For people looking to replace their stock iPod headphones, the Koss KSC-75 clip-on headphones are pretty common. After all, the first Google result for “cheap headphones” is a page that recommends them for just that purpose, and pumps them as the best cheap headphones you can buy. But is it really worth your hard earned money? Let’s break it down.
The Koss KSC-75’s are cheap. They can usually be found for between $20 and $30, sometimes even a bit less. If you’re interested in this comparison, you probably already own the headphones that came with your iPod. If not, the Apple store has them for $30.
The iPod headphones are pretty good looking. They’re small and unobtrusive, and they give you a bit of that trendy iPod look.
The Koss headphones, on the other hand, look a little weird. They’re pretty big – they cover almost your entire ear – and they definitely stand out. If you’re worried about how they’ll look, the Koss clip-ons aren’t for you.
Both headphones sound pretty good for their size and price. However, Koss beats out iPod in this category. The Koss headphones have a much wider bass range and much better sounding bass. They also product a much more balanced sound. This can probably be attributed to the Koss’s larger size and the way they’re worn. However, both products produce very clear sound.
A lot of people, myself included, find ear buds to be very uncomfortable. For me, the iPod headphones are worse than most. They have no cushioning on them, just hard plastic. Cramming them into my ears well enough to hear them well was extremely uncomfortable.
The Koss headphones, on the other hand, are very comfortable for me. They’re light enough that I can put them over my ears and forget about them. That is, until the cord gets caught on something and yanked on. The Koss headphones would then pull painfully on my ears, rather than just slipping off.
Unlike the iPod headphones, the bulky Koss clip-ons cannot be comfortably worn under a beanie or helmet. Doing so pushes your ear against the clip behind it, and after just a few minutes it becomes unwearable.
Both the Koss and iPod headphones present their own problems when you put them on. The first time I put the Koss headphones on, it took me a few minutes. Unlike other clip-ons I’ve worn, the clip doesn’t swivel or move at all to help make them easier to put on. The process becomes even more difficult by my hair, which covers my ears and was constantly getting in the way. Once I got used to them, putting them on was easy, but that took me a little while.
The iPod headphones didn’t seem to fit in my ears right. I was constantly adjusting them to get them in just the right spot for the best sound, and my efforts were completely undone by the slightest tug on the cord.
Finally, the iPod headphone’s cord seemed to always be too short. I found myself constantly having the headphones yanked out of my ears when I tried to put the iPod in a cargo pocket, or even zip up my coat with the iPod in the inside pocket. The Koss headphones have a slightly longer cord and, while it leaves it more prone to tangling, it was much more convenient.
Both headphones produce good enough sound for the average person. What it really boils down to is comfort. If you’re someone who is more comfortable with something in your ears than on them, stick with the iPod headphones. Likewise, if you want something you can wear skiing or snowboarding, the iPod ear buds fit very well under a hat. If ear buds make you uncomfortable, then the Koss headphones are probably more your style.