The Koss PortaPro headphones were first released in 1984, and have remained virtually unchanged for more than 25 years. But they're a perennial favorite, despite the 1980s aesthetic, thanks to sound quality that is far in excess of what reviewers expect for under $50. The PortaPro are held together by a sliding metal headband that can shift and get caught in hair, but otherwise critics find these fold-away headphones very comfortable. They are open-style, though, so sound can leak in and out. The PortaPro headphones also come with a rudimentary carrying pouch and a 1/4-inch stereo jack adapter, and even have a lifetime warranty. A 25th Anniversary version of the PortaPros was released in 2009 with a nice box, collectible coin and some minor cosmetic differences. For a still-cheaper alternative, reviewers say that Koss's KSC75 headphones (*Est. $15) are a good choice, too, and are a surprisingly strong performer given their price.
Thanks to their ancient (by electronics standards) pedigree, some headphones critics overlook the Koss PortaPro in favor of newer designs. However, we found comprehensive coverage of the PortaPro at CNET, Head-Fi and HeadRoom. And Amazon.com and AudioReview.com customers have been praising the PortaPro headphones highly for over 10 years.
The Koss PortaPro headphones get an Editors' Choice award and 4 out of 5 stars at CNET nearly 25 years after their initial release. Justin Yu says that the sound quality and functional design far outweigh the aesthetic considerations of the dated design. However, Yu notes that the metal headband doesn't lock in place and can get caught in hair.
Review: Koss PortaPro Headphones, Justin Yu, April 22, 2008
Head-Fi user "Whenesday" posts a detailed, extensive review of the 25th Anniversary edition of the Koss PortaPro headphones, which are only cosmetically different from the standard model. "Whenever people ask for recommendations for a budget pair of portable headphones which provides a large amount of satisfying bass, the Koss PortaPro will always be among the first in the list," he writes.
Review: Koss PortaPro 25th Anniversary Edition [Photos+Review], "Whenesday", March 24, 2009
The Koss PortaPro headphones have the "best sound quality in the category/price," write the editors of HeadRoom. "The Porta-Pro likely remain amongst the clearest-sounding & best musically detailed mobile headphones suitable for all your portable audio needs." They also compliment the lifetime warranty, the way they fold up, and their performance with small music players. About 20 customer reviews on this site give the Koss PortaPros 4.5 out of 5 stars, and HeadRoom awards it 5 out of 5 for value.
Review: Koss Porta Pro, Editors of HeadRoom
Amazon.com has more than 950 user reviews of the Koss PortaPro headphones, with the earliest dating back to 1999. The vast majority give the PortaPros top marks, saying that sound quality and price more than compensate for any quibbles over build or style. Overall the Koss PortaPros earn 4.5 out of 5 stars, with more than 600 users giving them 5 out of 5 stars.
Review: Koss PortaPro Headphones with Case, Contributors to Amazon.com
Like Amazon.com, AudioReview.com collects ratings from users of audio products, though their respondents are from a number of countries. Users rate the Koss PortaPro with a 4.4 out of 5 overall score, due mostly to their good value. Sound quality is better in much more expensive models, users note, but not at this price point.
Review: Koss PortaPro Headphones Reviews, Contributors to AudioReview.com