Children’s headphones were once seen as noting more than scaled down versions of adult models — as long as they were small enough to fit around tiny ears, that was all that was needed. Headphone makers know better now, because it’s not just how they fit but also how they function that is important. And with the Buddyphones Wave, both of these requirements are not just met but done so in a way that is fun for the child while comforting for the parent.
To the naked eye, it’s apparent that the Wave is made of quality materials — not so apparent is that they’re free of any material that could prove harmful to the child. Or that the foldable headband is composed of a polypropylene material that allows for being bent and pulled in all directions without snapping (no kid is going to slowly, slowly put a pair of headphones on or not treat it aggressively at least once during its life-cycle). Both the headband and ear cups are of course cushioned for a comfortable fit — whether they’re adjusted by the parent or the child. There’s also a two tone color scheme in 4 types: white and blue/Blue Robot, white and pink/Pink Unicorn, white and green/Green Monkey and white and yellow/Yellow Bee.
A slot for inserting a USB cable charges the battery so as to provide over 20 hours at a single go, with a headphone socket for plugging in an audio cable for wired listening. This can of course be ignored since there’s Bluetooth for wireless audio streaming, but it’s a good alternative should the power die and the child show no patience for waiting for the headphones to charge.
A final outside element that can’t be seen is the headphones being waterproof/IP67 certified and so able to handle being dunked or going up to 3 feet into a pool — this is not something normally found on children’s headphones. So it not only makes them more safe for use, but increases their life since a water “accident” is now no longer a disaster.
Turning to the interior electronics, there is access to four different modes for modifying the sound that the headphones will then provide (these are quickly shifted from one to the other using the volume buttons on the headphones and watching the lit LEDs resulting). The first mode is for the toddlers — it reduces the maximum volume the headphones can produce down to an extremely safe 75 decibels (the company says this suits those children with sensitive hearing, attention deficits and/or autism well). This is followed by a standard or “Kids” mode which places the max volume at 85db. The second to last mode expects there to be a lot more surface noise — examples being traveling in a car or an airplane or outside with a crowd — and so ups the db to 94. This is also when the optional travel case with waterproof zipper can come in handy.
The last setting — StudyMode — is a bit different in that it employs a proprietary technology designed to optimize vocal clarity and enhance speech. This makes it more suitable for voices to be heard, while still capping the decibel level at 94.
Another innovative technology is the BuddyCable sharing system which allows up to four headphones to be connected to a single audio device, and so can further coordination and cooperation between children listening together.
The Buddyphones Wave comes with a soft travel bag and the Buddycable as well as nametag stickers. It retails for $79.99.