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Thread: Active Headphones & The Shop

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County

    Active Headphones & The Shop

    As many folks know, I travel "a bit" for business. Many times I took note of fellow travelers using the Bose QuietComfort headphones to dull the roar of the airplane as well as to listen to a variety of media. On several occasions, I got to "try them out" for a few minutes and was convinced they were incredible. For those of you unfamiliar with these or similar devices, they have active electronics that measure the ambient sound and cut out extranious noise. Shooters also use simliar technology to help protect their hearing.

    As you can imagine, I recently ended up with a set of my own QuitetComfort II headphones and I look forward to enjoying them on those long (and short) flights, whether used alone or with a sound source, such as an MP3 player, PC-DVD player or aircraft sound system. (Gotta find time to watch those Woodworking at Home DVDs sometime!)

    But, of course, as a woodworker, I said, "Hmm...I wonder how they would work in the shop and around the tractor?" Tested that out today and I was pleased with the results. While not as quiet as some forms of hearing protection, they did a pretty darn good job at taking the scream out of the shop vac and the roar out of the DC port on the J/P. And I could still hear the radio and other "normal" sounds when something loud wasn't happening. (frequency response to my ears from the shop stereo was altered, particularly in the bass range, but not horribly so considering the goal was not for high fidelity).

    Outdoors, there was a noticable "hush" in background noise, but I could still hear the birds and crickets clearly and normally as well as somebody's dog barking a few houses away. Dr. SWMBO decided to use her new toy...err tool... ...this afternoon and the headset really did a great job at quieting the noise of the tractor running at full throttle as well as the very loud sound that the chipper/shredder produces when it's "having its meal".

    Now, these headphones are clearly not designed to be a safety device, but given what I experienced with them in my "testing", I'd be very much inclined to check out some of the high-quality noise dampening headphones designed for the purpose, such as those that shooters wear. (I don't own or use firearms, but have a healthy respect for those who use the right gear when they do) I like the fact that normal sounds occur, well...normally...but high volumes are immediately dampened. I'm told that the inexpensive units "work", but with a lot of annoying "clipping" of sound. So I guess I have something else to add to the list of things for the shop...

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for the review Jim. My wife wants a pair and I will likely get them for her for Christmas. Then I can borrow them to use in my shop

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Southern MD
    Check these out if you want sound isolation and music. Number one on my Christmas list (for both shop and drums).

    Jay St. Peter

  4. #4
    General aviation pilots have been using Active Noise Reduction (ANR) headsets for years. Bose is considered the Cadillac of the headset market at $1,000 a set (my Pilot Avionics were both around $400 each).

    The QuietComfort is actually the same headset that GA pilots use, minus the microphone.

    The ANR technology is real cool: it measures certain frequencies, reverses the audio waveform and injects it into the soundstream that you're hearing. Ironically, all the noise actually IS getting to you. Some of it is paired up with its negative values, effectively silencing the audio. Your eardrum receives both the normal and reversed audio signal. It nullifies the sound and nothing is actually heard. Cool stuff.

    I haven't tried my PA's in the shop. I wear Peltor passive protection for brief periods when needed. I'm not interested in ruining my expensive pilot stuff and going back to SWMBO for another set!
    Brian Austin
    Phoenix, AZ

    "Rule One: Well, I won't get it done sittin' here drinking coffee.
    Rule Two: The best you can do is the best you can do, so don't panic."
    -- John Gierach

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    In the foothills of the Sandia Mountains
    Jim, I have been a happy owner of the QC II headphones for several months. When stuck on an airplane for several hours, they really make a difference, I almost feel refreshed. I wore them today while I was doing the mundane tasks of mowing, weed eating & leaf blowing. I frequently wear them in the shop also. They really sound awesome if you connect them to a music source while doing chores.
    They are a little expensive, but well worth the price!
    Please help support the Creek.

    My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."

    - Steven Wright

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Knoxville TN.
    Great idea for outside Jim, we used them in the aircraft assembly shops. When I worked in the wing line (lots of big rivet guns) we had headsets that not only sound dampened and had a radio but also a one way set build in so that someone could let you know they are talking to you and you could either climb out of the wing, or turn around. Don't know if I would want to take a Bose anything into all the dust of a woodworking shop though. I would be afraid that all that fine dust could mess them up over time.

    No Pain-No Gain- Not!
    No Pain-Good

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