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Head-Fi.org › Head Gear › Headphones › On-Ear › Koss PortaPro - Headphones ( semi-open )

Koss PortaPro - Headphones ( semi-open )


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: 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: 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: 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.


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.




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.


Pros: Cheap, great vivid sound

Cons: Fold into a circular shape, rather than a flat one. Might pulls some of your hairs, specially if they are curly due to the metal band.

I picked these up when I was living in Belgium when I was looking for a cheap and durable portable headphone, that wasn't in-ear, and I was certainly not disappointed.


These headphones have almost the same level of clarity as my Grado SR125i but have a considerably more pronounced bass and are, quite simply, a lot of fun to listen to.


The form factor is quite interesting, because rather folding as most portable headphones, the PortaPro bend into a circular shape, around the size of a tennis ball, which makes them a bit inconvenient to carry if you intend on carrying them inside a laptop case.


I've used these headphones while riding a bicycle to work, I've used them while running, while working in public places, and although they are not ideal for all of those situations, they are certainly more than passable, and give you very enjoyable listening experience. Just remember that these headphones do leak sound, so they might not be ideal for commuting.


When I want to go for a walk, and I don't feel like putting the "rubber band" and the DAC around my iPhone, these are the headphones I'll usually grab because I'm certain they'll sound great, regardless of what I plug them to, even though their sound does improve noticeably when you plug them to a DAC.


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: Affordable for the sound quality; foldable into a really compact size

Cons: The cloth cable has a tendency to twist while folding the Pro; the open design is not good for noisy/very quiet environs


This is my first 8 hours of my portapros impression (on a intercity bus, in less than ideal environment for an open can. EDIT 1: this was on the day of purchase).


First thing that stands out: separation of a song's different elements. Made me hear more, yet still sounds fun and engaging. Prominent trumpets, horns, cymbals, etc. Those high notes sounds almost intruding in certain parts of a song. Vocals are slightly recessed compared to other elements. Bass is adequate, but not always. Bass guitars and similar sounds (cello, etc.) sounds great, but kick drum, impact bass and the like almost as if its not enough for me, and I'm not a basshead in any way. String instruments sounds gorgeous, prominent in the songs I listened to.


For curiosity's sake, I listened to my SZS playlist, the whole Coldplay - Viva la Vida album, Coldplay - Mylo Xyloto album, Bloc Party - Intimacy, and Bloc Party - Weekend at the City albums. A 30 Seconds to Mars song (The Kill), and a HD video I downloaded of The Piano Guys song called "Jon Schmidt - Michael Meets Mozart".

EDIT 1 (February 10, 2012): Now that I have listened to it more on my E10, I can say that the bass is overpowering, quite boomy and less punchy then I anticipated in the earlier stated environment. The highs are less prominent than I remember on the bus too, but is still adequate enough to be neither a bother or feeling inadequate. Vocals still sounds recessed to my liking.


Also the day before, I was using it on the Metro (subway), and certainly the boosted bass helps it sounds almost not bassy, as outside noise drowns out the bass. Of course, louder noise will drown out everything, but as far as I can hear in moderately loud noise, the boosted bass helps it sounds "balanced" for a lack of a better term and/or experience. I find it quite a similar experience as on the intercity bus.


Still haven't compared it to my CAL! yet.

Now that I have done the quarter mod (where you cut a hole the size of a quarter on the ear cushions), I can say that the problems I had before (slightly boomy bass, recessed mids/vocals and "just-there" highs) are corrected to a degree. Bass is still very prominent, but not boomy, and rumbles deep. Mids and vocals now, to my glee, are forward and prominent, yet not overpowering. And the highs achieved a somewhat more vibrancy than before. 


And I also have compared to my CAL! also. Before and after the quarter mod, I can say that I prefer my PP more than my CAL!. I can't put a finger on why, but my guess is that while the PP are on-ears, the CAL!'s ear cup just exert pressure a little bit too much for prolonged wear, even after a long time stretched on books. Virtually to my inexperienced ears, they are almost the same. I feel that the PP have more deeper bass reach, but as far as I can tell that's it. Will update this after some more time.

EDIT 2 (February 24, 2012): Finally I can agree with the majority who had used this headphone; that they are bassy 'phones. At first to my ears they are not as bassy as people here made out to be, and makes less sense after I did the quarter mod. But then tonight, after a long time of constant use (to the point of neglecting my CAL), I finally hear the bassiness of it. But I think Koss purposefully made them bassy because they are to be used primarily outdoors, where there are a lot of external noise to intrude in. While they do work for low level noise (just walking around, with the occasional cars passing by) and somewhat work for medium level noise (on a bus), that they sound almost balanced, IMO, but for high level noise (in the subway) they are drowned out by the noise. In a relatively quite environment, they are bassy. A bit boomy, not to my liking, but they are for the most part still punchy and delivers deep bass too. Otherwise, my views are still the same. To my chagrin, it's 2 of MUSE albums that showed me the bass.


Compared to my CAL, I can say I like my CAL better, just because the bass aren't as boomy as the PP. Maybe I need to listen to both of those albums again.

EDIT March 5 2012


This may sound crazy, and this may just be some sort of placebo or something, but I just cut open a bit more of the earpad, and the vocals are now a little more recessed now, yet the bass and highs are somehow tighter now. Before the opening I cut out is 19. cm (0.7 inches) I expand the cut to 2.4 cm (0.9 inches).


Now I seem to slightly hate it now. :(


On the other hand, I have the HD414 pads incoming, so expect something updated by then.

I will update this when I get more time on it and get more familiar to the sound. And I will also be comparing this to my CAL!. If I remember.

This will mostly be final. But if there are anymore revelations and hidden secrets, I will add below. Hope my eclectic impressions help someone made a more informed purchase.

I lied. Now I added a felt ring "acoustic bass lens" after changing the pads to the HD414 pads. I already did the write up on my blog, and I could use some views, so here it is.


Pros: Everything

Cons: Nothing at this price

The following review is based only on the trivial amount of money one must put forward for a pair of these headphones. I won't compare these to my AKG, Grado or Senns cans because it's just a different market.

(bought in UK, hence the low price compared to the U.S.)


Design is amazing. Folding mechanism and materials are brilliant. A full metal headband that works this well could ask for more money. Cable seems just as flimsy as any other brand over twice the price - the lifetime warranty puts my worries at ease.


Comfort is exceptional. They're super lightweight so the slight clamping sensation might be off-putting at first, but I quickly forgot about it after 5 minutes of listening. Also they can't fall off your head, so it's perfect for outdoors and even light jogging.


Audio quality (for a modern and brand new headphone) is unbeatable at this price. This is what kids today should be buying instead of those ridiculous monster dre beats. 

Bass is slightly but evenly bloated (unlike dre beats which put out nothing but heavy bloated mid-bass) which is exactly what I need when outdoors and my headphones must compete with all the bass heavy city noises of diesel engines etc. The 'open' headphone design might not be to everyone's liking, but I prefer some noise to leak in, so I know when an ambulance or something is about to plough into me. Also I just prefer the slightly airy clarity of open and semi open designs.

The mid-range isn't as warm and tonally accurate as I like, but it's timbre is a lot more natural than a lot of bose cans for example, and more lively too. 

The treble is a bit of a downer, but it's only the natural output of the headphones. When amped up or with a good EQ, a very slight treble boost makes them sparkle with ease. 


Altogether a very natural sounding headphone with the bass boost necessary to compete with the a buzzing city while maintaining a sense of harmony and balance and fun. Perhaps this is why treble is slightly masked, to prevent fatiguing at high volumes. This for me is certainly welcome. 


Ugly headphones never looked this good.



- Now that I've owned these for a bit longer I can add one thing for sure - use an amp. The difference in sound quality is day and night. Bass extension and clarity improves greatly, and even overall fidelity and separation improves. 

Don't judge these through an mp3 player or a sound card.

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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