One of the big concerns I have these days concerns the quality of hearing that my family members have — especially my 15-year-old stepdaughter. She LOVES music and constantly has headphones on. She loves it so much that she will crank the volume to 11 and not think twice about it. This becomes a problem because we can usually hear what she is listening to outside her headphones and we have to tell her to turn it down. Hearing loss can be advanced by prolonged headphone use above a certain safe listening level. There are countless studies out there that confirm this fact and because of this, there are some headphone manufacturers that are incorporating volume limiting elements into their designs. One such company is Direct Sound. I have had the pleasure of testing out their Yourtones Plus Volume Limiting Total Protection Headphones recently and I can say that they make a difference.
The Yourtones Plus + Volume Limiting Total Protection Headphones are designed with kids in mind. Developer, Direct Sound, created them in order to help parents protects their children from Noise-Induced Hearing Loss and untreatable Tinnitus later in life. Research shows that any volume above 85 dB can start to cause damage to your hearing. According to Stony Brook School of Medicine, at even 95 dB, damage to hearing can occur in as little as four hours of exposure per day. The Yourtones headphones have built-in technology that keeps playback volumes to a safe minimum of 85 dB and no sound quality is sacrificed. The Yourtones headphones do offer passive noise canceling at 33.4 dB and have a frequency response of 20–20,000 Hz. They only weigh 8.5 ounces, which is surprising when you see how large they are. The headphones will fold up for easy transport.
My primary testing experience for these headphones was spent on music. I know that some people will use headphones to watch hours of video on their mobile devices, but I really wanted to get a sense of what it would be like to listen to music with the Yourtones headphones for an extended period of time. The first thing I noticed was the design/comfort level of wearing them initially. I’m so used to on-ear and in-ear headphones that I had forgotten what over-ear headphones felt like. At first, they felt very large on my head. They do cover my entire ear and the bottom of the ear cup extends downward to meet my jawline. This was a bit of an adjustment for me, but after a little while, I started not noticing it as much. The headphones are very lightweight and wear well. I just had an adjustment period since I wasn’t used to having headphones surrounding my ears.
The next thing I noticed was the connection. These headphones are wired and connect to devices using a 3.5mm stereo headphone jack. This means that I could use them with my MacBook Pro and iPad Pro easy enough, but had to pull out my Lightning/headphone adapter to connect to my iPhone 7. I did use the headphones on both my laptop and phone and didn’t notice a change in sound quality between the two devices. The cable for the headphones is only about 2 feet long and has a breakaway jack at the y-junction of the cable before it breaks off to each earpiece. I noticed that when I unplugged this section that the aluminum casing that was covering the joint pulled away from the cable. It slipped right back on and doesn’t seem to serve a purpose other than decoration, but it was an annoyance because it kept the two pieces of cable from connecting properly when it slipped away.
Overall, I was impressed with the sound quality of the headphones. Nothing was muted and tones rang through loud and clear. I listened to a variety of music including Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and even Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People. I found that bass tracks were clear and punchy, vocals were strong and crisp, and surround sound moved from ear-to-ear like it should. Even though these are not technically noise-canceling headphones, Direct Sound rates them as ‘isolating’ and since they enclose your entire ear, they do block out quite a bit of ambient noise. I was using them at work and we had a fire drill. Our alarms are quite loud and they still rang through to my ears while I was wearing the Yourtones headphones, but my office phone ringing did not. It just depends on what type of sound it is.
As far as the volume limiting feature, I decided to run a side-by-side test of the Yourtones headphones and my Master & Dynamic MW50s. Now, since the MW50s are wireless, I connected them to my iPhone using the headphone cable so that it was a fair side-by-side. The track I tested this on was Rhianna’s Umbrella. There is a pretty wide variety of sounds in the track including heavy snare/cymbal, bass, and vocals. First I plugged in the Yourtones headphones and cranked them up full blast. And, while was a little louder than I would typically listen to music, it wasn’t uncomfortable to listen at that level. Next, I plugged in the MW50s. To be safe, I turned the volume down to about 25% power and then slowly increased the power. At 50%, it was comfortable and starting to get ‘too loud’. At 75%, I really wanted to turn it down. At 100% the sounds were rattling my eardrums and it was very uncomfortable — so uncomfortable that I couldn’t bear it longer than about 2 seconds. Based off of this comparison, I would definitely say that the Yourtones provide a volume limiting feature and they hold their own with sound quality even against premium brands like Master & Dynamic.
The final bit of testing I did was to check balance between left and right earcups as well as a frequency check.
Balance: I used L or R Check to test out the balance between the two earpieces. The app plays an even tone and you can select either the left or right earpiece to hear the tone through. I was able to hear the tone equally and evenly through both the left and right earpieces.
Frequency: The app I use for this is called Tone Generator. It allows me to play a tone through both earpieces at the same time. The tone starts at 20Hz and goes up through 22 kHz — the basic hearing range for human ears. I do want to note that I personally can hear a range between 30 Hz and 17 kHz through the iPhone speaker without headphones. Normally, I will test the frequency tone at 50% and then again at 100%. Given that these headphones limit volume, I decided to just attempt listening at 100%. When I did, I was able to hear 30Hz to 17,650 kHz.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the large, over-ear headphones. Since I’ve been partial to the smaller, wireless headphones for quite some time, I knew that I was faced with an adjustment, but after some extended use, the Yourtones headphones became quite comfortable. The sound quality is superb and I love the volume limiting feature — especially for younger listeners. I would rate these headphones 4.5/5 stars. I would love to see them have some sort of carrying case and a longer connection cable for flexibility. They retail for $120 and are available from Direct Sound’s website.