Very good sound, regal comfort, killer value!

Oct 24, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Deep bass, balanced middles and crystal clear treble
Sturdy construction, quality materials
Comfortable
Spectacular value

Cons:Cable too long, needs burn-in, severe wind howling noise

The Bottom Line: I strongly recommand these headphones. As the title suggests, very good sound, very comfortable and at 20$ you simply cannot go wrong. Get them!


The box said "closed cushions for deep bass". Let’s start with that.




Cheap ‘phones flush all reality down the commode and quote 20-20000Hz FR, which is the international standard for ‘hi-fi’ headphones. Mostly they cannot produce any sound below 50Hz. KOSS quotes 30-20000Hz, which seems to be more or less honest.




HeadRoom’s test shows two strangely different curves. They might have used a frequency sweep to test it, but hey, did I test them? No. HeadRoom also shows some weird graphs even on high-end ‘phones. Don’t worry.




So how deep is the bass, really?




Most cheapo ‘phones have a real FR range at around 100-18000Hz. What they do is that, they boost up the mid-bass to give you a fake ‘deep’ bass feeling (remember seeing ‘super bass’ on dollar shop earbuds?). The result is that you feel that your ‘phones are kicking your skull but anything lower than that will be played with a one-note farting tuba.




UR-20’s go down to 30Hz. They really do. Not just with In Da Club, but you really do feel that the bass is not boosted out of proportion and is more or less ‘natural’.




Bottom line, pretty deep, for me, I guess.




An important thing is to burn them in.




Going back to the phrase "closed cushions for deep bass". The cushions are very large, 11cm in diameter with an oval 7×6cm ear-hole.




You get a huge chunk of meat, right there. These thick pads seal off your ears completely and provide some noise isolation. They are also great for offices, LAN conventions and what have you. If you listen to your music for 8 hours straight per day, like me, you might be very well likely to exchange a bit of the sound for comfort, and comfort at this price is quite rare.




The first thing that jumps in your eyes is the size of this thing. Bulky, isn’t it? Yes and no. Most of the headphones are hollow. KOSS claims that these ‘phones weigh 10oz. Cable included (so it’s way lighter on your head). Open them up and you see a weeny yet extremely powerful 30mm speaker, a piece of foam and air. Period. Oh and BTW, while the ‘phones are open, get some foam and fill up the empty space, ja?




Ja.




Going back to the comfort point, these headphones sit on youe head, not clamp on your head. That means, these things sure can provide more sound isolation, but you have to sacrifice a bit of comfort.




There are 2 air vents, one on each ear-piece. I call them ‘vents’ because I somehow hate the word ‘holes’. This is a drawback, right here. Wind will go through them and create severe howling noises (hence the name ‘vents’). Do headphones overheat? Hmm… Foam tape a bit of mind=problem solved. Well, you’ve created another one. Sound will be slightly muffled. You may not be able to hear it, but I do.




Another drawback is the headband adjusting mechanism. This is a ratcheting block thing inside plastic rails. This thing is as cheap as it feels and you cannot adjust it while the ‘phones are on your head. But once adjusted they lock in place and do not move, and they don’t seem very likely to break.




Oh, did I mention how to open them up?




No, eh.




There are 3 screws hidden under the ear cushions. Push it aside, use a Phillips #2 screwdriver and take the 3 off. Pull the ear-piece apart. You can now access the core…




KOSS sells replacement ear cushions for 5$. The cushions will start to fail in like, 12 years, thanks to advanced polyurethane covering material…Well, 12 years really is the maximum lifespan of these things. Trash them and you need to replace them in 6 months.


With the UR-20’s you get an 8ft cable with a regular gold plated TRS of 3.5mm with a 6.3mm TRS adapter. I don’t know why they keep on appearing in headphones’ packagings, but I figured that minor quantum errors in God’s computer led us to put them there. You can buy a Nexxtech headphones accessories pack for 8$. It includes a 2-to-1 3.5mm TRS, 3.5mm-6.3mm TRS, 3.5mm-3.5mm mono TRS and a 6.3mm-3.5mm TRS, all gold-plated.

10 years ago, no mountain bikers thought that they would ever need suspension systems. Look again. Well, same thing for headphones. 10 years ago headphones this cheap are commonly made out of stale bread, chewing gum, spit and some dog fur. But today these things can be very tough too. And I do mean very. No, you don’t get the durability of a 200$ pair of Sennheiser’s, but you’re not getting one-tenth of it either.




The cable, aforementioned, is very long. Maybe even too long for personal use. I have employed a http://nickslogs.blogsome.com/go.php?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey's_fist of shortening it. On the plus side, you get a good 3mm rubber insulated cable. There are no 360-degree turning strain relief, heck, not even a detachable plug. But hey, come to think of it, it isn’t that painful if you break it. The replacement cable for certain Sennheiser’s cost 8$. A fresh new pair of these cost 13$ (on the Internet, plus shipping but you get the idea). Think about it.




How did they make the Azonic Shorty stem so strong?




Density.




The plastics used for the construction of these ‘phones are rather thin yet dense. Not GM-hard, but tough. Sleep on them and when you wake up, they’ll come out intact. Don’t chew on them, though. They’re not made for snowboarding, either. At minus 20 degrees Celsius, um…




So much said, what do they sound like?




Listen…




...Well, good headphones shouldn’t sound like anything.




Still, when you listen to these things, you know that you’re not listening to those high-end audiophile gear, but you are not listening to those yells that came from under a pool of mud. Anyone heard of a crud company called COBY? They sell these ‘super value super bass’ 3-in-1 combo pack cheapo ‘phones for 9$. These are merely plastic-wrapped, metal-strung tin-can telephones that you used to make when you were young.




Burn them in. Period.




I hereby recommend these UR-20 headphones!




PS: They’re not cheap, they’re inexpensive.


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