One of the nifty and amazing things we got to experience up close last week at MacWorld and at the Apple SoHo store were the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones.
I am a big fan of noise cancelling headphones because I am convinced, in my own self-deluding way, that I invented them. I remember clearly during Mr. Moore’s physics class at Waterdown District High School thinking, during his description of how sound waves work, that you could effectively “neutralize” a sound wave by playing its opposite, and that if you could squeeze this into a headphone, you could eliminate all sound around you.
Of course I wasn’t the only person this occured to, and technology caught up with the idea and the result is these noise cancelling headphones (similar models are made by Sony and others).
The downside is that the Bose models are very expensive — $299US. During a search for alternatives I came across a great website from HeadRoom Corporation. Everything that most companies do wrong on their corporate sites, these guys do right: their site is well organized, well designed, and has got globs and globs of useful content about headphones of all varieties.
My favourite category of product is “Cheap Headphones” and my favourite piece of advice is:
Noise cancelling headphones are mostly a waste of money. These headphones use a small microphone mounted right next to the driver element in each earpiece to monitor the outside noise getting to the ear. A special electronic circuit then creates a signal perfectly opposite to the outside noise so as to cancel it out before it reaches the ear. Audio coming from your player is simply summed into the cancellation signal in the circuit and is then played through the headphones. The problem is that all these noise-cancelling headphones have their money in the electronics but use cheap headphones. So, in terms of the resulting sound quality, you have nothing better than a $20 pair of bad headphones.I will buy my next pair of headphones from them.