In my mailbox there one day was a number relatively new headphones. Creative, well known for their soundcards, has stepped into the headphone business with two fairly cheap headphones. Koss, that has been making headphones for years, has come up with a number of headphones that all are aimed for computer use. The interesting aspect of this test is if the newbies from Creative can stand up against Koss, or maybe even take them down. If so, Creative will share a place with Sennheiser, that along with Koss is world leading in the headphone sphere.
To plug headphones into your computer today
is as natural as Dolly Parton sleeping on her back. But that has not always
been the case. Most of you remember your old 166 MHz with a couple of tiny
speakers hanging on the side of your monitor. That was all you needed, the
soundcards couldn’t handle any more advanced system. But currently the soundcards
has reached a point in their development that make many replace their stereo
and use the computer instead. There are even those who throw out their not
so old DVD-player because of the computer. And how did the headphones come
along in this evolution from computer to media centre? I can’t imagine any
computer interested person who does not know what LAN is. When you go to a
LAN you can’t bring your loudspeakers, as it would end up rather messy with
hundreds of persons listening to different kinds of music, games or movies.
That is why everyone supply themselves with a pair of headphones and most
of the time they are very impressed by the sound of a 2004 quality headphones,
and maybe even replace the speaker system with a pair of headphones.
In my mailbox there one day was a number relatively
new headphones. Creative, well known for their soundcards, has stepped into
the headphone business with two fairly cheap headphones. Koss, that has been
making headphones for years, has come up with a number of headphones that
all are aimed for computer use. The interesting aspect of this test is if
the newbies from Creative can stand up against Koss, or maybe even take them
down. If so, Creative will share a place with Sennheiser, that along with
Koss is world leading in the headphone sphere.
Now go on to the next page to see how Koss
handles the newcomer Creative. Happy reading!
First in line we have Creative’s
new the top of the line headphones series HQ. The model goes by the name Creative
HQ-1300, but lets take a look at what this set has to offer. First of all
some generic specifications.
Technical specifications: Creative HQ-1300
|20 ~ 20 000 Hz|
|Cord length:||3 meters|
|Cord attachment :||Single (one cup)|
|Price:||300 SEK Exchange rates|
The frequency range is nothing unusual most headphones goes down as far as 20Hz. The sensitivity is quite high though and should make it possible to reach a relatively high volume. The Impedance is the standard impedance for headphones, no worries here. The price is the big exclamation mark; 300
SEK is an average price but if you look hard you can probably save a few tens.
Design, ergonomics and
HQ-1300 looks a bit special; partly because they are very high and then the loop is leaning forward and this results in a rather special look.
The reason it is so high is because there is a self adjusting main loop, that has to have clearance. It is a bit much though, so much that even Bart Simpson, or people with head shapes similar to his, should be able to wear these.
The cups are more then enough and feels just tight enough, thus it doesn’t hurt after long sessions of listening. It feels like the headphone is very adjusted for long sessions since the main loop and the cups are really soft and comfortable. Those of you who have a new Philips headphone will recognize the cloth and stuffing it’s namely the same that is sued with Creative’s creation, which definitely isn’t a disadvantage on the contrary it’s an advantage.
It’s very comfortable at least.
The size isn’t all good, but becomes a real issue when you try to pack them down into your laptop bag since you can’t fold them together. And they don’t look very slim when you are wearing the. Clumsy to be more precise.
The cups are jointed in both directions making it possible for everyone to wear them. I have to say that HQ-1300 is one of the most adjustable set I have ever seen. The choice of material is plastic, except the bars on each cup which are made out of black painted aluminum. It seems natural to make the whole headphone in plastic since it is a relatively strong and light material.
The quality would be enough a set that costs three times as much; it’s the little things that gives the impression like glitches, founding drops and paint according to me, and you can really tell that Creative is on the same page here, since they have put have a lot of thought into this. It doesn’t lower the sound quality or comfort in any way, but it shows that the company are really trying with the product if it passes the microscope test (yes I am pedantic).
I don’t know if all that many has noticed that the cord only goes to one of the cups, but this makes you more maneuverable and I really appreciate it. Anyway it’s a big plus. When it comes to the weight it’s not the lightest set in the test but not the heaviest. 251 gram is something you can carry for a couple of hours with ease.
Theoretical sound quality:
The carton promises remarkable straight frequency curves with the high performing 50 millimeter element. The usual sales man chat or is it really true? In my reviews you have become acquainted with sets with open cups and Creative’s latest is no exception. The pros are mainly the room feeling; you should feel like you are sitting in a room with speakers far away from you and not 2 centimeters from your ear drums.
The cons are that the sound gets to suffer in the lower regions of the frequency range because the membrane doesn’t anything to "bounce" against; you could say that closed cups works a little like subwoofer. Con number two is that you have to listen to all the crap that is happening on the other side of cpu, like annoying LAN-buddies or parents that nags about one and another.
How the set performs purely when it comes to the sound we will take a closer look at further ahead in the review.
HQ-1300 is delivered with a converter plug for you regular receiver/amplifier.
It’s goldplated to reduce signal losses and noise.
The cord length is more than enough: 3 meters should carry the length down to the computer no matter where you have hidden it. About 60 centimeters down sits a regular volume control which is good for in-game adjustments of the volume. There isn’t much to mention otherwise, the price is relatively low and Creative offers a two year warranty,
which feels really good since the set only costs around 300 SEK.
HQ-1300 isn’t the best looking set in the world, but definitely
one the most comfortable. Good stuffing and a balanced weight makes them a
very choosy set. The sound is top notch for a 300 SEK set, but it doesn’t
stand a chance towards the audiophile favorite Koss PRO3AA. Good for you who
wants a comfortable headphones with descent sound but still wants some money
left in the pouch .
Creative also has a smaller brother and if you take a look at the next page
you will get to know him as well.
The second headphone
we got from Creative differs a lot from its big brother, both on design, market
targeting and price.
|20Hz ~ 20kHz|
|Cable connection:||Single (on one cap)|
|Price:||~ 150 SEK (Exchange
frequency range is probably a bit exaggerated, I can’t believe that a 150
SEK headphone can reach 20 Hz without sounding like crap. The impedance is
the same as on its big brother and should result in a pleasant experience
with an MP3 player. It’s got the highest sensitivity in this roundup and that’s
the second reason for making HQ-60 and MP3 player a good couple. The price
is at a wonderful 150 SEK, which definitely is at the limit of how low you
can sell headphones for.
ergonomics and construction:
HQ-60 has "new"
type of construction, which at first hand is made for those who use cycle
helmets, where standard headphones would be very uncomfortable under the helmet.
Neck phones, as they are usually called. They are common today but that is
probably not because of helmet usage but because of people do not want to
mess up their heavily styled hair, plus the fact that everyone want the latest
and coolest headphones, don’t they?
Let’s stick to topic: HQ-60 are solid, they cannot be adjusted in any way.
All this to keep weight, design and price at a minimum. You maybe remember
me tearing Sennheiser’s neck phones to pieces a while ago, and it seems like
Creative read parts of my review and created a comfortable pair of neck phones.
HQ-60 isn’t as limp as Sennheiser’s
creation and that probably depends on everything being more robust and stronger.
The way to make neck phones stay in
place is to squeeze them onto your ears, and the phones from Creative squeeze
really good; without making it hurt but make a perfect balance between pain
(uhm, well…) and functionality.
Closest to your ears you have the soft and washable pads, which are also replaceable
in case they are worn out by intense use.
An annoying thing is the slightly oversized hoop. Despite the fact that I
have an impressive bull-neck there is still a centimetre left between my neck
and the hoop. This is of course a nice thing for people with extremely big
heads, but I think most of the potential buyers have a head equal to mine
or smaller. If you ask me, Creative could cut off a bit of the hoop.
However, remember that this headphone costs about 150 SEK, and you get a lot
of comfort for a relatively small amount of money.
at the weight of this it pass with distinction; 58 grams is about as much
hair gel I use every morning, which makes me trained for this kind of challenges.
A featherweight phone, no doubt about it.
Creative has put some thought on the location of the cord, ad placed on a
single cap it gives maximum mobility. Further about the cord I had to rearrange
in the computer corner as the cord was to short, unless you have some acrobatic
skills. 120 cm is way too short, it could work with a laptop but for a tower
it’s not enough. 120 cm is however perfect length down to my pocket, where
a MP3 player is located and I could imagine this is the kind of source this
phone is mainly targeted for.
Theoretical sound quality:
HQ-60 is constructed as an open phone. It’s obvious that this headphone
most likely will be used a lot more out on the streets than at home. Closed
phones are close to lethal outdoors among people. What if some fool is out
biking with no brakes and shout at you to move, and you end up with handlebars
in your solar plexus.
Or even worse, a hot chick whistles at you and asks you to come over for some
wine and shrimps. If you are lucky and have open phones, like HQ-60, you will
take notice in both cases and you will end up a wholer and happier person.
Enough about this. Before we start testing the headphones we will finish this
With the price in mind it’s hardly surprising there is nothing else but the
phones in the box.
That’s the products from Creative
and we can do nothing else but continuing with the ones from Koss.
The first headphones from KOSS are UR-18, which
are in the same price range as Creative’s flag ship HQ-1300. UR-18 is ironically
KOSS cheapest set in this test and it will be really interesting to see how
it stands up towards Creative’s creation.
Technical specifications: KOSS UR-18
Frequency range :
|25 ~ 15 000 Hz|
|Cord length:||2,4 meter|
|Cord attachment :||Double (both cups)|
|Price:||300 SEK Exchange rates|
The frequency range is narrower
than both of Creative’s headphones and these numbers feels a bit more honest,
not as optimistic as Creative’s. Also it’s the standard impedance; 32 Ohm.
The sensitivity isn’t anything that you will react in any particular way to,
92 dB is a common value for the headphones of this caliber. The price feels
affordable and these should be one of the cheapest Koss sets on the market.
Design, ergonomics and construction:
Koss UR-18 differs a bit in construction in comparison with the others because
it doesn’t have any real clear construction method, but has taken from both
worlds. The cups are closed, except for the small holes placed in the middle.
I will explain how it works later on in the sound test.
At first sight UR-18 looks a bit lanky and fragile, which is absolutely correct.
The plastic is thin and the has small glitches and all attachments have small
glitches and feels fragile. There are some advantages with using little material
though: in this case the weight is low and you can fold the headphones together.
It’s hard to describe with words how it works, but if you look at the pictures
a few rows down you can see for your self. The advantage with being able to
fold them together is that they become less fragile during travels and if
you are lucky you can maybe fit them into your laptop bag. Just make sure
to be careful since the plastic is very thin and I can imagine that it won’t
stand up to much force.
The earmuffs are made from foam rubber, covered in a convenient leather imitation, which makes you sweat less when you are sitting out in the garden listening to hard rock with a cold malt based beverage in your hand. The size of the muffs are more than enough, and everyone should be able to fit their ears inside these. One thing that annoyed me a little are the poor adjustment possibilities; you can only adjust the height.
The main loop is covered with neoprene which is the same material as in your mouse pad. Not very comfortable since it is a rather rough material, and the hair sticks easily. It’s not especially soft either. it gives a rather poor and awkward feeling having neoprene on the loop instead of having choosy foam rubber, of the solution UR-40 uses (look next page).
The thing that annoyed me the
most though is the fact that UR-18 didn’t squeeze together hard enough. I
couldn’t walk around the house on my hands wearing the headphones, which I
do sometimes. A bit annoying that the cups didn’t squeeze enough all around,
because it does affect the sound on these type of semi-closed headphones since
the sound then pours through where the cups doesn’t keep tight.
To my big disappointment UR-18 the cord goes into both cups and this annoys me quite much since much of the maneuverability disappears.
The length of the cord is good though: 2,4 meters is more than enough to reach the computer. For you trendy fellows out there UR-18 are very well designed with a slim and stylish design and very nice color scheme.
They are not at all flashy or special, but looks as a set of headphones. Not at all as clumsy as HQ-1300.
Theoretical sound quality:
Koss phones have always had a powerful sound and these shouldn’t be an exception.
The thing that speaks against them are the price, because they probably haven’t
used any exclusive parts that they use in the more expensive headphones. If
we look at the construction, the semi-open technology should grab a bit from
both worlds: the room feeling from the open principle and the power from the
gives a two year warranty, which feels good when since you have to bend the
quality a little to be able to sell a set for a mere 300 SEK. No converter
plugs or similar things comes in the package, but you can buy one the closest
audio video store for ten; it is such a small thing that it isn’t really worth
Koss UR-18 has a brother that we will also review; jump to the next page.
The time has come for KOSS mid end phones UR-40.
The price is noticeably above the previous headphones but the question is
how big the differences really are.
Technical specifications: KOSS UR-40
|20 ~ 20 000 Hz|
|Cord length :||1,2 meter|
|Cord attachment :||Double (Both cups)|
|Price:||400-500 SEK Exchange rates|
The frequency range is just as wide as the human hearing can notice, considering the price these numbers feel rather trustworthy.
Impedance is almost twice as high as the other headphones which gives you a hint what these are suppose to be used with; more advanced stereos with a higher output than a MP3-player for instance. Although the MP3-player shouldn’t toss in the towel since the sensitivity is really high. The price lies in the consumer friendly mid end segment and if you are to succeed here you’d better have a real good set of headphones.
Design, ergonomics and construction:
Basically UR-40 is the same headphone as UR-18; the only differences are the cups and the stuffing for the head. If we begin with the cups they are the same size as UR-18 and also have the same leather imitations muffs. Feels really good against the head.
The cups are esthetically attractive with a nice chrome finish and together with the dull gray bars and a slim profile UR-40 is the tests best looking headphones. If we look to the size of the cups they should be enough for most people and just as UR-18 you can fold these together, although UR-40 unfolds much easier than its smaller brother.
The stuffing for the head is a bit different: it is not covered with foam rubber which they usually are but Koss has chosen to go their won way and use a net with rather coarse net for you head. I find it really comfortable and it shapes perfectly after your scull and still gives you plenty of support. Superb solution in my opinion.
Alas Koss has repeated the same mistake as with the UR-18
and attach the cord in both cups. I can’t really understand why they have chosen to do so, because it’s not hard to only let the cable run to one cup and then let it run over you head through the loop. The cord is rather short as well: 1,2 meters isn’t enough to reach my computer, which maybe shows that the headphones are aimed for more mobile sound sources.
The vertical adjustment possibilities are very good and the cups can be turned
almost 180 degrees forward. The plastic in the loop is soft which makes it
very flexible in all directions. But you have to be careful not to wear them
out because the loop is the same as on the UR-18 and it is a bit weak in my
opinion, but then again it’s lighter this way.
The construction is a genuine
example of a open headphone: the big bars on the cups tells us of this. If
you out your ear against them you can hear almost as good as when wearing
them the way you are suppose to. This results in that you hear everything
happening around you to with, or without, headphones. This can be annoying
at LAN’s and similar, but good if you are at home want to able to hear the
telephone or if someone rings on the doorbell.
UR-40 weighs in at descent 154 gram which is a bit below the weight you can carry for a long period of time. As you might remember the UR-18 was a bit to soft in the squeeze around the head? UR-40 isn’t better, but actually sits even looser. This doesn’t matter as much with the UR-40 since the sound doesn’t get worse because of the open construction, but the problems withstands that they can fall off during acrobatic maneuvers.
Theoretical sound quality:
UR-40 is as close to the open cup design that you can come with a titan element
and the frequency range is low going down to 20 Hz. The open construction
tends for a air like and natural sound, (the carton promises ”extra deep bass")
and apparently this because of the special titan elements. The Impedance weighs
in at 60 Ohm, which might be a bit much for an MP3-player, but the SPL-value
is pretty high, thus the UR-40 should be able to work it out anyway.
is delivered with a goldplated converter plug to the big plug, which once again tells us that Koss wants you to use these headphones with more high class sound sources (read:
my beloved SACD stereo). Koss leaves a two year warranty and that should almost be a given when you pay 500 SEK on a set of headphones.
Time for Koss high end monster.
The last pair is actually in a
class of its own, at least if we look at the price. The price is namely twice
as high as the second most expensive set. It will be interesting to see how
big the difference really is between the cheaper alternatives in this review.
Is it necessary to pay 1000 SEK for a pair of headphones if you don’t have
very high standards?
Technical specifications: KOSS PRO3AA
|15 ~ 20 000 Hz|
|Cord length:||~3 meters|
|Cord attachment:||Single (One cup)|
|Price:||900-1000 SEK Exchange rates|
These are the only headphones
with a frequency range going beneath 20Hz. This is a somewhat of a magical
mark since many headphones can play 20 Hz in a honest way but few can do the
same with 15 Hz. Impedance is as with UR-40, 60 Ohm. Twice the average, but
a higher impedance is better if you have unlimited power coming from the sound
source, tells us a little about what we are suppose to use these for. The
sensitivity is 100 dB which is good for a couple of 60 Ohm headphones. The
price is a bit much though for most people, probably an investment for life.
Koss has considered this and leaves you with a somewhat limited lifetime warranty
that will protect you against production mistakes and similar.
Design, ergonomics and construction:
The first thing that hit me when I pick up Koss’s PRO3AA is the weight, 300g
is a bit much when it comes to headphones. The weight is really felt when
you are wearing them, your neck starts to hurt after a few hours and when
I sit down and just listen the hours fly by. Those of you who only are sitting
there listening for an hour or so should not have a problem with the weight
If we are to continue with the ergonomics we have to mention the oversized
hoop, it’s made in steel with a huge protecting rubber cover that in my opinion
is unnecessarily big, heavy and not too pretty. There isn’t anything between
the skull and this rubber cover which is a bit weird because it is far from
soft and cozy.
Something that is soft and choosy are the the cups, same muffs as the two
other headphones from Koss which means foam rubber covered with a convenient
leather imitation. The adjustment possibilities are very good considering
the height and as the previous set of headphones you can tilt the cups a lot
in the forward direction. The cups can’t be rotated around its own axle and
you can’t fold PRO3AA as you could the previous set. But that doesn’t really
matter since these headphones are not made for portable products but for you
own very little sweet spot at home, or as the carton says; the studio.
If we take a closer look at the design we recognize quite a few things, the same tiltable attachment to the hoop and the gray color scheme. When you are wearing them they are very slim and the cups are flat and good looking.
Although the slim look is ruined by the big above mentioned rubber covered hoop which is just big, ugly and uncomfortable.
I can’t see any advantages with with this thing more than it gives the headphones a beefier look and they do look bigger, but as we all know size doesn’t matter?
As you might remember i had some problems with the previous two headphones, they didn’t squeeze tight enough, but this is not a problem with PRO3AA. It’s actually the other way around, it’s a bit too tight, the combined weight and hoop makes these a pretty uncomfortable set if you use them for a long period of time.
The designers at Koss has at least come to their senses and only used a single cord attachment, which I think all headphones should have since it is such an easy thing to do. 3 meters of cord is more than enough to reach my computer and the amplifier.
Theoretical sound quality:
PRO3AA are constructed according to the closed-air model which tends for a
high pressure and a heavy sound. You really can’t hear anything of what goes
around outside the cups. It seems to be the same type of titanium element
that was used with UR-40 and together with a closed cup this should be getting
mighty heavy. The carton promises that the titanium elements will be able
to deliver an extremely high and undistorted sound.
These headphones are delivered with a 6.5 stereo plug thus you can use you
headphones with an amplifier or any other sound source with this type of output.
This adapter in particular is bit extra though, it is namely screwed on and
this gives a perfect connection between the two plugs.
Now it is finally time to see what our contestants handle in our real life
tests. All headphones have been tested and the only thing missing is a conclusion
of the previous pages.
The tests will occur in three
steps: in the first moment we will use a highly common computer with a good
sound card, in the second moment we will use a "well-known" MP3
player to the readers, namely mobiBLU DAH-900, which we tested not very long
Step three includes a real pain of a stereo with SACD player, so that the
speakers will really work their butts off so to speak.
To keep me from getting too much impairing on my hearing, I’ve chosen two
MP3 songs in 192 Kbps and a techno bass song that really shows if the speakers
manage to work in low frequencies.
Testing song number two is one of the best rock songs through the millennias:
Manowar with Warriors of the World. This is a song that includes most of the
things you can imagine testing: from heavy drum comps by creaking electric
guitars to massive singing. The same songs are also used in SACD format and
are strikingly well recorded with fantastic dynamics. For those of you who
aren’t quite sure on what SACD is, an explanation is displayed below.
SACD: (Super Audio Compact Disc). A new High End sound format from Sony and
Philips that will compete with DVD-Audio. SACD uses a new type of bit stream,
called Direct Stream Digital (DSD), that according to Sony themselves is a
lot better than both CD and DVD-Audio.
You have to interpret that as you wish since SACD has a bit stream of 2 822
Kbps and DVD-Audio has a bit stream of the double. SACD has a lower dynamic
range than DVD-Audio, so to state that SACD is better than DVD-Audio is almost
swindling. Though SACD has gotten pretty popular away in Asia where some SACD
discs are playable in ordinary CD players. That’s the big disadvantage with
DVD-Audio: that you have to buy a really expensive DVD-Audio player.
Anyhow, SACD is a lot better than
ordinary CD-Audio recordings, and whether I made the mistake of buying an
SACD player instead of a DVD-Audio player or not, we will keep unsaid.
any further introduction we move on to the tests.
all we begin by using the computer as a sound source. The judgements come
in the order of the headphones were represented in the review, and not by
First out is the song Illegal Car Bass Song from the dBdragrace contest record;
a really heavy song that can break any speaker just by playing it. Then we
go on with Manowar and Warriors of the World.
Not much speaks for that HQ-1300 will get a super good result in the
bass test, partly because of the low price and partly because of the
open construction. But we won’t hold any grudges before the tests.
frequency span is pretty deep and it’s noticed when you’re listening
to the bass song, because the absolutely lowest tones can be heard.
The headphone element can’t bare to control the membrane, because the
distortion really takes over the song; sad but true.
If you look at it from a price perspective, you get quite a lot and
heavy bass for the small sum you put out. These are better than many
other headphones for 300 SEK on the market.
Note that the element is 50 millimeters big and you have to crank it
up a little extra on the volume control to get a good sound level.
Manowar’s more common song handles HQ-1300 more of less very well, though
I thought that there was some juice missing in the lower frequencies
when the drummer puts a lot of pain on the bass drum.
The treble and middle register fulfilled my expectations for what a
300 SEK headphone can achieve. It’s not hard to get that because the
membranes are small and thin, which causes the membrane to be able to
vibrate very quickly.
After some trouble
with getting the cord to reach I finally got on to testing.
The bass test is a real disappointment; not an unexpected disappointment
concerning the price and the construction. The sound gets very uncontrolled
as soon as the bass kicks in. You can forget listening at high volume
when the music is heavy.
Not even Manowar’s song gets cozy in
HQ-60; the song is acceptable but the bass riffs and the drum comps
don’t feel like they should. Not much to bring to the table except that
they’re light driven and handles the middle register fairly well.
as usual, is the bass song, that originates from car audio contests.
For a start the lower frequencies were badly represented (as you remember
these headphones had bad pressure on my head). I then pressed the cups
lightly, so that they shut pretty well and there was actually a huge
The sound got a lot heavier; better than HQ-1300 I second.
The Manowar song is a piece of art and UR-18 can deliver this song very
well. The sound is acceptable if we look at the bass and drum beats
and equivalent with HQ-1300 on that part.
On the higher frequencies, UR-18 is one step ahead of Creative’s both
because the sound keeps it together well and the distortion is arbitrary
when both singer and guitar player are in action.
The sound weighs up to the price;
no doubt about that. The problem by getting sound pressure is no problem,
because it’s still ordinary 32 Ohm headphones, so something else was
nothing to expect either.
As usual it’s the
bass test we begin with. The first you notice is that the volume can
be increased a lot more than what is possible with the three first headphones
before distortion takes over the song.
As if it wasn’t enough the bass is much more distinct and powerful and
the deep of the bass isn’t half bad either.
The thing with "extra deep bass" are not just empty words.
Clearly the best with this song so far.
If we go over to the second song I’m
impressed instantly and I was actually forced to check if there wasn’t
a guitar player behind my chair and rocking. The space feeling is very
good and it feels like the speakers are 1.5 meters from me and not 1.5
cm, like they do.
The bass is wonderful: just right and not extremely heavy as PRO3AA
tends to be. The higher frequencies are as harmonical as the lower and
they back up eachother very well.
The distortion, when both bass and treble are juicing on, passes. High
volumes with low distortion is not an issue either.
In a pair of headphones of this caliber you’re starting to hear how
badly an MP3 song really sounds. The best sound quality and reproduction
this test so far.
are meant for studio use and audiophiles, that’s clearly noticed. The
bass test passes easily, it’s heavy in a large amount but it feels like
somehow there is power missing in the sound card to get all the juice.
Anyhow the PRO3AA passes the bass test the best of them all in this
roundup. The fully closed construction contributes a lot. If you feel
like blowing your eardrums with high volume without distortion, it’s
very easy. Sound clear as crystal without a trace of irritating distortion.
In the next song PRO3AA performs
just as good as in the previous one, even in the most hectical moments
with guitar assault, bass mangle, drums and brutal singing, PRO3AA manages
to keep control of everything without getting bothered by distortion.
The volume is wickedly increasable, almost impossible to get a normal
song to burst or sound bad on a sound level that is bareable enough
to listen to without getting impaired hearing. This is a clear advantage
for DJ’s if they want to be able to get high sound pressure and cups
that blocks the sound from outside.
Even if it’s some really good sound I was expecting more of PRO3AA since
they cost about 1000 SEK and UR-40 that isn’t too much behind when it
comes to sound costs only half.
We quickly go on to some sound tests where
we use an MP3 player as a sound source.
Now it is time
to test the headphones with an MP3 player. The reason of this is that MP3
players are something very popular among consumers, plus that the included
headphones often are very bad. It is very hard to get a high volume with an
MP3 player with lower distorsion as possible. The MP3 player used in this
test does not have a powerful amplifier, this might become a tricky test for
the larger headphones.
HQ-1300 is relatively
large headphones, the big elements demand rather much juice. I had to
turn up the volume to the max level to get a normal sound level. If
I had used normal headphones with these settings I would not have any
The distorsion thru the whole frequency span also increases, though
it is not disturbing.
The HQ-1300 is not recommended for portable music players unless you
do not care about sound level or have a rather powerful player.
HQ-60 does as mentioned
not demand much power. My calculations were that the MP3 player’s effect
at 7mW should handle these headphones perfectly. And I was right.
It is possible to listen at volume level 20 (of the max 30) and still
get hearing problems before the batteries are run out.
If you compare the headphones that came
with the player and HQ-60, the Creative product are a lot better.
UR-18 does not perform very good
with an MP3 player. The volume must be at the max level for the user
to hear anything. There are no problems at all with the distorsion,
mostly because of the low sound level.
The UR-18 are almost identical with HQ-1300
when the audio source is a MP3 player. As you might understand these
headphones are not recommended either for use with MP3 players for the
same reasons as the HQ-1300.
The volume at max
level, then you can rock it. UR-40 demand rather much power, however
it does not affect the sound very much. It is although noticeable that
the effect of the MP3 player is lower than the audio card in the computer.
The UR-40’s are better for portable
players than UR-18 and HQ-1300, but is not on the same level as HQ-60.
The sound quality is just as good or almost better, but the HQ-60 is
more portable and therefore better for MP3 players.
No, PRO3AA is absolutely not adapted
for MP3 players. Even at max volume it is rather hard to hear anything.
Not very odd actually.
If you want to use PRO3AA with your MP3
player it is time to re-think that. They are absolutely not portable,
and it is very hard to get a high sound quality when the volume is low.
Last but not least are the tests with a real
stereo and with some real SACD music.
In our last test we use a stereo as our audio
source. A powerful amplifier together with an SACD player doesn’t give any
room for mistakes in the headphone construction. In opposite to our tests
with the MP3-player, we expect that all the headphones will be sweating after
this. It’s still the same songs as in our previous tests, but this time in
their original formats, SACD. Which should give better results if the headphones
The old type of headphone
output on my amplifier is a 6.5 millimeter stereo plug.
Creative are nice enough to send us a converting plug that
makes the headphones’ 3.25mm plug fit in the amplifier’s bigger output.
This test is mostly for checking if the headphones really show us their
full potential. In this case there is not much to talk about since HQ-1300
didn’t even manage the MP3 test (in the computer) in its full; it doesn’t
sound anything better than in my big stereo in other words, despite the fact that we use SACD
as a music source.
Since the results
weren’t impressive (if you’re not considering the price) in the test
where the computer was the audio source, you can’t expect any miracles
just because the audio source gets a bit better.
The computer made the HQ-60 just. The
differences between two audio sources with these headphones are minimal;
so minimal that it’s not worth writing anything else about it.
KOSS UR-18 :
songs are run in this test, but with a significantly increased quality
than the ordinary MP3s, because of SACD quality. No issues are encountered
since we’re using a large amplifier that has a significantly bigger
output than the MP3 player and the computer.
Since the computer was sufficient and the MP3 songs sounded pretty good,
the difference here isn’t huge either.
Sure, the bass gets a bit fatter and the riffs a bit sharper, but that
is because the quality has been increased tenfold on the music source.
KOSS UR-40 :
UR-40 is a neat
little headphone, it may look a bit weird and toyish, but the sound
is anything but toyish. That shows well in this test.
The sound is really clear as crystal and UR-40 does these SACD songs,
with enormous quality, justice. This is the first headphone in the test
that there’s an actual difference worth mentioning.
The SACD quality together with the air feeling makes the sound almost comparable
to my ordinary "more expensive" Hifi equipment.
The sound doesn’t get a lot heavier or more powerful than with the computer,
but it’s crystal clear; you can really notice the difference between
an ordinary MP3 song and the SACD song which I’m using here.
KOSS PRO3AA :
be described in one word: Wonderful. With a real amplifier and first-class
sound recordings, the PRO3AA can really reach out its wings and show
us what it’s got.
The sound gets really
powerful with an incredible pressure in the lower frequencies. The volume
level feels like it’s unlimited, I couldn’t get the sound to burst under
volume levels that you can listen to. Okay, it would have succeeded
with extreme bass test songs with frequency sweeps and alike, but there’s
not a single sane man that listen to these anyway, especially not in
such high volume levels.
PRO3AA really impresses us with
an amplifier as a propulsion source, and if you want the very max out
of these headphones it’s an amplifier that’s required. Please observe
that they also perform best in the test with the computer, but if you
want value for your money, you should have an amplifier or the corresponding
that can help the headphones.
Now it’s time to try to conclude it all.
It has been a quite balanced test
this time, no headphone has sucked all the way even though the sound in HQ-60
didn’t really suffice for use with the computer or the home stereo. HQ-60
was somewhat of an outsider in this test since it’s more adjusted for mobile
use than to a stationary computer or the corresponding. That’s why I give
HQ-60 the award of the test’s mobile winner. Sure, UR-40 had a bit better
sound quality but HQ-60 is as mobile as it can get. They’re small and weigh
practically nothing. They are very discreet and has sound that suffices for
an MP3 player, and the price is on an acceptable level as well.
Probably the most desirable title is the award for best computer headphone.
Koss UR-40 receives that award since they cost half as much as PRO3AA and
the sound is almost at the same level. The title ’best headphone for use with
home stereo’ is not unexpected, given to Koss PRO3AA. The sound is extremely
good and you can really push the volume up and up without getting distortion.
The best looking headphone goes to Koss UR-40 because of the slim design,
the chrome color and the net as lining for the head hoop. HQ-1600 doesn’t
walk away without a price neither since it’s the test’s most adjustable headphone.
Koss should get an innovational price for the smart folding on UR-40 and UR-18
but a slap for not mounting the cord in just one cap but on both caps on both
HQ-1300 aren’t the world’s best looking headphones, but on the other
hand one of the most comfortable. Good lining in caps and an average weight
makes them a pair of very cozy headphones. The sound is in top class for
a 300 SEK headphone, but it’s got no chance against the audiophile favorite,
Koss PRO3AA. These fit you who wants a pair of cheap comfortable headphones
with good sound quality and also to keep some money in your wallet.
HQ-60 is a cheap pair of headphones and you have probably noticed that pretty clearly now,
at least the sound properties aren’t all that great. Not if you were
thinking about using them for the computer, because the cord’s short length
complicates it all somewhat. If you don’t think that ordinary earphones
are enough for an MP3 player, HQ-60 is a good deal. They fit nicely on your
head, look slim and it has better sound than in ordinary earphones, guaranteed.
If you buy a pair of Koss UR-18 you’ll get what you pay for; not more nor
less. The sound is ok, but not so good that you’ll tip your chair or be
forced to change underwear. If you were thinking about using UR-18 for your
MP3 player, you should think again. It’s a light headphone with a smart
folding function, but they fit badly and the music therefore "leaks"
on the sides.
UR-40 is mostly a super good looking headphone, that goes under the class
of ’light as a feather’. They don’t fit very good, but not enough for the
sound to suffer since it’s constructed as open-air. The sound is top
notch, top class if you compare with headphones in same price range. UR-40
is usable for an MP3 player and getting good sound with a descent volume, but
note that this is not the ultimate pair of headphones for portable sound
sources. This is the first headphone in this roundup that do the SACD songs
just. To sum up, this is a nice looking headphone with good sound to the
right price and probably one of the best headphone deals below 500 SEK.
Koss PRO3AA are big and heavy, and not very comfortable either. Unlined rubber
over the head and leather clothed foam rubber on the caps doesn’t really
give the support that is needed with this weight. The sound is purely amazing
as long as you’re not using an MP3 player, because it’s almost impossible
to get any pleasure with these headphones if they’re driven by an MP3 player.
If you have an amplifier at home with an output for headphones, you can afford
the 1000 SEK that PRO3AA costs. Then you’ll get an amazingly strong sound
with good pressure in the whole frequency range. I recommend these headphones
to the ones that want really good sound but care less about the comfort,
and also to the one that doesn’t sit too long with these on, because the
weight will remind you after not a very long while. The mobile user has
nothing to gain from these headphones.
+ Adjusting possibilities
+ Cord in one cap
+ Soft lining
+ Long cord
+ Volume control on cord
– Clumsy design
– Mediocre sound
– A bit heavy
+ Good cord length for MP3 players
– The sound, does not suffice for
– Short cord for stationary use
+ Good looking
+ Comfortable caps
+ Relatively cheap
– Cord in both caps
– Poor head pressure
– Mediocre sound
– A bit weak
+ Good sound
+ Good looking
+ Comfortable caps
+ Comfortable hoop over head
+ Pretty good with MP3 players
– A bit weak
– Cord in both caps
– A bit short cord
– Poor head pressure
+ Super sound with amplifier
+ Can handle high volume
+ Cord in one cap
+ In principle distortion free
– Uncomfortable hoop
– Can’t use with MP3 players