Tuesday, September 12, 2006

now hear this

In NYC, it's always ridiculously noisy. Honking cabs, constant construction, loud cellphone talkers -- sometimes, it can be complete sensory overload! Every New Yorker has his/her own way of blocking out the noise of the city, from earplugs to iPods. Me? I grab my portable Pioneer inno XM Radio and pop in my super-small but VERY powerful Shure noise-isolating headphones and I'm off. Seriously, it's almost magical! Nearly every single noise (short of a jackhammer pounding away a few feet away from me) is completely muffled by these little buds. I don't know how these guys do it ... and I don't know what I would do without them! Sometimes, they block out so much noise that I worry about not being able to hear the sound of a speeding truck about to barrel into me. Lucky for me, no such run-ins to report. The downside? Unfortunately, they're a bit pricey for headphones (around $200), but I think they're completely worth it. Once you try them, you'll never be able to go back to those ordinary white iPod buds again.

Need something even more powerful (or just not hot on the in-ear variety)? For longer trips or airplane travel, I switch out the Shure's for my Bose QuietComfort 3 noise-cancelling headphones. Talk about headphone luxury!

They're a bit smaller than the older Bose QC2 model and a lot more comfortable. (They have a soft, cushiony material around the ear pieces which cradles your ear in grand smushiness.) And much like the Shures, they dramatically reduce jet engine roar but with more accuracy. Of course, these guys aren't much better in the price department (around $350), but they're also worth the investment if you're a traveler. Also, they are a lot bigger and bulkier than the buds so it's not as easy to shove them into your purse after a walk around the park. But the sound quality and sound-busting quality can't be beat.


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