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BuddyPhones Explore+ Review

Last updated: 3 months ago
6 min read
Editor
rating
2.9
BuddyPhones Explore+ on a blanket

Onanoff BuddyPhones Explore+ are affordable headphones for kids with essential features like a volume limiter and durable design for a carefree listening experience.

Younger children usually don’t demand extra features like grownups do. They’re happy even with the most basic things.

Frankly there’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars for a pair of kids’ headphones. In other words, headphones like BuddyPhones Explore+ should fulfill most of their needs.

That doesn’t mean Buddyphones kids headphones don’t offer any features. They sport a physical volume limiter (up to 85dB) and come with a detachable cable and a splitter to pair up to 4 headphones with one audio source.

Even the build quality, despite feeling “plasticky” and cheap, offers good flexibility.

Furthermore, headphones meet many standards regarding kids’ health and environmental protection (RoHS, REACH, and PROP65).

However, should you opt for wired headphones in 2022? Are they comfortable enough? What other features do they provide? Find the answers in the review below.

  • Fairly durable design with a detachable cable
  • Excellent stability for outdoor activities
  • Decent sound quality
  • Volume limiter (max 85dB)
  • Can't change volume limiter settings
  • Comfort could be better
  • Passive noise isolation isn't the strongest
  • No IP water resistance
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Table of Contents

    Sound

    Star Rating
    2.5 Average

    BuddyPhones Explore+ produce a warm sound signature with a somewhat muted midrange and a sharp roll-off in the treble.

    The sound quality is about what you can expect. While headphones’ technical performance is nothing to run home about, they’re fine for casual listening and offer good vocal clarity.

    Bass

    You get a reasonable level of bass. It’s nicely punchy and warm.

    The sub-bass extension is decent, and you can still feel a fair amount of rumble when playing songs like “Baby Shark” by Pinkfong.

    Headphones are nice for most genres popular among kids, from pop to acoustic music.

    Midrange

    While the overall midrange sounds veiled and muted, vocals stay pretty clear and understandable.

    That’s great for voice calls when you want to fully understand the teacher’s voice on the other side of the line.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ earcups inside
    The maximum volume limit is 85dB (about the loudness of a food blender).

    Treble

    It does have more energy than the midrange but stays away from becoming harsh or sibilant.

    It also depends on the audio source. Playing via smartphone offers a smoother response than via headphone amplifier.

    In conclusion, BuddyPhones Explore are a good enough pick for the majority of genres that kids like to listen to.

    Volume Limiter Performance

    Like all the best headphones for toddlers, the Explore+ are also volume-limiting headphones. The limit’s purpose is to protect young children from hearing damage. Learn more about safe volume for headphones.

    The BuddyPhones Explore+ limiter is set to 85dB and can’t be lowered or turned off.

    The loudness depends on the power of source. I used a laptop and a headphone amplifier to see if there was a difference in max loudness. The volume was set to 100%.

    Here’s what I learned.

    Laptop

    Recreating a real-life scenario of hooking headphones up to a laptop, I tested if BuddyPhones Explore+ truly limit their maximum volume at 85dB.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ frequency response measurement
    Thankfully, there’s “only” 2dB deviation from the target between 7-8kHz.

    Based on measurements, the highest peak is “only” 2dB louder than the advertised 85dB. That means that in normal listening situations, headphones will manage to keep the loudness at safe volumes.

    Note that a 3dB increase in practice means double the loudness. However, in real-world listening, it doesn’t sound as drastic.

    Headphone Amplifier

    In contrast, headphones sound louder when using a headphone amp (AudioQuest Dragonfly Red).

    BuddyPhones Explore+ laptop vs amp

    At 1kHz max volume, the laptop pushed headphones to 81,6dB (left), whereas the amp pushed them to 90,7dB (right)

    Based on the test, a dedicated headphone amp is able to push BuddyPhones Explore+ around 9dB over target. The difference is pretty audible.

    However, this happens only when boosting headphones to their limits by hooking them to a powerful source. Unless you have an amp at home or a quality sound card in a PC, you shouldn’t worry too much.

    Comfort & Fit

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    The BuddyPhones Explore+ add additional padding to the headband and redesign the earpads. However, that still doesn’t solve the comfort issues of the on-ear design.

    Since BuddyPhones Explore+ are made for kids, they’re slightly smaller in size than traditional headphones. While they can fit on an adult’s head, adults will experience stronger clamping force.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ size comparison
    BuddyPhones Explore+ compared to Sony WH-CH510.

    Consequently, as an adult, I don’t find them comfortable. New protein leather earpads are pretty shallow and stiff. Combined with a strong clamp force, my ears start hurting immediately.

    On the other hand, the clamping force is softer on a smaller head, providing better overall comfort.

    Also, these headphones are designed for exploration, so the clamping force is needed to keep them on your kid’s head. And they do that with flying colors.

    No matter how hard you shake your head, headphones don’t fall off. They can endure running and jumping with ease.

    In conclusion, while comfort isn’t BuddyPhones Explore+’s strongest suit, the overall stability most definitely is.

    Durability

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    Headphones are quite flexible and provide a detachable cable. However, their plastic frame still doesn’t scream durability, and having no IP rating is a serious gamble.

    For under $30, you get pretty much what you expect. Headphones are made of primarily cheap-feeling plastic.

    That is occasionally interrupted by pleather ear pads and a comfortable headband. The latter is covered in protein leather on the bottom and fabric on the top.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ headband outside
    A gentle-feeling fabric on top of the headband.

    Nevertheless, the plastic frame, especially the earcups, seem to have nice thick walls. That means they shouldn’t crack that easily when dropped on the floor. Drivers are also well protected.

    Moving to accessories, the audio cable is flat, tangle-free, and detachable as well. That’s great since the wire is usually the first to break in headphones.

    It’s worth noting that some users have trouble with the cable’s longevity. That isn’t too surprising. However, buying a new cable is cheaper than buying new headphones.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ headband inside
    The inner side of the headband is made of the same protein leather as the earpads.

    A small disadvantage is the lack of water resistance.

    There’s only so much you can expect considering the price. But smaller kids aren’t the most careful users, so extra protection is always welcome.

    Accessories also include a carrying bag. It’s a basic pouch that mainly protects against scratches but not drops.

    Features

    Star Rating
    4.0 Great

    BuddyPhones Evolve+ include a volume limiter, audio splitter, inline controls, and built-in mic. A good selection for budget headphones.

    The included detachable cable brings many additional features. The most important is the inline remote and microphone. It provides playback controls and the ability to talk during video calls and online lessons.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ inline remote
    A single button for controlling music playback but no volume control.

    Furthermore, the cable has an audio sharing splitter. With it, you can connect other wired headphones to the same device so that multiple kids can listen to the same music or watch videos.

    If all of your kids’ friends have BuddyPhones headphones, you can daisy-chain a total of four other headphones.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ splitter
    Headphone jack with a splitter (an additional 3.5mm port) to share audio with multiple headphones.

    Another great feature is the folding design, which saves a little bit of space in your kid’s backpack.

    Most kids love cute animals. And to make headphones a bit more personalized, they also come with 4 different included stickers that attach to the earcups.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ stickers
    Headphones come with cute stickers to decorate the headphones’ earcups.

    Of course, for the price, active noise cancellation is off the table. If you want that, your best bet are the BuddyPhones Cosmos+.

    Microphone Quality

    The call quality from the inline microphone is pretty great. However, it’s a bit on the quiet side.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ microphone test

    Nevertheless, your voice will stay nice and with a reasonable level of clarity, regardless of whether you’re in a quiet or noisy environment. And that’s despite the fact the built-in microphone doesn’t have noise cancelling tech to reduce background noise.

    Noise Isolation

    Star Rating
    2.5 Average

    The passive noise isolation is decent but not spotless. Of course, that can be a good thing since it ensures better awareness.

    On-ear headphones are known to provide subpar ambient noise isolation, and BuddyPhones Explore+ aren’t changing that.

    While they block some of the lower frequencies, the higher ones appear even louder. As if headphones boost them.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ on a bush
    The earpads’ padding isn’t very generous so it doesn’t completely seal your ears.

    On the other hand, you would want your kid to be extra aware of his surroundings, so bad isolation isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

    You can never be too sure when walking near a busy road, or you want your kid to hear you calling, even when listening to music.

    Should You Get BuddyPhones Explore+?

    Star Rating
    3.0 Good

    If you’re looking for pretty solid and inexpensive headphones for your kids, BuddyPhones Explore+ are good headphones to start.

    They offer features to protect your kids’ hearing for safe listening and are built in a way to withstand tossing around. Headphones fold and fit steadily on the head, ready for outdoor activities.

    The audio quality isn’t outstanding, but young listeners usually aren’t audiophiles.

    The biggest issue is probably the wired connection. AUX ports are slowly going away, making it necessary to purchase an adapter.

    Nevertheless, for under $30, these kids headphones are well worth checking out.

    How do BuddyPhones Explore+ compare to the competition?

    • They’re slightly sturdier than the competitive models, with a more flexible frame, thicker plastic, and detachable cable.
    • The clamping force is stronger and means superior stability during outdoor activities.
    • They come with a volume limiter to prevent noise-induced hearing loss.
    • However, you can’t change the limiter settings.
    • Comfort isn’t perfect as small, lightly dampened earpads tend to squeeze your ears.
    • They’re wired in a world where AUX ports are slowly disappearing.

    BuddyPhones Explore+ Alternatives

    BuddyPhones Wave

    BuddyPhones Wave folded headphones

    Slightly older model with similar sound quality but a key difference in connectivity: they’re wireless.

    The Bluetooth connection is quite solid, and the battery life of around 20 hours is great as well. Plus, they’re waterproof and let you change volume levels.

    However, they cost twice as much as Explore+.

    BuddyPhones Wave review

    BuddyPhones Play

    BuddyPhones Play review

    Another budget pair of headphones for kids but with a Bluetooth connection and a few more extra features.

    You get a great sound quality that’s slightly better than the Explore+, and you can toggle between 3 loudness settings (75dB, 85dB, and the Study mode).

    Like the Explore+, these also lack water resistance.

    BuddyPhones Play review

    What’s in the Box?

    BuddyPhones Explore+ accessories
    • BuddyPhones Explore+ wired headphones
    • Detachable cable with a splitter and remote control
    • Carry bag
    • 4 stickers
    • User manual

    Specifications

    Type: On-ear
    Connection: WIred – 3.5mm
    Back design: Closed-back
    Drivers: 30mm dynamic
    Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Impedance: 32 Ohm
    Weight: 3.7oz (105g)
    Mic & Controls: Yes
    Water resistance: None
    Battery life: /
    Charging time: /
    Active noise cancelling: No
    Bluetooth codecs: /
    Wireless range: /
    Microphone: Yes, in-line