Gear Review: Puro Sound Labs BT-5200 Volume Monitoring Bluetooth Headphones

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Known as the Healthy Ears Company, Puro Sound Labs is the purveyor of premium quality headphones for audiophiles young and old alike. Naturally, the key feature of Puro’s latest BT-5200 Bluetooth wireless headphones for adults is the in-built microprocessor that actively monitors volume level. While in wireless mode, a small LED on the left earphone flashes a color-coded light to indicate the current decibel output. Green indicates a safe dB range of 0 to 85, yellow indicates a raised alert level between 85 and 95, and a red light, obviously, means the level has exceeded 95 dB, and you should reduce the volume to avoid prolonged exposure to ear-damaging sound.

This LED decibel monitor goes hand in hand with the form factor of the headphones. The on-ear cup design positions the speakers in such a way that forms a tight seal over the ear canal, cancelling out ambient noise while also amplifying the sound clarity, which creates an optimal listening experience of crisp audio quality and safe volume. I’ve been amazed how low I can set the volume compared to other headphones and still get clear, distinct highs and lows with just the right amount of bass, and without any tinniness. When switching over to other headphones, I usually have to bump the volume up at least a click or two.

The background noise blocking is strong as well. Puro’s official claim is an 82% reduction. I don’t have the means to confirm that, but just through general use I can say that the ambient sound cancellation is very effective. When someone is talking, I can hear that someone is speaking but find it hard to actually make out any of the words unless they’re right up on me. Just for kicks, I also tried snapping my fingers loudly by my side while taking the headphones on and off, and with the headphones on I could really only hear a faint thumping. (That’s with audio playing through them of course.) I know that’s not high-end scientific testing, but it gets the point across.

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Available in black/silver and tan/gold color schemes (I have the tan/gold ones), the design of the BT-5200s is sleek and minimalistic, striking a good balance between comfort, functionality, and style. The circular, flat-capped ear cups are streamlined to create a low profile, both while they’re on your head and when not in use. In addition to extending telescopically to fit different head sizes, the individual ear cups rotate to fold flat for travel or storage (a nice quality zippered carrying case is included). Typically, headphones with high-end audio fidelity and noise attenuation tend to be bulkier over the ear types, but these are remarkable in how well they perform in such a slim profile. The aluminum construction is lightweight without feeling cheap or flimsy, while the leather ear and headband cushions are cloud soft to the touch, to the point where you begin to not even notice when the headphones are strapped on. Of course, fit and comfort level may vary depending on each user’s unique head shape and size. There is no way to say for sure they will be comfortable for absolutely everyone.

In terms of wireless functionality, the BT-5200s should be compatible with most Bluetooth devices, including Android and iOS smartphones and tablets (a microphone is built in for phone calls and voice chat). I don’t currently own a Bluetooth dongle for my PC, so I can’t speak to support for any specific adapter models. However, I experienced excellent results using the headphones with a Kindle Fire tablet and, except for an occasional audio garble due to wireless interference, my PlayStation Vita for portable gaming. That being said, the headphones aren’t officially compatible with gaming systems at this time. While I haven’t had problems connecting with my Vita via Bluetooth, I couldn’t get a successful pairing with either my PlayStation 3 or PlayStation 4. I’m told by Puro that they are looking into resolving the issue, but currently it’s unclear whether the problem is with the headphones directly or a codec incompatibility with the consoles that will need to be fixed with a firmware update.

Fortunately, the headphones perform just as well using a regular old 3.5 mm auxiliary jack (the included cable has a flat, tangle-free design to boot–although it is rather short at only a little over three feet). In fact, I’ve preferred using them wired as my primary PC gaming headphones over a number of other dedicated gaming headsets I have in top brands like Astro, Kingston, and Sony. Though just to be clear, features like the volume monitor and microphone are only available in wireless mode.

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Buttons for Bluetooth scanning, power on/off, and volume up/down, as well as the volume monitor LED and the ports for 3.5 mm and micro USB, are all found along the back curve of the left earphone. The button and port placement is intuitive for the most part; however, I personally would have preferred having the 3.5 output on the right earphone. With the port on the left, the cable hangs down in front and crosses over my body, which can be annoying while typing or playing a game. Another minor usability quirk is the fact that the volume monitor only has the visual indicator of the LED, which is impossible to see with the headphones actually on your head. It seems like there should be some sort of audio cue to sync with the LED, such as a tone that chimes if the volume is turned up to an unsafe level.

I have fallen totally in love with Puro Sound Labs’ BT-5200 headphones; I keep them plugged in on my desktop for everyday wired PC use, and take them with me whenever I need wireless audio for my various handheld devices. They are so lightweight and comfortable, with rich, crystal clear audio that not only sounds great, but is healthier for the ears than other products without sacrificing a lick of performance. The 24-hour battery life is exceptional as well. While I’m not a heavy Bluetooth user on a daily basis, even after hours of regular Vita gaming I’ve only had to recharge (USB cable is included) a few times in as many months. While it’s a shame the Bluetooth functionality currently isn’t compatible with gaming consoles, for PC and portable devices, both wired and wireless, you can’t go wrong with the BT-5200s. If you’re in the market for new headphones, I suggest putting these at the top of your wish list.

Buy From: The BT-5200 wireless adult headphones are available now for $129.99 at Amazon.com and direct through Puro Sound Labs. A cheaper model for kids is available for $79.99.

Disclosure: A pair of BT-5200 wireless adult headphones were provided to VGBlogger.com for review by Puro Sound Labs.

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About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!