If you know a child under the age of 10 chances are they want a pair of Beats headphones. However, I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that a $200 pair of headphones isn’t the best investment to make for a kid. Chances are they’ll break, get stolen, end up in a corner covered in clothes, or break (I know I said break twice). Whatever the case it’s always a good idea to start off with something that you won’t mind replacing or won’t have to dish out a ton of money for in the first place.
Besides that there’s always the issue of having tiny speakers blasting sound directly into young ears. Studies have shown that listening to music at high levels can definitely cause some damage over time, so you’re probably going to want a pair of headphones that don’t get deafeningly loud. If you can check those two boxes then there’s only one left: design. Do they look cool enough? Will they actually be worn?
There’s a lot that goes into this and you’re probably wondering, “Well, where do I begin? How do I research this?” Luckily, your searching has led you here. We’ve done all the research for you hopefully making your lives a little easier and compiled this list of the best headphones for kids.
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JLab JBuddies Folding Headphones
These are intended for kids age 2 or over and not only do they allow you to control how loud they get but you can also customize them with eight different 3D character stickers, assuming the kid in question is young enough to enjoy that. If they’re too cool for the stickers then at least you get something out of it for yourself (you’re welcome). As the name implies these particular JBuddies fold at the hinges, making them that much harder to break and that much easier to bring with you on the go.
They even come with a handy carrying pouch to stuff them in. As far as sound, these won’t go above a modest 85dB which is perfect for developing ears. That might be too low for you but if you’re reading this I’m going to assume you’ve spent a good portion of your life blasting music into your ear at damaging levels anyway (just like us). Besides, it’s probably a good idea for kids to hear what’s going on around them. The wire ends in a 3.5mm jack so it’ll most likely connect with any kind of device you throw at it. Let’s face it, most adults can’t even take good care of their headphones so if it’s going to withstand the rough-and-tumble life of a child it needs to be durable. So the good folks at JLab made these with a durable plastic that’s also spill resistant so you won’t have to worry about water damage unless you go swimming with them. Still, that doesn’t mean that they forgot about comfort. The JBuddies have comfortable padding on the ear cups perfectly sized for little ears.
Naturally the headband is adjustable as well allowing it to fit the growing heads of any child. These are obviously not going to rival any high end headphones in quality, but that’s not really what they’re intended for. At less than $30 these are a cool and safe pair of headphones that parents will like as much as their youngsters. The folding pairs come in three colors: black, blue, or pink. There are a few more color options, but those don’t fold so if you need the folding feature make sure to get one of the other options mentioned below.
Sony MDR-222KD Childrens Headphones
If the kid you’re buying for is a little too old for 3D stickers then there’s always the Sony MDR-222KD. These look like a regular pair of headphones, but are actually sized specifically for children 8 or over. They are on-ear headphones that are also lightweight making these perfect for road trips.
The ear cups are covered in soft foam cushions and the headband is completely adjustable, though it lacks any padding of its own. Still, they’re light enough that it won’t be uncomfortable. In the ear cups are large 13.5mm drivers that allow it to pump out sound, but they also have a high impedance so the volume can’t be cranked up too loud which is always a good thing when it comes to kids headphones. One other thing that is definitely a plus is the L-shaped 3.5mm connector. It may not always be the case, but in my experience the internal wiring is less likely to become frayed over time when it ends in a 3.5mm connector instead of a straight plug. Though Sony says that these are best suited for children over 8 there were plenty of reviews on Amazon claiming that not only did these fit their 2 or 3 year olds, but also fit adults as well. So if you’re looking for a pair of headphones to share, these might be for you.
Unfortunately Sony didn’t give these hinges for easy folding, but if they do break you can take solace in the fact that it only costs about $13 to get a brand new pair. That’s only about two latte’s from Starbucks (I can’t be the only one who judges how expensive something is based on how many coffees I can buy with that money).
Puro Sound Labs Kids Volume Limiting Bluetooth Headphones
These next one’s are a little more on the pricey side, but worth it. They’re the Puro BT220 headphones and the BT means Bluetooth—yes they’re wireless. They are on-ear headphones that have a sleek and minimal design that in my opinion looks gorgeous and being Bluetooth makes them that much cooler.
Puro went with a lightweight aluminum design instead of plastic in order to make them slightly more durable. Of course kids will find a way to break anything, but at least it’s harder to break metal than it is to break plastic. Keeping with the theme of the previous two headphones, Puro also made sure that these won’t get louder than a comfortable 85db when maxed out. They have a custom balanced response that sound so good Puro says “they will not want to listen to them any louder.” Going even further the ear cups are designed in order to block out 82% of sound at about 1kHz so that they won’t have a hard time listening to what they want to. It’s worth mentioning that this doesn’t count as Active Noise Canceling which works by way of microphones actively canceling out certain outside frequencies. The way that the Puro headphones block outside noise is simply due to a good design that physically puts the ear cups in the way of the external sound. The ear cups and the headband share the same padded leather that make these comfortable to wear for long periods of time. How long? Well Puro claims the battery will last you roughly 18 hours of constant playback, so pretty long.
If you’re kid is a budding audio engineer, you can also download the iOS app for them which lets them customize the EQ settings to their own liking. All of the controls you’ll need including the power button and volume controls can be found right on the ear cup. Unfortunately these are completely wireless, so if you gave your kid your old iPod classic to listen to music it might be time to upgrade them.
LilGadgets Untangled Pro Wireless Headphones
The biggest threat to any child when it comes to headphones are wires, so why aren’t there more wireless headphones for kids? Well besides the Puro mentioned above, another option are these Untangled Pro Wireless headphones by Lilgadgets. At first glance, you might not even think these to be meant for children. Though there are some eye-catching color options, nothing about the general design signifies their intended audience. This could be a good thing if you have a kid teetering on the edge of “cool colors” and “too cool for colors”.
The ear pads and headband uses a soft mesh material designed for comfort above all. The headband is also easily adjustable to keep up with growing little ones. As far as connections, these are Bluetooth compatible so basically any device made in the past few years will work. They charge via micro USB and have a battery life that LilGadgets claims will give you 12 hours of constant playback. It’s highly doubtful that any kid will sit still long enough to fully enjoy that kind of longevity in terms of battery life, but at least you won’t have to constantly charge them between uses. If the battery does die on you mid-trip, you can also plug in a 3.5mm audio cable as a backup. There’s even a 3.5mm output to daisy chain some headphones together if you have more than one child watching a movie.
The frequency range is as much as humans can hear, providing lows as deep as 20Hz and highs up to 20kHz. That said, if you’re worried about damaging their hearing, don’t be. Volume output is limited to 93 dB which is a good amount below the pain threshold of 120 dB. On the ear cup are also tiny controls for tiny fingers that allow kids to skip tracks and adjust the volume accordingly without needing to fumble with a device.
Kidz Gear Wired Headphones
What would a list for kids be without replacing the s with a z? Grammar jokes aside, the Kidz Gear Wired headphones are one of the most popular headphones for children. Every headphones list for kids has these somewhere on them and for good reason. They have a custom design made for children 2 years of age or older (really to about 8 or 9) which includes a headband that is split in two for a more secure grip. These have a KidzControl Volume Limit Cable” with a high enough resistance to make these about 20dB lower than what the actual max volume would be.
Normally, the headphones without this feature would have a sensitivity of 108dB so that puts the max sensitivity at about 88dB. They use 30mm drivers to push the air and have a cord length of about 4.5 feet. That’s a slightly longer than the average wire so if they drop their source device (hopefully not) at least they won’t pull your kid to the floor with them. That’s thinking ahead so kudos to Kidz Gear who also had the foresight to run a special deal on their website where if you buy two headphones from them you get a splitter cable for free. Definitely good news for anyone who has two kids and only one iPad on road trips.
Even if they do break these headphones don’t be too bummed about it since these will only run you $20. Another good thing that can almost be considered a feature is the sheer amount of color options available. If it’s your kids favorite color, chances are they’ll like it.
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