Creating your own cone of silence

Everyone who travels on any form of transport needs noise-cancelling headphones. Here's why.

Ella Morton

commentary Everyone who travels on any form of transport needs noise-cancelling headphones. Here's why.

Sydney's mX newspaper, distributed free to urban commuters as they make their way homeward, has a "Have Your Say" page filled with complaints and outbursts over seemingly petty concerns. Topics of bile spewage typically include transport-related torment, like teenagers and their unwillingness to surrender seats, and the indignity of having to endure a train trip in a carriage filled with snack food detritus.

Recently, a tech topic has dominated the page: train-bound iPod etiquette. Opinions are split -- while many are irritated by the muffled thuds emanating from travellers' little white earbuds, others have gone so far as to suggest that sections of the train be devoted to iPod users so they might have a head-banging shindig on the way to their jobs as merchant bankers and PAs.

Those music-loving commuters in the Doof Doof carriage may flaunt their disregard for their fellow travellers' cone of silence, but having the volume cranked up to head-juddering levels can cause permanent hearing damage.

Now I'm not normally one to state that any particular product is a must-have item. But noise-cancelling headphones are a must-have item. Nabbing a pair of these babies and plonking them on your noggin is the best way of separating yourself from quotidian reality without enforcing cranked-up music upon others.

If you've ever boarded a plane and trundled past a smug-looking business traveller sporting earcans emblazoned with "BOSE", you've encountered these sanity-saving devices. The good news is that they don't have to cost you a mint -- while Bose's QuietComfort 3 market leaders are a hefty AU$599, we recently reviewed a pair from Jabra that were almost as good for a quarter of the price. Plus, Bose has just gotten smug about it all; included with their QuietComfort headphones are a set of courtesy cards with company contact details that you can hand to fellow passengers after they've fawned over your headgear.

If you make frequent long-haul plane trips, I guarantee your quality of life will be improved by at least 23 percent if you purchase a pair of active noise-cancelling headphones. Those precious but irritating-as-all-get-out squealing infants who seem to be present on every flight to London/LA/Singapore? Seal yourself in your headphone cocoon, and the little blighters disappear off your annoyance radar. You can even drift off to sleep to the soft strains of Vivaldi, sans the background engine noise. And for skittish flyers who interpret every mechanical noise as a sign of impending death-by-airborne-inferno, y'all can just chill out, because you won't be hearing those clunks and whirrs anymore.

Even for those who just fly interstate or even sit on a train every morning, being able to seal yourself in a world of tunes is pretty darn splendid. Just ignore the youths with the flailing limbs in the designated iPod train car.

 

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