What does the Koss Porta Pro sound like? Who is it for? Is it worth a purchase?
All of these answers and more, comin’ up.
Greetings Friend-O, and Welcome aboard! Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions leading to a beautiful audio experience that will make you fall in love with music (NOT gear), all over again, so…
At A Glance
Koss Porta Pro On Ear Headphones with Case, Black / Silver
I would say this is a similar sound to the 30i, only a bit more extreme.
The Porta Pro most certainly has an elevated mid-bass around 100-200Hz which mostly sounds good but can be a bit much at times.
I don’t think it drowns out the mid-range, but it can seem a bit over accentuated and a bit unnecessary. It sometimes comes across as a tad hazy or bloaty, but the distinction is pretty subtle. Even so, with certain tracks, you’ll most certainly hear it. Elton John’s Live version of “Benny and the Jets” from 1995 sounds kind of bad with it, honestly.
Most regular users are going to fall in love with the bass but the track in question and its quality are of the utmost importance.
The bump at 2kHz kind of balances out that mid-bass rise, so vocals are still going to sound lively, forward, and engaging.
I think the Porta Pro is what a V-shaped headphone should have always sounded like. As in, you really don’t need to consider anything else if this is the type of signature you’re after.
There’s really no point in wasting a bunch of time trying to find that type of headphone. The Porta Pro is it, hands down. I think it’s the best representation of the bass head sound without getting out of line.
The reason it works so well is that the treble essentially sounds perfect.
What you’ll find in the Audiophile hobby is that a lot of companies put unnecessary emphasis on the treble in order to appease the masses and perhaps mask some flaws inherent in the headphone.
This isn’t always the case, but the treble is one of those things that can sometimes artificially make a headphone sound better. In the case of mixing and mastering, it is an asset simply due to the fact that you can indeed hear more going on.
Even so, a lot of times it simply becomes fatiguing and irritating – something the Porta Pro thankfully bypasses in favor of an almost perfect treble response. Some people will likely call it a bit too dark, but I personally enjoy this more than I do a bright treble nowadays as I’m very sensitive to treble in general.
It has just the right amount of crispness without being overdone like your mom’s meatloaf and comfortably sits in the mix with ease. The more experience you gain in the hobby, the more you’ll appreciate treble like this. Related: What is an Audiophile?
Speaking of sitting comfortably, how’s comfort?
Surprisingly, the Porta Pro is really comfortable, especially given that it’s an on-ear headphone.
I’m not really finding myself adjusting it much at all, even despite going into it feeling like I would be making frequent alterations.
The clamping force strikes a nice balance between loose and tight, so I’m never really feeling like it’s hugging my head or ears.
The pads are pretty soft as well and feel just fine on my ears. I don’t feel them digging too much, and the headphone itself is incredibly lightweight. It folds up and stows away in the provided carrying bag which was a nice added touch; especially for the asking price of around $35 (what I paid).
There are also 2 soft foamy pads right above the ear pads for some added cushioning, but I found that they don’t actually make contact with my particular head shape. Your mileage may vary!
How about the build?
As mentioned above, it’s pretty lightweight and does feel rather flimsy, but that’s to be expected at its price point. The plastic actually feels rather solid for $30, and the retro design has held up for decades without a single revision. You’re also getting a limited LIFETIME warranty, which is basically unheard of nowadays. I don’t think I’ve come across a single company offering anything close. Samson backs up their C01 with a 3-year, and Rode does a 10 year, but a lifetime warranty is incredibly rare.
Like both the 30i and KSC75, the cable isn’t detachable and terminates in a 3.5mm jack.
The headband adjustment pieces are rather interesting. You’ll simply put your thumbs on either side and push up to create more space for your head. Because I have a big head, I’m maxed out.
I worry about this simply because there are people out there who have rather large heads. I’m not sure this headphone would comfortably accommodate every single noggin out there, but I digress.
There are also adjustments on the side (Comfort zone) ranging from light to firm for the clamp, but after some tweaking I found these to be almost entirely useless and I’ve read as much before. They don’t really stay in place and end up clicking back to “firm” regardless of what you do.
Even so, I’m loving the compact nature of this headphone, as I can easily fold it up for on-the-go use and use it with my phone on road trips if I want.
Speaking of on the go, will you need amplification?
I listen mostly to Hip-Hop, Jazz, Classical, and Indie Pop, with some Rock, Ambient, Soul, Motown, etc. thrown in for good measure.
I think the Porta Pro handles most genres well and certainly does well with harder genres. This is really a pop fan’s dream.
I’m also finding that even though the mid-bass really comes through with certain genres like Hip-Hop, with Jazz it settles into the mix nicely and doesn’t sound out of place or too weighty.
Do keep in mind this isn’t always the case. You’ll notice that certain Jazz tracks like John Coltrane’s “Mister Knight” sound a bit off in that his sax is a hare too forward. It feels like it’s shouting at me, while the mid-bass is perhaps a little overly emphasized. This is kind of a minor nitpick but should be noted.
One thing that will jump out at you and something you may not be expecting is the Porta Pro’s excellent Soundstage. What is Soundstage? [Detailed Explanation] I was really taken aback at just how open and spacious it was – feeling like sounds were happening outside of my head rather than through the device.
This is something that caught me off guard and is just another reason why the Porta Pro becomes a fine purchase. There really isn’t anything to complain about here.
You could even plug it into your PS4 controller and game with it if you do fancy a go.
Speaking of, how are they for gaming and film?
Gaming & Film
In a word, pretty excellent, which is also something I wasn’t expecting.
This goes hand in hand with my impressions of the Soundstage and how good it is for a headphone at this price point. As mentioned on Instagram, I simply wanted to get back to basics. No Amp, No DAC, nothing.
Just plug into my PS4 controller like old times. And I loved every second of it. One of the Porta Pro’s main strengths is its ability to deliver a good soundscape and kind of make you feel a little more immersed in the environment than you otherwise would. Again, for $30-35 this is pretty astounding. I will definitely have to add this to the gaming article! Related:The Best Headphones for Gaming [In Depth Guide]
The question then becomes, which of the big 3 are most worthy of a purchase? If you’ve made it this far in the series, you’re likely wondering which to buy.
Stu is determined to help you make sound decisions, and strives to deliver the best and most in depth content on the internet! In his spare time, he likes to fish, paint, play guitar, pray, rap, make beats, take photos, record videos, graphic design, and more. His sense of humour, coupled with a knack for excellence and strict attention to detail are what allow him to stand out in an crowded industry.