Puro Sound Labs BT5200 Bluetooth Headphones review

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THE GOOD: The Puro Sound Labs BT5200 wireless headphones let you know when your volume is over 85dB, potentially causing hearing loss. Long battery life and very good passive external noise blocking. Can be used wired and there’s a built-in mic for calls.

THE BAD: Somewhat generic design and although they’re generally comfortable, the headband might be too tight for some, resulting in ear pain. You can’t tell if the volume is too loud without taking them off your head.

THE BOTTOM LINE: The Puro Sound Labs BT5200 headphones might look like some other Bluetooth headphones, but they do deliver excellent audio while helping you protect yourself from hearing loss.

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Puro Sound Labs BT5200 wireless headphones are broccoli for your ears.

That’s not really “rock ‘n’ roll,” but the BT5200s are made to save you from yourself and keep your hearing healthy. Inside of the aluminum earcups with their 40mm custom dynamic drivers is a microprocessor that monitors their decibel level and alerts you via an LED when your volume is safe or unsafe.

Basically, to keep your hearing healthy, it’s recommended that you keep volume at or below 85 dB. When you’re in this range with the BT5200s, the tiny LED on the left cup glows green. When you’re between 85 and 95 — a level you should limit to 2 hours or less — the LED glows yellow. Keep raising the volume till you’re over 95 decibels and the LED turns red, letting you know you’re on your way to hearing damage.

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Knowing the safe listening level at a glance is nice (even if it does require taking the headphones off to find out), but you still want to be able to hear whatever it is you’re listening to. For that, Puro balanced the sound quality, so it actually sounds loud at a lower volume.

The Puros have a natural, warm tone to them with full bass, and sound excellent for a variety of music styles as well as spoken word such as audio books and movies and TV. If you’re looking for a lot of booming, hard-hitting bass or highly detailed audio, these probably won’t satisfy. But for those with eclectic tastes or those who want a good multipurpose headphone, the BT5200s hit the mark.

There is no active noise cancellation, so if you’re on a plane, train or bus, you’re still going to hear much of the noise. The earcup padding combined with the pressure of the headband does block 82 percent of external audio according to the company, though, and I believe it. All it takes is listening to some music at low volume to completely block out extraneous noise in my office.

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That’s sort of the whole point with the BT5200s, too: Between blocking out external noise and tuning the audio to be louder at lower volumes, you don’t need to crank up your music or podcasts or movies to clearly hear them.

The company makes a set for kids, too — the $80 BT2200 — which offer the same audio quality and external noise blocking, but they are limited to 85 dB. Regardless of the source or if you turn up theheadphone or source volume, the loudest they’ll get is 85 dB.

The adult and children styles look nearly the same, too. Unfortunately, they also look a lot like this set by Pioneer, these from Satechi, and this pair from Diskin. Anyway, you get the point; while Puro may have made what’s inside to its specifications, the outward appearance is not as unique. They do look nice enough and the aluminum parts make them feel sturdier, which is nice if you’re handing them over to your kids. Though as your kids get older, you might find them begging for a trendier pair.

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For on-ear headphones they are generally comfortable to wear, but after about three hours straight they started to hurt. They are a tight fit, no doubt to help seal out noise, so if your head is on the large side, these might prove too uncomfortable from the get-go.

Battery life is rated up to 24 hours. I had no trouble getting through two eight-hour workdays of constant use before I charged them up via their Micro-USB port. If they did die, though, Puro includes a flat, tangle-free 3.5mm cable to use them wired. A hard-shell case for storage is also included.

The Puro Sound Labs BT5200 headphones deliver excellent audio while helping you protect yourself from hearing loss. Here’s hoping that when it comes time for an update, the company goes for a more comfortable design that helps them standout.

(cnet.com, http://goo.gl/uvc1lR)

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