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PortaPro Review

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Koss PortaPro Review
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After finding that my Best Buy sells these now, and hearing so much about them. I decided to take the dive and bought a pair. Especially considering I only paid $20 for them.

I own a wide variety of high-performance speakers (Paradigm, SpeakerCraft, DefTech) and a wide variety of headphones ranging from the Bose TriPort On-Ears to the Klipsch S4 in-ear headphones. The PortaPros match up well with the TriPort On-Ears but do a few things better where in other places the Bose are better.

Considering I only use headphones really for portable times not really home use (every now and then), I used these hooked up to my iPod with VBR MP3s and some 320 AAC (just as good as FLAC).

Songs:

A Perfect Circle - The Noose
APC's opus is a track with light, punch kick pedal, demanding bass in the end, and a wide variety of dynamics.

A Place to Bury Strangers - It is Nothing
This band relies on noise and feedback with a thick backdrop. They literally are all highs and mids, but have some unusual lows thrown in there.

The Flaming Lips - Aquarius Sabotage
This song is very discordant and noisy. Distorted guitars and electronics rampage over a thick bassline and drum pattern. Great for testing loudness and how well a speaker handles distortion, but also for testing it's prowess in classical and atmospheric pieces-as the second half features strings and keyboard.

Gary Numan - Down in the Park
Down in the Park requires a thick midrange with the down-trodded keyboard and kick-pedal. One of the better recorded tracks of the last decade, actually.

Nine Inch Nails - A Warm Place
This song is great for emphasizing other things than bass. The song has a LOT of bass in the background that washes out the treble and piano on most of the speakers I listen to.

VAST - Falling From the Sky
This song is an interesting one to test on because it was poorly mastered and the low bass is often hidden on low volumes and cheap speakers. The pre-chorus has a high-frequency bass tone that is often missed on speakers as well.

Aesthetics
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Well, they come in a cheap box with a cheap case. What else could I expect for $50, considering my Klipsch's come in a tin box? But the headphones seem unnecessarily cheap at first until you see the extreme precision on the build quality of the plastics and how sturdy they feel. The cord is like a cloth combination and is pretty durable. When you put them on, they feel secure and always equal because of the ComfortZone attachment. Extremely comfortable all the way around.

They fit very well and don't fall off at all, and are great for extreme listening sessions. I was extremely pleased, especially at the odd styling. Since the ones I bought don't have that blue color, the PortaPros just seem to scream "TECHGEEK" and "AUDIOPHILE" which is fine by me. They weren't as comfortable as my TriPort On-Ears, but are better for longevity as the fatigue on the Bose is quickly noticeable.

Sound Quality
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Well, the sound quality was the biggest surprise. Being my first time getting open headphones, I was surprised by the large and realistic soundstage the PortaPros provide. They don't have that hollow sound In-Ear and similarly priced Cans have. They sound like $200 headphones when they are $50. (I payed $18 for mine). I'd compare them to the Grado 80s in similar sound. The bass, while very powerful, only overpowers when there isn't a whole lot of treble, such as in A Warm Place. That song teeters with keyboard/synth backdrops and piano accents, which is often washed out by the pulsing bass. The bass washed out a lot of those accents (which my Bose don't), but created a better stage than my TriPorts.

The Noose had a lot of kick but the bass was curiously absent when treble was at an extreme, such as the end. The end is notoriously thick in audio, and was burdened with an extreme amount of treble. However, that was really only the negative I found. A Place to Bury Stranger's noise was perfectly refined on the PortaPros with the small bass accents and Aquarius Sabotage refined the highs and lows perfectly without distorting, which was expected.

Overall, it is a bit less bright and darker than my Bose which are very dynamical. They are aren't as neutral as my Klipsch In-Ears but are very close. I was extremely impressed, as the soundstage created was the most surprising, since my Bose feel as if everything is a big collage of sound (as if you were standing in the middle of a rock concert on stage). The PortaPros give you the feeling you are in the front row.

Comparison
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It may seem unfair to compare them to my Bose, but I will. Like I said before, there is much wider stage and you can distinctly hear each instrument. These are headphones where you notice sounds you didn't before. I like that about them. I wouldn't say they are superior to the Bose because I love the thick, loud, aggressive sound of the TriPorts but the sound accuracy is astonishing on the TriPorts.

As far as the Grado 80s, they are on pace. Not as bright as Grados I've tested, but I can't do an in-depth comparison because I've only listened to them a few times.

They are like an on-ear version of my Klipsch, I guess. That's the best comparison. Neutral, but bass-y with crisp highs. Very accurate.
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Overall, these are astonishing headphones especially for the price. Worthy of all the praise they receive.
post #2 of 11
Thanks very much for the review, tribestros! I concur!
post #3 of 11
It's sad that one can compare a $40 pair of headphones (Porta Pro) with one that retails for $180 (Bose OE). That just tells me that the Bose OE is a much poorer value than the Porta Pro, not because the Bose OE sounds wretched, but because it doesn't perform significantly better than the Porta Pro.
post #4 of 11
Firstly, I apologize if this has been covered elsewhere. I searched and couldn't find an answer, so I'll ask here. The wire on the left channel on my Sennheiser PX100's broke and I replaced them with the PortaPro's, since they are within my $50 budget and got good reviews here. I love their sound, so far, and I'm sure they will sound better after some burn-in.

My problem is they are uncomfortably tight on my head. After 10 minutes, I had to let my squished ears rest. I tried changing the comfort setting on the side, but it springs right back to "firm." Is there a way to make the button stay on "light?" I've tried everything I can think of and nothing works. TIA!
post #5 of 11
Jam something inside the switch?
post #6 of 11
and people always say grado's are ugly
lol
post #7 of 11
Seriously?! PortaPros are some of the coolest, most singular portable headphones available! Shame on you for not sharing my keen, well-developed, refined sense of taste.
post #8 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by jontaylor75 View Post
My problem is they are uncomfortably tight on my head. After 10 minutes, I had to let my squished ears rest. I tried changing the comfort setting on the side, but it springs right back to "firm." Is there a way to make the button stay on "light?" I've tried everything I can think of and nothing works. TIA!
...and I thought I had a big giant pumpkin head...that sucks man...
post #9 of 11
I agree with you, tribestros. Sounds like you got the anniversary edition (cloth cord?).

I've never listened to TriPorts, but I feel good knowing that I'm not missing out on anything!
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by mritt400 View Post
...and I thought I had a big giant pumpkin head...that sucks man...
LOL! I resemble that remark. j/k. Actually, I have a pretty small head. It's just that the earcups/speakers are folding in on me. I'll keep adjusting the two sliding bars on the headband and see if that helps. Meanwhile, I'll try to get the comfort setting to stick. I got them because of the great reviews here and so far I love their sound. I'm not really an audiophile, but they sound close to the PX-100's to me. Once I can get them comfy on my head I'll be in musical heaven.
post #11 of 11
tribestros
Good review. I completely agree. The detail out of these headphones is really astonishing. You would expect that kind of detail and presence out of a headphone 3 or 4 times the price. I look forward to getting home from work to put them on at night. I run them straight out of my Walkman and they are great.

Funny you mention the cheap box and the cheap carrying case. I laughed when I got mine. I couldn't really get them into the bag and get the bag to close, so I just threw it away. Completely forgot about that after I plugged them in and started listening.

I guess my noggin must be just small enough for a good comfortable fit. I will say that if you don't like a snug fit, you may not like these. It's not snug like the edition 8, but definitely snug.

I also really like the cloth cable. It twirls a lot but I never feel like I have to treat it like a newborn baby.

These headphones might be the best 39 dollars I have ever spent.
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