Parenting is often an ongoing mix of compromises, but it seems especially so when it comes to tech for kids, such as headphones. At some point, your precious little ones are going to outgrow those tinny, $10 plastic Hello Kitty headphones they just had to have at age 5 and demand … er, ask politely for an upgrade to something a bit more swank, like those high-dollar wireless cans they see their parents enjoying. Typically, this request comes at about the same time they seem to realize that your smartphone would also work quite well as their smartphone. Funny how that happens.
That was the position this high-tech dad found himself in when his tech-savvy 10-year-old got mom’s beat up old iPhone, slipped off the little-kid headphones he’d used for years, and was finally allowed to put on a pair of $350 do-all-be-all wireless cans. As the ocean of sonic bliss that is Beck’s Wow washed over him and his eyes widened at the aural beauty of it all, I knew it was time. My boy deserved some real headphones.
You get a lot of features – and fortunately a bit less “bang” – for your $99.
But a headphone upgrade for young ones raises some legitimate parenting concerns. Cost is one, of course, but so is hearing. Kids aren’t very good at regulating volume, as more always seems to be better to them. No wonder they can never hear you telling them to do the dishes! But in all seriousness, hearing damage from earbuds and headphones is a real problem, with the potential to adversely affect a person throughout life.
Designed with kids in mind, Puro Sound’s BT2200 wireless headphones are an elegant solution. At $99 from most retailers, they’re not cheap, but they’re not Beats expensive, either. Best of all, they’re loaded with features, while also offering a bit less “bang” than traditional headphones for your Ben Franklin.
Available in black, blue, purple and Frozen-worthy white, Puro’s kid cans offer a feature you should never, ever tell your kids about — a built-in volume limitation. And it’s not something you can turn off, either. The BT2200 are permanently capped at a relatively safe output of 85dB, which is still plenty loud. So, yes, junior or little miss can safely rock out for hours, and when you finally pry them off their heads, they’ll still be able to hear you remind them about their homework or taking out the trash.
Upgrading kids’ headphones raises some legitimate parenting concerns.
Perhaps best of all, these headphones sound great. The BT2200’s sonic qualities across a broad spectrum of musical genres are genuinely impressive. Bass in hip-hop tracks is tight and deep without being overpowering, while instruments in rock and folk tunes are offered with definition and clarity typical of adult-sized cans. According to the author’s son, they sound “so awesome” (spoken like a true critic) and fit “perfectly,” barely leaving his head on a typical weekend, and garnering zero complaints.
The rounded headband is actually a big tube of soft material, and it keeps the design of the headphones simple yet comfortable. And judging by my son’s inability to hear me telling him it was time to rake the leaves (yet again), the passive sound isolation of the earcups works quite well. The headphones do not feature any active noise cancellation technology.
The on-board controls include volume adjustment, Bluetooth pairing, and a power switch, all on the left ear cup. There’s also a built-in mic for phone calls (or Minecraft group play, etc). All of the no-look controls are easy to use; other headphone makers could take a design clue or two from these. The battery is claimed to last 18 hours (we never ran it out despite all-day use) and the BT2200 also work fine as traditional wired headphones. They recharge with a typical USB micro connection.
Befitting the price, the BT2200 feature aluminum construction throughout, which should help in their longevity, although my son was so enamored with them he carefully stowed them in their included hard case while not using them. As one might guess, he was thoroughly dismayed when he had to hand back the headphones at the end of the review period. For now, he’s making do with an old beater pair of dad’s cans that don’t fit well, aren’t wireless and aren’t cool at all. Poor kid.
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