After an unfortunate incident involving my (slightly hated) Sony headphones and a surprisingly high amount of vomit, the time came last week end to order some new headphones. I don't believe in buying anything without researching carefully, so after reading many reviews on all sorts of headphones, ranging from the good, the bad and the ugly, I concluded that my hard earned money (well I'm a student, but baby sitting is still work) should be well invested in a set of Koss PortaPros.
One week after ownership, and I can't think of a better way to spent my money.
Build and appearance: 7.5/10
In terms of build and design, I found the headphones much more impressive in the metal (and plastic) than I had been expecting. Quality is something I am pretty anal about, but these are pretty bang on the money. The finish is not luxurious, but feels like it will last if treated nicely. The metal is nice, and again aids the feel of durability. I had better explain - these are not by any means going to rival a JCB in terms of ruggedness. The phones are slim in design, and extremely light. However, they feel as though they will happily last a lifetime of normal, relatively careful use, while in the event of trouble you have the included Lifetime Warranty to fall onto.
The design, which I was not keen on in the pictures on the internet, looks much better on person. The headphones remain on the 'ugly' end of the scale, but in an almost endearing way. They are very unique, much due to their 80's heritage. The metal is tastefully applied, and allows for an attractive contrast against the black plastic while installing a quality look, meanwhile the blue accents (which I hated on photos) add a little uniqueness to the design, and helps make them stand out. I prefer them to black, although I think red might have looked better. Anyhow, the overall look is uniquely retro, fairly subtle, and not really any less stylish than any other set of headphones. Just more stand-out.
I hate giving perfect ratings. In my book, there is no such thing as perfection; the best can always be better. The PortaPros, however, seem to be an exception. While the much discussed "Comfort Zone" seems to be a little bit of a gimmick in my opinion, it shows the attention to detail taken in terms of comfort. The "Comfort Zone" system is designed so that the user can select the amount of pressure on the ears - firm, medium, or soft. Any is extremely comfortable, putting little pressure on the ears themselves thanks to extra pads which share pressure with the temples, while providing enough grip to hold the phones securely even during mountain biking. I personally prefer the firm setting, although the reason for this is not known. It just feels right for me.
The headphones are easily adjustable, thanks to two small plastic tabs on the head band which move back and forth to change the size of the headphones. Although other users have reported pain caused by their hair getting trapped in the mechanism, neither me, my Sister, my Mum, or my Dad have experienced this. Instead, we have all found the headband comfortable, easy to adjust and devoid of unwanted side effects (such as trapped hair). One little note - the headband does not lock, so after removing the headphones you will need to readjust the band. Once on though, the size will not change.
To conclude, I have worn the headphones for over four hours straight, and had no problems with my ears afterwards. Same with biking - I have worn the headphones over rough terrain for a couple of hours, and they did not move or cause pain. In fact, they seem therapeutic - like an ear massage :)
Sound - 9/10
This is why I bought these headphones. Firstly, I will say that I listen to a wide variety of music. This is inclusive of rock, country, R&B, pop, electronic and whatever comes in between. I have also used the headphones to watch films. A few examples of the songs I have tested these headphones with:
- Johnny Cash: Country Boy, Ring of Fire, I Walk the Line, and more.
- Blondie: Call me, Atomic, and more.
- The Mavericks: Dance the night away (very challenging)
- The Killers: When you were young
- Shakira: I'll stand by you, Whenever, Wherever, She Wolf
- Lady Gaga: Bad Romance
- Lee Ann Womack: I hope you dance
- Journey: Don't stop believing
- Cascada: Evacuate the dance floor, Every time we touch
- Many more, inclusive of Beyonce, Bullet for my Valentine, Michael Jackson, Guns 'n Roses, Gianna Naninni, Dolly Parton, Rihanna and more. If you need more information, just ask.
To summarise briefly, I have never heard any other headphones in this price range perform this well on any of these songs. I have used Samsung PX100s, PX200s, various Sonys, several Grados (including the iGrados at a not too dissimilar price and numerous other phones. At this price, these are the best.
Bass is strong, but detailed. Johnny Cash, The Killers, Guns 'n Roses are just some of my artists which use significant bass, and this is utilised very nicely by these headphones. The bass is strong and detailed enough to please those who thrive off it, but eases off to allow sufficient detail throughout the mids and highs. Despite other reviews, it was not the bass that caused these headphones to win me over. It's how brilliantly they combine the bass with the competent, strong, and detailed mids and highs to deliver a sound that captures the mood and detail of the song as it was intended. I haven't yet tried any other headphones in this price bracket that achieved this. They sound brilliant, like headphones that cost at least £75. The highs sing sonorously - beautifully, with powerful emotive mids surrounding them and the vast throb of bass always laying in wait beneath the other sounds. Each song has its own unique feeling, and each instrument in each song makes its own unique sound heard. I don't what else to say, except that this remains true for all genres of music. If you wan't sound and cash in your pocket, buy these. Now.
The headphones are tiny, particularly for the excellent sound they deliver. Even better, they fold up - in a simple, self explanatory way - so that they are tiny enough to fit into the included leather bag. As said, they feel durable enough for everyday use, while their high comfort and strong grip means they can be used in almost any situation for many hours on end.
This sounds like it should be a perfect score yet again so far, right? Wrong. I knew this prior to purchasing, but these headphones leak sound like OK! leaks gossip. It's that bad. Honestly. One of the reasons I bought these headphones was for flights, however I would probably be so conscious of the sound that I would be forced to turn them down. In which case, I would suffer from the poor isolation and quickly turn them back up. To hell with society. I want my music.
Despite this, I think that their small size and ease of use makes them practical for everyday use. Just be prepared for stares.
These headphones come with everything you could expect for the price.A leatherette case, a headphone adaptor for planes, a headphone adaptor for your guitar amplifier, and an all important lifetime warranty put these headphones at the front of their rivals.
Buy these headphones, and you will not be disappointed. The sound is excellent for the price (at the top of their class), the design and build is as you'd expect, they're as comfortable as a hot bath, and they're small enough to be practical. Top the icing with a lifetime guarantee and good accessories bundled, and Koss have a product that I think could be celebrating its 50th birthday and still be heading the pack.