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Tag: virtual learning

A Tale of Three Headsets to Get through Fifth Grade

If you’re concerned about getting the right headset for virtual learning that will help protect your child’s hearing, you’re not alone. Here are the results of my shopping journey to date.

It’s not like my son has never worn a headset before. But over the past year of Zooms and virtual learning, our fifth grader has seemingly had one fused to his head. (Haven’t we all?)

And I’ve been concerned about the level of audio streaming into his ears. Is it too loud? What about the risk of long-term hearing loss?

So I’ve wanted him to wear a headset with volume-limiting capabilities. And I’ve got to tell you, strangely, there’s not a lot of choices out there.

POWMEE is for Younger Kids
I originally landed on a pair of POWMEE P10 Kids Headphones with a built-in microphone on the cord.

The POWMEE worked well, and they were only ten bucks. But the headphones were a little tight on his head. Four months later, they gave out. That may not seem like a long time, but I imagine the designers didn’t assume so many hours of daily use and cable twisting by little hands.

When I realized the POWMEE were small, I immediately initiated a new search to find a bigger headset designed for tween/teen heads.

Even fewer options with volume limiting capabilities exist for that age group. I suppose the idea is a real buzzkill from a marketing perspective.

PuroGamer Barely Got out of the Box
I finally landed on the PuroGamer Volume Limited Gaming Headset, which is targeted for teens. I bought it for $29.99 on Amazon, although it’s now gone up in price.

I got it and threw the box in the back of the closet. I knew the PuroGamer could be called to action at any time.

And the day came when boy my walked into my home office to see me. He had a stricken look on his face. Had Old Yeller gone to the doggy pasture in the clouds? (Actually we have a cat.) Nope. His POWMEE had died.

When I instantly pulled out the replacement, his shock and instant glee were priceless. (I felt like a hero.) And off he scampered with his PuroGamer.

But I didn’t have much time to take my parental victory lap.

The PuroGamer lasted about 2 weeks before the sound in one ear started to fizzle. (The USB connector gave out shortly after that.)

The cable was seemingly the culprit. It couldn’t handle all of the bending and ‘action’ a child will likely offer. Perhaps a gaming teenager wouldn’t give the PuroGamer cable the same workout?

Maybe the fault was mine getting the PuroGamer for a ten year old. Or perhaps I’m just making excuses, and the PuroGamer should be more durable.

Either way, it was back to the drawing board.

Time for an Adult Headset
I eventually decided my mistake had been limiting my search to headsets designed just for kids and teens. It was time to look for adult headsets.

Yes, shopping in the adult aisle is inevitably going to cost more. But I’ve already crossed that line for his sneakers and summer sandals. (He’s growing up fast!)

And unfortunately, technology for kids is often marred with inferior gear that won’t hold up. Yes, it may be cheaper, but you get what you pay for.

I’m certainly seeing that now.

Go with What You Know
As I puzzled over how to attack this new shopping challenge, I took a look at what I had fused to my own skull throughout much of my work day.

I was wearing a Plantronics (Poly) Blackwire C5210T single-ear headset.

My Blackwire headset had been great. It was comfortable, and sported two interface options. (3.5mm and USB connectors)

Like father, like son?

Another Blackwire
So I Googled the Blackwire headset and looked at the specs. And guess what?

Yes, it’s got built-in hearing protection. I didn’t even know!
(The SoundGuard DIGTAL technology protects against sound levels over 118 dBA, and Time-Weighted Average prevents average daily noise exposure from exceeding 85 dBA.)

There’s also a dual-ear design that would be perfect for my son.

Before I made my decision, I called my boy over to try on my headset. Within seconds, I saw that big smile.

Research complete.

If at First You don’t Succeed
Yes… this headset purchase was expensive. But sometimes you’ve got pay for what you really need. (And by the way, I purposely avoided going down a Bluetooth headset rabbit hole.)

It’s been almost a month, and my boy’s Blackwire headset has been holding up. (Fingers crossed.)

No, I’m not especially excited that it’s taken three headsets to get him through fifth grade, but if that’s the biggest technical glitch through this year of virtual learning, I’ll take it!

More importantly, I’m trying to do what I can to protect his hearing.

In Search of Remote Learning Headphones that Won’t Hurt my Son’s Hearing

Headphones that are volume limiting can be helpful to protect students who are spending more time online doing virtual learning. The trick is to find a pair that’s big enough for older kids.

I never imagined that my young Padawan would be spending so many hours with headphones wrapped around his little head, but remote learning during the pandemic suddenly warped the need for this tech forward.

And there’s a little question I haven’t fully addressed. Is the volume of the daily audio streams that flow into my son’s ears really safe for his hearing?

Here’s our backstory.

Our fifth grader has been using a pair of POWMEE P10 Kids Headphones with a built-in microphone on the cord, but they’re a little tight for him. He’s loved his headphones, but he complains every so often that his ears hurt after he’s worn them for a while.

I’ve also liked these POWMEE headphones, because they’re designed with a volume-limiting feature to protect his hearing. (So, I’ve been thinking that he’s covered in this regard.)

Now, it’s simply time to find a larger pair of wired headphones and microphone with the same sound protection. (I’ve been resistant to upgrading to Bluetooth headsets. An old-school corded pair that doesn’t need to be recharged should be just fine for him.)

Mpow CH6 Pro
I feel that any headphones designed for kids will be too small for my son. So, the product category I began Googling is ‘volume-limiting headphones for teenagers’ (even though my son is barely a tween).

Unfortunately, I don’t think that category exists. It would appear that headphone manufacturers only market audio-level protection to the toddler/small kid population. If you’re any older, I suppose you’re supposed to know enough not to pipe dangerously loud sounds into your ears?

There’s really not much out there for an older student with a growing skull.

On Amazon, I did find one pair of volume-limiting headphones that are being marketed to teenagers:

The cable has a 3.5mm audio jack, and the earpads are larger than those on other headphones for kids. Unfortunately, the volume limit is only 94dB, which is beyond what is generally considered ‘volume-limited.’

After another trip down my research rabbit hole, one company kept popping up. It’s Puro Sound Labs.

Puro Sound Labs offers a couple good choices for younger kids, but there’s also the PuroGamer Volume Limited Gaming Headset, which is targeted for teens and gamers of all ages.

Even though the PuroGamer gets mixed reviews for reliability on Amazon, these headphones still inched ahead of the Mpow for what I needed. They’re big enough, will work well for online learning, and the Amazon price is right.

Now, I don’t expect too much at this price point. I just want these headphones to function properly and help protect my son’s hearing.

The Price for Better Audio Protection
With such a limited selection, I eventually did extend my search to include more expensive Bluetooth headphones. But I came up short in that category too.

The one seemingly solid Bluetooth option is made by Puro Sound Labs.
(Sense a trend?)

But they appear to be too small for my son’s head. So, I sadly needed to pass on this choice.

Pinna Labs offers the LOMA Bluetooth Headphones for adults. But in my online research, I found nobody talking about this company. Plus, the headphones are not ‘currently available’ on Amazon.

While the LOMA headphones seem built for exactly my son’s needs, something was telling me they aren’t ready yet for prime time. Again… pass.

The PuroGamer Wins in a Shallow Field of Competition
I’m left with the realization that this market segment is
woefully underrepresented.

I ended up ordering the PuroGamer for my boy, and I’m hoping for the best. But I know that thirty bucks really can’t buy that. For now it will have to do.

So many of our kids are using headphones for so many more hours these days. I would assume that there’s a growing army of parents out there who have come to the same realization and also want to protect their older children’s ears?

If anyone else has other ideas, please let me know!

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