I hate noise. Music keeps me sane. This is why the most important device leaving the house isn't my phone, it is my headphones. My primary headphones are worn around my neck every day, they are one of the features coworkers and cohorts recognize me most by (after my hat, of course). As a very particular person, finding a good pair of headphones is a bit like finding a magic wand, except instead of just going to Ollivander's, you're looking quite literally in every shop you can find for something that fits your life, your lifestyle, and your wallet.
Lucky for me, the Kinivo BTH260 Bluetooth Headphones fit all three.
Now, behind-the-head or on-the-ear is a very particular style unique to each person, and I did not arrive at it lightly. Earbuds never fit; they're often too painful to wear. Traditional over-ear headphones can cut me off from the world wonderfully, but they're often too heavy to wear for long periods, too bulky to wear around the neck between sessions, and difficult to wear one ear on and one ear off, as I often do at work and around town.
The behind-the-ear headphone category is unfortunately not one that receives a whole lot of attention, at least from bigger brands.
There also hasn't been an arms race of features and innovation here as there's been in earbuds and over-the-ear headphones. What we do have are dependable, low-cost headphones with easy controls, easy charging, and sweet, sweet battery life.
Enter the Kinivo BTH260 Bluetooth headphones. They are Kinivo's third generation of behind-the-head headphones, and as with many threequels, they're hitting their stride with this one. They bring a few new bells and whistles to a line that have been my workhorse headphones for years, and these subtle upgrades make a world of difference.
While previous models have curved backs to their cups, the 260s have flat, textured backs, with more angular sides. This allows the headphone to sit flat and stable on the table when not in use, diminishing scuffing. The 260s are also IPX7 sweatproof, which is great not only for when I'm wearing them in the gym but also when they're around my neck seven to 10 hours a day in Texas's hellish summer heat.
Controls on the 260s are a slight departure in two ways: the power button and the device status updates. On both the 220s and 240s, Kinivo opted to have a long-press of the power button turn the headphones on and off, and played a small tone upon boot-up. The problem with this, especially when turning the headphones off, was that if you didn't long-press the headphones long enough, you triggered the callback button instead. This year, Kinivo opted for a standalone switch for powering the headphones on and off, making turning the headphones on/off seconds quicker and giving a clearer indication the headphones are on/off compared to just a blinking blue light.
While previous models just used different beeps to denote it turning on and pairing/disconnecting from a device, not all of us speak beep, so the 260s now speak English. When you power on the headphones, the device tells you how much battery you have, and will say "Connected" and "Lost Connection" whenever they connect/disconnect from a device. Telling me how much battery is left upon startup is wonderful. Previous models kept us guessing how much we had until the dreaded Low Battery bell starting ringing. Now, we know: "Battery high."
The sound on my BTH260s is good, not blow your mind fantastic, but good. While I am not what one would consider a true audiophile, I am a heavy listener. The sound isn't tinny, the bass isn't too muddy; it's just good. And for headphones this inexpensive, I'm good with good.
Battery life on the BTH series has always been great, with the headphones usually lasting me a week of mixed use, and the 260s are no different. These headphones can sit on my neck for 10-12 hours a day, sit on my ears four to five, and easily make it through the work week and well into the weekend.
Charging these headphones is as easy as finding a Micro-USB cable and plugging in, no proprietary cables to hassle with. Many of us are moving on to USB-C as we upgrade our phones, but Micro-USB cables are still plentiful, cheap, and we all have about half a dozen littering our desk drawers and backpacks, so it's hard to knock Kinivo for going with something established and reliable.
For my money, and for my music, the Kinivo BTH260 Bluetooth Headphones are what I turn to. These are the headphones that I don't leave home without, the pair that sit comfortably around my neck on thrilling roller coasters and boring bus rides. These are many like my headphones, but these Kinivo BTH260 are mine. Without me, my headphones are useless. Without my headphones, I am hopeless.
Note that these headphones are very difficult to find right now, but should come back in stock soon.
Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.