Compared to the SE110s the sound is slightly more closed feeling, lacking the sense of space that the thinner sounding Shure headphones create, especially when listening to classical music. However, the Koss set sounds fuller and, if I had to use one word to describe the difference, I'd say they sound warmer.
This is shown to great effect when listening to my old recordings of Chopin's Nocturnes, which, because of the low volume they were recorded at, need to be cranked up to the point where the tiniest recording defect can be heard to fully capture every subtlety of the music. With a truly high quality pair of earphones the experience is seamless and just closing your eyes is enough to transport you back in time. However, the KEB79s sound slightly detached in comparison. That said, to get a significant step up in clarity you're looking at spending well over £100 and the KEB79s are still pleasant to listen to.
Completely changing tack, Slam from the album Hold You Colour by Pendulum is an all out drum and bass assault that really shows what these headphones were made for. Short of forking out for a pair of dual, or triple driver phones, you are unlikely to find anything that can give your head such a thumping - in a good way of course. Equally impressive is the way they handle the contrast of the surprisingly powerful beats and angelic vocals of Lily Allen on the song Smile. The bass is far smoother than on the SE110s and the whole sound is more cohesive though, again, it does suffer from a loss of clarity when the bass really kicks in.
Ultimately, Koss is known for providing earphones and headphones that pack a solid bass punch and the KEB79s are no exception. Where they differ from their cheaper siblings though is with a much greater emphasis on clarity as well. However, there's no getting away from the fact that emphasising the bass can create a slightly boomy and unbalanced sound. They're not worse than any other headphones that can be had for around £50 but their sound is distinctive and the choice really comes down to whether you prefer the extra bass or the lighter more even tone of alternatives like the Shure E110s. It's also worth remembering that the excellent Shure SE210s can be had for as little as £69 - worth saving a bit harder for? I think so.
Releasing its most expensive earphones to date, Koss has created a very competitive set that will improve upon anything you get bundled with your MP3 player. Their sound is distinctively bass heavy and some may prefer the lighter touch of the Shure E110s, however at around £50 they're certainly worth considering.