T.H.E. Show Newport 2016: Affordable Headphones at a High-End Show?

June 03, 2016

There’s a lot of worry these days about kids (and audiophiles) damaging their hearing by playing their headphones dangerously loud. Puro Sound addressed this problem last year with Bluetooth headphones built to play no louder than 85dB. But at $129 for the adult version and $79 for the kids’ version, they were a little expensive for some people. The new OEH-220 on-ear headphones limit sound through the use of resistors rather than active circuitry, and thus cost much less: just $39.

Like the original Puros, the OEH-220s are designed for above-average isolation from external sound, so you’ll get the most from those 85dBs. Technically it’s a kids’ model, but the headphones fit me just fine. And because the OEH-220s are voiced to sound neutral, rather than bass-heavy like most inexpensive headphones, they deliver really, really good sound for the price. I was surprised to hear that the listening level with my Samsung phone’s volume cranked to max was perfect -- loud enough to be satisfying, but low enough that it never pained my eardrums. There are also earphones, the IEM-200s shown here, that cost $29.

I’m sure I’ll see a few more new headphones here at the Newport show, but I doubt they’ll be anywhere near the prices I saw today.

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