Balancing Sound and Protection

Balancing Sound and Protection

Choosing a pair of headphones for your kids can be a confusing and stressful endeavor. Your kid wants to look cool, but oftentimes, that requires sacrificing sound quality. And in the case of younger kids, you want to prevent them from potentially damaging their hearing by cranking the sound too loud. What's a concerned parent to do? To help ease the pressure, we ordered 12 pairs of kids' headphones from Amazon and tested them for comfort, style, volume-limiting (85 decibels or lower) tech and overall sound quality. Check out our results, ranked from best to worst.

Credit: Tom's Guide

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids' Headphones

Puro Sound Labs BT2200 Kids' Headphones

The first thing I noticed about the Puro BT2200 headphones? The comfort. The wireless BT2200 offers up to 18 hours of battery life, an integrated microphone and a set of beefy 40-millimeter drivers that deliver responsive bass. Durable, aluminum ear cups; a snug-fitting, cushioned head strap; and impressive noise-limiting technology placed these "kids'" headphones at the top of the class.

Credit: Puro

Ailihen C8 Headphones

Ailihen C8 Headphones

The Ailihen C8's bulky-yet-lightweight design might be too large to fit the ears of younger kids. However, they're ideal for tweens and teens. The headphones come in a variety of colors, feature soft padding around the ear cups and fold into the head strap, allowing for easy storage. The sound quality is acceptable, but the clarity suffers at higher volumes. I liked the extra-long, braided audio cable with the metal jack, as well as the built-in mic/volume control, which lets kids effortlessly pause their movie when their parents ask them a question. Noise-limiting technology would have made these headphones better-suited for younger kids.

Credit: Ailihen

Sony MDR-222KD Children's Headphones

Sony MDR-222KD Children's Headphones

What the MDR-222KD lack in style, they make up for in sound quality and comfort. This bargain-priced pair of Sony headphones is very lightweight, at 1.7 ounces; produces clear highs and responsive lows; and has volume-limiting technology built into the audio cable to protect your child's ears from damage. The size is perfect for small heads, and the headphones fit snugly without pinching kids' ears. I would have liked a padded headband and a better-quality audio cable with a volume-control button, but for such an affordable price, I won't complain.

Credit: Sony

Contixo Bluetooth Kids' Stereo Headphones

Contixo Bluetooth Kids' Stereo Headphones

Contixo's kid-friendly headphones come with features typically found in higher-priced units, such as Bluetooth, a built-in volume/mic control, an equalizer and an FM receiver. They have a lightweight design and soft padding, and offer 10 hours of battery life, making them great for peaceful road trips. The audio quality was acceptable but lacked punch at the low end and struggled with highs at raised volumes. I liked the SD card slot, which allowed the kids to have preloaded audiobooks or music without being glued to a screen.

Credit: Contixo

LilGadgets Untangled Pro

LilGadgets Untangled Pro

Designed for kids 4 and over, the Untangle Pro kicks out plenty of bass and has an integrated volume limiter that keeps sound limited to 93db. Perforated mesh materials on the earpads and headband provide a cushy, relaxed fit, while the SharePort feature on the right earcup lets other kids connect via daisy chain to hear the same playback. An inline cable also comes included for passive listening, but keep in mind it makes volume much louder, which is unhealthy for young ears. The Untangled Pro is available in six colors: Black, Blue, Green, Pink, Purple, and White.

Credit: LilGadgets

BestGot Kids' Headphones

BestGot Kids' Headphones

The BestGot kids' headphones are available in eight vibrant colors, making them perfect for the style-conscious tween in your house. Their durable construction, padded ear cups, hefty audio cable (with built-in controls) and lightweight design make them a great value at this price. The headphones produced clear highs, noticeable midrange and strong bass thanks to the 40-mm drivers. They are marketed to children due to the size of the ear cups, but considering their quality sound, I can see adults borrowing them from their kids.

Credit: BestGot

Onandoff Kids Explore BuddyPhones Headphones

Onandoff Kids Explore BuddyPhones Headphones

Designed specifically for younger kids, the BuddyPhones are durable and come ready to impress right out of the childproof package. Features such as volume-limiting technology, a detachable audio cable with an integrated mic, an adapter for sharing music with a friend, and comfortable, cushioned ear cups made from synthetic leather allow them to be used for longer jam sessions. The sound quality was only average, with mediocre bass and thin highs across all volume ranges. My favorite feature of the units are the included stickers that let my daughter and I customize the headphones to show off her style.

Credit: Onandoff

AmazonBasics Volume Limited Wired Over-Ear Headphones for Kids

AmazonBasics Volume Limited Wired Over-Ear Headphones for Kids

AmazonBasics' kids' headphones are lightweight, stylish and durable enough to withstand everyday usage from even the most demanding of kids. They delivered decent sound and effective noise-limiting qualities at a reasonable price. The ear cups provided enough padding so that my daughter didn't complain during her 2-hour movie, but she started to get annoyed soon after. The headphones include an angled audio jack and a long cable, so they can be connected across a car seat without getting tangled. However, I wish the build quality was better and the headphones came with a carrying case.

Credit: AmazonBasics

JLab JBuddies Studio Bluetooth

JLab JBuddies Studio Bluetooth

Adequate sound combined with built-in volume regulators and comfy aesthetics, the JBuddies Studio is an ideal choice for active kids who want to take their headphones everywhere. JLab’s proprietary Cloud Foam cushions rest gently on the ears and head, whereas the compact folding design translates to convenient portability. The control scheme can be a bit tricky for children to learn, as the volume buttons also manage track navigation. In addition, battery life (13 hours) is shorter than competitive models, but still sufficient for several days of use.

Credit: JLab

iClever BoostCare Kids' Headphones - Pink Cat Ears

iClever BoostCare Kids' Headphones - Pink Cat Ears

The iClever BoostCare on-ear headphones feature volume-limiting technology, allowing only a child-friendly 85 decibels into their ears. The sound quality overall is clear, but it tends to thin out as the volume gets pushed to higher levels. The headphones are lightweight and sturdy, and they have foam ear cups that fit comfortably on smaller ears. I liked the tangle-free audio cable but would have liked them to fold up for easier storage.

Credit: iClever

Paw Patrol CozyPhones

Paw Patrol CozyPhones

The CozyPhones combine a supersoft headband with a pair of built-in volume-limiting (90 dB) earphone pads. The sound quality is surprisingly pleasant for their size, providing enjoyable highs and punchy bass. The 3-foot braided cable is strong, resists tangling and includes a sturdy 3.5mm audio jack to fit various devices. I really appreciated the ability to remove the ear pads and toss them into the wash whenever my 6-year-old wiped his pizza hands across them (quite often). For their price, the CozyPhones are perfect to slip on your kids when traveling or just hanging out in the house, but I am skeptical of the durability of the ear-pad speakers for long-term use.

Credit: CozyPhones

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kid-Safe Headphones

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kid-Safe Headphones

It took me a couple of minutes to get past the childproof packaging to test out Sakar's Ninja Turtle headphones and an additional 30 minutes to get over the disappointment. The sound quality is weak and muffled across all frequency spectrums, and the overall construction is flimsy and right on a par with what you'd expect out of a cheap pair of  headphones. These cans suffer from cheap build features, such as a thin audio cable, stiff cushioning on the ear cups and poorly constructed plastic side panels. On the plus side, the noise-limiting feature works, and you can bend the heck out of the headband before it breaks. If you want to punish your kid for not listening to you, then buy them a pair of these headphones.

Credit: Sakar