Don’t let your child be one of the 12.5% who suffers from hearing loss as a result of earphones set too high.
I cannot imagine what it will be like to parent once my children have children of their own. I grew up in a time that allowed playing outside, walking to school, staying at friends homes, etc. My parents were both free-range style parents but somehow I have turned into a helicopter parent. Am I alone in the observation that children do everything in their power to tempt the Grimm Reaper? “Don’t Run with that!” “Don’t carry the scissors/pencil that way,” “Don’t put that bag on your head.” “Look both ways before crossing the street,” “No that won’t hold your weight.” Seriously, everything turns into a gambit of destruction. Safely and securely locked away in our castle, you would think that I would be able to let my guard down. Yeah, No! They like to listen to the TV too loudly, they like to listen to their iPads at ridiculous levels and when I step away, the volume ticks climb. What if there was a way to limit the potential damage to their delicate hearing? Luckily, the buddyphones from onandoff shared the same concern.
The buddyphones arrived in an attractive 7 inches tall by 7 3/8 inches wide by 3 1/16 inches thick retail package. The cover provided an oblique view of the wireless headphones detailing the white earmuffs, white headband, and the blue robot themed ear cups. I loved that they chose to wrap the image around to the right side panel, as this added some extra variety to the packaging. In addition to the metallic silver title along the top, the cover detailed the safe audio for children aged 3+, 24-hour battery life, waterproof nature, and the presence of study mode. The reverse panel proved to be markedly busier than the front panel. There were five icons detailing the safe audio, 75/85/94 decibel levels, 24-hour battery life, 10 meter wireless, IP67 waterproof, and study mode across the top. Just above the icons, the company provided similar information to the icons but in quad-lingual paragraph form (English, French, Spanish, German). Along the bottom of the panel, there were an additional five icons detailing the four modes and the ability to shift between them (75dB toddler mode, 85dB kids mode, 94dB travel mode and study mode. Along the middle of the panel, onandoff provided an attractive desk scene with green/white grid background.
Lifting the magnetic flap, the packaging unrolled like a scroll. The inner surface of the cover provided a useful quad-lingual diagramed image of the headphones. The picture detailed the adjustable head strap, Name tape stickers, anti-allergic ear cushion, LED display, foldable design, volume control buttons, and microphone. Beneath the picture, you will find a list of the product accessories: travel bag, charging cord and 3.5mm buddy cable splitter. With the packaging fully unrolled, the headphones were easily viewed through the plastic case. Just to the side of the display case, you will find a blue flap detailing the same icons as the outer packaging. Opening the lid, I removed the headphones and the smaller accessory box from the outer box packaging. Within the box, I found a 9 1/2 inches long USB-A to USB micro cable, a 35 1/2 inches 3.5mm to 3.5mm cable with 3.5mm splitter, a 6 1/4 inches wide by 7 inches tall blue draw-string bag and a sixteen language instruction manual.
The blue draw-string bag was an immediate hit with my ten-year-old son and I had to pry the headphones/bag out of his hands to complete testing. He loved the robo-monkey design, with the surrounding space theme, and the idea that the robot waved its arms in the air “like he just don’t care.” The round USB-A to USB micro cable plugged into the base of the right earcup and remained securely attached during testing. The flat 3.5 to 3.5 mm cable also attached securely with the right ear cup and into an iPod touch sixth generation and into an iPad Mini 4. I navigated to Amazon Prime Music and selected “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, as it is one of the loudest songs available. Using the Decibel X app on my iPhone XS Max, and the volume turned to the maximum setting, I found the headphones produced an average output of 59.5 decibels and maximum of 76.4 decibels.
The water-resistant headphones were designed for children but will accommodate an adult frame. My son was pleased with the features of the buddyphones wave: 1/4 inches thick headband padding, 1 3/8 inches expansion section, foldable hinges, 3 1/2 inches to more than 7 inches gap between the dual padded moisture resistant ear cups, the easy-access function buttons on the right earcup and the lightweight 5.67-ounce weight. Some headphones seem to pinch the ears and some lead to headaches with extended use. We loved that the buddyphones provided a small clamping force but did not act as a skull vice. We enjoyed the flexibility of the hinges, the ability to expand each of the ear cups and the on-ear padding proved to be quite comfortable. The only complaint that my ten-year-old son described was increased perspiration when using the earphones outdoors. The hypoallergenic on-ear style ear cups did not allow the ears to breathe that well. Additionally, the buddyphones did not block out much of the surrounding/ambient sounds, as the design did not surround the ears.
After charging the buddyphones for two hours with the 9 1/2 inches long USB-micro to USB-A cable, the LED indicator along the bottom of the right earcup showed four solid green LED. While charging each of the four LED flashed green and represented 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% available power. I held the middle power button for three seconds and heard an Asian female voice announce “Turn On,” “Bluetooth Waiting for Connecting.” I navigated to settings on an iPad Mini 4, to Bluetooth and selected “Buddyphones Wave” from the list. Pressing the volume up button, the female voice announced “Max Volume.” Pressing the up and down buttons simultaneously, cycled through toddler 75dB mode, kid 85dB mode, travel 94dB mode and study mode. I navigated to audiocheck.net and found the Left/Right/Center channels were correctly programmed. The low-frequency range test showed a passable output starting at 30Hz and a full High-Frequency range test.
With the sound at maximum, the Decibel X app never registered a sound above 88.5dB. I do not know if we noticed much difference between the travel mode 94dB and the study mode when testing the buddyphones with Audible books. We found the Bluetooth 4.2 headphones to work well in both Bluetooth mode and Aux-in mode. The 3.5mm cable had a built-in splitter and an inline 1 1/4 inches long play/pause button. Once paired, my son loved that he could simply turn on the headphones to listen to his Greatest Showman Soundtrack or to watch YouTube videos. While watching Shark Tank, I played “Shallow” from A Star is Born and was unable to hear the television in the background. While driving, the buddyphones did decrease some of the road noise. A more rigorous test will take place when we travel to Chicago via trian n the next few weeks.
Having tested numerous headphones, I had to keep reminding myself that the buddyphones were designed for children and for hearing protection. The sound output was good to above average, with some tinny changes at higher volumes. The bass was well balanced but missed some of the lower/heavier sounds. For pop/rock/jazz and most modern songs, these headphones will work fine. In fact, my son absolutely loved the buddyphones for Movies Anywhere, iTunes and YouTube. Over the last two weeks, he has used the buddyphones for about an hour per day and he has not had to recharge them. Promising 24-hour utility, we were pleased with the battery durability and with the 2 hour charge time. My son did not care that they were not noise-canceling. He loved the design, the sound quality and how easy they were to use for him.