We need headphones. It's hard to bring a quality pair of speakers, an amplifer and CD player with you to the gym or out for a walk or on the subway. Thus came along the Sony Walkman which has evolved into the Apple iPod. It seems that everyone at the gym or on the subway has portable music of some kind to listen to their music of choice. In pre CD times, I owned a Sony Walkman, now I have an iPod Classic with my entire music library in MP3 format on its hard drive.
Recommend this product?
However, from the museum relic Sony Walkman to the ultra hip iPod Touch, the supplied headphones aren't the greatest. I absolutely detest the little earbuds that come with todays MP3 players. However, the old style big headphones that fit over your entire ear look a bit odd outside the recording studio. I like quality music, and I wanted headphones that sound good and feel comfortable. A pair that are easily portable and not too bulky or expensive was what I sought.
The Koss Porta Pro Consumer Headphones.
At the time I bought these, Cambridge Soundworks had brick and mortar stores. They recommened the Koss as one of the best and affordable headphones on the market. I compared the set to a few other pairs, and was surpised that such a small pair of headphones could produce such a rich full sound.
Construction - These headphones have over the ear speakers, but they are an open air design, not like the big studio monitor style headphones. They do not stick in your ears like the earbuds. They are designed to be worn over your head, so you do have a plastic and thin metal band over your head holding the two ear pieces over your ears. Soft foam makes the headphones comfortable. The wire forms a Y shape with one wire going to each ear from a single wire ending in a mini plug. You get enough length to plug into a portable MP3 player or a nearby Receiver with headphones out. However, its only about 4 feet, not too much. The ear parts fold up, making the whole headphone set easy to pack up into a gym bag or even a coat pocket.
Comfort - These are very comfortable headphones. They are quite light on my head, and soft on my ears. After wearing them for a while, I almost forget I am wearing them, unlike ear buds which hurt a lot after wearing them.
Sound Quality - These are the best head phones I have owned. I've had ear buds, I've had a variety of cheap headphones, I've had the big ear headphones, and these ones are the ones I keep coming back to. I've owned them for several years now, and they still sound great. I currently also use a pair of Samson CH700 Studio Monitors, and I still prefer the Koss Porta Pros.
Now I use them with my new iPod classic MP3 player. The following comments on audio quality are based on listening to MP3s on the iPod.
The Cure - The Walk from Japanese Whispers : The synthesizers come in loud and clear. Robert Smiths voice sounds of giddy enthusiasm tinged with melancholy. You can hear the xylaphone play. I kissed you in the water, I made your dry lips sing I saw you look like a Japanese Baby, in an instant I remember everything.
McCoy Tyner Quartet - Passion Dance from Quartet An intense drum solo starts the song. You can hear every detail, from the deep bass of the toms to the tingle of the high hats. Its like the drum kit is inside my head. The horn comes in clear and beautiful. You can hear the crowd cheering in the background. The standing bass runs a rhythm up and down. I can't believe how full and well defined the bass sounds on headphones from an MP3. Finally McCoy himself joins in on piano. With these Koss headphones, it sounds like McCoy had himself shrunk down and put a big old Steinway right in the middle of my skull.
Rob Zombie - Dragula from Hellbilly Deluxe Eery sounds open the song. The heavy thumping bass drum pounds with intense authority as crunching guitars slam into both ears. Zombie's voice is clear as he growls and rasps dig through the ditches, burn through the witches, slam in the back of my drag u la
Suzanne Vega - Tom's Diner from Solitude Standing A pure vocal song, nothing but the sweet voice of Suzanne Vega. Every word is clear, it's as if Suzanne was singing in my head. I am sitting in the morning at the diner on the corner.
Gustav Holst - Mars Bringer of War from The Planets performed by Andrew Previn and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra This is one area where headphones (or perhaps the MP3s) have a little problem. It is hard to capture the majesty of a symphony orchestra on headphones. I think it has to do with the dynamic range of a full symphony. Although with rock, jazz, heavy metal and even acapella, the headphones sound very natural and really deliver the music, I just didn't really quite get that full feel of a symphony orchestra. To be fair, I never quite got it with any headphones. For full on classical music, you need large speakers and lots of power, or in the alternative, an actual symphony orchestra. (There's nothing like the Boston Symphony Orchestra from the 4th row)
That is just a small sampling of the music I've listened to on the Koss headphones. They consistently make my MP3 album collection sound fantastic. They also work great for books on tape, dialoge is very crisp and clear on these.
Lightweight, comfortable, affordable ($50 bucks at most stores), excellent dynamic range and frequency response equals great sounding music. Also foldable for conveninet use.
The only possible draw back I could find is for music that demands a huge amount of dynamic range like classical. I also don't like listening to movies with demanding soundtracks on these. Some things just demand large speakers and lots of power.
Whether you listen to country (Johnny Cash sounds great), rap (Eminem's beats come through loud and clear), techno (Felix da Housecat lays down some great tracks), Big Band (Cab Calloway and his band delivers), Blues (B.B.King is king) grunge (Kurt Cobain lives) or even swing (Mighty Mighty Boss Tones and the Cherry Poppin Daddies will wake you up), they all sound great on the Koss Porta Pros. Best of all you can bring all your friends to the gym with you. Work out with Tony Bennett and Deborah Harry. Ride the excercise bike with Sheryl Crowe or David Bowie. Play raquet ball with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai. Although classical music doesn't sound as good as with headphones, it still sounds better with Koss than many other headphones I have tried. Koss truly works great with my iPod MP3 player and lets me enjoy hundreds of artists and thousands of albums almost everywhere but the swimming pool.
Koss gets a full five stars from me.