Kensington Hi-Fi On-Ear Headphones with Mic (mfg # K33323WW,) are a nearly ideal solution to the problem of hearing and being heard so that your friends, devices, or applications can hear you.
The usage scenario I was presented with was that they’re ideal for K-12 education and test taking, so I decided to try them out in exceedingly noisy environments with a picky voice recognition software.
Coming in under $25, the headphones feature a swing down rotating mic, 94dB limiting headphones for safety, and they’re capable of fitting a kid’s head comfortably as well as managing to fit on my enormous noggin.
I’ve played with these now for about a month, and finally have the ability to do voice to text as they do a grand job of not picking up all the ambient junk noise in my office (3 servers, a computer, an AC unit that kicks on every three minutes, a rack of switches,) which has prevented me from using voice for anything other than extremely short barked commands between random noise.
They’re pretty comfortable (for a large noggined guy,) feature a nine foot cord so that you can move around a bit, and work very well in noisy environments. I managed to write an article for my other blogging gig last month using voice to text in the insanely noisy office.
Other than that I tend to ramble the mic was of sufficient quality that the recognition software was only thrown twice during my rambling through the article.
I realized at that point I’m a much better typist than I am a speaker when it comes to ordering thoughts, but that’s ok.
A short call via skype tended to indicate I was able to be heard with no issues. Trying this on my threenager so I could get a couple of minutes of peace from having to hear the song Daddy finger again, I learned that they’re slightly too big for her and she thinks they’re a headband. Oh well. A couple of years should remedy that.
These are K-12, and she’s not K yet.
I could also not get them to grab my hair during an adjustment where I specifically was attempting to get my hair tangled in them. I have thick hair though, so you might have a problem with silky hair.
I do wish these had a catchy name such as “Kensington Kids Stonehenge, with Mic” as “Kensington Hi-Fi On-Ear Headphones with Mic and 9-Foot Cord” fails in the naming for target audience department and lands as something that sounds like it goes with a managed phone system for call centers.
One (potential) issue encountered
The plug is a single plug and does not include an adapter to break out the audio into microphone and audio channels. What this means is this works perfectly on most newer devices, but on my older-than-my-kids desktop I could only achieve audio, not mic, without using a splitter, which Kensington does not sell.
You’ll need something like the product on the left in order to split it out on old computers. That’s a 3.5mm Female to two male Mic Audio Y splitter.
Androids and iPhones and probably anything tablet should manage using one single jack. It appears even newer computers are still shipping with multiple mic/audio lines, so maybe this is still an issue with all desktop computers. I’m a tad out of the loop.
A potential (possibly non-,) issue
Although these limit volume to 94dB, that’s still higher than what is considered a safe sound level by the CDC. The recommended exposure limit at 94dB is somewhere around a max of an hour.
That said, unless your kid is cranking it to the max and listening to audio at full volume… oh wait, they’re kids…
It should be noted that 94dB is in the Potentially Hazardous Sound Level as opposed to Hazardous Sound Level ranking on the CDC, so take that as you will. It’s probably not an issue but make sure you pay attention whether your kid is cranking it to 11.
the CDC claims that listen to media devices at above 85dB for prolonged periods can cause similar damage as higher volumes.
Just something to look out for in any headset.
Kensington, a company with a history of not annoying me
I’ve dealt with plenty Kensington products in the past twenty something years as an IT professional. Trackballs, keyboards, backpacks, stand mics, laptop locking devices, seems like a keyboard case or two.
None of the products I’ve had have had issues. This is a big win for the company in my book as there are very few companies with the amount of tech I deal with on a daily basis that I haven’t had to RMA, fix, throw out as junk.
Looking at the thickness of the audio cable and the durable feeling of the headset, there’s little doubt in my mind that in normal use, even kindergartener use, this will probably last.
If your child is going any sort of learning that involves speaking back via a device, these headphones are great. If they’re only listening, the headphones are available for less than half the price without a mic.
For a reasonably priced extremely good sounding headphones with a mic that doesn’t disappoint, you probably aren’t going to go wrong with the K33323WW Kensington Hi-Fi On-Ear Headphones with Mic