Vic Hernandez and the Koss PortaPro BT (Mod) - GiLLY87

As an avid gear slut and tinkerer, I have attempted many mods on my audio gear over the years: from pad and cable swaps to filter modding, driver damping, and grill mods, I've done pretty much everything I ever could have to the gear that I've held on to without learning how to solder (and believe me, I tried - and failed).

One of the lessons tinkering has taught me is that, quite simply, tinkering should be easier - MUCH easier than it currently is, at least with most gear. It's embarrassing how few headphones and earphones feature replaceable cabling. Fortunately it's becoming very mainstream in the ChiFi scene, most of the major American hifi players have adopted it (shoutout for Shure and Westone for setting the tempo), and even some big dogs like Sony and AKG are finally getting on board with the MMCX standard, but some of the best in the business seem resistant, and a few (looking at you JH, VSonic, Sennheiser, etc) still insist on proprietary connectors and won't let their customers go elsewhere for cabling.  Shame.

And unfortunately, some just don't offer anything. My Bluetooth KPP are one such unfortunate case

I really love Koss, and always have. I had a pair of Portapros as a kid, and didn’t realize until I became an audiophile later in life what a lucky kid I had been - I credit my old KPP, along with my dad’s no-name 2-channel setup and the Aiwa surround sound system I inherited from my grandfather as a teen, with my development of audiophilia later in life. The famous Koss lifetime guarantee is a shining example that the rest of the industry should learn from. Academic research from the prestigious likes of Yale Business and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management routinely show that extended warranties are one of the best drivers of brand loyalty, and, on most products, don’t hurt the bottom line enough to outweigh the loyalty they engender. The PortaPros are some of my favorite headphones, and when the KPP BT came out, I had to give them a shot.

I freaking love this headset - it's become my go to for workouts and biking, since the fully open-back design and small earpads allow me to remain aware of my surroundings (kinda important in LA traffic) and the minimalistic headband fits inside my helmet. It has the classic KPP sound and design, great battery life, and one of the better Bluetooth cables I’ve encountered yet. Its BT controls are more responsive and feel easier to use than anything else I’ve seen yet, and the mic is good enough to pic up my voice commands even while biking at 10-15 mph.

Unfortunately, the cable developed a short on one side after about a year, and the BT variant does not come with the glorious Koss lifetime guarantee.

My feeble attempts to save my original KPP BT from the ravages of daily workouts


Luckily I stumbled across the services of a very kind Filipino guy named Vic Hernandez. Vic was introduced to me by a total stranger I met on Facebook (whose name I can't remember for the life of me), and he is in the business of modifying audio gear, with a specialty in making non-replaceable cables replaceable.

I contacted Vic via Facebook messenger. He doesn't have a website or anything official up online, but he seemed like a nice guy after chatting for a bit, so, feeling up for a risk and desperate to not be left without a pair of wireless KPP once my set fully gave out, I arranged for my older pair of wired KPP (which had also developed a short and, as a mic'd version, also did not have the lifetime guarantee) to be modified to MMCX compatible for $50, with each of us paying shipping one way. He was extremely friendly and replied quickly every time I engaged him on Facebook.

It took a little over a month (including standard budget USPS/DHL shipping each way) but Vic returned my KPP to me in pristine condition, with the addition of an MMCX port at each cable entry.

The finished product

Vic's work was flawless. I had to compare the cable entry point of my freshly modded pair to another KPP I keep as a backup, because it looked like my KPP drivers had come this way from the manufacturer. I had to pull off the earpads and make sure my modded grills were there to be certain that these were even mine - of course, they were. I couldn't believe the quality of the workmanship.

Nice fit

I have been using my MMCX KPP every day rigorously for about four months now - I do a full calisthenics workout and 10-15 miles of biking five times a week in these suckers, and, paired with my Shure BT2 cable, I get authentic KPP sound via aptX-HD with 6-8 hours of battery life - I charge them once every 2-3 days or so. They drive the KPP to ear-splitting volume. I have not detected any suckouts or clipping that would suggest the BT2 is not driving them properly - they sound just like the wired KPP to me, and even more transparent than the stock BT version of the KPP.

Easily the best aftermarket job I've ever seen

In short, I have to recommend Vic’s services with complete confidence - and, knowing that Vic exists, I can also recommend my new favorite headset, the Koss PortaPro BT, without hesitation.


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