Monday, December 26, 2011

Koss Portapro home user review.

This is not a review for the audiophile. Mainly because I couldn't describe sound as other audiophile reviewers and I don’t own expensive headphone to do the comparison. Therefore, my review below is just plain simple for the average user.

I bought a Koss Portapro from Jaben Malaysia just to replace my previous Bluetooth headphone Sony DR BT 22. I consider the Sony is a good on-ear portable headphone although there are some minor glitches in the sound due to Bluetooth connection. Sometimes I feel the tempo kinda missed a few and gain back again after a second or two. Anyway, one of the ear piece is now silenced and I bet it was the cable that wore off due to constant twisting and folding to compact size for travel.

After a couple of researching on the Internet for my next portable headphone, I landed on Koss Portapro and Sennheiser PX100. Well, for budget wise, I went for the Koss Portapro because it was a lot cheaper than Sennheiser and based on the reviews, most stated that both sound quality doesn't have too much of a difference. I hate to say this, for me, the budget comes first than sound or premium build quality.

Great sound quality

I tested the demo set at Jaben Malaysia sales office using my Galaxy Tab 7 with Poweramp music app for an hour. I smiled when I change to my dance music. The Koss Portapro really shined when comes to bass heavy music or I would say that this headphone is meant for dance music. However, I have to tone down the bass in other genre music such classical, vocal and rock. Speaking of toning down the bass, it is best to pair this headphone with mp3 player that comes with EQ feature. Mp3 player that allows to tone the bass and treble, will work well with this headphone else this might not that appealing to you.

Here is my conclusion on the sound quality:
Best - Dance, Techno.
Good - Vocal, Pop, Rock.
Average - Classical

Coming from stock earphone, I would say the Portapros really is a great sound quality upgrade. The volume is higher. Bass and treble (after EQ up the treble), music and songs are much clearer. Thus, it makes listening to music more enjoyable compared to stock earphone.

Average hardware

Appearance wise may not attractive for some people and wearing it might take some effort than normal headphones. Sometimes when I take off the headphone, the metal band will spring back to it's original form and I have to re-adjust the headband to wear it again (This will become very annoying if you're putting  this headphone on and off frequently). Furthermore, the metal band might pull some hair out (luckily I got short hair) so you might need to watch out for that.

There is a comfort zone setting on each earpiece that allows how tight you want the earpiece to stick on your ear. I always set the comfort setting to lightest and this will require me to re-adjust the switch every time I unfold the headphone. I have modded the switch to stick on light by cutting blue color straw (from packet drinks) with 4mm length and then jam it the switch so it will not spring back to firm.

Anyway, once I put it on my head, I can listen more than an hour because it is very light and much more comfortable compared to my Sony. However, the headphone starts to become uncomfortable after that and I guess it's best for portable use rather than home use with long hours of listening.

Some people may find the construction is too fragile but I think it may last longer than average headphone due to the cables are not part of the folding mechanism; plus it comes with a lifetime warranty.  The package comes with a pouch which is too small for putting in the headphone easily and it ends up storing my receipt (for one year store warranty).

(For Koss portapro division employee who is reading this, you definitely need to do something  about the pouch. Change it to a larger size with a zip/case for easy storage.)

Sound isolation for this headphone is poor. This means you can hear the environment sound clearly with almost no isolation. However, this can be a good thing if you want to hear surrounding sound (e.g. mom calling you for dinner, people knocking on your door.)

Summary

+ Great sound quality upgrade for replacing stock earphone.
+ Able to fold for great portability and light weight for carrying
+ Great comfort for listening.
+ Affordable headphone compares to other similar type (e.g. Sennheiser PX100/PX200)
+ Cable should be able last longer due to cable is not part of the folding mechanism. (no twisting)
+ Lifetime warranty

- Annoying headband and comfort zone re-adjustment
- Appearance may not appeal to some people
- Fragile construction.
- No noise isolation (this can be a + point)
- The headphone can not be put around the neck as the metal band spring will clamp.
- Ear piece will clap and hit each other if you not too careful putting them down.
- Included pouch is too small

Further note

1. Beware of fake and only buy from genuine store.
2. A good quality headphone requires a good quality source. (I found the FLAC music file sounds better than MP3 320kbps. However, for the normal home user, 320kbps MP3 is considered good enough sound quality.)
3. Loudness  can be normalized using mp3gain/flac.

Links
MP3Gain
Jaben Malaysia website
Android PowerAmp
Voodoo Control Plus
Innerfidelity review (audiophile review)
Koss Portapro, PX100, PX200 Frequency graph