Forbes


January 26, 2016

Gift This, Not That: Beats Solo2 Wireless Vs. Puro BT5200

By Brad Moon - Forbes.com

As far as I’m concerned, Bluetooth headphones are one of the best inventions ever when it comes to consumer audio.

You may have to give up a little sound quality by switching to Bluetooth, but chances are you’re listening to a compressed digital music source anyway —frankly, most people wouldn’t be able to tell. In return for this tiny (and possible undetectable) concession, you lose the wires. No tangling, no dangling, no wires getting caught in your coat and no worries about accidentally yanking a wire out.

When it comes to headphones, many people are drawn to the glossy colors and slick marketing of Beats Audio and for Bluetooth, Beats Solo 2 Wireless Headphones are one of the most popular choices.

However, there’s an alternative that makes a great gift and you should consider these before dropping $300 on Apple AAPL -3.10%’s cans: the newBT5200 Studio Grade Bluetooth Wireless Headphones from Puro Sound Labs.

BT5200 Studio Grade Bluetooth Wireless Headphones (image: Puro Sound Labs)

I’ve been listening to a pair of the new Puro headphones and they sound fantastic (watch for my review in coming weeks). They have 40mm custom drivers tuned to the “Puro Balanced Response” curve and the audio reproduction is top notch. Music is bright and detailed with bass that’s a solid presence without being overwhelming.

The leather padded headband and cups are comfortable and although there’s no active noise cancelation, the seal is good enough to block 82% of ambient noise. The Puro headphones are made from aluminum for greater durability and lighter weight —my review unit tips the scales at 5.7 oz compared to 7.6 oz for the Beats. Battery life is superior as well, at 24 hours compared to 12 hours for the Beats.

With the anodized aluminum and leather accented by a few pieces of polished trim, the Puro BT5200s offer a premium look as well.

Finally, there’s hearing loss. Puro Sound Labs is big on preventing hearing loss and works closely with the Hearing Health Foundation. The BT5200 Studio Grade Bluetooth Wireless Headphones are equipped with a sensor that actively monitors sound volume levels in decibels, then triggers an LED in the ear cup to alert the wearer. Green means volume is 85 dB or less and safe for up up to eight hours of listening, yellow means caution and a red LED means the volume exceeds 95 dB and should be limited to under 15 minutes per day.

The Puro BT5200s do give up one feature compared to the Beats competition. While the ear cups swivel for a flat profile for easier carrying in the included hard travel case, they don’t fold as compactly as the Beats.

Here’s the kicker, even if the audio performance, aluminum construction and hearing-protection features aren’t enough: the Puro BT5200 Bluetooth headphones cost $129 compared to $299.95 for the Beats Solo2 Wireless. What about Christmas sales? At the time of writing, Apple was throwing in a $60 iTunes gift card with the purchase of its headphone. Also at time of writing, Puro was offering a holiday special price of $99.99 on the BT 5200s.

At the end of the day, by choosing the Puro BT5200 Bluetooth headphones over the Beats Solo2 Wireless headphones, you can gift a music loving someone with a fantastic set of wireless headphones with a premium look, studio-grade sound and advanced hearing protection, plus you save enough to buy a pair for yourself and still have $39 in your pocketcompared to the Beats.