Koss Porta Pro KTC On-Ear Headphone Review
Koss Corporation is an American company that designs and manufactures headphones. I have been using the original Koss Porta Pro On-Ear Headphone (OEH) for over 6 years. I use them whenever I’m travelling with my Laptop or late at night, when I’m listening to low fidelity (Lo-Fi) material such as You Tube videos on my Laptop, in the absence of my dedicated headphone amp and DAC (Digital to Analogue Converter). The Koss Porta Pro has always been my first choice for noncritical listening. I like the portability, light weight and good long-term comfort the Koss Porta Pro’s offer. The comfort levels offered is second to none.
Due to the need for answering calls on the move, I got hold of the Koss Porta Pro KTC. The Koss Porta Pro KTC offers the same level of performance, comfort and portability as the original Porta Pro OEH but with an additional function of answering phone calls with the help of in-built mic and remote control. The Koss Porta Pro KTC (Koss Touch Controls) as they are called are too close to the ears and as such are not visible to the user when the headphones are in use. I’m quiet used to these remote control buttons being so close and it is the same even on my other In-Ear Monitor (IEM) – Bose MIE2i.
Setup & Performance
I mostly listen to 16bit/48kHz FLACs on my Laptop using foobar2000 media player. I have my 16GB iPhone 3GS loaded with a FLAC player that I bought from iTunes for USD 10 (equivalent of INR 600). Occasionally, I also use my iPhone with Grantwood Technology’s Armband when I go out for evening walks. The Koss Porta Pro KTC allows me to hear ambient noise so it allows me to know what is going on around me. I actually prefer this over the total isolation that some of my other IEMs such as HiFiMAN RE-400 has to offer.
The Koss Porta Pro KTC is effortless with the iPhone. At 75% volume it gets comfortably loud. On my Laptop, I barely touch 40% of volume most of the times. The high frequencies are not as well extended like some of my other reference headphones. The mid-range is thin and dry. The low frequencies are coloured, bass is all about quantity and not quality. The transparency and resolution is above average at best. The Koss Porta Pro is designed to be used with Laptops and MP3 players and such comparison with better quality headphones is actually unfair. But yes, compared with mass market headphones from Sony, V-MODA, Nokia … it offers a very good and balanced performance for the money.
I also have a desktop system consisting of a Dell Vostro CPU, Musical Fidelity (MF) V-DAC II, Musical Fidelity V-CAN II and both the MF V-Series devices are powered by Musical Fidelity V-PSU II. The MF gear definitely makes the Koss Porta Pros more peppy, dynamic and punchful! The overall sound gets an uplift and sounds much smoother, better extended at both extremes of the frequencies and has a wider presentation than when listening to them with the iPhone or the Laptop. Adding a portable headphone amp and DAC can really make this OEH sing. However, when I’m on my desktop I rarely ever use the Koss Porta Pros. I use my other IEMs and headphones for critical listening sessions.
Comparisons & Alternatives
I paid USD 80 (equivalent of INR 4800) for the Koss Porta Pro KTC late last year. I bought is from Amazon, USA.
Bose MIE2i (USD 130 = INR 7800): The Bose MIE2i, though are in-ear by design, never offered total isolation either. They just cling on to the inner ear lobes and are also very comfortable when compared to other In-Ear Monitors (IEMs) that I have.
As far as sound quality is concerned, I find the Bose MIE2i is a tad more detailed of the 02 headphones. It has a more forward mid-range, which is still dry for my taste, better extended highs but it is light on bass. The Koss Porta Pro KTC, on the other hand, has a mid-range that is a tad more laidback in comparison to the Bose MIE2i but with a thinner / drier mid-range and an overemphasised (coloured) bass. I’m not a bass-head and I would much prefer a more cohesive presentation and a fuller mid-range than what both these phones have to offer. The tone of both the phones are on the bright side of neutral. The Koss Porta Pro KTC has a more forgiving sound, wider soundstage and is actually more fun to listen to with Lo-Fi sources and material.
As far as call quality is concerned, I find the Bose MIE2i is a tad clearer and legible due to its IEM like design. It’s clearly an advantage in noisier environment. It’s also more portable than the Koss Porta Pro KTC, so one can easily put the Bose MIE2i in its case and in to the pocket. For the above reasons, I use them only when I’m travelling, for noncritical listening and for answering / making phone calls.
Never fix what’s not broken. There are some classics that follow this principle, like the Klipschorn Speakers, Porshe 911 Cars, Zippo Lighters, Koss Porta Pro etc. They are so good that no one wants to change anything and lose that charm. With the Porta Pro KTC, Koss has definitely made a positive attempt at trying to update the original Porta Pro for modern times.
As of this writing, the Koss Porta Pro KTC On-Ear Headphone is listed below USD 50 (equivalent of INR3000) on Amazon, USA. At this price point this is a good purchase compared to many other budget mass-market brands out there. They are ideal for usage with portable devices without the need for a headphone amp and DAC. If you willing to invest in FLAC downloads and a portable headphone amp / DAC then you could consider buying better headphones but for everything else the Koss Porta Pro KTC On-Ear Headphone does an amazing job!
- The Koss Porta Pro KTC has retained the same level of performance of the original Koss Porta Pro but with Koss Touch Control (KTC) mic and remote control.
- Folds up into a small round form and is ideal for travellers on the go.
- These are one of the lightest and most comfortable headphones. I can wear them all day long.
- Easily available and user replaceable foams.
- The carrying pouch is useless and is not stiff enough to protect these cans. I suggest buying the Koss Hard Carrying Case B directly from their website. Inside the case there is a thin sheet of Nylon that acts as a partition to separate the chord from the phones. Though it does protect the phones really well, it’s a little too big for these phones.
- The styling looks dated. Well it was launched in 1983 and still remains unchanged.
- Open back design means sound leaks. Not a deal breaker for me though.
- It’s lightweight and that adds to its good comfort levels, but on the other hand, it’s not rugged at all. Needs to be handled very carefully.
For more information on Koss Corporation please click on this – LINK.