PuroPro Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Volume Limited Headphones
The PuroPro Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Volume Limited Headphones offer hearing protection, but not at the expense of sound quality. The multi-function buttons will take some getting used to, and the all-plastic design will require a little coddling. Listening to most music, and all spoken word content will deliver pleasure, especially when wearing the headphones all day and barely noticing.
First off, I have to give puro kudos for making the unboxing experience very different. Rather than tearing through stickers that hold slick cardboard sides down, and then peeling off a lot of plastic, puro had me open a wooden box. Yes, I said wooden box.
Will I ever use the wooden box with the headphones again? Probably not, but you know, I’m not going to toss the wooden box. Everybody needs a wooden box with a latch on it at some time. The wood seems more environmentally friendly as it can be reused rather than recycled, but I can see arguments that a cheap wooden box might be tossed rather than recycled for stuff minimalists.
Beyond the wooden box, the $199 PuroPro Hybrid Active Noise Canceling Volume Limited Headphones with Built-in Mic clearly needs a shorter product name. My SEO tool isn’t going to like the length of my URL for this review.
My interest in these headphones comes from their volume limiting feature, which isn’t seen much on adult headphones (note that puro also sells children’s headphones).
Many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s find a certain affinity for loud. Our generation’s music was meant to be loud. Many of us are also suffering from some level of hearing loss. Puro Sound Labs is attempting to help police our tendencies and perhaps retain the fidelity of our sound gardens for a few more years.
What we like
I received the black PuroPros. They also come in orange and rose gold. Removing the headphones from the wooden box and the enclosed travel case reveals a very matt black pair of over-the-ear headphones. When I look at them, I almost get the sense that they really do absorb light—which will be brought up in the “What could be improved section” below because I use a flashlight sometimes to figure out where the on button is.
Before I get to the sound, let me talk about sound. Well, sound limiting. By default, the PuroPros limit decibels to 85 dB. I must admit that I cranked mine to 95 dB. At 85 dB I found myself wanting to turn up the volume and being greeted with a beep reporting max volume. I guess you can’t take the rocker out of the listener.
But I do appreciate the effort. At least I know I won’t experience the eardrum bashing I have with some headphones when I make the mistake of turning up the volume and then realizing I didn’t seat the cable correctly, and feeling pain in my head for the next couple of hours, along with unwelcomed ringing.
For active noise cancelation (ANC), like sound reduction, Puro offers two levels, well, actually three with ANC off. The two levels work at 32 and 15 dB via passive attenuation from the earcups and the pair of microphones in each.
The 40mm custom dynamic drivers deliver well-balanced audio. I mean really well-balanced. I get a sense that if the recording artist was wearing these headphones they would just say, “yes, that’s what I was after.” Puro claims a 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response with <1% total harmonic distortion.
I went through my usual regiment of audio-stretching tracks and found the PuroPros equally adept at Enya’s “Caribbean Blue” as they were at Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi.” In Hamilton’s “Quiet Uptown” Lynn Manuel Miranda whispers, seemingly just beyond vision. The piano sits behind the vocal, clean and precise. I did find classical music mushier, but not annoyingly so.
Connectivity employs Bluetooth® 5.0 or a wire. Bluetooth includes the aptX codec for improved audio quality. With the movement toward lossless audio, the only way to receive the best sound from a streaming service requires a wire. The dual-mode on the PuroPro’s arrives via its detachable 45-inch long standard audio cable. The headphones do not require power when wired unless you want to run ANC.
Battery life from the Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery is very good, running well over a day with or without ANC.
4 ANC microphones and 1 phone microphone build out the ANC calling environment. The sound quality is good on both ends.
And the PuroPros are very much all-day headphones. Comfortable, light, with no pressure on the top of my head, the sides, or around my ears. Unlike some over-the-ear headphones, my ears fit easily within the earcups without folding my lobs.
The travel case is well constructed and compact. A mesh area holds the accompanying charging and audio cables.
What could be improved
The headphones are lightweight. They also feel less robust than they should in this price range. The all-plastic build screams for avoiding rough play while wearing. I also worry about the protein-leather earpads and headband pad. Name brands plan for wear (I have purchased authentic and third-party earpad replacements for Bose Quiet Comfort headphones), but I don’t find much support for replacement parts among second-tier manufacturers. At $199 I want headphones that will last. Take care of your PuroPro’s and they will likely last beyond the investment, but expect to replace rather repair these headphones at the end of their useful life.
There are a lot of functions hidden in the deceptively simple volume rocker, ANC, and power buttons. I won’t go into all of them, but if these are not your primary headphones, I can bet you will be returning to the manual when you pick them up to refresh your memory on which buttons do what. One example is the need to push down the up and down volume to change sound limiting. The tiny type in the tiny manual takes six tables to cover all the button functions.
I would prefer at least an additional button for phone calls. I get that it is less expensive to write software to map buttons than to install more buttons, but multi-function buttons are a bane for reviewers as no two headsets share secondary feature controls. A small LED indicates feature shifts, but if you are wearing the PuroPro’s you can’t see the visual indication. I do like that for features like power, ANC, and sound limiting a voice announces the change.
All new headphones should charge via USB-C. No excuse to still be using micro-USB.
The manual print is far too small as is most manual print these days. And it’s not just my eyes. The print is ridiculously small, requiring a magnifying glass to peruse the table (yes I know, people who write “peruse” probably have old eyes). Put a QR code on the front of the manual pointed at a PDF download. Unlike many products, it does not appear a PDF version of the manual is available. I would suggest the company remedy that shortly.
Although I kind of like it, I would suggest Puro ditch the wooden box in favor of some post-consumer waste packaging. Perhaps even make the case out of recycled water bottles. But high marks for low plastic content in the package design.
PuroPro: The Bottom Line
I found the PuroPro a solid buy within its price range. There are tradeoffs. My CleerFlow IIs offer a bit richer, more distinct audio pallet, but for most pop music and spoken word, the PruoPros deliver a great audio experience. The need for noise limiting makes the PuroPros the easy choice.
These cans look great, wear well, travel light, but take a bit of learning to master the features of each multipurpose button—and they are not as robust as headphones that use metal in some of the areas prone to stress. If you take care of your kit though, and listen to music mostly at home or at the home office, then you will probably derive a lot of pleasure from the PuroPro Hybrid Active Noise Canceling Volume Limited Headphones.
Puro Sound Labs provided the PuroPro ANC Headphones for review. Images courtesy of Puro Sound Labs.
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