Ultra Portable Shootout: PX100, PX200, PortaPro, K404, V-Jays, Tracks, Oldskool, and HD238
When I first discovered IEMs, ultra-portable headphones such as the PX100 suddenly has lost its meaning and purpose. Over the years, however, I started to find a fun factor on portable headphones that I don’t quite get in IEMs. Perhaps it’s something with the ergonomic design that allows you to wear it easily without any pains in the ear canals. Perhaps the way it allows you to enjoy music and still interact with the outside world. Whatever it is, I’m still a loyal fan of ultra-portables. And even owning ultra high-end headphones and IEMs, I still find the ultra portables to fill a niche that none of the other design can. So, here it is, eight ultra-portable headphones compared!
- The Establishment: Sennheiser PX100-II, PX200-II, Koss Portapro, AKG K404
- The Newcomers: AIAIAI Tracks, Fischer Audio Oldskool, Jays V-Jays
- The Supercharged Ultra Portable: Sennheiser HD238
As the auditioning period was done over several weeks, I have used many systems to evaluate the performance of these headphones. From direct to Ipods, with portable amps (mainly Ibasso PB1), to desktop systems (mainly Grace m902), and even using a desktop CDP source. Obviously the portables work fine straight from an Ipod. But many of the newer models are transparent enough that feeding them a better gear up the chain will yield a noticeable improvement. Of course I’m not suggesting you to pair the PX100 with a desktop CDP and a desktop amp, but just in case you wanted to know, yes they do make a difference when amped.
I also apologize for missing a lot of the other mainstream brands, such as Sony, Audio-Technica, and even Ultrasone. No discrimination against those brands, but simply a lack of resources and product availability.