Koss PortaPro Headphones Review – Affordable, Portable, Real Sound

By | January 13, 2015

Good consumer headphones aren’t necessarily easy to find. While the market is flooded with different kinds of headphones for music consumers, bad decisions can be made easily due to falling into the trap of marketing. Read on to find out about a classic and a great alternative to music listening as well as track referencing. Welcome to my Koss PortaPro Headphones Review.

Back to the 80s

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The Koss PortaPro

The PortaPros by Koss are teleported straight from the 1980s. Just look at them! At first sight, I’m quite sure people are divided by their looks. You either love them or hate them. Well… I love them!

In fact, the first versions of the PortaPro were developed in the eighties.

The headphone earpieces have a cool retro-look on the outside. The earpieces are flexible on the inside because they are connected to the outer part from the center by a clever attachment “clip”, which makes the earpieces move freely adjusting itself to its wearer’s head. Sweet, eh?

The PortaPros are unique-looking because of the raw-looking metallic headband they have, which I think looks pretty rad. These can be collapsed for portability and ease of carry.

On the side of the PortaPros is a “Comfort Zone” switch which is used to achieve a comfortable, secure fit. Honestly, I’ve never used this feature. Perhaps they just instantly fit my head?

Because the PortaPros are actual headphones and not in-ear buds, you’ll save your hearing as well when you listen to your music through them (click here to find out why it’s important to protect your hearing).

Good thing to note is the PortaPros are not in any way isolated. This means when you wear them you can still hear everything that happens outside. In other words, they are open.

In Use

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The PortaPros can be easily folded into a “package”

The PortaPros are very portable, as they are labeled. You can fold them up into a very small “package” which is pleasant because they can be stuffed into a very small space. If you want to use the case provided, you can insert the headphones there.

When you put the PortaPros on your head, you’ll know they never fall off. They are firm because of their light construction and the tight metallic band which you wrap around your head.

This is why I love to wear them while jogging and listening to my favorite tunes. Trains and public transportation are a favorite as well in using the PortaPros.

I’ve done quite a lot of skateboarding while wearing them, and they never fell off even when I put them to the test by jumping down stairs and listening to music with them. The PortaPros are excellent for extreme sports for this reason. For even a tighter grip, wear a hat and put the headphones on and they’ll never fall off.

Airplanes can provide a challenge because of the background noise. If you need headphones for airplanes, I would recommend you to look into closed, noise-cancelling headphones.

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The carrying case – or bag

The PortaPros are very long-lasting in their performance. I’ve owned two pairs over the course of eight years. I had to buy new ones after four years of continuous use because the left speaker quit working, and I’m still not sure why. Probably because they had to endure the rough usage I put them through.

I’m quite sure my second pair will live over the lifespan of my first pair. Even if you would buy a new pair every four years, I’m not exactly sure if 30-40€ ($35-45) would send you to your financial doom.

The Sound

The PortaPros sound really awesome. They have a very warm, inviting sound which makes them a pleasure to listen to. The sound is very real.

The bass is really tight and punchy, but never overwhelming. The midrange where instruments such as guitars, pads and vocals lie is clear and separated, and full of warmth which a lot of headphones in the same price region lack.

The high end is something special in these headphones. The highs are kind of toned down and not very bright, but in a surprisingly positive way. The decision Koss have made about the high end of the PortaPros enables me – the listener – to be able to listen to music for longer periods of time without any hearing fatigue.

Also, the fact that the high end isn’t overbearing makes the midrange and bass shine in these headphones. With other cheap headphones, the high end can get annoyingly cold sounding and unpleasant – this is not the case with the PortaPros.

When needed, you can easily turn up your music without torturing your ears with unpleasantly loud highs.

Usage as reference headphones

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The PortaPro is a great music reference headphone

In music production, it is very important to make sure your music will sound great everywhere. To actually make it sound great everywhere, you need to hear your music everywhere. And by everywhere I mean on everything – headphones, speakers, club speakers and so on.

In real life, people don’t listen to music with expensive studio speakers or headphones that much. This is why it is important to have a source representing the “general sound” people usually hear when they enjoy music.

Because of the consumer-grade sound the PortaPros offer (though it is excellent), I like to reference my own tracks with them to see where they sit in the ocean of commercial mixes. They provide great perspective to studio-grade gear by offering the chance to see how people actually listen to music in day-to-day life.

I especially like to go outdoors while referencing, to get the full effect. By switching between my own tracks and commercial tracks I get the idea of what I need to do to make my track sound better, in comparison to them.

The PortaPros offer a great, cheap chance to do some headphone referencing, which you should be doing if you’re serious about your music.

In conclusion

Priced around 30-40€ ($35-45), the Koss PortaPros offer great value for anyone looking for portable, great sounding music listening headphones to buddy their iPod, laptop or cellphone.

The package includes the headphones and a carry case. The PortaPros are covered under the Koss Stereophons Limited Lifetime Warranty.

The Koss PortaPros truly are the cheapest route to real sound.

If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll be more than happy to get back to you.

-JP

(Porta)Pros

  • Incredibly CheapReview-Score
  • Great Sound Quality
  • Tons of Value – they last forever
  • Good reference headphones

Cons

  • Retro looks is a potential no-go
  • If you prefer in-ear buds, PortaPros are not for you
  • Not isolated headphones – you can still hear through them

You can get a pair on Amazon, where I also got mine. Check out the PortaPros, you might notice these are the last pair of consumer headphones you’ll ever buy.

10 thoughts on “Koss PortaPro Headphones Review – Affordable, Portable, Real Sound

  1. Ian

    Great post, I have just spent a fortune on a pair of Beats headphones for my son for Christmas, I wish I had found this web site before that. I am looking at buying a wireless pair that can be used for both gaming and listening to music. Do you have any ideas? Thanks. Ian.

    Reply
    1. JP Post author

      Hi Ian! Razer has a variety of gaming headphones, you could check them out. I’ve been using their mice for a long time now.

      Reply
  2. Peter

    Hi and thanks for a great review of the Koss PortaPro headphones. I’m a bit ‘retro’ myself, so I love the look of them! I can’t believe how inexpensive they are, given the sound quality you suggest they have. A great find.
    Peter

    Reply
  3. A. Marc

    Hey JP,
    Great review you made here. I can tell it’s written out of experience.
    And you now what for this price, one could care less about the look especially with a great sound quality. You could still use it in a Back To The Future party 😉

    Reply
    1. JP Post author

      Thank you A. Marc! Exactly, it’s all in the function – looks are secondary. I like your point about the party!

      Reply
  4. The Green Bean

    These Koss PortaPros sound like a great pair of headphones, at least after reading this thorough yet approachable review. Honestly, I wouldn’t have really known what to look for other than to just put them on my head and turn up the volume. But now having been educated a little by someone in the music industry, I have a completely new check list for headphone purchasing.

    Thx JP for this …

    Chris

    Reply
  5. Roman

    I actually love their retro look. This is the future I liked most about them :)

    The non-isolation could be a problem, but I think I could be using them on my bike rides. It’s safer to be able to hear your surroundings while driving than being completely isolated. Also, they seem like they won’t fall of easily while riding.

    Reply
    1. JP Post author

      Hey Roman, I agree with you on the safety. I think it’s also more comfortable to hear whatever you would be doing, such as sports and outdoor hobbies.

      Reply

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