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Headphones

Koss’ iconic Porta Pro headphone gets a Bluetooth model

The new Koss Porta Pro Wireless goes for not quite double the price of the wired model. Is it worth it?

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The Koss Porta Pro Wireless headphones.

Koss

There's no better way to put it, the Koss Porta Pro on-ear headphone is beloved, and now with the new Bluetooth version, I have a feeling a lot more people will fall in love with this little 'phone.

The Koss Porta Pro has been around for 34 years with only minor changes. It's as iconic as a budget priced headphone ever gets. When I wear mine, people stop me on the street to tell me how much they love their Porta Pros. So when the Koss man himself, Michael Koss, contacted me about reviewing the new Porta Pro Wireless, I was gobsmacked. I didn't see it coming. A Bluetooth Porta Pro. I was excited and terrified at the same time: What if the wireless 'Pro's sound fell flat?

The wired and Bluetooth Porta Pro headphones look the same, except for the wired bits; the normal 'Pro has skinnier wires. The 4.1, aptX Bluetooth model's wires are slightly thicker and have an inline battery module and Bluetooth pairing, mic and volume controls. Battery life is rated at 12-plus hours. That said, unlike the wired Porta Pro, the Porta Pro Wireless headphone isn't covered under Koss' Lifetime Warranty, it's limited to one year of coverage.

All of my listening tests were done with my iPhone 6S. Both headphones were extremely comfortable and they let me hear the world around me, there's no noise reduction or isolation. The Porta Pro Wireless retails for $80 in the US (UK and Australia prices have not yet been set) and the wired 'Pro is $50, £34 or AU$80. Both headphones fold and collapse into small bundles to fit in their respective carry pouches.

Before I started listening to the Bluetooth model, I spent some time with the wired Porta Pro. It's a lovely sounding headphone: sweet, fairly clear, with generously full bass and a big soundstage. No wonder Koss has made it for 34 years and counting -- why mess with success?

So how does the Bluetooth 'Pro stand up to comparison? Right away the sound had a familiar flavor, but they're not identical. The 'Wireless' bass had better punch and definition firmed up, and the sound was brighter overall with Lindi Ortega's country noir-infused Liberty album streaming on Tidal. So far so good.

Then with Bjork's nearly a cappella Elektra album, her starkly recorded vocals positively lit up the Porta Pro Wireless. It's such a brilliant recording, and you really get to hear how well this headphone handles powerful vocals. Then, when I returned to the wired Porta Pros, the midrange and treble were mildly duller, but with less fatiguing sound.

So I'd call it a draw. I like the Porta Pro's Wireless' more robust bass, but in the end I preferred the wired 'Pros more laid-back sound balance. You may of course feel otherwise. Both are good at what they do, but if you're looking for a budget price Bluetooth headphone, the Porta Pro Wireless is worth a listen.