Snuggly rascals headphones for kids are a great idea, poorly executed

Take a look at your kids, any kids for that matter, and consider; they hear better than you. Young, healthy people almost always hear better than older people, people like their parents and especially their grandies. It's not unreasonable to assume, therefore, that they can enjoy music maybe even more than older people. Perhaps this explains why young people have always been into music. Whatever, there's no better time to instil a love of music into a person than when they're young.

Snuggly Rascals are cute headphones for $25.

It's a compelling argument for not skimping when buying headphones for your kids. If there's anything that's going to kill anyone's enjoyment of music fast it's headphones that reproduce it badly.

I've written about headphones for kids several times and it always generates a lot of response from readers. Their number one concern is that when the volume is too loud headphones can permanently damage a kid's hearing, and kids love it loud. Many headphones designed for kids have an 85-decibel limiter so they can't go dangerously loud, but these limiters often prove ridiculously easy to get around, even for the non tech savvy. Hint: Most kids are way more tech savvy than their parents.

And so to Snuggly Rascals headphones for kids. These have some really clever ideas and there was no way to get around the volume limiter that I or my five-year-old research assistant could figure, and it sounded like a bit less than 85 dB to me. But the sound quality, oh dear.

Okay, but they're only $25.

Let's cover the positives first. They're nicely presented with a couple of flat speaker drivers tucked into a headband that is secured at the back by Velcro. The drivers can be moved within the headband to line up with ears on heads of all shapes and sizes, but take care in getting the drivers exactly over the ears. And because the drivers can be removed completely the headband can be laundered, but make sure to put the drivers back with the correct (dark blue) side facing the ear – the test unit came out of the box with the left driver incorrectly inserted so the left channel was noticeably weaker than the right.

The headphones come in a range of styles.

The band is available in a variety of colours and is topped with an appliqued animal face, the kid's choice of rabbit, unicorn, cat, kitten, chicken, giraffe, panda, penguin, owl, pig or monster. There's a plane too. This idea appealed greatly to my research assistant although she would have preferred a unicorn to the test unit's penguin and made that very clear to me.

They're also comfortable, a big plus with headphones. When headphones aren't comfy people, no matter what age, won't wear them. Well not for long anyway. Finally, they look pretty cool and they keep ears nicely warm.

So to the negatives. The headband material is not acoustically transparent and muffles the signal slightly and the signal is not great anyway. There's little bass unless you press the drivers against your ears, and then there's not much. Definition is pretty poor. And the cable is too long for a kid at 1.5 metres, inviting tangles. If your kids love music get them headphones that sound better than this. Please.

But for movies and games the Snuggly Rascals will do; they'll keep kids occupied but they may not be terribly involved.

I loved that the headband can be laundered and the cleverness of sliding the drivers to suit any head, even mine. But just about all conventional on-ear or over-ear headphones sound better, even at $25.

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