With the holiday season comes many gifts of new phones, tablets, games consoles, and other noise-creating devices, which means many parents seeking ways to get a few moments of peace! A new set of headphones is an ideal gift to go along with that new device, but which ones should you pick? With Bluetooth and wireless headphones becoming the norm, I compared two pairs of headphones aimed at younger listeners to see which came out on top.
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These padded, over the ear headphones from OTL come in five licensed designs featuring Batman, Super Mario, Pokemon, and Harry Potter. They’re big and chunky but fold down for easier storage. They also have a built-in microphone, a wired option, and a working distance of around 10m.
These unusual-looking headphones from myFirst use bone conduction meaning nothing actually goes into your ear, instead, they use vibrations sent through your cheekbones to play your music. They’re ultra-lightweight, claim to be unbreakable, and have a working distance of around 15m. They’re also water-resistant at a level of IPX6 and come in two color options; gray, or aquatic green with lilac highlights.
These headphones were pretty much perfect for me. The padding was thick and comfortable, but not so over the top as to cause me to feel hot, even after extended usage so I’m able to wear them for many hours at a time without experiencing any discomfort. They’re also surprisingly lightweight for their apparent bulk, it’s possible for me to forget I’m even wearing them at times!
These headphones are so lightweight you might forget you’re wearing them! With nothing inside your ear, they’re also handy for those who struggle with earbuds (my ears are clearly the wrong shape given how uncomfortable they are). However, I still struggled with them. The pads that rest against the cheekbones to create the sound could be felt physically tapping against my skin which quickly became irritating. Worse, I found that every time I used them, I would develop a headache after just a few songs. A quick Google search suggests I’m not the only one to notice this effect from bone-conducting headphones.
The OTL headphones allow me to crank up the volume where it’s almost physically painful, so don’t worry about being stuck with low volume when you’re trying to blast away the mental cobwebs with a quick dose of heavy metal. The downside to this is that with no volume limiting, it’s more likely that you (or, more worryingly, your kids) could end up damaging your hearing by extended exposure to loud music. Remember to listen to music sensibly and talk with your kids about reasonable volume levels before letting them use these, not that I ever spent my own youth standing in front of giant speakers at rock concerts…
The myFirst headphones allow you to listen to music that’s more than loud enough for most purposes, but you’re probably not going to want to. First, the louder the music, the more vehemently the cheek pads tap against your skin which is just annoying – the introduction to “Born in the U.S.A.” felt like an incessant toddler trying to get my attention. Secondly, the music is so tinny, it’s not especially pleasant to listen to anyway. Turning on the Bass Booster EQ setting helped it sound less like the bands were playing in a tin can, but had the downside of increasing the tapping so the words rock and hard place spring to mind.
One of the supposed selling points of the bone conduction technology is that by leaving the ear uncovered, users will be able to hear what is going on around them while using the headphones – a shouting parent or approaching vehicle for example. Both my husband and I found this not to be the case. We still had to turn the music off in order to be able to hear the other person speaking while using them.
The one problem I’ve found with the OTL headphones comes from their clarity. There’s a noticeable fuzziness when listening through these – especially when it comes to anything with a lot of bass. Personally, it doesn’t bother me, and playing with my phone’s EQ options can help alleviate some of it to a degree, but those looking for crystal clear sound will almost certainly want to look elsewhere.
The myFirst headphones are definitely clearer than the OTL ones but this is partly due to the tinniness I mentioned before. With so little bass, the vocals come through more clearly but with that tin can quality that no one wants from their music, no matter how clear it may be.
The sales blurb for these headphones estimates 30 hours of working life, but I’d put it higher than that. Despite using them daily, often for long stretches of time, I’ve only found myself needing to recharge the OTL headphones every few weeks or even months at times of lower usage. When switched off they don’t appear to lose charge and the graphic that appears on my iPhone gives me plenty of warning when a charge is impending. When I do need to charge them, the headphones charge using a standard micro USB cable so if you’re caught short anywhere, you should easily be able to borrow a spare or pick up a new one cheaply.
My one gripe regarding battery life is that once the battery does get low, the headphones beep every few seconds until you plug them in. This renders the final hour or so of battery life effectively useless as the beeping constantly cuts into whatever you’re listening to and is irritating enough that you’ll quickly end up simply switching them off until recharged.
The myFirst headphones also had reasonable battery life, but nothing like that of the OTL set. The sales blurb estimates around five hours of play but again, I’d say this is a slight under-estimation. As with the OTL set, a graphic displays on my phone to show me the remaining battery life and the same issue occurs with an incessant beeping when the power level gets low, rendering the headphones useless for their final hour or so until drained.
The biggest negative point for the myFirst headphones, however, is charging. The headphones use a special, vaguely magnetic USB charging cable that sits over two raised metallic points on the headphones. This cable doesn’t slot in or clip on in any way, so you have to be very careful when connecting it in order for it to sit in the right position, then don’t so much as breathe heavily nearby for the duration of the charge unless you want the cable to fall off. The company doesn’t appear to offer replacement cables either, so if your kid loses or breaks the cable, tough luck.
I tested sound leakage with my husband who is currently sharing my home office and sits around 5 feet away from me. With the OTL headphones playing at a comfortable mid-volume loud enough to drown out any conversation in the room, he rated the sound leakage at a nine (with ten being silence and one being the equivalent of music playing from regular speakers). While there was a small amount of sound that could be heard, it was very minimal and he would have been able to carry out an important call easily without having to ask me to turn the volume down or switch off.
The myFirst headphones were rated a three. While the sound wasn’t quite as loud as simply playing the music directly from my phone’s speakers, it was only reduced a small amount and there was no way he could go on a work call while I used them as both parties would have been able to clearly hear the music. Wearing these in any kind of public setting is completely out unless you want everyone in the vicinity to listen along with you.
At around £35 (about $47 USD), the OTL headphones aren’t bargain-basement price, but a comfortable mid-range that I’d be more than happy to pay for the quality. I’ve noticed these sets selling for considerably more depending on the seller so beware of being overcharged.
At £62 (about $83 USD)- nearly double that of the OTL set – the myFirst headphones struggle to justify their price point. This is twice what I have paid for many good sets of headphones and while still at the low end of the scale when compared to high-end models like Bose or Bang & Olufsen, there are far better options out there if you’re looking to splash out.
As is probably obvious if you’ve read this far, the OTL headphones were my strong favorite out of these two headphone sets, scoring almost double what myFirst managed. The OTL headphones outperformed the myFirst ones in nearly every category, only falling down fractionally when it came to sound clarity – a small price to pay when everything else is taken into consideration.
The OTL headphones have become my go-to set every time I need to use headphones – something that has increased substantially this year with both my husband and son often at home and trying to work/study in the same small spaces. I use them for listening to audiobooks, drowning out family members’ Zoom calls with music, and I’ve even connected them to my Fire TV Cube for late-night TV watching when others are asleep. The myFirst headphones, meanwhile, have barely been touched outside of testing for this review. The benefits of bone conduction technology are simply not worth the issues found in this particular set.
If you’re looking for a decent set of headphones that will comfortably fit most of your family, provide great sound, good volume, and long battery life, then look no further than a pair of wireless folding headphones from OTL. I’m already considering picking up a spare pair just in case, heaven forbid, anything should happen to my current ones.
GeekMom received these items for review purposes.
This post was last modified on December 14, 2020 12:14 am
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