By the time we reach our thirties, it is not uncommon to experience some degree of hearing loss compared to the acute hearing abilities of younger individuals. Children can hear frequencies that older adults can't, largely due to their limited exposure to loud sounds in the world. Prolonged and continuous exposure to high audio levels is the primary reason for hearing loss, and headphones and earphones are major culprits behind this issue in adults. In today's smartphone and tablet era, children start using headphones at an early age, making it crucial to consider volume limitations to protect their delicate ears.
At MeloAudio, we understand the importance of providing parents with the best options for open ear headphones for kids that prioritize both excellent sound quality and safety. We've meticulously tested various models and present to you our top picks for 2023, which excel in different aspects to cater to your specific needs.
MeloAudio Q9: Best Overall
The MeloAudio Q9 headphones stand out as our top pick for their versatility, offering both wired and wireless options. These headphones deliver an exceptional audio experience with crisp highs and rich bass depth, ensuring that your child can enjoy their favorite content with clarity and without risking damage to their hearing. MeloAudio Q9 has taken safety seriously by limiting the volume to a safe level of 85dB, providing parents with peace of mind.
- Crisp highs and rich bass depth for an immersive audio experience.
- Both Bluetooth and wired audio are limited to 85dB, ensuring safe listening.
- No limiter switch to toggle dangerous volume levels accidentally.
- Slightly higher price point.
- Achieving a perfect fit may require a bit of effort.
Happy Plugs Play: Best Grown-Up Design
The Happy Plugs Play headphones are an excellent choice for parents seeking a stylish design without compromising on safety. These headphones may resemble those designed for adults, but they prioritize children's well-being with a maximum volume limit of 85dB. The balanced and detailed sound signature, focusing on mids and highs, delivers an enjoyable listening experience for your child.
- Balanced, detailed sound signature with a focus on mids and highs.
- Volume limited to 85dB for safe listening.
- Stylish design that appeals to kids.
- Buttons can be challenging for younger children to operate.
- Less bass depth compared to some other models.
MeloAudio Q9: Best for Kids With Wired and Wireless Devices
For parents looking for both wireless and wired options, the MeloAudio Q9 headphones offer an excellent solution. These wireless headphones deliver impressive audio performance, making them suitable for older children who appreciate high-quality sound. However, it's important to note that the audio cable allows for higher volume levels than the Bluetooth mode, requiring parental supervision.
- Better audio performance than most kid-friendly headphones.
- Includes a cable for passive listening.
- Wireless convenience with solid battery life.
- Audio cable allows for higher volume levels than Bluetooth mode.
- Volume ceiling is higher than some other open ear headphones for kids.
JLab JBuddies Pro Wireless: Best Affordable Headphones
For budget-conscious parents who refuse to compromise on audio quality, the JLab JBuddies Pro Wireless headphones are an excellent choice. Despite their affordable price, these headphones offer impressive audio performance with rich bass depth. The volume limiter switch ensures that sound levels are kept safe for kids. Additionally, the option to use them with or without wires adds to their versatility.
- Affordable option without sacrificing audio quality.
- Quality audio performance with rich bass depth.
- Can be used with or without wires for added convenience.
- Solid battery life for extended use.
- The volume limiter switch makes it possible to raise volume levels (parental supervision required).
- Build quality feels slightly cheap.
Onanoff BuddyPhones Play+: Best for Budding Audiophiles
The Onanoff BuddyPhones Play+ headphones are ideal for children who are developing a keen interest in audio quality. These headphones deliver rich, crisp, and natural audio that enhances the listening experience. With three volume limiter modes, parents can adjust the settings to suit their child's specific needs. However, it's worth noting that the plastic build of the headphones may feel somewhat cheap.
- Rich, crisp, and natural audio quality.
- Three volume limiter modes for customized listening.
- Study Mode focuses on the human voice range.
- Plastic build may feel less durable.
- Buttons can be challenging to operate.
- Volume can exceed comfort levels for some parents.
Onanoff BuddyPhones School+: Best Mic Quality
For parents who prioritize clear communication and distortion-free sound quality, the Onanoff BuddyPhones School+ headphones are an ideal choice. These headphones feature an excellent mic and have a hard-limited volume to ensure the safety of young ears. The affordable price point makes them accessible to a wide range of families.
- Affordable option with excellent mic clarity.
- Volume is limited to 85dB and cannot be disabled.
- No Bluetooth connectivity option.
- Audio may sound slightly thin compared to other models.
Buying Guide: The Best open ear headphones for kids for 2023
Why Are Wireless Headphones Better for Kids?
Wireless headphones offer several advantages when it comes to children's usage. It is essential to avoid headphones that do not offer volume limiting capabilities, regardless of their attractive designs.
At MeloAudio, we prioritize safety above all else. Most wireless headphones, such as the Onanoff BuddyPhones Play+, keep the volume levels below 85dB, ensuring that your child's hearing is protected. However, it's important to be aware that some primarily wireless models ship with audio cables for wired listening, which can unlock higher volume levels.
The MeloAudio Q9 is one such model. According to Jason Hembrey, cofounder of MeloAudio, Bluetooth headphones provide more control over volume levels compared to wired headphones. Wired headphones rely on the internal amplifier of the connected device, which can vary in strength.
Consequently, weaker amplifiers result in quieter sound, while stronger amplifiers can produce louder volumes. Although some wired options manage to stay below 85dB, certain models have recessed defeat switches that allow the volume to reach levels comparable to adult headphones. Therefore, volume limitations advertised for wired models are more likely to be goals rather than completely accurate specifications. By choosing wireless headphones, you can ensure consistent volume limitations for your child's safety.
Why Should Volume Max Out at 85dB for open ear headphones for kids?
The consensus among experts in the open ear headphones for kids industry is that volume levels should not exceed 85dB. This threshold is based on safe listening for up to eight continuous hours. However, it is worth noting that if your child listens for shorter continuous periods, the volume can be slightly higher without posing significant risks. For example, the MeloAudio Q9 intentionally reaches a volume level of 93dB to better compete with ambient noise, such as airplane rumble or car noises during road trips. MeloAudio recommends ensuring that each listening session does not exceed two hours without at least a 10-minute break. According to MeloAudio, volume levels up to 93dB are safe and can provide a better listening experience for your child. However, if you find it challenging to monitor your child's listening habits closely, it is advisable to set a hard limit at 85dB to ensure their safety. Notably, even the second-generation AirPods Pro offers an adaptive transparency mode that reduces any outside noise beyond the 85dB threshold. This feature demonstrates that prioritizing lower volume levels is beneficial for users of all ages, not just children.
Do Kids Need open ear headphones with built-in mic?
The necessity of open ear headphones with built-in mic for children is a topic that warrants consideration. While most adults prefer headphones with microphones to facilitate hands-free calling while on the go, the situation is different for children. Not every parent desires headphones with microphones for their child. For instance, encouraging children to use their headphones like a gaming headset may not align with certain parenting approaches. At MeloAudio, we recognize and address this aspect in each of our reviews. We provide an unbiased evaluation of whether the absence of a microphone in a specific model is a disadvantage or a non-issue, allowing parents to make an informed decision based on their preferences.
How Much Should You Spend on open ear headphones for kids?
Price is a significant factor for most parents when purchasing headphones for their children. It is understandable that many parents hesitate to spend $100 or more on headphones, both for themselves and their children. Concerns about fragility and the potential for breakage often dissuade parents from investing heavily in headphones for their children. The good news is that there are numerous options available for under $50, ensuring affordability without sacrificing quality. In our reviews, we highlight any headphones that may seem overpriced for what they offer. At MeloAudio, we aim to provide valuable guidance to parents seeking the best options at various price points, empowering them to make informed purchasing decisions.
Once you have selected the perfect headphones for your child, we recommend reviewing our tips on taking care of and using them correctly. Additionally, for more buying advice for children, we invite you to explore our curated lists of the best phones, tablets, and laptops for kids.
This diagram illustrates the decision-making process when choosing headphones for children. Wireless headphones, which are Bluetooth-enabled, offer volume limiting features to ensure safe listening. On the other hand, wired options rely on the internal amplifier of the connected device, which can vary in strength. Strong amplifiers can produce louder volumes, while weaker amplifiers result in quieter sound. If the wired headphones have a volume limiter, the specified volume limitation may not always be completely accurate. However, if your child listens for shorter periods, higher volumes (up to 93dB) may be safe and provide a better listening experience. For longer continuous listening sessions, it is advisable to set a hard limit at 85dB to ensure your child's safety.
We hope that this comprehensive guide assists you in finding the best headphones for your child in 2023. At MeloAudio, we prioritize your child's safety and strive to provide you with the most reliable and well-researched information. Happy listening!