Koss has a bad reputation for manufacturing terrible audio products, but it struck gold back in 1984 with one set of headphones, the PORTAPROS. They're still being produced with continued success after 23 years and are, in my opinion, the most underrated headphones on the market, and here's why:
- Price: $35 with free shipping on Amazon. Maybe less on eBay.
- Sound quality: Best sound I've heard out of sub-$200 cans. Instead of telling you how awesome these are, I'll let these 249 people do the work for me:
CNET Review (Review on its way, but check out the user section, 8.8 average rating from 12 users.)
Amazon.com User Reviews (4.5 stars out of 237 reviews)
- Design: Love them or hate them, you have to admit that they look insane. Koss hasn't changed the design since 1984, and personally I love the retro Tron look. People stop me all the time asking about them, and I always give them this exact same speech about how much I love them.
- Super comfortable: I've worn them for the last two years for at least a couple of hours everyday, if not a full eight hours and never felt any irritation, mostly because of the side padding and the adjustments you can make to width of the band. Other headphones I've owned (Grado SR-80, Sennheiser PX-100, Sony MDR-V700DJ, Shure E3c) start to irritate my ears after prolonged usage, but the PortaPros are so comfy that I sometimes forget that I have them on.
- Versatile: I've used these during all day cycling trips, at the desk, at home, and a during a million other activities and they've withstood the worst: liquid and food spills, long drops, heat, snow, and rainstorms.
- Warranty: Koss offers a lifetime warranty on them. No questions asked. The appeal here is that you can drop $35 once and never buy another set again.
- Longevity: These phones have become something of a cult favorite among audiophiles. They aren't sold in stores so they're kept in production by word of mouth purchases such as these, and I'm more than happy to pass on the good word. Having used the PortaPros for years in a million different applications and environments, I can say without exaggeration that these are my favorite headphones I've ever heard or purchased. This isn't a "best headphone for your buck" talk, the low price is just icing on the cake. If they were $100 I'd definitely still throw down for them.
There's something to be said about a product still going strong after 23 years in this evolving industry.