Current testing methodology is v1.2
January 23, 2005
6.5 x 2.5 x 6.5 in
Looking for a good pair of headphones for gaming and music-listening purposes was extremely difficult.
A bit of research will show you that most “gaming” headsets have pretty subpar audio performance, and most decent headphones would easily cost you over $100.
This is where the legendary Koss KSC75 comes in.
Don’t be turned off by their unusual design and shape, as these $20 headphones will provide you with an experience none others can replicate at this price.
Worth the Hype?
If you’re wondering if the KSC75 deserves the hype, then before even starting this review, I’ll tell you to just buy it.
It’s only $20 for an excellent product that gives you a good glimpse into the world of high-quality open-back audio, and this certainly makes them an anomaly in the headphone market.
Now for the rest of the review.
A sub-$20 headphone that can out-perform pricier models under $100
The Koss KSC75 are the most accessible open-back headphones you can recommend to people new to Hi-Fi audio due to their low cost.
They’ll give you a well-tuned experience with a neutral bass-rolled sound that’s good for most instrumental or vocal music and simply excellent for gaming.
The lightweight plastic build makes them extremely comfortable to wear, carry around, and even exercise while providing consistently clean sound quality.
While they make for an excellent introductory experience to those not accustomed to Hi-Fi audio, they will not please bass heads or those who prefer more aesthetic over-the-ear designs.
- Material: Plastic, Foam
- Driver: Single Dynamic Titanium coated diaphragm
- Frequency Response: 15Hz-25,000 Hz
- Source Connector: 70-80 degree gold-plated 3.5mm jack
- Impedance: 60Ω
- Cable: Non-removable rubber-coated Y-shape (4ft /1.2m)
- Sensitivity: 101 dB SPL/1mW
What’s in the Box?
- Koss KSC75
- Hard transparent plastic casing
- Lifetime Warranty Card
- General business
Stuff I like
- Excellent price-to-performance ratio
- Lightweight and portable
- Very clear and bright sound
- Decent technicals
- Very customizable
- Comfortable fit
Stuff I like less
- Weak bass response
- Ear clips may be a turn-off for some
- Build feels cheap
- Mediocre cable quality, not detachable
- No noise suppression and sound leaks
- Can cause fatigue for some
The Koss KSC75 holds a bit of a legendary status in the audiophile community, and very few would challenge this.
It was released in 2005 as an upgrade to the Koss KSC35, another ear-clip style headphone launched in 1995. The KSC75 has retained a similar look and improved upon the already excellent sound quality of the warmer KSC35.
You may be wondering if such old technology may have become outdated by today’s standards so I’m here to tell you that this is not the case at all.
The KSC75 still holds up today as a viable choice competing with some of the best headphones under $150.
When I got the box, I was fairly underwhelmed as it was a pretty minimalist design with barely any information.
Holding the headphones, they felt a bit cheap but not enough to outright disregard them. The wire quality, in particular, felt quite dubious, but even after months of wear and tear, it hasn’t given me problems.
The silver design is definitely a bit tacky, but there’s also a black version with a mic that looks more aesthetically pleasing.
The box came with a much-appreciated lifetime warranty and some explanatory documents. Although, with a pair this cheap, I’d rather buy a new one instead of shipping it back to claim the warranty.
Build Quality and Comfort
The first thing I noticed when I removed them from their casing was how lightweight they felt in my hands.
The KSC75 has a full plastic build with rubber ear hooks that feel extremely light on your ears.
After my first few attempts at fiddling with their placement, I no longer have any issues, and it feels extremely natural and comfortable to slip these on. The compact design also makes them easy to carry around as they don’t take up much space.
The lightweight design means they’re easy to clip onto your ears, and contrary to my initial expectations, they stay in place well, even during vigorous physical activity. I was astonished at how good of a fit they gave my ears.
Only after very extended periods of wearing them do I start to feel discomfort at the top of my ears, although this may vary from person to person. The clamp pressure is also minimal, and they’re fairly easy to adjust.
The foam pads are also of passable quality. They haven’t given me issues and are pretty easy to replace.
The KSC75 uses titanium-coated dynamic drivers that can produce a wide frequency of sounds, and the titanium coating over the diaphragm prevents unnecessary vibrations.
This coating helps cleans the sound but subdues the bass quite a bit.
They also have a very low demanding impedance of 60 Ohms, so you can easily run them at high volumes with any device without requiring an amp.
Although if you’re looking for punchier bass, an amp could help a lot.
The 4ft cable features a simple Y-shape that’s easy enough to handle, but they went with a 3.5mm jack that’s not at a full right angle. This could be annoying for some.
I’d describe the KSC75 as an excellent pair of speakers for your ears; I say speakers because of the very audible sound leak and a lack of isolation.
People sitting next to you will be able to hear what you’re listening to when playing loud volumes, and you’ll be able to hear them as well. This provides its own set of pros and cons.
Below I’ll be reviewing the performance of the KSC75, and I’ll be ignoring the price to keep it as honest as possible.
This is honestly the weakest part of the KSC75, as lower extensions are almost non-existent.
Ok, maybe that’s unfair.
Bass DOES exist and can come through with enough power as long as it’s in the mid-range. This means that snares, cymbals, drums, and bass guitars will come through with good clarity.
However, the sub-bass response is poor and doesn’t have that thump to it that people who prefer V-shaped tuning and listen to hip-hop tracks might be looking for.
The KSC75 has a bit of a mid and upper-mid focus that lets them shine through in this department.
The mid-range is kind of awesome in terms of clarity and reproduces vocals with good precision. The vocals are brought forwards, and this focus, paired with the quality, is excellent.
The separation in this department is also very well executed, and instruments come through while maintaining individuality even on busier tracks.
I’d describe the treble for the KSC75 as bright-tilted as the sound produced is lively with a lot of emphasis on it.
Overall the treble is well-detailed, doesn’t do anything weird, and comes through as fairly strong, which is excellent for instrumental tracks.
While not shouty, there’s a bit of peakiness in specific frequencies, which can result in quick fatigue for people sensitive to treble.
General Sound Comments
Now that we’ve discussed the overall sound, let’s discuss some of the more technical details.
I’d say that the impact and dynamics of these products are quite subdued but never too thin to be disregarded.
Imaging on the KSC75 is surprisingly good. While it isn’t as detailed as some more expensive headphones, it does do a decent enough job for its price.
Despite being an open-back headphone, the soundstage they produce is unfortunately not very wide. I’d describe it as a small room with a low ceiling.
The focus, however, is quite good. For someone who hasn’t experienced open-back sound, I’d recommend these just to try and see what that feels like for cheap.
Overall, the KSC75 is an excellent introductory option for those looking to get into critical listening.
Koss KSC75 for Gaming
Yes, they’re actually quite excellent for gaming.
The open-back design provides a good soundstage, and the sound itself is clear and not punchy.
Footsteps are clear and detailed for multiplayer shooters, and even for single-player games. Plus the dialogue comes across as very clean and balanced.
You might be questioning the lack of a dedicated mic. While ultimately up to personal preference, I’d suggest buying a dedicated high-quality mic rather than relying on the ones bundled with overpriced headsets.
If you absolutely require an over-the-ear experience, then I’d recommend the popular mod using the KSC75 drivers on the Porta Pro headband.
In fact, you can fiddle around and customize almost every aspect of the KSC75, from the foam pads to the wire itself too!
These are excellent headphones for gaming, and you don’t need to worry about the looks either since most of us game at home.
So if you’re looking for a gaming headset, go for the KSC75, as it’s a cheap investment.
The KSC75 is a sub-$30 open-back clip-on on-ear with great tuning, powerful mids, and weak bass.
It basically has a monopoly in terms of audio quality over the sub $100 market.
While not a full-range experience, they’re really solid mid-range performance headphones. Your only other viable choice at this budget would be to go for IEMs that can perform better.
If we can look past the unappealing ear-clip design, I’d recommend the KSC75 to everyone looking to get into Hi-Fi audio or even just for generic gaming setups.
Although if you’re already used to more expensive HiFi headsets, don’t expect to be blown away except maybe for the price point.
Keeping the price in mind, I’d give the KSC75 a solid rating of
An audio lover currently enrolled in university and writing about my hobbies in my free time.
You're guaranteed to find me testing out a new piece of audio equipment while going about my everyday life.
This post was last updated on 2024-02-22 / Some images from Amazon Product API & some links may be affiliate links which may earn us a commission from purchases.