It is fair to say that when it comes to the gaming headset market, it is certainly a crowded field. The big players dominate the space thanks to their brand recognition, while the up-and-coming companies opt for various unique selling points: such as style, sound quality, design and usability. In that way Puro Sound Labs are a bit of a special case, in that their unique selling point is driven by very noble goals, alongside making an excellent headset to enjoy.
Company owner Dave Russell learned that his youngest daughter has Noise-Induced Hearing Loss, which effectively means she is partially deaf in both ears. Putting the cause of the condition as using headphones to listen to music too loudly, the family owned start up decided to do something about it, creating headsets for children which are limited to 85 decibels in volume. While they might not be recognizable to many initially, the San Diego based company clearly have good pedigree, with a growing back catalogue of products showing they have a sound understanding of how to create a marketable headset.
Having so far limited themselves to purely children-focused headsets, the company has now taken an interesting step into the competitive world of gaming headsets, with the PuroGamer, which was first available in the UK late last year. Priced at around £69.99, it enters an interesting corner of the market, in that it is priced too high to be considered one of the purely budget options, but equally is very affordable compared to some of the high-end big boys. It feels just about right to be placed in this area when looking at what it offers.
From a design point of view, it couldn't be better. It would be a fear that a team who have previously developed children's headphones may fall back on old habits in terms of making the product appeal to their core demographic. This avoids this expertly, with a sleek and understated all-black finish that is arguably fashionable enough to wear out for everyday use (a feat missed by so many other gaming headsets). The only mark of extravagance is a cool blue LED ring on the outside of the ears, alongside the blue light marking the attachable omnidirectional microphone.
It is also extremely comfortable to wear. The breathable padded vegan leather in the ear cups fits nicely over even the biggest ears and avoids any of the hallmarks of cheaper headsets with issues of sweat or discomfort during extended play. The headband is also strong and stable while avoiding pressing down on the head. The one area that could be improved is the headset adjuster. They were a little stiff to adjust, and feel slightly cheap compared to the rest of the finish.
In terms of compatibility it again couldn't be better. Testing found no issues connecting to Windows PC, with the drivers being installed in moments, and zero complications in setting up both the headset and microphone. The headset has a 140 cm cable, with a 20 cm USB connection split alongside a 3.5mm jack. This means there are a number of options, with the ability to use it with a phone or any of the home consoles. Connecting the jack in the PS4 Dualshock controller enabled the microphone with only a tweak of the settings. There is also a dedicated hub along the cable allowing control over muting the microphone and adjusting the volume.
Speaking of volume, the unique selling point of the headset and Puro Sound Labs mission is obviously to create volume-limited products. Some people may therefore fear that this has an impact on the sound quality or will somehow restrict the ability for the headset to produce sound in a satisfactory way. These fears are thankfully unfounded. The technology in the headset actually makes sure there 's no identifiable difference in quality even with the 85 - decibel limit. The bass effects while playing an intense game of < i > Call of Duty: Modern Warfare were just as impressive as a normal headset. The Puro Balanced Response Curve successfully enhances the sound quality at the same time of having the pleasing knowledge around hearing safety. A win-win in conclusion.
There is no active noise cancelation in the headset, which combined with the volume limitation could potentially pose a problem if playing in particularly noisy areas. However, the ambient noise isolation tries it's best to limit a good portion of outside interference, and in 90% of situations it will be more than adequate. Finally, the attachable noise-cancelling boom microphone is omnidirectional, with an ability to filter out surrounding noise while capturing voice. This worked excellently, with commands and chat able to be heard even in the most epic multiplayer matches. Being able to remove it, for example when using the headset for listening to music on the go, is particularly welcome. The attachable cable is also very solid, which is a particular bugbear among cheaper headsets, with floppy and irritating microphone cables.