Gaming headphones are extremely popular, especially for gamers who play online multiplayer games. Whether you play on a PS4, Xbox One X, Nintendo Switch, or PC, if you play with other people online you'll probably want some kind of headset so you can chat with other players.
While we've tested dozens to find the very best gaming headsets for PC, PS4, and Xbox One X, one thing that gets overlooked is just how loud headphones can be. Though our previous tests in this area have focused exclusively on music and video, gaming is increasingly an area of concern—especially since gamers are more prone to play for hours at a time.
As we've seen when researching and testing the best kids' volume-limited headphones, your child's hearing can be damaged when exposed to sounds above a certain threshold (typically 85dB(a)) for an extended period of time. Volume-limited headphones reduce the maximum volume of an incoming signal so that this is less likely to happen, reducing the likelihood that the user will experience permanent damage.
Puro Sound Labs produces far and away the best volume-limited headphones on the market, according to our tests and our roundups of the best kids headphones. The PuroGamer is the company's first attempt at a gaming-focused model, including a removable microphone, USB cable for plugging into a PC or game console, and a larger over-ear design that more comfortably envelops your ears.
Here's how they held up in our testing.
About the PuroGamer Volume-Limited Gaming Headphones
Here are the specs for the PuroGamer headphones as provided by Puro:
- - 50mm graphene drivers
- - Premium Stereo Sound
- - Puro Balanced Response
- - 75% ambient noise isolation
- - Omnidirectional detachable mic
- - Volume Limited to 85 dB
- - USB + 3.5mm connector
- - Weight: 13oz
- - Includes: Headphones, detachable mic, soft carrying bag, quick start guide
What We Like
The design is slick, sturdy, and durable
The PuroGamer headphones may be the company's first gaming-focused model, but they look great. They're nicely understated compared to most gaming headphones, with a removable mic that easily allows them to do double-duty as your go-to pair for gaming and something you would credibly wear out of the house.
They're bulky, of course, as most over-ear headphones are, but the design is clearly meant to be something you wouldn't use just for gaming. Of course, since these are ostensibly aimed at younger listeners and gamers, the design needs to be durable. We think Puro has really excelled here.
It's tough to make headphones too durable, especially if they're going to be used by kids. The PuroGamers at least cover the basics, delivering a metal-frame headband that's tough to bend and a braided cable that should hold up for a long time. Though we typically prefer a removable cable (more on this below), in this case Puro has gone the extra mile to ensure the cable is unlikely to be the first thing that breaks.
Works well with PS4, Xbox, Switch, and PC
Though we don't love that the cable has both 3.5mm and USB connectors (since you won't use them both most of the time), it does at least give the PuroGamer headphones compatibility with all the major gaming systems out there, including PC.
Issues here are almost entirely down to the microphone. Every gaming system has a headphone jack either on the system itself or the controller, but on PC this jack can't be used for microphones. For the PuroGamers that means you'll just need to plug in the USB port either directly or through an adapter if you don't have full-size USB ports on your system of choice.
It's a minor pain, but it's a small price to pay to have headphones that work on every gaming system out there without having to buy multiple pairs. As a bonus, sound quality is much better when hooked up via USB than the standard 3.5mm jack.
Sound quality is good, and there are no major flaws
When we test headphones, we look for two things: good sound reproduction and major flaws. Some of the issues we look for are problems with distortion (where the headphones can't reproduce sound accurately), tracking differences where one cup is louder than the other, how much sound leaks out into your surroundings, and how much ambient noise leaks in. The PuroGamers aren't perfect, but they passed all of our tests with relatively high marks.
In most cases, the PuroGamers are about average (or slightly above). They aren't active-noise cancelling headphones, so they do let some outside noise in, but not enough to be a bother. They don't leak much noise to your surroundings, though this is helped by the fact that they don't get that loud by design. They also didn't show major issues in tracking and distortion, at least to the point where it would bother you.
I used the PuroGamer headphones as my main pair for about a week straight, and I definitely found some noticeable sound quality things I didn't like. Overall, the PuroGamers were good, though they had a tendency to clip out some high frequency sounds, producing a hiss that could be annoying.
Otherwise, they sound great, and I didn't notice that at all while using them for gaming, since most of what I heard were things like explosions, gunshots, and other standard gaming sound effects. And though you'd expect that having volume limits would make these too soft to be used in a loud environment, they were more than loud enough to drown out my co-workers in our large, open floor plan office.
The mic is excellent and removable
I wasn't expecting much from the mic on these headphones, but consider me pleasantly surprised. The recorded audio is clear, crisp, blocks ambient noise quite well, and is able to record detail cleanly. I found it especially clear when just speaking softly, which is great.
Personally, I don't like when I am chatting on a game and everyone in my house can hear me. Not only is it annoying to only hear one part of a conversation, it's something you can't really do late at night. With the PuroGamers you can speak pretty softly and be heard loud and clear on the other end.
The best part of the mic is that it's removable, however. Though most gaming headphones let you slide the mic up and out of the way, you still won't want a mic hanging off your headphones if you use them on the bus, a plane, or at school or the office. The PuroGamers let you unplug the mic entirely, making these much more useful as a pair of do-everything headphones than the name would suggest.
What We Don't Like
The cable is durable, but isn't removable
In nearly every other case, we are big fans of removable cables on headphones. Cable connections are almost always the first thing that will break, getting bent and fraying over time. A removable cable is super easy to replace, saving you having to send your headphones off to get repaired.
With volume-limiting headphones, it's more complicated. Most of these headphones limit volume by using special resistors in the cables that reduce the incoming signal. If you use a different cable, or plug the cable in the wrong way, the volume limits don't work.
We still have to ding Puro a bit here, because it is possible to design a removable headphone cable that can only be plugged in the correct way. But we also have to commend the designers for going the extra mile to ensure the cable will survive a lot of abuse. Every connection point has rubber shielding to reduce the stress put on the cable itself, and the whole thing is braided so it will remain largely tangle-free. These things are built to last.
The volume limits can be exceeded
Most research suggests that listening to music at a sustained volume above 85dB(a) can cause permanent damage, which can be particularly damaging to children's hearing. The PuroGamers are advertised as limiting volume to just 85dB(a), though in our tests we found that it was possible to exceed these limits if you have a more powerful source like a laptop or anything with an amp.
With statistically average "pink noise" we were able to see results as high as 99dB(a), which is alarming. Though when we played back ZZ Top's "Chartreuse," a song we utilize as a real-world example because of how damn loud it can be, the headphones limited it to just 90dB(a).
These results are pretty typical for the category, according to our testing. Volume "limiting" headphones would be more accurately described as "volume reducing"—there is no way to set a hard cap on how loud wired headphones can get, since that is determined by what you have them plugged into. The PuroGamers, like other volume limiting headphones, simply reduce the maximum volume compared to non-limiting headphones.
In most cases, the PuroGamers limit things to a safe level, but it's important to still exercise restraint. Don't hook these up to a more powerful audio source like an amplifier, don't use these for an extended period of time without taking breaks, and try to limit the volume on the game console or computer to about 80% or lower, even with volume-limiting headphones.
After awhile the earcups can become uncomfortable
In real world testing, I only had one big complaint with the PuroGamer headset: the earcups could become uncomfortable after a couple hours of
listening. Though this is the case with many over-ear headphones, it is exacerbated slightly by the PuroGamer's tight, clamping headband. Of course, I'm also a grown adult, so anyone with a smaller head or smaller ears would likely have fewer issues with comfort.
Should You Buy Them?
Yes, especially if you're getting them for a young gamer
These days, we use headphones for everything. Chatting on the phone, playing online games, listening to music, checking out podcasts, watching video... it's important that headphones can keep up with all our varied interests and keep us safe.
That's especially true with younger listeners, whose hearing is more prone to damage and for whom the effects of noise-induced hearing loss are more pronounced. Volume-limiting headphones are, simply put, a must-have. Though we still prefer the noise-cancelling PuroQuiet headphones for kids that just need something for watching videos and listening to music, the PuroGamers are a perfect addition to the collection and excellent all-around headphones in their own right.
Though the name suggests these are best-suited to gamers, the design here is flexible enough to work for just about anything. They're not compact and would be tricky to travel with regularly, but the over-ear cups are plush, the sound quality is good, the volume limits mostly work well, and the mic is excellent. It's also removable, so you can just take it off and nobody would even know these weren't everyday standard over-ear headphones.
If your young gamer is on the hunt for a pair of headphones that will work for just about everything (including PC, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch consoles) the PuroGamers are an excellent choice. They're affordable, durable, and provide a relatively safe listening experience. They're not a total replacement for a parents' good judgement and safe habits, but they can augment those in ways that will help keep your kids' hearing safe in the long run.
Meet the testers
TJ is the Executive Editor of Reviewed.com. He is a Massachusetts native and has covered electronics, cameras, TVs, smartphones, parenting, and more for Reviewed. He is from the self-styled "Cranberry Capitol of the World," which is, in fact, a real thing.
Julia is the Senior Scientist at Reviewed, which means that she oversees (and continually updates) the testing of products in Reviewed's core categories such as televisions, washing machines, refrigerators, and more. She also determines the testing methods and standards for Reviewed's "The Best Right Now" articles.
Checking our work.
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