Midrange: The Silver’s mids are clear, crisp, and evocative, though arguably pushed somewhat forward in the mix. This is, to be candid, a quality many listeners prize and that some headphone makers deliberately seek to provide, even though it may not be really accurate in a strict textbook sense. The upside is that the midrange, which is where most of the music really lives, gets a touch of extra emphasis that can subjectively pull you closer to the music (making many instruments and voices seem more intelligible, lucid, and emotionally involving), but the downside is that overall tonal balance is skewed away from neutrality somewhat. To hear what I mean, try listening to “Senia’s Lament”—a track that thrives on midrange subtleties—from Dobro-master Jerry Douglas’ Lookout for Hope (Sugarhill).
“Senia’s Lament” features Douglas performing glorious, soaring melody lines on his Dobro, and the KDX Silver’s generally did a fine job of capturing the distinctive lilt and twang of the Dobro’s voice—showing, in particular, how evocative and expressive it can be when bending notes. My only complaint was that the headphone’s upper midrange prominence made the Dobro occasionally sound a bit thin, hard-edged and “pingy.” The Silver’s had greater difficulty, however, with capturing the overall balance of sounds contributed by other instruments in Douglas’ band. Having heard Douglas perform this piece live, and having heard the recording through many top-tier headphones and loudspeakers, I can tell you that the bass and drums heard on this song are meant to provide a deep, dark, anchoring counterbalance to Douglas’ soaring Dobro lines—a balancing act that the more midrange-centric Silvers never quite managed to pull off.
Highs: The KDX Silver’s treble response is nicely extended and very well defined—especially so for a product in this price range. To appreciate what I mean, here, put on a track with really well recorded and richly detailed treble textures, such as the jazz standard “Everytime We Say Goodbye” from the Jimmy cobb Quartet’s Jazz in the Key of Blue (Chesky). Listen carefully to Cobb’s delicate and at times almost subliminal brushwork on his snare drum and cymbals and you’ll find the Silvers sound absolutely exquisite. When playing up high, these ‘phones sound way more sophisticated than their price would lead you to expect.
Consider this product if: you want a well-made and affordable in-ear headphone that offers decent sound isolation and whose sound puts more of an emphasis on crispness and clarity than on sonic richness or warmth. In many respects, the KDX 200 Silver offers sonic sophistication that belies their price—especially in the treble region.
Look further if: you prize headphones that offer truly neutral tonal balance and that therefore deliver a good measure of music’s natural warmth and richness. Other phones, including Koss’ own KDX 300 Gold models, do a better job in this respect
Ratings (relative to comparably-priced competition):
• Tonal Balance: 7
• Frequency Extremes: 6 (bass)/9 (treble)
• Clarity: 9
• Dynamics: 8
• Comfort/Fit: 9
• Sensitivity: 7
• Value: 8
Summing Up: Koss’ KDX 200 Silver is well built and reasonably priced. It’s sonic strengths tilt more toward perceived crispness and clarity than toward natural warmth or richness, meaning the Silver will fit some tastes beautifully—but not all. In particular, the Silver will appeal to listeners who find that a dab of midrange forwardness seems to pull them closer to the music in a pleasing way.
Koss KDX 200 Silver In-Ear Headphones
Accessories: 3 sizes of silicone ear tips, carrying pouch
Frequency response: 15Hz – 20kHz
Weight: 17 grams
Sensitivity: 100 dB SPL/1 mW
Distortion: < 1.0%
Impedance: 16 ohms
Warranty: Limited Lifetime Warranty