Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Portable Comparison: Koss Porta Pro vs Sennheiser PX 100-II
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Portable Comparison: Koss Porta Pro vs Sennheiser PX 100-II

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

Introduction


Koss introduced us to the Porta Pro in 1984, long before I ever start embracing this hobby. It was one of the first headphones developed specifically portable use. Who knew it would be around 30 years later, relatively unchanged, and still popular as ever? Competition has come and gone within that time, but the Sennheiser PX 100 has been a popular portable in this market and, in my opinion, is the Porta Pro's closest and strongest competitor. In this comparison, I'll be reviewing the Koss Porta Pro and Sennheiser PX 100-II.

Similarities


Let's start by talk about the traits both of these cans share. They are both small, lightweight, portable headphones that can collapse to make them easy to store and transport. Both are of an open-back design and, therefore, will leak sound both and and out of them. This is good if you want to be more aware of your surrounding and want a more airy sound, but is also bad if you don't feel like disturbing anyone around you who are relatively close. Both are extremely efficient and can be driven from portable devices with no problem. You don't have to worry about additional amping to get optimal sound out of either of them. Both are inexpensive with the Porta Pro retailing for $49.99 USD and the PX 100-II retailing for $69.99 USD. Both are also offered in variants with an in-line mic and iDevice controls for a little extra ($79.99 for the Porta Pro KTC, $89.99 USD for the PX 100IIi).


Construction


The Porta Pro is mostly plastic with a sliding adjustable metal band. The cable is a dual-entry cable that is thin and can tangle easily. It terminates with a flexible 45 degree 3.5mm jack that is going to help when it's connected to a device that you can throw in your pocket. Although the overall construction is strong, the materials feel cheap. Have no fear because, and this is a big one, Koss gives you a lifetime warranty with the Porta Pro. They break and you go get yourself a new pair... forever.

The PX 100-II is mostly plastic as well and has a metal and plastic band with traditional indented adjustments on the side. Pictures of this headphone are deceiving to me as they appear to be cheap and fragile, but that is not the case here. There is a good weight to them and the materials are very very nice. The cable is of good quality as well and is only a single-entry which makes cable management easier. Unfortunately, it terminates to a straight and rigid 3.5mm jack which may not play as well with a device in your pocket. The PX 100-II clearly has better build quality and construction over the Porta Pro, but only comes with a two-year warranty.

Comfort


Comfort is a very personal thing and, therefore, I can only speak to my experience with the headphones. Both are very comfortable on my head. They're light enough that I can't even tell I'm wearing them after a while which is nice during long waits in the airport or long flights.

The band on the Porta Pro has a tendency to catch and pull on your hair. There are also "comfortZone" adjustments you can make on the side that range from Light to Firm. I have never seen a need for those side adjustments. The clamping force is tight, but not to the point of bothersome. What is annoying is the sliding adjustment band needs to be continuously adjusted if you are taking the Porta Pro on and off your head. The ear pads themselves are standard foam that are very soft to the touch.

The PX 100-II has less problems to deal with in terms of fit and comfort and that is mostly due to the more traditional indented adjustments on the side. Clamping force isn't as much as it is on the Porta Pro, but never feels unsecure. There are also no pressure points created around my head. The ear pads are slightly stiffer to the touch than the ones found on the Porta Pro, but the difference can't be felt when worn. For me, the PX 100-II takes a slight edge in overall comfort over the Porta Pro.

Sound


Rubber hits the road time. Sound is a very personal preference and everyone hears things differently, so I will attempt and explain the differences between the two without adding too much color. The Porta Pro and PX 100-II have very distinct and separate sonics. Both produce a very high quality sound, but their signatures are significantly different.

The Porta Pro is closer to neutral and more aggressive than the warmer PX 100-II. I would even consider it slightly cool. The bass has some weight to it, but I wouldn't consider it extended or impactful. Mids seem balanced. The treble is extended, but somewhat splashy and inaccurate. There is a decent soundstage that's airy with good separation of instruments.

Conversely, the PX 100-II is much warmer, darker, and laid back. Bass is more extended and more impactful. The mids here are also very balanced. The treble is rolled off, but decently accurate. This is a far more intimate experience over the Porta Pro. Less airy and less separation, but still relatively detailed.

So you have a decision to make based on preference and the type of music you listen to. If you want a more aggressive sound, the Porta Pro can deliver that. Want those warm and laid back sonics, the PX 100-II is your can. I have a feeling most people will prefer the Sennheiser sound over the Koss as it work better in environments where you can't control the outside noise levels. For me, I prefer the more aggressive sound of the Porta Pro. Whatever you pick one thing is for sure. Both of these headphones hit well above their weight class. Both sound much better than sub-$100 cans they are. I would go as far as to say the Porta Pro and PX 100-II have been the most impressive (not best, obviously, but impressive) headphones I've ever heard. However you choose, you just won't believe prices this low will get you sound this good.

Conclusion


If I had to pick just one of these headphones to throw in my bag, I'd be very sad. Both have their own strengths and weaknesses, but let's just say you held a gun to my head and said "Pick!" I think my answer would still be, "Must I?!" They are both that enjoyable. Now let's say you just got to the end of your rope and started pulling the hammer back while pushing the barrel into my temple. If it ever got to that point, for me, it always goes back to using the right tool for the job. That specific job we're talking about here is portability and convenience while traveling. Although I prefer the sound of the Porta Pro, I would probably pick the Sennheiser PX 100-II due to the slight advantages in comfort, cable management, adjustment, and construction. No matter what you pick, though, you win.

post #2 of 28

Good and well written review. I've sadly had no experience with the PX100-II, but now I kind of want to try them. Even though I don't I need another pair of portable headphones. :biggrin:

 

I also agree on your description on the Porta Pro. I used to see them all the time a couple of years ago and thought it was just some kind of "hip" headphone that people bought to look cool. I remember thinking they looked so cheap and plasticky. Fast forward to this last summer when I somehow started to get more into headphones, portable audio and...I guess audio in general, but was under some budget constraints, so I picked up a pair because of good reviews and their price. And it turned out I really liked them.


Prior to buying them, I had a pair of JVC HA-S400 and my trusty Sony earbuds, MDR-ED21LP, which I used all the time when outside or listening to some tunes before falling asleep.

After a week with the Porta Pro, I had trouble using the Sony earbuds because in comparison they sounded both congested and muddy, and sort of flat, and they weren't just as fun anymore.

The S400, which I picked up after lurking here and reading the thread about them on here, never really managed to sound the way I wanted them too (I'll be honest and say that maybe they didn't get all the burn-in they deserve) and really hurt my ears - the Porta Pro, again in comparison, while less refined and detailed, gave me a fun sound I really enjoyed and could enjoy for a long time. And as you said, sort of airy as well. My positive experience with the Porta Pros actually sort of made me get the S500 because all the comments on "v-shaped, fun sound" and all that.

 

And I still return to them - so comfortable, having glasses on is no problem at all. I've found that thanks to their high comfort level, light weight & general portability they go extremely well with portable game consoles such as the PSP & 3DS.


And after realizing I actually really like 80/90 retro aesthetics, I find them quite handsome looking. My friends doesn't really agree, however :/

post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

Yeah, the aethstetic of the Porta Pro are a huge draw for me. I didn't really touch on that in the review, but the Koss is definitely the more attractive of the two.

post #4 of 28

Good comparison. Small upgrade to both phones, the HD414 pads. With the Senns, I quarter modded them (bring out the treble a bit) and with the PPs, I leave the pads stock. I like the changes those pads bring, $10 a pair or less. You may know this, but a friend of mine from Europe says the PPs have a much higher status over there than they do here, and they cost more over there too.

post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymymyopie View Post
 

Good comparison. Small upgrade to both phones, the HD414 pads. With the Senns, I quarter modded them (bring out the treble a bit) and with the PPs, I leave the pads stock. I like the changes those pads bring, $10 a pair or less. You may know this, but a friend of mine from Europe says the PPs have a much higher status over there than they do here, and they cost more over there too.

Had no idea about he HD 414 upgrade or the Porta Pro status in other countries. Thanks for the info! Will try out those pads at some point.

post #6 of 28

Listening to the PPs right now, with the HD414 pads. Comfort is improved and I think the thicker foams takes a bit of the edge off without ruining the signature. Also, if you search for Tera Player, it's a very esoteric $1,000+ high end DAP, and the guy who created it, based in Germany I think, is a major PP fan. He says he created the Tera player to match perfectly with the PortaPro. Of course, that's sort of funny, but just making a point. See the photos on the TP page, and check out his headphones.


Edited by mymymyopie - 1/24/14 at 12:40pm
post #7 of 28
Awesome comparison! I'm picking up the KPPs, I should have comparisons to add to yours next week :-)
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymymyopie View Post
 

Listening to the PPs right now, with the HD414 pads. Comfort is improved and I think the thicker foams takes a bit of the edge off without ruining the signature. Also, if you search for Tera Player, it's a very esoteric $1,000+ high end DAP, and the guy who created it, based in Germany I think, is a major PP fan. He says he created the Tera player to match perfectly with the PortaPro. Of course, that's sort of funny, but just making a point. See the photos on the TP page, and check out his headphones.

ha That site is amazing!

post #9 of 28

Got my Portapro KTCs today. Enjoying them so far, the mic is awesome, but I'm angry...I bought a pair of KSC75s too, just to check them out, and...my wallet and need of microphone don't want to believe it but...I might like them more than the PPs :angry_face: They definitely have better treble. I think my DT770s may have turned me into a treble junkie...god, life as a headphone addict is so frustrating XD


Edited by Gilly87 - 1/28/14 at 11:21am
post #10 of 28

Compared to the PX100-II, I think the Senn's bass was a bit better controlled, and the sound was a little more dynamic, but the KPP has a slightly more neutral tone through the mids and isn't quite as dark. I think the PX's treble might be better extended, but the KPP has better treble presence.

 

Now if only I could take the mids of the KPP, the bass of the PX100-II, and the treble of KSC75...

 

/pipedreams

post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 

I really need to pick up the KSC75. It's not like they are terribly risky. Interested more than ever now since I'm hearing some comparisons.

post #12 of 28
Great review. I own the PX100II's and I bought the HD414 pads on eBay. I like the sound even more now but I think there needs to be a bit more upper-mids. What do you mean by "quarter mods"? I was thinking of cutting out the centres of the pads but I'm not sure. If it doesn't work its not like I can undo it. What do you think?

Sent from my SM-N9005
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 

I wanted to get in a good couple of weeks of listening before I started any additional mods. I don't think there's too much left to be desired with the stock PX 100-II sound, but if there are simple things I'll be able to do to make them better (pad swap, etc...), then I'll definitely look into it in another week or so.

post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zorrofox View Post

Great review. I own the PX100II's and I bought the HD414 pads on eBay. I like the sound even more now but I think there needs to be a bit more upper-mids. What do you mean by "quarter mods"? I was thinking of cutting out the centres of the pads but I'm not sure. If it doesn't work its not like I can undo it. What do you think?

Sent from my SM-N9005

Quarter mod is cutting a small hole in the middle ofthe 414 pads. With Grados, for example, you make the holes and then, oddly enough, use the small how to stretch over the driver basically using them in reverse, hence what they call the reverse quarter mod. I have the small hole in the 414s for the Senns, but no holes with the PPS. The mod brings out the highs in the Senns a bit more, much like the bowl pads do on the Grados. I have to say, if you like the PPs, then Grado SR80i might be your next move. Properly amped, the Grados really are a good value, about $99 but can be had for less used. For the SR80s, I prefer the solid pads, called S-Cushion by Grado.

post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mymymyopie View Post
 

Quarter mod is cutting a small hole in the middle ofthe 414 pads. With Grados, for example, you make the holes and then, oddly enough, use the small how to stretch over the driver basically using them in reverse, hence what they call the reverse quarter mod. I have the small hole in the 414s for the Senns, but no holes with the PPS. The mod brings out the highs in the Senns a bit more, much like the bowl pads do on the Grados. I have to say, if you like the PPs, then Grado SR80i might be your next move. Properly amped, the Grados really are a good value, about $99 but can be had for less used. For the SR80s, I prefer the solid pads, called S-Cushion by Grado.

Already own a an SR325is and love it, but I can't stand them when using the G cush pads. It just sounds empty to me. I can kinda see the correlation between the Porta Pros and the Grado Prestige Series. I suppose they do sound close to each other. Probably the reason why I prefer the Porta Pro signature over the PX 100-II.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › Portable Comparison: Koss Porta Pro vs Sennheiser PX 100-II