Koss, an American company famous for their Porta Pro headphones have officially made their entire line-up available in India. We’ve in fact reviewed the KSC75 clip-on earphones, which offered a decent listening experience for the price. Today we have the KEB40 In-ear phones, which are targeted at someone looking for better sound isolation and portability. These aren’t exactly cheap, so let’s see if they are able to justify the price.
Design and Features
The KEB40 earphone drivers are encased in an aluminium enclosure, which makes them very durable and would easily survive accidental drops or even if you step over them. The buds have a little rubber ring around them to give you a good grip while putting them on. The earphones come with three different sized silicone ear-tips in the box. The quality of the silicone is nice and thick with just the right amount of flexibility to provide good sound isolation. Sadly, the same build quality does not transcend to the cord. They look and feel very thin and frail and get tangled up very easily. They do come with a cord-slider allowing you to adjust the excess slack from the cable. The 3.5mm connector is gold plated as well and is straight (not L-shaped). The length of the cable is 4ft, which is plenty for even a very tall person.
The cord is very frail and gets tangled easily
The KEB40s feature a 9mm driver with a rated frequency response of 15 to 20,000Hz. It has an Impedance of 16 Ohms, which is nice and low, so your phone or MP3 player will easily be able to drive them without any issues. The fit of the in-ear phones is not very snug at first, some effort is needed. Once in, the sound isolation is pretty good and it manages to block out most ambient noise. Since it doesn’t rest against your ears, it looks a bit odd with the wires sticking out at right angles to your face.
The first pair that Koss sent across had a very muted and hollow sound to them, so we asked them to send another unit thinking they maybe defective. Oddly, even the second pair they sent sounded pretty much the same. Despite successfully blocking out most ambient noise, the volume levels were quite low, which meant we had to bump it up quite a bit, but even at maximum volume, it felt low. The KEB40s lack a good amount of bass, which is very subtle even in Trance and Hip-Hop tracks, whereas in others like Classical or Lounge, it’s almost non-existent.
Wearing them feels a bit odd due to the design
We tested the Koss using a Samsung Galaxy S with Voodoo Control Plus and PowerAmp. Before starting the test we kept the earphones for a 24hr burn-in thinking that would help, but sadly it didn’t work. Even after playing around with the equalizers, we were able to get some decent levels of mids and highs, which were clear, but overall, the music sounded flat with very little bass. The situation improved a bit when connected to a notebook, but not by much. In the end, it didn’t matter what source we used, the KEB40s just weren’t able to deliver on any front.
With a hefty price tag of Rs. 2,400, these are too expensive for the kind of performance they deliver. Earphones such as the SoundMAgic PL11s offer much better audio performance and are cheap at just Rs.550. What Koss have managed to create are some really expensive pair of earplugs, because without good audio fidelity, that’s what they essentially are. We recommend you avoid these in-ear phones and stick with something tried and tested like the Creative EP630’s for bass heads or PL30s from SoundMagic.