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KOSS Porta Pro Review (On-ear Headphone)

Rate this headphone:

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 14 8.4%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 47 28.3%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 84 50.6%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 21 12.7%

  • Total voters
    166

Luke

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I was also surprised by the Porta Pro's spatial qualities when EQ'd. It made me wonder if the pressure created when we enclose our ears inside a small volume is somehow a bag thing. But oratory doesn't think so and I have been told the HD820 and HD800 are similarly spacious sounding when Harman EQ'd, so it doesn't seem like it's an "open vs closed" thing.
Maybe it's a comfort thing?
 

daftcombo

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Hi, thanks Amir for the review!

At the moment on holiday, listening to the Porta Pro with your EQ settings on my mobile phone with Android and Poweramp Equalizer (not free though) which can EQ the sound of all the players, like EqualizerAPO does on a Windows computer.

Great!

(You need to tweak Poweramp Equalizer to recognize your player before it works. Info here:
 

xykreinov

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These or the cheap Sony headphones @amirm loves?
I tried both. I definitely like the Sony ZX110 better.
The treble detail (when PEQed) and overall comfort were the standout wins for the Sony.

The Porta Pro was a bit more secure on the head, but not much. The ZX110 is still among the best workout headphones I've had. For lack of a better description, IEMs have an annoying tendency to boom with every step I take when running- something to do with the ears being plugged up. In other words, my steps cancel out the bass. Even ANC headphones I've tried have the problem, sometimes even worse in the case of ANC IEMs. The only ANC cans that helped tame the boominess were the Sony WH-1000XM3, and at that point it's just an ear sauna.
Light on-ears like the Porta Pros and ZX110 don't have the problem. In headphones like them, I can hear bass much better while moving.

I love that when the pads finally call uncle, I can just get a new ZX110! :D
 
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oversky

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Using with white-brand pads on a 15+ years old Porta Pro,
I like Maiky76< 200 Hz + AutoEq > 500Hz.
The comfort Zone is set to "firm".
 
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solderdude

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They can't all be right.... it is even entirely possible none are right.
 

oversky

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  • The average L/R is used to calculate the score.
Hi, Maiky76,

Did you average L/R the same way as REW as following?

Average The Responses calculates an rms (root mean square) average of the SPL values of those traces which are selected when the button is pressed. That means the dB values are converted to linear magnitudes, those magnitudes are then squared, summed and divided by the number of measurements, the square root of the result is taken, then the value is converted back to dB. Phase is not taken into account, measurements are treated as incoherent. The frequency range of the averaging result covers the region where the traces overlap, for example if one trace was measured to 200Hz, another to 500Hz and a third to 1000Hz the average would range to 200Hz (to the lowest end frequency). If only a single trace is selected the result has the magnitude data from the source measurement and no phase data.
 

oversky

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the KOSS Porta Pro on-ear headphones. It was kindly purchased and donated to the forum for review. It costs US $50.

Hi, amirm,
Did you measure with comfort Zone set to "firm"?
 

Herbert

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Many thanks Amir, my favourite Headphones - when it comes to portable devices - got reviewed!
I bought my first Porta Pro when the Sony D5 (D50 in Europe), the first "Discman", became available.
AFAIK the D5 became the best selling CD-Player for Sony.
Now the Porta Pro is ( i think the fourth - the cables wear) is now being fed by an iphone.
As some kind of "noise cancelling ver. 0" i put the drivers into hearing protectors.
Tried the EQ but they sounded like they look - tinny. Maybe it does not fit my sample...
 

Helicopter

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Great to see this. Thanks Amir!

I love these and the variants of them for summer sports etc. I just bought 8 pairs of the related KPH35 as Christmas presents, along with 5 pairs of JBL 510BT. I was hoping they were as good as I have found them to be, and now I have data confirming my impressions.
 

Helicopter

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I tried both. I definitely like the Sony ZX110 better.
The treble detail (when PEQed) and overall comfort were the standout wins for the Sony.
The Porta Pro was a bit more secure on the head, but not much. The ZX110 is still among the best workout headphones I've had. For lack of a better description, IEMs have an annoying tendency to boom with every step I take when running- something to do with the ears being plugged up. In other words, my steps cancel out the bass. Even ANC headphones I've tried have the problem, sometimes even worse in the case of ANC IEMs. The only ANC cans that helped tame the boominess were the Sony WH-1000XM3, and at that point it's just an ear sauna.
Light on-ears like the Porta Pros and ZX110 don't have the problem. In headphones like them, I can hear bass much better while moving.
I love that when the pads finally call uncle, I can just get a new ZX110! :D
Agree Sony sounds better. Koss are great when you need something with a much smaller form factor and on ear/open for situational awareness. Good for sweat, rain. And Koss sound good enough to me for those applications. Also, I jave a pair of Sonys where the pleather deteriorated in little messy black specks. Easier to replace Koss pads. And Koss are super cool looking.
 

julian_hughes

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...IEMs have an annoying tendency to boom with every step I take when running- something to do with the ears being plugged up. In other words, my steps cancel out the bass. ...
I experience this when using silicone tips but if I use foams the problem is minimized or solved.
 

shinewu

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PortaPro is my first pair of somewhat serious headphones. After seeing this review, I connected them to my Fiio K9 Pro and applied the EQ. So I can confirm:

1) They do sound better with a good amp than from the headphone jack.
2) The EQ does remove some of the bleeding from low end.
3) No, they are not as detailed as even Sennheiser HD58X. So they are good if you listen casually, but probably not good enough for our hobby here.
 

JaMaSt

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I've had these for years and used them at work. They are a little power hungry, and benefit from an dac/amp (like the FiiO e17k alpen2) if powering off a laptop or tower.
 

DVDdoug

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Thanks Amir!

They've always had a reputation of being good for the money and I've wondered how they measure. I've had a pair in my laptop bag for a long time but I've never critically evaluated them or carefully compared them to other headphones. (I'm not a "big" headphone listener.)
 

musicforcities

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Interesting. I own these and while impressive for the size and price, they always seems very congested from upper-mid on up. I’m surprised the eq is as moderate as it is. Then again I’ll admit I’m a treble junkie. Or that my 50 year + ears have lost a lot of upper range. Still relative to many other headphones I have the upper frequencies were muddy. They are non fatiguing at least and best with orchestral music in my experience. they were probably the bees knees when used with tape based walkmans…since the highs on those either tended to be rolled off or super harsh (especially on pre recorded cassettes ) depending on the tape, be, and eq.

subjectively, these always seemed to me to sacrifice accuracy in order to get surprisingly “big” sound out of a tiny headphone. Rather like those tiny Bluetooth speakers Bose makes, or Amazon echo dots for that matter. Lots of tricks to inflate the perceived sense of what one is hearing via intentional “shaping” (aka, distortion) and hardwired eq. I think there is a place for such devices. I own one of those tiny Bose Bluetooth rechargeable speakers myself; great for travel or even ok background in an office etc. it’s essentially a dipole with two 1.5”x3” full range flat membrane speakers on each side, some clever Bose tuned porting, and built like a brick. stick it on a counter about 3” In front of a wall and it couples to the room to sound “big” “deep” and surprisingly loud. Like a mini 305 I guess. Again, useful and even fun for particular things. But your music sounds almost but not entirely unlike it does on anything else remotely accurate, even stuff with big smile curve eq built in. I can’t imagine what the klipple would make of such a thing. Lol. Maybe I’ll send it to Amir if he is willing. Might be interesting in the name of science to see how it is purposefully designed to measure badly in order manipulate the audio to create a perceived effect. My sense is the mass market is flooded with such devices (echoes, Sonos speakers, sound bars, etc).
 
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musicforcities

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OK with EQ but how many pf the portable devices it seems aimed at will be able to provide the kind of EQ required? Some 'high end' models might, but are they going to get used with a $50, 38yo headphone design?
Keep in mind when they were designed, such portable devices were cassette tape based “walkmans” and such. As I mentioned above, the soft upper freq response needs to be seen in that context because either a) the tape and heads had very rolled off upper freq response to begin with; or b) the noise reduction technology rolled off the highs to try to get better s/n; or 3) people often mismatched the type to tape formulation to the devices type setting (if it even had one..most did not), for example, a nice type II TDK SA tape would get an excited and shrill top end if played at type one setting; or 4) commercial prerecorded tapes often had treble that was like nails on a chalkboard. Softening those made things more listenable and less fatiguing.

Of course todays context is entirely different. And to me there are many better options than the porta pro for similar prices.
 
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musicforcities

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Reminds me of the Sennheiser PX100 - another cheap, light, foldable, over ear headphone with surprisingly decent sound. Thankfully, replacement ear pads are read
Oh yeah…exactly. I have the Senn px100 too. They define “dark” sounding phones to me. It’s like someone applied ANC but to your music instead of ambient sound. Or as if your ear has become an anechoic chamber. Sound stage is like the music is coming from the the other end of a gothic cathedral that has been lined entirely with 4 inches of acoustic foam or felt.

The Harmon curve is to the px100 as pulp fiction is to Law and order SVU.

Again, best for symphonic music. Stick big pads on them and the sound opens up a bit as the drivers are farther from your ears. Rip out the foam on the backside and that helps a bit. And in the 1990s They were very highly rated (subjective of course); I suppose they had decent sound from a tiny foldable headphone that was several times pricier than the portapros if my memory is correct. But they didn’t pull your hair out and they folded down much more effectively (flatter that the porta pros which just form a ball of sorts…smaller but cumbersome in girth. And the case was very nice.

But today you can get far better sound out of the right $45 wireless earbud. The px100 and porta pros are entirely obsolete. Of interest only to hipsters who fetishize lo fi and buy $250 handmade vegetable crates for their single speed cycles for shopping for vintage age clothes in Austin.

I keep them because they are ok when you want a wired light open back headphone…which come to think of it hasn’t been for ten years for me (until I pulled them out due to this thread). But it’s too much trouble to sell them.

Btw, Senn uses the same or very similar drivers (same size and general design) in many of their larger lower priced over ear phones . Especially “gamer” oriented ones. The same drivers are better with space around them and with more distance from your ears. Big bass and deep sound on the cheap.
 
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musicforcities

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I am pretty sure yes. Will confirm later.
And with style zone set to Dork, Nerd, or Hipster ? I can only wear porta pros in Dork setting myself. Whatever comfort setting I use, the top part curves normally over my skull while bottom part of the porta pros flare out from the side of my head like a 1970s haircut.

Stax electrostats look sleek and in assuming in comparison. Thought the wagon I have to tow laden with a car battery, power inverter and stax amp turn head when I using stax on the go
 
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