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Koss STRIVA Review Conclusion

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Koss is one of those companies you love to rave about. Family-run for over a generation Koss is a made-in-America success story and the company shows it values its customers with excellent support for all of its products. On a couple of occasions I needed help or had questions while evaluating the headphones and suing regular product support channels I was always pleased with great response times with fast, friendly service. I could always get someone on the phone within minutes.

The STRIVA system is a huge milestone for headphone technology, a well-executed leap beyond mere wireless. I love using the STRIVA system for Internet radio surfing, exploring new music from all around the world has grabbed me with an addictive quality - I can barely put these things down. But I hesitate to say they’re a revolutionary leap in technology. For the less musically adventurous, the essential benefit offered by STRIVA is wireless - which has existed before.

Although it’s worth nothing that neither Bluetooth nor RF wireless have the range, wireless signal reliability or audio quality you’ll get when streaming music from the CAP to the STRIVA Pro headphones.

ProsKoss STRIVA Pro on black

  • Great bass reproduction, solid audio performance all the way around
  • Direct-stream wi-fi is as well-executed as it is groundbreaking
  • After initial setup, technology is intuitive and easy to use
  • Koss support is responsive, email or phone, service is quick

Cons

  • Complex initial setup
  • Wi-fi signal cutouts are extremely frustrating
  • At $450, cost is out of reach for many consumers
  • Wireless listening via CAP has a 1.5 second delay, so it’s not intended for video or gaming

At present, the STRIVA Pro retails for $450 which might be a bit rich for many consumers just looking for a wireless headphone experience. Evaluating sound is tricky because the key benefit of the STRIVA system is not high-end sound quality, nor should it be, as presumably you’ll use them to stream compressed Internet radio. But the sound quality is surprisingly good. They make a 128-bit stream sound better than I’ve ever heard. Koss did not slap together high-tech headphones at the expense of sound quality. However, the sound quality probably won’t be on par with fully wired headphones in this price range.

Overall I applaud Koss on this step in the right direction for headphone technology. It would be too easy, having engineered the STRIVA Core and an innovative direct wi-fi system only to fumble on usability and navigation. This has long been the bane of the early adopter, terrific new technology languishing behind a wall of arcane steps and inscrutable instructions.  The STRIVA system, on the other hand, displays the Apple-like polish of an already-mature product. 

Koss’ $450 asking price is money well-spent if you’re interested in taking wireless music listening to the limits of today’s technology. The STRIVA Pro is just as comfortable streaming Internet over wi-fi at home as it is on the road feeding your head wireless music from your portable device. 

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
MetricRating
PerformanceStarStarStarStar
ValueStarStarStar
About the author:
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Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

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Recent Forum Posts:

Wayde Robson posts on July 12, 2012 07:07
corey, post: 893453
Re: your statement “Overall I applaud Koss on this step in the right direction for headphone technology.”

I don't see this as the “right” direction for headphone technology, as cheep local storage makes having a massive amount of high bit rate music in your pocket very affordable. 16 GB micro SDHC cards are under $10.

The best thing about the STRIVA system is surfing Internet radio. The randomness, you get a thin layer of choice in genre but then you're surfing through thousands of stations. It's that randomness that has an fun and addictive quality. You want to check out more stations, you want to hear what's next after hearing a song you hadn't heard in a long time or discovered a brand new song.

As for comparing it to storage…

There are two vehicles for mobile infotainment - brought in or beamed in. This is a beamed in solution. You may prefer brought in, but it's just a different vehicle. It's like… a pickup truck isn't a good option when what you want is a motorcycle.
corey posts on July 05, 2012 04:25
Re: your statement “Overall I applaud Koss on this step in the right direction for headphone technology.”

I don't see this as the “right” direction for headphone technology, as cheep local storage makes having a massive amount of high bit rate music in your pocket very affordable. 16 GB micro SDHC cards are under $10.
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