Koss UR20 Headphone Review 2022

Koss UR20 Headphones Review 2022

These headphones are available for roughly $17 on the internet. When it comes to audio products, that’s essentially free. A price that low would ordinarily raise a red signal for me, but Koss has an excellent record for producing affordable headphones.

Their PortaPro is legendary for a reason, and they back it up with their famed Lifetime Warranty, which covers all of their products, including the UR20, and covers the cost of shipping to replace your registered pair.

The Koss UR20 offers some of the same features as much more expensive models for $17…With a sonic characteristic that is too muffled to be considered decent.

Koss UR20 Headphone

The Koss UR20 has an MSRP of $30 and was first released 20 years ago, in 1999. However, you can generally purchase it for half the price online. It’s a closed-back over-ear pair with an 8-foot cable that’s permanently attached and 3.5mm and 6.3mm connection options.

I was 15 when these were initially released, and I would have adored them without hesitation. I was living off a diet of $25 “studio” headphones purchased from Fred Meyer’s electronics area. Cheap Sony and Panasonic models with strong bass response and some isolation!

In a variety of ways, this Koss duo would have destroyed them.

Since then, I’ve learnt a lot about audio.

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Koss UR20 Headphones Sound Quality

On their website, Koss claims that these feature “sound intensity and bass.”

That is entirely correct.

The UR20’s sound signature is primarily known for its bass responsiveness. It goes considerably deeper than the 30hz Koss says in the specifications. It’s smooth and precise throughout the entire range, with no noticeable humps. It doesn’t even bleed into the midrange, which is a regular issue with budget gear.

Unfortunately, the sound still degrades in the midrange. The upper mids and lower treble are scooped out in classic terrible v-shaped form, and the upper mids and lower treble are way too low. Whether you’re testing with music or a sine wave sweep, it’s obvious. Music, especially female singing, often sounds like it’s coming from two seashells clamped to your head. When listening to test tones, my pair had significant dips at 1.5 and 3.5 kHz, as well as uneven response throughout that range and beyond, resulting in a muddy mess.

The UR20 compensates by screamin’ at you with a crazily uneven treble that’s full of peaks and troughs before dissipating above 10khz. When listening to test tones, my specific pair has a sharp and unpleasant spike at roughly 7.5kHz. Instead of restoring any detail, this simply means that things will sound sibilant, sparkling, and sharp on top of the muck at random.

They aren’t as bad with regular audio material as they are with test tones, and you can get used to their distinct…character after a while. If you listen to them after hearing something with a more true middle and treble, they sound like a thick blanket has been placed over the details.

These headphones might make decent DJ headphones without the treble spikes because of their smooth bass response, but as is, they’re simply one or two levels above a mess.

This warm, hollow, uneven sound would have really done it for me back when I didn’t know any better. And after a couple of days of listening to this, I became used to them… Only for other headphones to scream at me and show me what I was missing the second I switched.

With EQ, you may correct the sound difficulties these have. Start by raising the midrange and lowering the peak in the 7–8 kHz area to discover how much detail you’ve been missing. I have a SoundblasterX G5 with Creative’s “X-Fi Crystalizer” feature, which I almost never use. The UR20, on the other hand, significantly reduced the dirt and blandness.

Thankfully, the 32ohm drivers here are EQ-friendly. You won’t even need a special amplifier to power them.

You shouldn’t have to spend time mending your headphones, even if they’re only $17. I prefer to review products as they are, rather than assuming that everyone is an enthusiast who would tinker with them. These aren’t completely messed up. Their bass response is significantly greater than it should be, and everything else is far closer to what I expected for the price of nothing.

Koss UR-20 Also Featured in: Best Headphones under $20

Isn’t the soundstage surprising good? Given the strange ragged response, I’m not sure how this is possible, although it could be related to the enormous ear cups. They also function better with virtual surround algorithms than I thought. Isolation is also adequate, with plenty of passive sound suppression to make my neighborhood coffee shop a nice listening experience.

The Koss UR40, which I recently reviewed, provides a far nicer sound, especially if you’re not a basshead and like female vocals to sound like vocals rather than odd hollow emanations.

Fortunately, the UR20 dominates in every other category.

Koss UR20 Headphones Sound Quality

Koss UR20 Headphones Comfort

Wow! This isn’t supposed to be this good!

The UR20 combines large ear cushions with a minimal weight to provide a fit that is nearly perfect for my preferences. The ear pad apertures are extremely large. They’re bigger than 90% of the headphones I usually test, yet because to an angle at the back of the aperture, the insides of the cups only just brush my ears. Most people will have plenty of headroom.

Rather than employing cheap material like the UR40, the interior of the cup is coated in a soft foam, so grazing your ears shouldn’t be a problem.

This is the size that every over-ear cushion should strive for.

The backs of the pads have been molded to stick out a little further, which should help them seal better on your skull.

Although the padding isn’t memory foam, it is thicker and plusher than the UR40. The material used to cover the foam is identical to the Sennheiser HD280 Pro. It appears to have the cheap feel of lower-quality leatherette, although it’s a little smoother. It does, however, sweat over time, just like all leatherette.

Koss UR20 Headphones Comfort

The headband pad is a solid canvas with little bumps spread out on the inside that provide padding. It performs a decent job of distributing the headphones’ little weight across my entire head.

I had to press a little harder on the metal headband support rails to get the clamp where I wanted it. If you’re having trouble with bass response or fit, try bending the headband in slightly.

Because my head is somewhat large, they fit best when nearly fully extended, therefore they should be suitable for most head sizes.

I have no issues about how well these fit. Their value for money to comfort ratio is unmatched by any other headset I’ve tried.

Koss UR20 Headphones Design / Build

Koss UR20 Headphones Design / Build

When I first opened the package, I was disappointed to learn that Koss had updated these and deleted the “.com” branding as well as the dot-matrix “UR20” wording.

With Koss logos on the sides and a small text that says UR20 within the headband above the cups, this current edition is as inconspicuous as a huge headset can be in terms of branding.

The headband’s plastic wings appear to be a little thin, and the cups aren’t the most solid I’ve ever held…However, it feels better in your hands than the pricing suggests. The headband is also fantastic.

Also Read: Everything You Should Know Before Purchasing A Headphone Online

It consists of two tiny wires that are encased in rubber. They’re wiggly and flexible, yet they also revert to their former shape quickly. It bends just like the pair in the promotional film. This makes them ideal for squeezing into a bag or bending to listen to only one cup for DJ use, and it also makes cleaning the pads easier.

There’s no rotation or folding here, so you won’t want to wear these over your neck save from the bendy headband and a small cup swivel.

The cable has a thick wrap around it and isn’t as difficult to handle as I expected for the price. It’s a lot nicer than the PortaPro and UR40’s famed tiny cable.

Final Thoughts Koss UR20 Headphones

There are only a few flaws in the construction, but at this price, it’s difficult to complain too much. The adjustment sliders are a touch squishy and inaccurate, and adjusting them gives you an unpleasant feeling. Inside the adjustment channels is a teeny-tiny cable that goes through the headband, allowing sound to reach both cups. On the headphones, that wire appears to be the most likely point of failure.

Each ear cup is vented, which should aid bass response. However, looking inside the vent reveals some white foam that effectively blocks the vent. That’s quite unusual. I wasn’t in the mood to tear these apart, but I’m sure you could discover some strange things inside if you dug around.

I prefer the construction and style of these over the UR40 I just reviewed, as well as any other sub $40 headphones I’ve ever used. Yes, they’re bulky and unwieldy, and the plastic used isn’t the thickest or most durable. However, you’ll get a flexible headband and a sturdy cable, both of which aren’t guaranteed on much more expensive models.

  • Balanced sound with slightly a boosted bass
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Dirt-cheap
  • Bulky, plastic construction

Final Thoughts

The Koss UR20 has comfort that rivals any over-ear headphone on the market, as well as build elements (aluminum headband, sculpted cups, and a quality cable) that I’ve learned not to expect from headphones in this price range. Just looking at those elements, I can see why Koss is still producing these 20 years later.

If only they’d go over the sound signature again. Everything else is murky, peaky, and uneven, save for the bass response. After a day of listening, I accustomed to their sound, but the midrange remained hollow and lacking in clarity, and hearing sibilance fly out over the top of that was strange.

Depending on your needs, these could be a better affordable option than the Koss UR40. Yes, they sound considerably better, but they are worse in practically every other regard to the earlier model, and they are also more expensive.

The UR20 is an excellent pick if you’re looking for a headphone to fill up your computer lab, offer to audio editing students for free as a test of their EQ abilities, or throw in a backpack for portable work without worrying about it breaking.

It’s also a wonderful pair to discover why the upper midrange and treble are so vital to sound quality, and why Audio-Technica places so much emphasis on those frequencies. You’ll know you enjoy incredibly warm headphones with peaky treble if you like this sound, and you’ll only have spent $17 to get there.

I adore these and was bracing myself for a disaster. Despite their muddled details, they’ve earned a spot in my personal library for those days when all I want is bass and comfort. It’s my new favorite “burner pair,” and I can’t get over how comfortable they are.

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Sara Khan

About the Author: Sara Khan

For almost 5 years, I've been passionately blogging about headphones and audio technologies. Hundreds of headphones were tested and tried. Always on the lookout for the "best-value-for-money" headphones. Today, I'm more concerned with back-end content creation and technical concerns.

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