Koss Porta Pro

Amatuer audiophile time! Like most people, I’m a fan of “music.” I will readily admit that I usually listen to mp3s and streaming music due to convenience. Recently, I felt like upgrading my sound setup a little bit.

The Headphones

I purchased my pair of Koss Porta Pro Xs from Drop.com (formerly MassDrop) a while back with a $20 off sign up coupon. The final price was under $20 and included a microphone, which was an excellent deal!

I’ve been using these headphones on and off for a few years, and have a love/hate relationship with the fact that they’re open headphones. In most cases, I enjoy the ability to hear the outside world when necessary.

The Earpads

A lot of the forums mention upgrading the earpads from a Japanese company called Yaxi. It’s rather impressive to believe that there’s a small boutique Japanese company making earpads for a sub $50 headphone. These earpads can be ordered directly through them, but I went through Amazon due to shipping costs. However, they do throw in a free poster for ordering directly, which was tempting.

I bought 2 pairs: orange and purple. I decided to mix and match them to give the headphones a bit more pop.

Stock Porta Pro with Yaxi earpads

Installing earpads was very easy, and as soon as I replaced them, I could notice the additional padding. This made the Porta Pros much more comfortable to wear. The audiophiles also claim that it improves the sound by minimizing the bass a bit, which I could slightly tell, but it was not very perceptible.

The DAC

Probably from reading too many reddit posts and audiophile forums, I thought that I could get better sound quality if I used a higher quality DAC than the one that comes with my phone. This CLIPTHAT USB-C DAC from Amazon was mentioned a couple of times, so I decided to try it out since it had free returns. Lucky me! There was a single used model left for sale from the Amazon Warehouse.

Final Product

Porta Pro with orange/purple pads and CLIPTHAT USB-C DAC

There is definitely a visual upgrade from the headphones, and they still remain portable enough to toss in my bag and go. Here’s the price breakdown of all the components:

Item Price
Porta Pro X $18.00
Yaxi Earpads $20.54
CLIPTHAT DAC $9.62
Total $48.16

The irony of spending more on earpads than the actual headphones is not lost on me, but I have been enjoying the Porta Pros for a while, and even used the lifetime warranty once due to a bent headphone jack. I now have a spare set of earpads if these wear down or if I decide to get another pair of Porta Pros.

Here’s my thoughts of what made the most impact on the sound (in order):

  1. Souce audio file
  2. Earpads
  3. DAC

While there was some slight improvement and comfort from the earpads, the most notable difference was from comparing a FLAC copy of a song that I was used to listening to the mp3. If you haven’t done so, I would recommend finding a lossless version of your favorite song and you may pick up some nuanced sounds you may have forgotten.

I don’t have any plans for upgrading to more expensive headsphones any time in the future, so I feel pretty happy with the end product.

Day 16 of #100DaystoOffload