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Headphones

Koss KPH30i Review: HiFi Audio Value Redefined

One of the most amazing and surprising headphones that I’ve heard this year. Koss KPH30i

Possible The Best Deal In Headphones in 2019

Sure the treble sounds better than some headphones that cost twice the price but its not quite the shining star the mids are or as amazing as the alien tech used to produce the bass. (It has got to be alien tech, right?) 

It’s not too often that I come across a product that greatly exceeds my expectations. I found that with the Tin HiFi T2 and T2 Pro. They sound as good or better than IEM (in-ear monitors) that cost 3+ times the price. Who would have thought that lightening would strike the same place twice? Well, that is just what happened when I listened to the Koss KPH30i. These headphones have no right to sound this good. Read below for our full review.  

 As always I like to start the reviews with the packaging. KPH30i actually comes with packaging that I would call good. It is not as over the top like some of the more expensive headphones like Beats or Hifiman. Koss proudly displays the headphones in a mostly clear packaging which allows you to see exactly what you’re getting. The most stand out feature in the packaging is the phrase “Hearing is Believing” because it’s true. 

Once the Kph30i are removed from said packaging what you will likely notice is the weight or lack thereof. The box weighs more than the headphones. The lightweight goes a long way when it comes to comfort, I don’t feel any additional weight while wearing the KPH30i.

Fits Like A Glove

The earpads are a medium soft foam with some memory. When I say medium-soft what I mean is the foam is soft but not so soft that it collapses allowing your ears to contact the plastic of the headphones. I don’t know that I’d call the foam memory. However, I do notice the shape of my ear imprinted into the foam after listening for a while. Once removed the impression in the foam disappears and the foam returns to normal after a minute or so. I don’t know many earphones that I can really compare the earpad foam between. I’d say when compared to the foam that Grado Labs uses the Koss foam is softer,  less scratchy and more comfortable.

Koss KPH30i
The silicone comfort strap and sliding adjustment mechanism.

Another fantastic design element is the silicon comfort strap and the slot style adjustment. I personally have never seen a silicone comfort strap but after using one, I think more headphones should start using them. The silicone used is really soft, conforms to the shape of your head with ease. A few other benefits of the silicone comfort strap is it is easy to clean and it grips really well and keeps the Koss KPH30i firmly in place.  I’d feel comfortable working out or jogging while wearing them.

Koss KPH30i
The inline button/control.

Koss KPH30i Additional Features

Additional features consist of an inline microphone/control for the typical pause/ play, trackback / forward, answer and end the ` call. The opposite end of the cable is the 3.5mm connector with a metal strain relief… Yes, I said a metal strain relieve.  I haven’t talked about sound quality yet but just going back over the features the Koss KPH30i would probably be worth the $30 asking price even if they only sounded okay, lucky for us they sound way better than okay. Oh, I almost forgot they come with a limited lifetime warranty, Crazy right!!

The Bass

Its time for the main event, the sound. Now keep in mind these are $30 headphones so you need to keep your expectations in check. These don’t sound like a $300 pair of Sennheiser headphones, that would be crazy talk. The Kph30i sounds more like a $100 pair of headphones, yep you read that right. They are that good, maybe even better and you would have a hard time finding someone that has listened to them that thinks otherwise. I was jumping between headphones for an A/B comparison the headphone that cost 3 times the price and it was honestly a hard call as to which we liked more. The great thing is at a cost of $30 it’s easy to own the KPH30i in addition to other earbuds and headphones. 

When it comes to the sound the first thing that will take you by surprise is the bass, there are tons of it when the song asks for it. It defies logic when you’re just looking at them, all I can think is how. The initial thump is solid and the resolution is just as solid. As a reference, the KPH30i have more bass when compared to the Audio- Technica ATH-AD700x, more bass than the Grado SR80e, more than the AKG K72… You get the point. All the headphones that I listed cost more than the KPH30i. In fact, one pair cost 3x the price and another is 6x times the cost when it was originally released. 

Koss KPH30i
How do headphones this thin produce such solid bass.

Mid-Range

Moving onto the mids what can I say, again the KPH30i offer solid performance. They aren’t as mid focused as something like the Grado’s or 6 series Sennheiser but that should be expected. What shouldn’t be expected is the KPH30i has, in my opinion, has a better mid presence when compared to something like the Hifiman HE4XX.

The HE4XX retailed for $180 but you can grab them on sale right now for only $130. Here is our affiliate link if your interested, our review is coming soon. Spoiler alert, the HE4XX sounds better than it should at the $180 price or the sale price is even sweeter.

Back to the mid-range sound, it’s full and present. This tends to be par for the course for on-ear headphones which the KPH30i are. Along with that presence is a sound quality that I’ve not heard near the $30 price range. I could easily argue that you need to spend about $60 to get headphones that sound about as good. 

Treble

When it comes to the treble it’s no shock that its again good. If I to choose an area where the sound lacks a little I’d probably say its the treble. That is if I had to complain about something. Sure the treble sounds better than some headphones that cost twice the price but its not quite the shining star the mids are or as amazing as the alien tech used to produce the bass. (It has got to be alien tech, right?) 

Koss KPH30i
You can clearly see the vents on the rear of the speaker cups from the side view.

Sound Stage

How about the sound stage, that is a thing right. It isn’t something the average person would consider on $30 headphones. Well, if you’ve read this far you’re likely not an average person so I’ll explain it. What doesn’t jump out when you first look at the KPH30i is the fact they are open-back headphones. I’d say the sound stage is not narrow and not super wide. It sits between narrow and what I would call the middle range for sound staging. Again the fact that we’re even talking seriously about the sound stage at this price point is incredible in itself. 

If you’re new here “open back” means the back of the speaker cup is vented which allows sound to exit. A side effect of open-back headphones is a larger sound stage. Sound stage is exactly what it sounds like. Imagine sitting maybe 5 rows back a concert, you can hear the sound around you in space. Closed-back headphones are more like sitting in front of the loudspeaker, you can hear everything but it is packed together and tends not to sound as clean. If the environment isn’t noisy and some sound wouldn’t desturbe anyone I’d say open-back headphones offer a more pleasing listening experience.

Final Thoughts

I guess I’ll wrap up this review. The bottom line is the Koss KPH30i are in my opinion the best headphones you can get at $30 full stop. I think it could be argued they are some of the best headphones under or around $75. They are really that good. Who do I think should own a pair? Honestly, everyone. Besides the fact they sound amazing here are a few other reasons you should own a pair. First, they are inexpensive travel / mobile headphones with a microphone. Secondly, they work great on gaming consoles with the sound staging and the mic. Third, they are great headphones if someone wants to borrow a set and you don’t want to hand over an expensive set. I could go on but you get the point. The KPH30i is one headphone that everyone should have in their collection. 

Side note: The links provide are to our affiliate account where we might get a small kickback that we use to keep the website and content coming.  So if you’re considering a pair please use our link. Also, the KPH30i come in 3 colors which all look fantastic. 

See our other headphone reviews here!


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