Bluetooth headphones. Love em or hate em, for the plebian masses they are the future. But as far as sound goes, many audiophiles will dismiss them as dime-a-dozen. New from Koss, the BT540i doesn’t reinvent the wireless headphone. But it does offer some pretty great performance at an affordable price.
Like most other Koss headphones around the $200 price point, the BT540i comes with a nice semi-hard case that holds the headphones and the included accessories. In this case, that entails a micro USB charging cable and a basic audio cable.
Build is mostly plastic with aluminum extenders. The padding on the headband is a soft polyester-like fabric while the earpads utilize a standard bycast leather material. Cups swivel about 120 degrees, and controls on the right earcup allow for pausing and playing music, skipping tracks, and turning the wireless connection on and off. There is no volume control, which kind of sucks, but the controls are spaced out along the earcup so my big sausage fingers don’t accidentally press the wrong button.
The headphone does get extra points for being collapsible; the cups don’t just swivel, but they also pivot or collapse in toward the headband, allowing you to make them fit almost anywhere.
Sound quality is a mixed bag. The sound isn’t terrible when you’re listening to rock or hip-hop or anything with decent bass. However, with classical or acoustic stuff, these headphones seem to add too much volume and distortion in the low end. Every time I shuffle to a classical song, or something more acoustic, I have to turn down the volume so I can bear that sound. However, switching to some hip-hop, the volume goes back up because the low-end suddenly seems perfect for the new music in question.
Overall, this headphone can easily be compared to the Audio Technica ATH-WS99BT. While Audio Technica’s model might also offer an ample amount of bass, their sound in general may be tighter and more articulate. However, where detail is of less importance than sheer bass, the Koss BT540i will really shine. Both offer a premium feel, but the Koss has easier controls.
Who is this headphone for? Bassheads, bassheads, and more bassheads. This isn’t the right headphone for the acoustic-cover junkie, or the kind of listener who likes to rock out to Mozart or Beethoven. The bass has a tendency to overwhelm the mids with these kinds of genres, so it’s better to stick with hip-hop, electronica, or rock with a hard, driving bass.