I'm a lucky guy; I regularly get to check out the world's best-sounding headphones, but I was truly shaken and stirred by the KingSound KS-H3 electrostatic headphones. If you get to hear these headphones, start with well-recorded acoustic music and you'll feel like you've been teleported back through time to the event. The KS-H3's abilities in that area are simply astonishing, it sounds better than the best Audeze, Hifiman, or planar magnetic headphones, or even the best dynamic headphones, like the Beyerdynamic T 1 or . They all sound a little veiled and diffuse after you spend some quality time with the KS-H3.
The KS-H3 is also lighter and more comfortable than most of those headphones, and the industrial design feels fresh. The perforated, machined aluminum earcups are open, so you can hear external sound from all around you. I really enjoyed listening to the KS-H3 with movies, thanks to their wide-open soundstage, and their ultra-low distortion minimizes listening fatigue.
For audiophiles craving ultimate transparency, the KS-H3 will be a mind-blowing experience. Voices, acoustic guitars, pianos, horns, and percussion instruments sound more like themselves than they do over other headphones. Another thing that struck me about the KS-H3 is that I could play music at a fairly low volume level without losing detail. That's really nice, so for once I kept turning the volume down, and still heard everything.
Then when I wanted to crank the sound to "11," I played the newly remastered Led Zeppelin CDs; they sounded fine, but the band's wham-bam punch was lacking. Radiohead fared better; the bass detailing and textures of their music over the KS-H3 were amazing. The big dynamic "slam" and visceral weight you get from rock music over anand the best conventional headphones wasn't in the cards for the KS-H3. Frankly, I wasn't surprised; other brands' electrostatic headphones have similar limitations. So while I love the KS-H3's vivid sound, it's not going to satisfy head-bangers.
The KS-H3's permanently attached cable doesn't have a standard 3.5mm or 6.3mm headphone plug. That's because the KS-H3 must be used with a headphone amp designed specifically for use with electrostatic headphones. KingSound offers two electrostatic amps, the M-10 solid-state amp and the M-20 tube amp. I used the M-10 and anfor all of my listening tests. The amp has a bass boost switch, and one pair each of stereo RCA inputs and outputs, they work with analog signals only. The amp's chassis feels hot to the touch after a half an hour of use, just like my Schiit Audio headphone amps!
The KS-H3 headphone sells for $875, and it's also sold bundled with the KingSound M-10 solid-state amp for $1,250, and the KingSound M-20 tube amp for $2,150. Check the KingSound website to find a dealer near you.
You can subscribe to the Audiophiliac RSS feed here.