December 08, 2009 3 min read
|[caption id="" align="alignright" width="202" caption="For 25 years this unusual looking headphone has delivered great sound."][/caption] It's not very often that a relatively unchanged product remains a leader in its category for 25 years ... but it does happen. Such is the case with the astonishingly good sounding Koss PortaPro. This year Koss celebrates a quarter century selling this headphone with the appearance of the 25th Anniversary Limited Edition Porta Pro, which comes in a very nice presentation box.|
|[caption id="attachment_976" align="alignleft" width="211" caption="The Koss Sound Partner apearing in 1981 was precursor to the Porta Pro."][/caption] This little headphone is a part of the larger history of headphones as a direct descendant of the headphone that helped bring Koss out of its darkest times of trouble in the early '80s and back into the public's consciousness as thegreat headphone maker. You can read more about their history hereand here. The first version of this product was called the Koss Sound Partner, and was developed as a headphone that came with a portable phonograph in development at the time. When the product was shown at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) very little attention was paid to the phonograph, but the little headphones were a hit. In 1985 the company developed a much better driver and the Porta Pro was born. It has remained essentially unchanged since ... and frankly, I wish more companies would follow this "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach with good products.|
|[caption id="attachment_989" align="alignright" width="300" caption="The original Porta Pro has remained largely unchanged as it has delivered great listening for the last 25 years."][/caption] There are some problems with these headphones. The headband is a very simple metal band, and your hair does tend to get caught from time to time in the sliding mechanism. Adjustments for fit are available on each earpad, but every time the earphones are folded, the adjustment returns to the firm setting. And probably worst of all, they look like something that was designed 25 years ago and certainly are not going to win any style points.|
|[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="298" caption="The Anniversary Edition and the standard Porta Pro sound identical."][/caption]So!? How do they sound?Absolutely great ... for a headphone of this size and type. Not quite as good as the Sennheisers in this review, and close to as good as the Grados, but if you forget about the Anniversary Edition and go for the identical sounding regular Porta Pro at half the price of the other cans, you'll have one of the best price/performance headphones available. The sound is tight and neutral; the highs are well extended and clear without any tendency toward harshness; and the bass, while not able to get to the extreme lows, is dynamic, present, and not muddy or murky. For twenty five years this headphone has held its own in the entry level headphone category, and I suspect that as long as Koss doesn't mess with it, the standard version of these cans will continue to be the best sub-$50 folding earpad headphone for a long time to come. Yes, maybe even 25 more years. For more info check out Koss' special page for the Porta Pro History and Anniversary Edition page.|
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