Thoughts on headphones

I don’t like loud noises. I use an electric lawn mower because it’s quieter than a gas mower. I prefer to use my old-fashioned reel mower because it’s quieter than my electric mower. I have carried a set of earplugs in my pocket everywhere I go for a couple of years now.

I am not much of a music person. Don’t like concerts, too loud. I had a roommate in college who is a true audiophile, so I learned a little bit about the technology from him. He built me a custom speaker set that I turn down real low, for rich sound. I will probably keep these speakers for the rest of my life. I like them that much.

I’d not put much thought into headphones until a couple of years ago, when I had to move from a private office to a community office. I decided to get a set of headphones so I can drown out my office mates.

I thought I wanted a set of bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. I can’t afford such a beast. I found a bluetooth Sony sports headphones at BigLots for $30. These were good. I needed to turn them up a good amount to overcome the room noise.

Then I found a bone conduction bluetooth phone headset. The aftershokz bluez 2. I love these! I bought a set of in-ear shooting ear plugs to use in conjunction with the headset. Bone Conduction audio doesn’t push noise into your ear, it vibrates your jaw-bone instead. The headset doesn’t cover or block the ears, it sits in front of your ears. Wonderful device. You can have a conversation just fine with them on. In the office, I would stick in the shooting earplugs and be in my own little world. One of my favorite uses is while driving. I can have a conversation in the car and have the phone navigation system on the headset. I just love these. Wore them every day, every day for over a year.

Really, these things are just awesome. I love them.

Like anything made from plastic that gets used all day, every day, they broke. Buttons fell out which I used thread to tie back on. One of the temple pieces broke which I taped back up. Really, I need to get the newer model as they fix the few issues I had with the current set, but I can’t really justify $100 on something that I already have, even if broken but functional.

I just discovered a noise cancelling headphones set at Aldi. $30. I bought them for my wife, she goes through cheap headphones frequently. A pair a year or so. I thought I would get her a good set of headphones for a change. Right after I bought them, I borrowed them for a work trip to Rhode Island. I fell in love with them on the plane. Noise cancelling headphones are designed for airplanes I think. They have microphones in them that listen to the noise around them, and then play back a sound that will cancel out the sounds they hear. They emit a very faint his that you can hear if you listen closely. They knock most of that engine and air noise down to nearly nothing. I think half of my discomfort on planes is the noise – the other half is that my 6’4″ self doesn’t fit in them. They don’t do much reduction on people talking to you, maybe 25%? They do seem to help with that background drone of many people’s voices.

I liked them so much I bought a pair for myself, and another pair for a friend.

I was fiddling with them at work today. I plugged them into my computer, and turned the sound all the way down with the volume buttons, then up 1 press. I started playing some music at 50% volume on the music app. The sound is basically turned down all the way. You can’t hear the sound on the computer speakers. Using the headphones, you can barely hear the sound until the noise cancellation is turned on. All the noise from the air handlers and machines in the building just goes away, and music plays. This is how quiet I like noises. Basically no sound. It’s amazing how loud my building is.

So, it seems I like 2 extremes. Headphones that either completely cut out the noise from the outside world, and those that don’t cover the ears and block sound at all.

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