At CES 2012, there were two major themes for consumer and prosumer audio this year: convenience, and integration with iDevices.
So it wasn’t much surprise that many popular headphones, including the crowd-favorite Porta Pro "stereophone" made by Koss, received the inevitable iRefresh – an in-line remote that can control music and communication functions on the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Michael Koss Jr. himself, Marketing Director at Koss, gave me a quick tour of the newest additions to their product line, in their meeting room at The Venetian.
The "KTC" (Koss Touch Control) version of these headphones will offer listeners the same features as their 28 year-old classic Porta Pro, with its powerful punch packed into a lightweight, adjustable and collapsible design. Of course, there?s the added console that adds functionality of answering and modifying calls, or changing tracks, volume, and play mode of music on compatible Apple mobile devices.
Mr. Koss noted that KTC products are designed specifically for these devices, but may also control Android and Windows Mobile gear – with varying results. Testing it with my Samsung Galaxy S2, I could hear and speak into an incoming call, and raise and lower the volume level of my media. I couldn?t, however, change tracks in Google Music or long press to activate a Google voice command. I couldn?t tell if this was a hardware or software limitation, but like mine, your experience may differ.
"I believe we?re already providing our listeners with a great listening experience," Koss adds, "now we want to provide them the additional flexibility of staying connected with their consolidated mobile lifestyle while they do so."
Hitting the shelves sometime in "Spring of 2012", with a price tag of around $79 USD, the Porta Pro KTC will be further evidence of headphone designers and engineers teetering focus between improving their products fidelity, and somehow incorporating their current line with the growing popularity of mobile entertainment.
Koss will also be releasing the iL100 and iL200 KTC, a new line of "Interlocking In-Ear Stereophones" around the same time. These pairs of ear buds will sport an interesting interlocking design, allowing for secure, compact storage. While imagining this design in an everyday context wasn?t immediately recognizable, I guess this may decrease the possibility of tangled cords – which is bound to happen anyway.
Both models also feature a unique fit that felt better molded to the shape of the listeners ear, and decent 9mm drivers, but only the iL200 includes the KTC functionality.