Koss UR42i Review

Koss UR42i Review

You could easily dismiss the Koss UR42i as yet another budget-minded Koss headphone.  At $49, it’s nowhere near expensive.  But the sound and build of this nifty little headphone truly set it apart from the rest of the flock.

Koss UR42i Review

Koss UR42i Review

The UR42i comes packaged in a simple box that includes the headphones, a removable headphone cable, and some paperwork for the Koss limited lifetime warranty.

Unlike some less-durable Koss headphones that I’ve tested in the past, this one utilizes metal extenders and a reinforced headband.  A removable cable with dual-entry allows for further resilience, but also works as an audio-splitter (allowing you to plug a second headphone into the UR42i for shared listening).   To top it all off, you’ve still got the signature D-shaped cups for added comfort, and some nice pleather padding on the earcups.

Specs

Frequency Range:  20-20,000 Hz
Impedance:  35 ohms
Sound Pressure Level (SPL):  100 dB
Total Harmonic Distortion (THD):  NA

The frequency range and impedance are fairly standard, while the volume seems a tad bit lower than what we’d normally expect from a budget headphone.  Total harmonic distortion, while not given by the manufacturer, seems to land around <0.5% – not great, but still quite good for this particular headphone.

Low End

The Koss UR42i can sometimes deliver a booming bass.  The detail is there, and good control keeps bleed to a minimum.  However, the bass still has a tendency to overwhelm the rest of the low end, leading to a sound bordering on sloppy.

Mids

In the midrange, things get much better.  Close to accurate, this part of the frequency range is home to some distortion, but only an acceptable amount, and something we’re willing to overlook in a $49 headphone.

High End

Surprisingly bright, the high end offers plenty of detail.  Occasionally verging on piercing, the sound does deliver some of the finer nuances I’ve missed when listening with other headphones, so I have to tip my hat at Koss.  This intense high end also compliments the booming low end to some degree.

Soundstage

Lacking depth, the soundstage is a bit thin or veiled.  However, despite this drawback, there is still a sense of placement.  Even if it sounds like multiple instruments are crowded around you, it’s clear that they occupy their own spaces.  Suffice to say, this isn’t the best soundstage I’ve ever seen, but it’s better than what I expected.

Other Observations

The D-shaped earpads are very comfortable – even for my big elephant ears.  I’m surprised at how easy they are to wear for a few hours.  These things are like heroin for your ears.

The dynamic sound resulting from a powerful low end and rich high end is starting to grow on me.  This Koss headphone seems to be made for Acoustic Rock.  A decent midrange only sweetens the pot.

This may be first budget-minded Koss to sport a removable cable – most $49 headphones don’t offer this feature.

Recommendations

If you’re looking for a squeaky-clean low end, the Koss UR42i isn’t the headphone for you.  Instead, I’d recommend the Beyerdynamic DTX 350p – an more portable headphone utilizing an on-ear design.

For those seeking stronger performance in the mids and highs, though, the UR42i is a hard bargain to beat – and I’d still recommend it to those who can stomach that lacking low end.  Because once you get past the booming bass, the rest of this headphone is remarkably solid – from the construction, to the comfort, to the sound, there’s a lot going for it.

Final Analysis

A marked departure from previous Koss designs, the UR42i headphone offers a more durable build and more than enough detail in the mids and the high end.  While the muddy low end could turn off some potential converts, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better sound for the moola.