Last December, a representative from Puro Sound Labs offered me a review copy of the company’s flagship Bluetooth hybrid headphones. Her timing couldn’t have been better – I had surgery scheduled for January 8 that would leave me sitting on the couch all day, every day, for two weeks with nothing to do but watch movies and television (ideally without my wife and kids). disturbed to drive).
The Puro Pro is an over-the-ear design that connects to audio sources via Bluetooth 5.0 pairing or a simple headphone cord. It offers just about every feature you could think of for a pair of headphones: safety volume limitation (configurable to 85 dBA or 95 dBA), battery life of over 30 hours, content control via buttons on the left, active noise cancellation and even an inline microphone for phone calls.
At $200, the Puro Pro costs more than I’d normally spend on a pair of headphones for late-night TV watching and the occasional plane ride (my two primary use cases). But after spending several hours a day with the Puro Pro for a few months, I’d drop the money in a heartbeat.
How I tested
Puro Sound Labs PuroPro Hybrid Active Noise Canceling Headphones
Most of the time I spent with the Puro Pro was on my couch, watching content from YouTube Music, Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, along with some locally stored TV shows and movies. Both my Roku Premiere+ 4K UHD media player (for streaming content) and my custom HTPC (for local content) are connected to my Denon AVR-S510BT receiver and from the Denon headphone jack to a Boltune Bluetooth 5.0 transceiver with low latency.
This setup was my main test scenario for the headphones, but I also tested them more rigorously for musical accuracy by connecting them (wired) to the Scarlett Solo preamp I use in my podcast studio. The Scarlett Solo is connected to my workstation; its main “work” function is to provide an XLR input for my RE230 microphone, but it does double duty as my system’s main audio output interface, via the 1/4″ headphone jack – normally plugged into a pair of Sennheiser HD 280 Pro studio headphones .
I need to be very clear that my testing is subjective-I have actually used the headphones and compared them with several sets of reference equipment, and I share my impressions here. That said, I’m a pretty discerning listener; Growing up as a broadcast engineer for a dad, I’ve spent the past 30 years trying to buy personal audio equipment that crosses the line between “this is one of the best you can buy” and “this is an audiophile that will suck your wallet” nonsense.”
I’m a night owl, but my wife gets up early, so watching movies and TV quietly late at night is essential in Salter’s household. Wireless earplugs turned out to be a no-go for me. I tried several models that I liked the sound of, but while I found them comfortable at first, they all led to repeated ear infections after prolonged, daily use. Battery life was also less than ideal: the LG Tone HBS-510 earbuds I used most only had about eight to 10 hours of playtime, with similar results for some lesser-known brands.
Next, I tried a set of Monodeal on-ear Bluetooth headphones – at $35 they’re incredible value, and ended up getting a second pair for my wife (who also loved them). But I still had comfort issues; after several TV episodes in a row, the design on the ear would get a bit ouchy. Battery life also left something to be desired, at around eight hours – not bad for the price, but not long enough to get you through cross-continental plane travel without careful maintenance.
Finally, I used a $200 JBL Live 650BTNC over-ear Bluetooth headphones. Their over-ear design was much more comfortable for extended use than the Monodeal pair, and the playtime of over 20 hours was a huge improvement. The sound quality was also slightly better than the Monodeal. However, they still weren’t 100 percent comfortable for extended use, due to weight, balance issues, and the combination of very firm padding and significant clamping pressure on my head.
While the JBL headphones weren’t perfect, they were workable enough that I wasn’t really looking for a replacement.
Evaluate Puro Pro
For my main use – late at night on the couch watching TV and movies without disturbing my wife – the Puro Pro headphones are by far the best I’ve tried. I also found them excellent for listening to a wide variety of music genres, including classical, acoustic, a cappella and hip-hop.
The only flaws I could find with them – aside from the charging port not being USB-C – is an annoying background hum produced when the headphone volume is maxed out and a staccato noise (e.g. the “click” when moving focus on the Roku interface from one item to another) is produced. That mistake is easy to get around: just turn the volume of the headphones down a single click and no more buzz.
The padding is extremely soft and comfortable, and the headphones provide just enough clamping pressure to stay firm without getting ouchy after a few hours.
While the weight of the JBL and Puro headphones is similar, the balance is different. I don’t notice this immediately when I put on headphones, but after several hour-long episodes of a binged show (or a Lord of the Rings movie), the JBL phones make my neck feel a bit tense, while the Puro Pro phones don’t.
The lighter clamping pressure and softer padding on the Puro Pro headphones also gives me significantly less “sweaty ears” feeling after several hours of extended use than I got from the JBL headphones – or, for that matter, my Sennheiser HD 280 Pro – studio phones after recording a podcast.