Friday, July 6, 2012

Review: Koss Pro DJ100 headphones

I do plenty of headphone listening at work.  It's a necessary evil when trying to program in a noisy open office environment.  Sure, I could spend some big dollars on a really nice headphone rig, but due to the amount of foot traffic have instead opted to go the budget route.  Since my old Sennheiser HD-201s have started to sometimes drop the left channel (wire) and the ear cups are deteriorating, I thought it best to buy something new.  After trolling through the Amazon website and reading multiple reviews online, I decided on the Koss Pro DJ100.  At under $50 a pair, I wasn't expecting much, but was hoping for some upgrade over the lower priced Sennheisers.

Opening the package revealed a well-made headphone that looks rather retro-futuristic in an old-timey operator sort of way..  Comfort is fairly good, though perhaps a little tighter than my old Sennheisers.  The coiled speaker cord is quite thick and reminds me of something from the 1970s.  More on this later since it turned out to be a sore spot in real life.

Audio quality: listening to several sources - PC, iPad, iPhone, and my home studio gear - revealed a headphone that lacks the deepest bass or highest treble, but has a fairly relaxed midrange.  Yes, it doesn't have the most detailed or deepest soundstage, but the forward midrange character is great for rock 'n' pop.  I'm reminded of the Grado SR60i, but in comparison the Koss headphones are lacking a little in the finesse department.  Sure, the music is there and all, but the notes are a little muddled and slapped together with the other instruments.  I certainly wouldn't use these for mixdown work since picking out the different tracks is a little more difficult compared to the Grado.  But the overall clarity does seem higher than the Sennheiser HD-201 headphones with a cleaner, less muddy sound.

My biggest complaint, however, is the damn coiled speaker wire.  Since I do the majority of my listening at my desk, I do plenty of typing.  Somehow I cannot find a comfortable place to put the wire and the constant intrusion into my arm or side is highly annoying.  The speaker wire for the Sennheiser is small, light, and long which gives plenty of places to tuck under the keyboard and monitor stand.  But the shorter, thicker and coiled wire of the Pro DJ100s is currently pressed against my elbow.  No matter how I position my desktop PC or my arms, I just can't find a comfortable, not intrusive position.  So for now, I will return to listening to the Sennheiser HD-201s and will probably end up purchasing another pair of them.