Courtesy of Dave Peck, I’m wearing a pair of Bose QuietComfort 2 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones. Dave scored a pair on eBay after the <a href=”http://ruk.ca/article/”3556”>jackhammers started and brought them down for me to try out.
Today is a light day for the parkade construction sounds, so there are really just basic office sounds here in the office. There’s a switch on the side of the headphones that allows you to turn them off and on; turning them on, but not plugging them into an audio source otherwise, is a good way to judge how much noise they’re actually cancelling.
As it turns out, there’s quite a lot of background “rumble” here in the office that I wasn’t otherwise aware of. Here, I’ll switch them off now. Okay, they’re off. Suddenly I hear the fan inside my iMac, the rumble of the air conditioner and servers coming through the floor from the server room upstairs, the occasional footfall, and the low diesel sound of a bus driving by. The sound of my own typing (on an admittedly noisy Microsoft keyboard) is much sharper sounding.
Switching them back on: it’s not “total silence,” but all the bass-end rumble is gone, replaced by a faint white-noise hum. My typing sound is dulled (although still very noticeable). I can still hear Johnny typing in the office next door; when he says something, I can still hear it, although it sounds like he’s two or three rooms over.
Obviously a lot of the utility of the QuietComfort’s is intended for airplane use, and it seems, from the noise they’re cancelling out here in the office — the sort of throaty, engine-like low-end sound — that they would indeed be very good in that environment. Every time I put in a pair of regular foam earplugs on an airplane I’m reminded just how much stressful sound there actually is there.
Alternating back and forth between headphones on and headphones off, I am struck, even here in the office, with how much calmer it seems with them switched on. Would that play out over the long term? Is the benefit they provide worth $300, $400, $500? I’d better give them back to Dave before I’m tempted to find out.