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Local Headphone Maker Earns Top Rating For Protecting Young Ears

Photo caption:

Photo by Jessica Lucia / flickr

A boy using headphones on Feb. 17, 2010.

San Diego Headphone Maker Earns Top Rating For Protecting Young Ears


Brett Lacey, CEO, Puro Sound Labs

Peter Torre, audiology professor, San Diego State University


There are dozens of headphone manufacturers that pledge to safeguard children's ears by limiting how loud they can listen to music. But a New York Times analysis last week found half of the 30 kids headphones tested blew past their promised noise limits.

The top pick was a set of Bluetooth headphones from San Diego-based Puro Sound Labs. Product recommendations website The Wirecutter, owned by The New York Times Co., found Puro's headphones were able to consistently limit their output to 85 decibels, the federal workplace safety recommendation for adults. That's somewhere between the sound a garbage disposal or vacuum cleaner makes from three feet away.

Puro was founded in 2014 by Dave Russell after his daughter developed noise-induced hearing loss, which her doctors believed was caused from listening to lots of loud music. Puro's headphones use an internal battery to control how loud they can get.

Hearing loss from loud music can be permanent, according to San Diego State University audiology professor Peter Torre. He heads up SDSU's Recreational Noise Exposure and Auditory Function Lab. The 85 decibel limit is a good start, he said, but because it was set decades ago for adults over an eight-hour workday, there's still a risk of hearing loss for children even at that level.

"It’s a great step, but the classic part is moderation," Torre said. "If you want to listen to music when you work out, that’s fine, but you shouldn’t spend eight or nine hours under earphones. If you’re wearing your earphones and you notice ringing in your ears, or you can’t hear something, you should have your hearing checked."

Torre and Puro CEO Brett Lacey join KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday with more advice on how to prevent hearing loss in children.


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