BOSEbuild Headphones: Build, Learn and Enjoy

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BOSEbuild Headphones
The BOSEbuild Headphones all tricked out by my son (Image by Skip Owens)

Good headphones can be difficult to find but really high quality headphones for kids are even more rare. BOSEbuild has shattered the myth that high quality audio equipment, educational materials and kid’s products can’t be one and the same thing.

What are the BOSEbuild Headphones?

BOSEbuild is a small independent group within the Bose company and this group has a very specific mission with respect to kids…” to find new ways to inspire their curiosity and spark their instinct for exploration.” The first product produced by the BOSEbuild team was the BOSEbuild Speaker Cube and I reviewed it right here on GeekDad.

But now the BOSEbuild crew has a new product, the BOSEbuild Headphones and they sent me two pairs of these headphones to assemble, play with, and use with my kids. The BOSEbuild headphones are similar to the Speaker Cube in that they come in pieces…assembly is not only required but it’s why the product exists. If you have to build the product yourself and you are taught some of the physics behind it during the build process you just might learn something!

BOSEbuild Headphones
The BOSEbuild Headphones come packaged unassembled but with everything you need to customize the look to just the way you want it (Image by Skip Owens)

In the box:

  • 18 design inserts
  • USB cable
  • Audio cable (they are wireless but can used wired as well)
  • 2 trim rings
  • 2 ear pucks
  • 2 ear cushions
  • Headband
  • Headband cover
  • 2 Yokes

Products Specs:

  • Bluetooth version 4.2
  • Wireless range up to 30 feet
  • 3.7 volt lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • 15 hours of music playback (8 hrs with LED lights on)
  • Adjustable auto-timer
  • 8.0″x5.75″x3.375″ (sized for children 8-18)
  • 0.55 pounds

Similar to the Speaker Cube, the BOSEbuild Headphones are specifically designed to teach kids about the physics behind sound and speaker/headphone design. As you can see in the image above the headphones do not come fully assembled (by design). The build process is also a learning process and it requires the use of an iOS device (go here to see the complete list of compatible iOS devices) running the BOSEbuild Listen app. You absolutely must have one of these iOS devices running the BOSEbuild Listen app to take full advantage of the build/learn/play process for which the headphones are designed.

The build process is centered around teaching you about the following concepts:

  • Sound waves
  • Microphones
  • Hearing and sound perception
  • Healthy listening

BOSEbuild Listen covers these concepts by guiding you through 17 different activities and videos that teaches you all about the physics behind how sound works and how that physics is integrated into the design and form factor of the headphones. But don’t let this description scare you off because they do a great job of embedding this technical knowledge in some very fun and engaging activities.

What’s the Build Process Like?

My kids (age 13 and 16) ripped into the boxes for these headphones and jumped right into the build process and never looked back.

BOSEbuild Headphones
Videos in the BOSEbuild Listen app guide you through the build and teach you a bit about the physics behind the design (Image by Skip Owens)
BOSEbuild Headphones
You can customize the color of the LED lights in your headphones (Image by Skip Owens)
BOSEbuild Headphones
My son working his way through some of the content within the app while wearing his new tricked out headphones (Image by Skip Owens)

The entire process of unpacking the pieces and building the headphones as you step through the 17 activities can take as little as an hour or so but that is an absolute minimum. For example, we spent a lot of time with the “pitch shifter” activity which allows you to use the microphone on the headphones to adjust the pitch of the sound coming into the headphones and play them back to you through the headphones at a different level. Now imagine yourself walking around the house with these headphone on your head laughing hysterically because you are saying something totally ridiculous and you hear your voice coming through the headphones and your voice sounds deeper than Darth Vader. The really entertaining part of all of this is that everyone else in the house just hears your normal voice and watches as you laugh like a crazy person. Lets just say we got a lot out of our combined knowledge of memorable movie lines with just this single activity (and there 16 more in addition to this one)!

My kids are a little older and really didn’t require any help from me to go through the build process. The recommended minimum age for this product is 8 years old and I think that even at that young of an age your child could complete the build process on their own. With adult help I would think even kids younger than 8 could enjoy this product (but the larger size of the headphones may not be an ideal fit). The headphones do fit an adult sized head, but they are designed on the smaller side so they are more ideal for the 8-18 age group they are designed for.

Verdict

I’ve nearly reached the end of this review and I haven’t written about sound quality yet. Well, there isn’t too much to say in that department. These are Bose headphones and they produce the high-quality sound you would expect from a pair of Bose headphones. I also own a pair of Bose Soundlink On-Ear Headphones and wrote up a review here on GeekDad a few years back.

I did a comparison between the BOSEbuild Headphones and my Soundlink On-Ear Headphones and the overall sound quality was similar. While the Soundlink Headphones produced a much deeper bass, the higher end sounds were equally clear and pronounced on both sets of headphones. The BOSEbuild Headphones were actually much more comfortable with their over the ear design instead of on-ear design you get with my Soundlinks. The over the ear design also really helps out when paired with the volume limiting feature because the over the ear form factor helps to reduce ambient noise.

There is one feature with these headphones that is worth the price of admission all by itself and that is Smart Volume Limiting. Permanent hearing damage is something that every parent should be concerned with. Hearing loss can happen slowly over a long period of time, which is what makes the Smart Volume Limiting feature on these headphones so unique and important. The headphones monitor the volume and cumulative sound exposure over a 24-hour period and they dynamically adjust the volume of the headphones downward. Most headphones that are made for kids that tout “volume limiting” just limit the maximum volume of the headphones but that only solves part of the problem. Hearing damage is more of a marathon event than a sprint. Because these headphones both limit the maximum volume AND dynamically reduce the volume over time based on 24-hour listening patterns, they can ensure that even if your kids use the headphones for many hours a day they will be doing so safely.

The folks at BOSEbuild have another solid product on their hands with the BOSEbuild Headphones. The build process and learning activities are easy to follow along with and a lot of fun. The overall sound quality is very good and the Smart Volume Limiting feature is a standout feature that your kids won’t even know is there but will give you peace of mind as a parent. BOSEbuild Headphones retail for $149 and are available at Amazon.com and from the BOSEbuild website.

Disclaimer: BOSEbuild sent me two pairs of their headphones for the purpose of this review.

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