Koss is well known for its range of reasonably priced after market headphones, microphones, and speakers, in fact its £21.99 Porta Pros are Benny's office headphone of choice. However, Koss has never really taken the step up into the high-end that companies like Shure, Ultimate Ears, and Etymotic Research currently dominate, that is up until now.
With a list price of $99.99, the KEB79s are four times the price of the next most expensive in-ear headphone that Koss offers and are squarely aimed at the likes of the Shure E110s, which although at the bottom of Shure's range are still a huge improvement over anything you're likely to get bundled with your MP3 player. Also, given Koss' reputation for making very bass heavy products, the KEB79s could be the choice for those that like their music to have more than just a metaphorical punch but can't afford the likes of the Ultimate Ears triple.fi Pros.
Off the shelf, there's no denying they look the part with their dark and moody box being suitably eye catching yet oozing class. However, I can't deny I was a little disappointed when I first saw what was contained therein. While even the budget SE110s come with a good sized carry case that will fit headphones, extension cable, spare tips and cleaning kit with ease, the KEB79s come with a tiny snap shut pouch that at best is fiddly to use and at worst is simply not big enough to carry everything. In fairness, this is a relatively minor point and I wouldn't call it a deal breaker. However, there are a number of other equally small, shall I call them, differences that could just tip the scales one way or the other.
First up, the lack of a cleaning implement makes keeping your earphones in peak condition that much more of a pain. For the extra 10p (surely it wouldn't be more than that?) it would cost to include one, I think most people would be glad to have it rather than not. Also of concern is the exclusive use of silicon tips that, although available in three different sizes, are not some peoples' preferred choice - I generally find foam tips give a better seal and less noise transition from cable knocks. Finally, the phones aren't exactly built for abuse with fairly thin cables being used throughout. That said, even the hardiest of earphones will fail if incorrectly used, and much of the longevity comes down to how you look after them. So as long as you make sure that you wrap these up properly and store them in their pouch, they should last you a while.