The best headphones have the ability to transport you away from wherever you are, and into the world of music, a movie or favorite TV show. After spending a few weeks with Puro’s latest two headphones, they are very clearly up to the task.
The first pair I tested, the $199 IEM500s are in-ear headphones, and claim to save your hearing by providing clear bass sounds and blocking out outside noise. The company promises studio-quality sound, along with a comfortable fit, cool looks and feel.
I’m no audiologist, so I can’t tell you whether my hearing was preserved, but these headphones sound great. In part that’s because they are lightweight enough – and come with five separate ear-tips – that they fit well. A great fit means they block out outside noise, and their lightweight design means they won’t be falling out of your ears easily when you shake your head.
I used them in a variety of settings, including on subways and trains, sitting at home, and while walking around San Francisco and New York. They worked particularly well on a coast-to-coast flight, as they cut out most of the ambient noise around me, while delivering high quality sound that transported me to (in this case) one of Phish’s live concerts. Listening tests with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, and Dire Straits Money for Nothing also sounded great, as I could pick out each instrument without cranking the volume up to 11.
I did have a few micro-quibbles. First, the “L” and “R” designations are so faintly stenciled on the barrel of the headphones that I often found it impossible to figure out which one to jam into which ear. The rubber cables aren’t as tangle proof as some of the others I’ve tested – including Sol’s tangle-resistant cable on the Jax 1112-31 earbuds. And the bundled case resembles nothing so much as a sock designed for ducks. Flat and wide, it didn’t really offer as much contain – or protection – as I would want for a $200 pair of earphones.
But beyond that, the IEM500s are pretty awesome. They sound great, fit well, and can double as a phone headset as well in a pinch. What’s more, I’ve even started carrying the Puro earphones instead of my noise-cancelling Bose headphones on long trips. They do just as good a job of blocking noise, and don’t cause as much fatigue during a six hour flight.
For true audiophiles, the company also has an EQ app to help tune the sound response. Unfortunately it’s available for iOS only – an Android version is promised in 2015, but as of this writing was nowhere to be found.
PURO BT220 for Kids
Puro also makes a pair of on-ear Bluetooth headphones for kids. They claim to block out over 80% of background noise, while at the same time limiting volume to 85dB – to save your kids hearing. Those two features should work together to deliver strong sound, without the need to crank up the volume.
And in practice they worked great. My 16 year old son and wife both had a chance to test them for extended periods, and found that they sounded great, the Bluetooth battery lasted more than 15 hours, and they were certainly loud enough. In fact, neither had to turn the volume up all the way, either in quiet situations at home, or while travelling on an airplane.
Setup was easy, Bluetooth pairing with both iOS and Android phones and tablets happened without a hitch. Range was normal – about 30 feet, and the headphones include a wired mini-audio jack if the battery fails, along with a standard mini-USB port for charging. This makes them even more useful for Android fans, as you only need one cable-type to charge phone, tablet and headphones.
They sound terrific, even at lower volumes, and the look as good as they sound. In fact, during most of our tests we rarely had to turn them up past the halfway point. Made of stainless steel instead of plastic, with comfortable ear-cups that felt like real leather, they are fashionable as well as functional. And they seem durable as well – I’ve been through at least a baker’s dozen of kids headphones with my son, and they typically break after just three or four months. And at just $80, these will be a bargain if they last for more than six.
These $80 headphones are strongly recommended. With volume limited to 85db or less, a beautiful look, comfortable feel and great sound, they should be on every parent’s shopping list – and maybe yours as well.