Koss PortaPro Headphones
By Jonathan Poet
I am always on the lookout for decent portable headphones. The foam-covered earbuds that come with Apple products just don't fit my ears that well and fall out. I have had decent luck with those rubber-tipped in-ear models, but I am too cheap to spend more than $10 on earbuds, so I expect them to invariably fail quickly. Which is why I think my next on-the-go headphones are going to be the Koss PortaPros.
The world of portable music has changed quite a bit since the PortaPro came out in 1984, but the headphones represent a nice compromise between big over-the-ear cans and tiny earbuds. They don't provide the noise-cancellation or the full musical privacy of full over-the-ear headphones, but they fold into a much smaller package than their bulkier brethren. And, by most accounts, they sound great.
The "temporal pad" above the speaker is an important design element of the PortaPro. The pad appeared on the PortaPro's predecessor, the Koss Sound Partner, and is designed to transfer headband pressure to the temporal bone above the ear. Koss says the design worked so well that John C. Koss "actually stood on his head on the convention floor of the Consumer Electronics Show to demonstrate its ability to stay put."
The PortaPro has a much more sophisticated speaker housing than the Sound Partner. An adjustable "comfort zone" setting for the temporal pad and pivoting ear cups allow the speaker to actually float over the ear.
Two years ago, Koss issued a special 25th anniversary edition of the PortaPro with a fancy case, an all-black finish and a cloth-covered cord. They seem to be sold out, but I probably wouldn't spend the extra money for them anyway. Standard PortaPros with retro blue accents run about $35 and come with a lifetime warranty.
Sounds good to me.