drum the better the sound. Also remember that if something does not sound good, do not belame the headset. The original source recording could be poor.

As many have said, the cord is thin and does tend to tangle alot. The foam pads do get dirty and waxy often. My solution is to use warm water an alcohol swab to clean then and the small plastic tube. I do this weekly and I have not damaged them a bit. I still using the original bud that came with the phones. I am very happy with these and if these break an going to buy these again. They are cheap enough!!!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2005
Theses Headphones are one of the best. Ive used the regular Koss "The Plug" and it blocks out all outside noise. These new Spark Plugs are even better in which the foam is now expands Slower. I would highly recomend these headphones to anyone who wants some exclusion from society.These headphones are also extremely comfortable. I once fell asleep with them on and when I woke up, they were still on! A good thing about these headphones are also the low price. If they break, you could either send it back for the repair covered by the lifetime warranty or buy a new pair.

Pros:

Low Price

Best Isolation from outside noises

Allows Cd Player/Mp3 player to play at a lower volume conserving battery length

Great Quality

Deep Bass

Very comfortable

Lifetime Warrranty

Cons:

Takes longer than average to put these headphones on.

While eating with these, you hear yourself chew.

Not very safe in which you cant hear warnings.

Not advised to share with friends if they have ear wax.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2006
Verified Purchase
This set of earbuds has some very interesting characteristics to it. It has some very big ups and downs.

First I'll talk about the great things about these ear buds. They are probably the most comfortable ear buds I have ever worn. I absolutely love the special foam. Others have mentioned that they fall out, but for me, I could wear these ear buds inside a clothes dryer and they wouldn't go anywhere. The sound isolation is very good too. I wore these at night with the fan right next to me, (I live in CA and we have a crazy heat wave) and once the earbuds were in, I couldn't even hear the fan anymore. Another great plus is the lifetime warranty. I haven't had the pleasure of testing this out yet, but hopefully it will be easy to replace them should something happen. They are also very loud due to the fact that there is little air loss because they fit so snugly.

Now the bad thing. There's only one for me but it's a BIGGIE. I'm not impressed with the sound quality. For starters the bass is insanely loud. I listen to everything from metal to classical, and I find that unless you have an EQ, or unless you are listening to music that has no sound frequencies below 500 hz, you will find these unacceptible. I don't listen to R&B and rap so I can't say how it does with thumping bass, but even for music like metal with heavy distorted bass, it just completely drowns everything else out. I literally have to turn the bass down almost all the way in my winamp EQ just so it doesn't drown everything else out. Once it's EQd properly it still sounds somewhat muddy. This is probably due to the incredible insulation job it does around your ear. There's something about the way that ear buds block off your ear from the outside world that make music seem to lack brightness. And since these block your ears off better, they lack more brightness.

My conclusion: If you need comfortable headphones and you have an EQ, these are nice. If you need great sound or you don't have an EQ, stay away from these.
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