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KOSS HQ1 Vibration Stereophone
Speakers/Headphones | First Looks
Sun 13 Nov 2005

Stirring Audio

Adjust vibration intensity here.

Closed leatherette ear cups.

2 x "AAA" battery pockets built into the left ear cup.

It seems that every now and then, a company would just trod along and introduce a refreshing product with the promise of elevating your movie watching and game enjoyment levels to greater heights. However, just as over aspired as most of these claims are, many such creations (audio products in particular) were at best mediocre. Today, we have a pair of affordable headphones with big claims and we gave it a good run-through to see how it fared.

Vibration is its Game

Stepping up to take a shot in boosting the audio performance that gamers are generally accustomed already is the HQ1 Vibration Stereophone from KOSS. As its name suggests, the HQ1 features vibration capability in addition to standard stereo audio imaging to achieve its key selling point. Facilitated by a vibrating element and an accompanying circuitry planted in each of the stereophone's ear cups, the HQ1 is claimed to be able to convert frequencies that are below 100Hz into vibration, thereby fulfilling its marketed ability to create a 'moving' experience for both games and movies. Presumably, the KOSS HQ1 Vibration Stereophone is devised more for loud action games and movies rather than for fastidious appreciation of orchestrated symphony pieces where the vibration element would hardly be utilized and neither would it suit such music genre.

Power Requirements

Unlike some stereo earphones that come stocked with a crude volume control along the cord, the controls that are available on the HQ1 is a simple power switch for activating the vibration circuitry and a dial for adjusting the intensity of both the vibrating elements.

Speaking of power, the current needed to drive the vibration elements is derived from two "AAA" batteries, but like conventional wired earphones and headphones, batteries are not mandatory for basic stereo audio reproduction.


A combination of Mylar diaphragms and neodymium iron boron magnets give the HQ1 the ability to reproduce a full range of frequencies. However, bass was lacking in presence and was, for the most part, nothing more than doses of rough booms. The vibrations from the two ear cups can get unbearable after lengthy use and this further added to the disappointment in handing low frequencies. Higher frequencies on the other hand, were not as tight and defined as we would have preferred, but nevertheless adequate in driving vocals across audibly. Even so, we must admit that the KOSS HQ1 is indeed capable of producing immersive and stirring audio environments that are not attainable on conventional earphones and headphones.

On the whole, the KOSS HQ1 Vibration Stereophone performed just as expected from a pair of US$39 headphones; not particularly impressive but neither is it inadequate. Although some tinkering is certainly needed to set the HQ1 sounding peachy for those wanting to get more from the pair of cans, there should be no doubts about its main highlight in enhancing movie and gaming experience - despite it requiring further polishing for a more comfortable application. Even more appealing for frequent travelers and serious gamers is that the HQ1 can be compacted to a more manageable form for easier handling, making it all the more ideal for movies on the go with either notebooks or portable DVD players and LAN gaming parties.

Product Specifications

  • Frequency Response: 20-20,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 32 ohms
  • Sensitivity: 93 dB SPL/1mW
  • Distortion: <0.2%
  • Cord: Straight, Single Entry, 8ft
  • Power Requirements: 2 x "AAA" Batteries