After a flurry of recent Audiophilia headphone/earphone deliveries and reviews, the Puro BT-5200 Bluetooth Wireless Headphones arrival came much like coal to Newcastle. I knew they were shipped for review and a quick visit to Amazon showed real good lookers in gold metal and buttery tan leather and priced at a very (too?) reasonable $129. Happily, the inexpensive price/limited performance ratio did not add up as I discovered during the very enjoyable review sessions.
Upon close examination, the 5200s are beautifully made headphones. One of the most luxurious I've used. Other than aiming for quality sound, noise isolation, and superior construction, Puro Sound Labs has added a special feature -- 'advanced volume monitoring and interactive reporting to guide users to safer listening.'
Puro explains that '...with the Volume Monitoring Bluetooth headphones, we put you in control of protecting one of your most valuable senses – hearing. These headphones are uniquely engineered to continuously monitor volume levels as you listen, and deliver that information to you through the LED indicator on the ear cup. No more wondering, “How loud is too loud?” To boot, the 82% noise-isolation and studio grade audio quality ensure that your listening experience is never compromised, even in noisy environments.' They're dead serious about efforts to curb this preventable problem. They even have an ask our Audiologist page on their site.
Important note. The model under review is the Studio Grade Adult Bluetooth Wireless Headphones, not the child's version. You will get lighting indications on the ear cup for above 85 dB but the sound will NOT attenuate like the BT2200 Studio Grade Children's Bluetooth Headphones. Important difference.
I can report Puro's attempts at sound isolation and their boast of an 82% reduction claim, even with on ear rather than over ear cups, is accurate. Astonishing, in fact.
The BT5200 Wireless headphones are compatible with iPhone, iPad, Android devices, and features Bluetooth 4.0, battery life of 24 hours playback and 200 hours standby from its Lithium ion rechargeable battery, the advanced microprocessor driven LEDs indicate volume for safe listening levels, very comfortable leather ear cushions and headband, and 40mm custom dynamic drivers.
Not much found under discovery and internet snooping about the 'custom drivers'. Just so, yet the sound produced by them is very refined. Definition and balance the best I've heard from a sub $150 headphone. Again and again I was waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop. Bang, there goes the soundstage. Oh, there's the loss of detail. But it never dropped. It was all consistency and coherence no matter the musical drama unfolding. The drivers add a beautiful hue to all repertoire, but the hue, while coloration, does not detract from detail or rhythmic energy.
A little more Prince, I think. I've always admired Prince for his musicianship and showmanship, and his unique energy in relaying those almost imperceptible syncopated grooves. The sound was very dynamic with the ostinato keeping my feet tapping. Family members wanted a listen, too, and were very impressed by the Princely demo.
Classical repertoire highlighted the coherence I mentioned. The Puro's drivers did not control the musical information from complex string passages I've heard on Audeze and Beyerdynamic, both five times the price, but they held their own. Coherence -- a balanced sound -- is an important criteria with headphones where the mind has to accept clinical views of original acoustics and musical settings.
What will keep you coming back for more and continuing your admiration for these headphones is that beautiful hue. The timbres of instruments and voices do sound accurate, but the soundstage is bathed in a sweetness that dulls the blunt edge found in other very revealing models.
Try the beautiful flutes and bells at the opening of Reiner's Mahler Symphony No. 4 on his famous RCA/Chicago Symphony. The playing is gorgeous but the orchestration and dynamic really highlights the coherence and timbral qualities the Puro brings. I've experienced this recording on what was probably the best sound I've heard from headphones -- a MrSpeakers Alpha Prime headphone amplified by Cavalli. What a magical combination. The Puros can't compete with that aural alchemy, but they did give musicality in spades.
There are a lot of companies out there playing grabby grabby for your headphone dollars. If you are an audiophile, you're already setup with Audeze, Beyerdynamic, MrSpeakers or any other of the big boys. And you're in for way above $200. My reference headphones for reviewing are Sennheiser Momentum for wireless and my splendid wired Masters & Dynamic MH40s. Both are superb and lots more dosh than the Puros. But, if you are looking for quality cans for a reasonable investment, fold for travel in a good case, are comfortable to wear for hours, and has rock solid Bluetooth connectivity, the Puro BT-5200 should be top of your audition list. For $129, they are an absolute steal; a gem of a deal. Very highly recommended.
Further information: Puro Sound Labs