Koss Porta Pro Portable Headphone Review
It’s not often that a headphone model hangs about for over 30 years; in fact it only happens about every 30 years or so. Joking aside however, there must be a reason why the Koss Porta Pro continues to be a popular model; even in our era of flying cars, food pills and teleportation.
The simple design and great sound keeps them viable while the open-back design, whilst not being the best for isolation of course, is perfect for those who wish to be aware of what’s going on around them such as joggers, and muggers.
- Small and foldy
- Decent enough sound
- The name has a ‘pro’ in it
- Light and comfortable
- Boomy bass can be out of place
- Midrange could use more presence
- Some ‘lesser’ phones may struggle to power these
Design and Appearance
The design has not changed since the Apple Macintosh, and it shows. However with current tastes, this works in the Porta Pro’s favour. The bold solver rings and utilitarian headband may even add a touch of 70s retro styling too.
This model is rated at 60 ohms impedance, which together with the 101dB sensitivity makes them less useful with low-powered phones and the like, although those by most popular brands (Samsung, Apple etc.) should have the power.
Durability and Build Quality
Being intended for portable use, the Koss Porta Pro Classic is light and svelte, if a bit inelegant. During normal use, it’s difficult to spot any vulnerable areas in the design. There are no strain reliefs on the cable where it exits the headphones, but the cable is held in place within the driver housings themselves to prevent accidental yanking.
There is a strain relief at the jack end of the cable, and this terminates in an angled jack which is perhaps a 70 degree angle, at a guess. This appears to be a relatively new tweak in the design.
Light or firm? Whether you’re reassured by a vice grip or you can’t stand the pressure, there are three settings on the Porta Pro Classics which allow the drivers to be pushed outwards, making things a bit looser.
The headband has had a few criticisms regarding its tendancy to entrap and pluck hairs out of the heads of unsuspecting listeners, but there’s been no problem with this so far.
Other than that, these are ‘wear and forget’ headphones.
Suitability for intended application
Is there only one intended application? Apart from the obvious portable uses, the Koss Porta Pro is equally enjoyable when used as an open-backed headphone at home or in the office. The comfort level also makes this a nice choice for some pillow action too.
Sticking to portable uses though, the headphones fold up to a very small size and can go in a pocket between uses for instance. This makes them a very sensible choice for the itchy footed.
The sound is generally well balanced between bass and treble, although the midrange can seem a bit distant and mushy. Bass is perhaps a bit on the heavy side, but it will definitely satisfy those who want a bassy sound. The Koss Porta Pro Classics offer a warmish sound overall.
- Bass :
As above, the bass can be a little overpowering depending on your genres or tastes, and its a bit loose too. There’s not much definition and it’s hard to know where the midrange starts; it’s easier to figure out where the bass stops! However with a lot of pop and rock, this gives a hearty thump which is certainly in keeping with those genres.
The midrange isn’t completely invisible but there was the feeling that the volume needed to be increased as not enough of the music’s ‘meat’ was getting through. This is fairly typical of entry-level equipment; however it does the job, and will pass muster for anyone who is used to spending under £50 on headphones.
Higher frequencies are well balanced with the rest but not too prominent; percussion and the like make themselves known without making a nuisance of themselves, and it’s a smooth transition from the midrange. A little more presence at the top end would have been good to enhance the open-back nature of the Koss Porta Pro Classics, providing a bit more airiness.
- Soundstage and Separation:
Being open-back, this model has a fairly wide sound but it’s not exceptional. The definition of midrange harmonics does not quite make for a convincing presentation in terms of separation, but it’s an enjoyable one nonetheless for the asking price.
Music genres good for and why
The Koss Porta Pro Classics give quite an impressive sound when it comes to stuff which benefits from the bass on offer, such as dance, R&B, hiphop, pop etc. Jazzy genres may depend on the type; swingy stuff with a double bass is fun, but if there’s a lot of midrange action, it might feel a bit flat.
Classical and acoustic music may benefit from a tighter, more subdued bass but if you enjoy a mixture of styles then it’s quite acceptable to listen to whilst on the move, but you may hanker for something a little clearer if relaxing at home.
The Koss Porta Pros are still very popular after more than 30 years, even amongst people who own other headphones costing an arm and a leg. They are seen as a decent low-cost model for use out and about and are quite practical, given that they fold up into a neat package between uses. Be aware though that their open-back nature means that they will be of limited use in noisy environments.