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Koss PortaPro - Headphones ( semi-open )


Pros: light, timeless design from the eighties, very unique kind of sound signature, portable, lifelong warranty in the US, long warranty in germany.

Cons: tends to break, bass does overpower mids and highs if used at home without any mods, tend to rip out your hair or strangle you just for fun.

After my previous skullcandys my parents gave me as a present broke, I went to a store for electronic stuff in general and tested some headphones. The standard Porta Pro as well. The bass was cool, especially because it came out from nowhere.


Some days later I bought the anniversary edition in full black. Maybe the sound was a little bit better, I don't really know. First their design is really striking. I haven't seen such a headphone before, only earbuds, IEMs, over-ears, clip-ons and head-sets, but not this one. After adjusting the metal band to your head, there is almost no pressure. There were several times I totally forgot the headphones were still on my head. The less punchy, more muddy bass can be a benefit if you use this headphone primarily on the subway or other loud places. If you happen to dislike it because of usage at home or simply your personal preferences, you can mod it. I just used tinted HD414-Pads which increased the comfort even more and took a bit away from that bass. Only the portability somehow wasn't that good anymore, because the big pads prevented them from being simply folded in.


Some friends of mine reported to be strangled by them when they wore the Porta Pros around the neck. Mine just ripped out some hair. Another con is that they tend to break even if used with care. Most times it is the cable itself, because it is too thin for longer use. Sometimes the remaining plastic. And if yours manage to survive, the pads anyways need to be replaced some day. Except if you out HD414-Pads over them, then the wear is much less. Although folding them is possible, I advise against it, because it isn't good for them. At least you have a long (Germany) or even lifelong (US) warranty, but it still sucks to have certain parts replaced over and over.


Maybe someone invents a mod with an interchangeable cable like the Grado ones. That would make them the ultimate portable headphones next to the KSC-series which I haven't tried out. Who knows, it could happen at some day that I get some broken ones to experiment and make this true. Still got to learn how to solder properly.


Pros: They nailed it; pure enjoyment of music in a comfortable, fun-looking headphone with a killer guarantee.

Cons: You might get mistaken as a hipster. They're not a replacement for studio monitor phones. The ear-cup foam will degrade over time.

Market niche: To provide a high level of musical enjoyment at an affordable price.

Obstacles: People associate cost with quality. Fashionable name brands, aesthetics, compactness, and gimmicks (noise cancellation) command a higher priority in today's market.


I'm one of THOSE. You know...vinyl is superior to digital. Tube amplifiers beat solid-state. FLAC files only. Definition, soundstage, separation, muddy/boomy/punchy. No replacement for displacement...drivers, magnets, cone construction. Yup. Guilty. 


But I'm going to say it; for pure portable musical enjoyment, I reach for these every time. They aren't "accurate" headphones. They look dorky. They leak sound. The foam muffles some of the frequencies.  But at the end of the day, we listen to music to FEEL something. Nostalgia. Sadness. Jubilation. Air guitar. Steering wheel drums. Head bobbing. A heart that skips a beat. Gall-darn it...the Koss Porta Pro makes you want to pull a Risky Business and run around the house in your underwear. Or cry while you wash dishes. Or daydream while you go about your daily business. Or sing along and actually hear yourself (sorry, closed-ear phones). 


The Koss Porta Pro is the guilty pleasure hamburger of headphones. If I want a 5 course meal with foie gras, Filet Mignon and Lobster tails, I'll cocoon into my Audio Technica MTX-50's. If I want a spicy thai stir fry or tasty sushi, I'll borrow my daughter's Audio-Technica MTX-30's. Nevermind the Dr. Dre Beats Solo and Bose Soundtrue II and heap of Apple earbuds stashed in a drawer somewhere around here. For pure comfort food, there is only one choice: Koss Porta Pro. 


Just buy them. And shave your face, unless you like being identified as a Hipster. 


Pros: "Listenability", Warmth, Soundstage, Lack of Irritants

Cons: Treble Roll Off, "Fold" into a round rather than flat shape

So, 35.00, 40.00?


What do you get?


Very good sound, outstanding comfort,

a lifetime warranty.


It's a warm sound.  Plenty of bass, not too much IMO,

significantly rolled off treble.  Smooth midrange, not

overly present or recessed.


So light that they apply just a touch of pressure to

the top of your head and your ears.  Mostly your ears,

and its softened nicely by the ear cushions.  Very

comfortable, so that they can be worn for hours.


Clearer and more sonorous than the somewhat

competitive Sennheiser 100 II.  Better bass and

generally similar build quality. More comfortable

as well.  To my knowledge, there is no other

competition in this category.


The PortaPro > very, very comfortable, light in weight, inexpensive,

suited to a wide variety of music, sound far better than their price could ever indicate.


Pros: Sound quality, comfort, design, aesthetics, design hasn't changed since '84, uses KSC35 drivers, just in blue instead of black.

Cons: May be considered to be dorky and ugly by the Beats, Soul, Skullcandy, and Bose crowd.

I got a pair of Portapros last month, along with a Sansa Clip+ 4GB, these headphones sound really, really good for $40, especially with an EQ'd Clip+, and I had UR40s, which are also great bang-for-the-buck headphones, sound great, comfortable as can be, however they're not as portable as the Portapros are. Unfortunately, the UR40s died due to a short in the plug a few years ago, so I lived on MDR-V150s and Bass Freqs, both of which are OK for the price, but not as good as the Portapros or UR40s.


On the comfort aspect, the Portas are extremely comfortable, especially on the "Light" setting, and actually a bit more comfortable than my old UR40s and way more comfortable than my V150s or Bass Freqs, V150s get painful after a while, and Bass Freqs just feel weird after a while. As far as aesthetics, I dig the vintage styling vs. a pair of Beats Solos, but others may prefer the styling of the Beats Solos.


To go into more detail on sound, the Portas have plenty of bass while still allowing plenty of mids and highs, and overall sound really sweet, beating both the Bass Freqs and the V150s, and rivaling the UR40s.


Overall these are a great bang for the buck and are quickly becoming my primary headphones, while the V150s and Bassfreqs are going by the wayside. And this is my first review on here so it may not be very good.


PS: may get some KSC35s at some point and stick them in the UR40 housing to see how the Portapro drivers combined with an open-back circumaural enclosure sounds vs. the open-back supra-aural enclosure of the Portapros/Sportapros. And considering the Parts-Express headband mod for KSC75s as well. In addition, the Sportapros are just a cheaper, more modern-looking version of the Portapros that don't have adjustable temporal pads like the Portapros, but can be converted to behind-the-neck, as they use the same drivers as the Portapros.


Best uses: All-purpose, great-sounding set of open-back on-ear headphones in the sub-$50 pricerange, sound great on MP3 players, computers, or home stereos (although an extension cord may come in handy for use with a stereo). Sound great with pretty much every genre.


Ideal audience: people who would rather have a vintage-looking pair of headphones that sound great and only cost $40 than a pair of Beats, Souls, Skullcandies, or Bose headphones. Basically people who value sound quality over looks.


Pros: Surprisingly well balanced SQ for the price but it needs an amp to really sing.

Cons: Speaker cables extremely fragile, especially at connection with drivers. (Sennheiser PX's have same fragility as well).Needs amp to tame the bass.

My third set of these classics due to the weak speaker cable connection to the drivers which breaks if you just think about it! Koss should have addressed this long ago by adapting the, IMHO, much more substantial cable it uses on its extension cable w/volume control. It is not much heavier.


The issue with bass quality can be controlled with an amp which sharpens/tightens the bass response. Doing so really opens up the midrange and treble and widens the soundstage. It gets even better with a DAC in the chain. I use a NuForce Icon uDAC2 with my laptop (running JRiver Media Center 16) and a NuForce Icon Portable with my Sansa Clip+.The DACs sharpen the focus, add depth and air and reveal the detail already in the recording (Assuming its a decent recording in the first place!)


This review also applies to the KSC-75


Pros: Good soundstage, strong bass, good resolution, detailed, easy to drive, comfortable fit

Cons: noticeable frequency bump, very open design, cheap looks

The Koss Porta Pro is actually one of the oldest headphones still around - and it´s alive and kicking! Since I bought them, I tried several others (like Sennheiser CX-300) but I always came back to the Porta Pro. The sound mixture is just so easy to enjoy, the sonic design was done with a lot of taste.


They look and feel very cheap but they are surprisingly sturdy nonetheless. Much has been written about the sound: "too much bass, not crisp, etc." While this is not untrue let me explain a bit. Most portable players attentuate lower frequencies, this was a fact 20 years ago and it´s still valid today (unless the headphone output is amplified digitally). The Koss Porta Pro simply compensates for that. Also, did you ever notice while for example riding a train that when you were listening to music with a very open headphone you couldn´t hear the bass anymore? The slight overamplification of frequencies around 100 Hz also helps to compensate in that situation. Furthermore, I never had the impression that the bass sounds muddy or drowns the mids.


They also attentuate frequencies from 3,000 to 7,000 Hz - effectively turning them into very charming sounding headphones. While this certainly takes away some attack & drive it could be of help with harsh sounding portable players. One should be aware of this before buying the Porta Pro.


The rest: they have a fantastic soundstage (considering that they are portable and very inexpensive), they have no resonances whatsoever and also sound very dynamic with much precision. The fantastic soundstage comes at a cost of course: you won´t be the only one hearing your music while using the headphones in public. Your neighbours inadvertently will take part of your sonic experience, the Koss Porta Pro is - as I´ve mentionend before - a very open headphone.


But for me, all the cons are minor obstacles. Because I still marvel at the wonderful, realistic soundstage, the grown-up bass, the precision, the dynamic and that they sit very comfortable on my head.


Pros: Bass, Comfort, Sound

Cons: Hair Ripping, Short Cord

What can be said about these headphones that has not already been said in the 25+ years they have been in production?


Well, my girlfriend thinks they look silly...  And that for some odd reason makes me love them more.


Out of few phones I currently own, I always find myself reaching for these. 


With the wonderful bass and full bodied sound comes the whole "PortaPro Experience".

- First you try and squeeze them out of the tiny bag that Koss has provided.

- Then you unroll, unhook and unfold them.

- Next comes the pain of adjusting them on your head as they rip hairs out (surprisingly gratifying).

- The plug, that Tiny little plug now gets placed into whatever devise you have waiting for them.

- Finally, the sound, you forget just how wonderful it is almost every time as it hits your ears.  Heaven


Thank you Koss for this gem.




Pros: Price, comfort, mids, upper bass

Cons: Poor sub-bass, fluffy treble, build quality



From 100 Hz to 3000 Hz, they trade blows with much more expensive headphones, and that is not hyperbole. That is why so many people love them.


Above and below those cutoffs... no of course not.


But still, the mids are crunchy and savory. The highs are smooth yet detailed enough to be enjoyable. The bass is warm but reasonably tight, and certainly not bloated. The sub bass is nonexistant, the upper treble is lo-fi. But these little bastards cleverly stylize their deficits to mask their impact on the sound. It's an enjoyable filter that you can view your music through, that isn't the highest in fidelity, but it's faithful and playful enough to be enjoyable for what it is. Don't EQ these (it'll just reveal how flawed the upper treble really is in painful detail). Just listen to them as-is, think of it as a flavoring for your music.


Another thing is that just about any crappy hardware can power them. And they will take the worst onboard DACs and the most cringeworthy recording qualities and even the oldest and most unlistenable 128 kbps mp3s and they will make something tolerable out of those. They are the ideal consumer-grade headphone, basically.


Comfort... is a mixed bag. The headband will make you bald if you're not careful. The hook will dig into your right ear if they're sitting wrong.


Build... they're $30. What do you think?


In summary... These are great starter headphones. I would strongly recommend them for students on a budget, as I was a decade ago when I first bought these. Going further with your sound requires significantly more research, time, and money. If you don't want to fall into that hole, this is a good stopping point right here. I still enjoy these guys. I've had them for 11 years. I've bought 4 during that time. Two got stolen, one broke (now I keep two at all times so I have one spare in case the other breaks). One other interesting thing is that they're easy to open up and repair. I've soldered the wires back on multiple times after snapping them with a doorknob, and they still work great. Even if you've been exposed to higher def headphones, if you listen to these for a while, their easy-going nature and crunchy, savory mids, will win your heart once again.


Pros: really impresive sound quality and good soundstage, value master due to koss lifetime warranty, no need to amp them, really portable

Cons: hair ripping, can't be worn around neck, not the most comfortable to wear, cable tends to break, hair gets under the membrane, leaks music

Porta Pros simply made the biggest difference for me when listening to music as I have switched from some low-end sony in-ear to them and suddenly when playing the same song music became more rich and colourful and instruments more noticeable soundstage improved and on top of that really nice bass for me as I listen to classical rock or big beat and those bass makes it more pleasant for me. One thing I hate is how in past few years quite a lot more people started to use them and they can't appreciate the music as they are just kids listening to recycled audiosmog king of commercial waste.


If you are concerned about bass being too strong there are some mods that are supposed to deal with it and either bring out the mids and highs or weaken the lows, p.e. Kramer's mod, using HD414 pads.

Some people says they are not portable enough or that the when folded in bag it not practical, on the other hand form my experience I found that while carrying in the small bag is pretty good when packing or travelling and space is an issue, but the most notable advantage is that they are so much more durable when in the bag, because of fragile cable and if you wear the around your neck other than discomfort cable breaks a lot quicker. 


As mentioned comfort is bit of an issue. Forget about them hanging around your neck but if you have either longer or curly hair they will get caught and ripped by them and like once a week and it can be really painful. Also if you are using them for more then 2 hours or so it gets fatiguing and you feel them pressing your skull. It gets a little better when they are worn in but if you plan on using them for longer periods of time I advise you to switch to a light comfort zone and then it's absolutely minty (although they don't hold on your head as firm).


But other than comfort and weak cable Portas are wonderful, they have sweet old school design that really grow on me, also are very lightweight and music experience is sensational, on top of that the are delivered with koss lifetime warranty so they are embarrassingly inexpensive. I have paid for mine and 6 new ones due to warranty about 90 bucks, so there goes the value.


For the final verdict: go and pick yours today or if you are concerned with comfort pick the Koss KSC75 and enjoy the music.




I bought my first pair of these when they first came out in about 1986 or so and have been using them for portable audio ever since. first with Aiwa Walkman tape players and now iPod Classic 160.  I have gone through a number of them since then, but the great thing about Koss, no matter what you may think of their cans today, is their lifetime warranty.  If the cable shorts out, or they otherwise break, or become unusable, just send them back to Koss with a check for $7.00 and they will fix (maybe replace).  Used to be $5.00.   Check with them for the current repair rate.   I've bought a few more pair, had several repaired by Koss, and been using ever since for portable audio.  Great value, great sound for the bucks.  I've just bought some B&W P5s, so maybe I will have something better to wear outside, maybe not.  Who knows.  A definite bargain.   Currently about $35 on Amazon.

Koss PortaPro - Headphones ( semi-open )

This high quality portable stereophone set performance and comfort standards for personal listening worldwide. Over the years, much to the delight of devout PortaPro enthusiasts, Koss has preserved the original design and performance that made the PortaPro a portable music icon. Today the PortaPro remains the headphone of choice for the discriminating listener.The PortaPro features dynamic elements that deliver exceptionally rich, deep bass and a remarkably wide frequency response from 15 - 25,000 Hz to capture every nuance in your favorite movie or musical performance. Constructed from mylar, the elements are extremely rigid, minimizing mechanical distortion and ensuring exceedingly accurate sound reproduction. Neodymium iron boron rare earth magnet structures enable the PortaPro to deliver greater volume so you can hear every note, even when competing against the sounds of a commuter train with a low-voltage MP3 or disc player. Oxygen free copper voice coils improve signal transmission and conduction for cleaner, clearer sound. Foam earcushions provide an open, hear-through sound that lets you keep in touch with your surroundings perfect to wear while running, at work, or while traveling. Whether you're listening at home or on the go, the PortaPro will bring the excitement of a live performance to any recording.

FeatureIncludes carrying pouch and 1/4" adapter
Weight0.13 pounds
List Price$49.99
Package Quantity1
Product GroupCE
Product Type NameMICROPHONE
TitleKoss PortaPro - Headphones ( semi-open )
WarrantyLimited lifetime warranty
Product Type Subcategory2300799
Model Name/TypeMPNEAN/UPC
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