Headphones & Mp3 Players forum

General discussion

Best Noise Cancelling / Isolating Headphones for Lawn Mowing

by karolinary / April 25, 2006 7:34 PM PDT

After looking through some of the other headphone threads, I didn't see anything that specifically addressed this.

Does anyone have any recommendations as to a set of noise-cancelling or noise-isolating headphones or earbuds that might reasonably counter the loud drone of a lawn mower?

I wouldn't expect anything to even come close to completely blocking such a loud sound, but anything that would save me cranking the volume up just to hear the music would be nice. (So as to avoid permanent hearing damage.)

I'm starting to lean towards noise-isolating as opposed to noise-cancelling sets as I have a feeling the former would work better on the type of noise a lawn mower makes. I'd be using it with an iPod mini. Any thoughts on the Sony MDR-NC11 as a good compromise between price and performance? I see it as kind of a hybrid between noise-isolating and noise-cancelling technology. Also, are there any places or ways to ''test-drive'' sets before buying?


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by rbovani / April 25, 2006 9:52 PM PDT

I'd think the best thing for that would be the big headphones that cover your whole ear...but then again a portable music player might not be able to drive those big speakers.

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Noise-Cancelling Headphones
by langr / April 25, 2006 10:48 PM PDT
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Best Noise Cancelling / Isolating Headphones for Lawn Mowing
by martella3 / April 26, 2006 11:49 AM PDT

Have tried Senheissers and Bose. Frankly they do block off *some* noise. Best ones are my drumming headphones from proheadphones.com. They are heavy duty and have stood up to more than lawn mowing for me - my dusty and noisy woodworking hobby. Hope this helps.


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This doesn't sound very safe.
by dano83860 / April 26, 2006 2:06 PM PDT

I wear ear plugs when I operate loud equipment but I also want to be able to tell if the equipment starts to make an odd noise. It can be a sign that something is wrong.

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Noise block headphones
by martella3 / April 26, 2006 6:17 PM PDT

You're right. I use them only when I'm doing safer taks like sanding. The long and more mundane tasks :-). Thanks for pointing this out.

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This doesn't sound very safe.
by karolinary / April 28, 2006 1:02 PM PDT

That's a good point. My experience with lawn mowers though is that generally the only abnormal sounds they'll make is that of choking on grass or running out of fuel - generally the stuttering sound of the engine stalling. This doesn't generally pose much of a hazard considering a stalling engine means the blade (arguably the most dangerous part of a lawn mower) is stopping too. On top of that, it is unlikely even the most effective anti-noise device available today could overcome the penetrating baratone of a lawn mower engine to the point that abnormal sounds would not be heard.

Thanks for the input though as it's generally a good rule of thumb.

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Earbuds plus hearing protection
by Wilf_Brim / April 28, 2006 10:14 AM PDT

I have played around with various configurations, and I have found a decent solution. I use Sony Fontopia earbuds under a good pair of muff type hearing protection. The hearing protection is pretty good, 7dB attenuation. Combined with the in ear buds I can hear podcasts very well at less than half volume. You should wear hearing protection when using a lawn mower anyway.

The only thing I had to do is turn the earbuds upside down (so the wires face mostly up) so the earbud doesn't interfere with the cups of the muffs.

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Earbuds plus hearing protection
by karolinary / April 28, 2006 12:51 PM PDT

Thanks for your suggestion. I've heard of some people doing this before. What kind of muffs do you use? And where might I find a good selection? Do you have an idea of how effectively this blocks lawn mower noise compared to noise cancelling or isolating headphones? Thanks!

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Ear Bud Style Headphones and Ear Muff Combination
by homerjsimpson8 / September 3, 2006 12:32 PM PDT

This may sound like a silly question but has anyone tried using an ear bud style headphone covered by industrial ear muffs?
I currently use Etymotic Er6i Isolator Earphones which are great but they do not block off all sound (eg, in buses, near busy roads or in server rooms). Therefore, I still have to turn the volume up in very noisy environments.

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by BassBinDevil / September 4, 2006 1:29 PM PDT

The earmuffs are ones my Dad got years ago (probably "borrowed" from work); my current favourite earbuds are Koss "The Plug" which sound good and are very cheap.

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"David Clarks" or custom earmolds for earbuds
by BassBinDevil / September 4, 2006 1:38 PM PDT

"David Clark" headphones are the ones you see on almost every aircraft pilot; they have a noise reduction rating comparable to hearing protectors. Expensive, but cheaper than hearing aids.

Some people have good results by getting custom earmolds made for earbuds; an audiologist should be able to make those for you.

I can specifically not recommend the Sony MDR-V900 headphones; they are comfy and sound good, but they don't provide much isolation. They can however be played at dangerously high volumes to overcome external noise. I suppose one could wear ear plug hearing protectors UNDER the V900's and crank the volume up accordingly; this is kind of how I deal with the road noise in my truck (earplugs, loud stereo).

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earbud phones with a pair of muffs
by vtgoble08 / April 13, 2009 12:34 PM PDT

I am a golf course superintendent and use my mp3 player all the time. I usually wear earbuds under a pair of earmuff style hearing protectors. Believe it or not you can still hear anything that may be going wrong with the motor and blades of your equipment. The 21dB reduction provided by the earmuffs is enough to knock the harshness off mower, tractor, etc and keep the music at low enough volume not to harm your hearing. I also find that listening to talk radio or preaching kills the monotony of mowing grass better than music and you can learn something at the same time. I am looking at purchasing a pair of earplug phones like these http://earplugstore.stores.yahoo.net/e-a-rbuds.html because in the summer I like to wear a floppy hat to protect my skin and that just doesn't work with the muffs.

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Solution: Peltor Work Tunes
by captawol / October 28, 2009 2:19 AM PDT

I have tried the earbuds under the earmuffs but for some reason it feels like the earmuffs are pushing the earbuds into my eardrums.

Peltor Work Tunes now has a model that supports mp3 players. Peltor Digital WorkTunes 26 Radio Earmuff, these are regular type ear muffs with a built in radio and mp3 port.

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I understand that most of these muffs...
by make_or_break / October 28, 2009 3:36 PM PDT

...sound like garbage. My newest shooter's muff (by Howard Leight) has a 3.5mm audio in jack, and its ability to play music that actually sounds passable is pretty sad. Of course if you really don't care about the sound quality then I suppose any music--however bad it sounds--is better than nothing.

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Try this
by Leoruoska / November 28, 2009 5:36 AM PST

I'd been using regular earphones (whatever came with mp3 playesr) and any regular ear protection on top of them for years. Last year I tried that Peltor set with the mp3 plug. It sucked majorly, sound quality was crap and there was a constant hiss on top of everything. It was also very quiet, meaning I had to turn my mp3 to full volume to hear anything and whenever I was using a saw or another machine, not to mention anything with a combustion engine, I couldn't hear a thing even with full volume. Also the Peltors were super tight, my head was squeezed sore after 15 minutes of wearing them.

And the Peltors are sorta stupid in a way, it's like this: the mp3 is always on and the phones can't control their volume (you do that from your mp3 player). If you turn the Peltor's power off, the mp3 goes quiet tho so you need to have it on constantly which then turns on the radio. So you keep the radio at minimum level to only hear the mp3, but that eats batteries and produces the background hiss. Why should it do that when it's clearly a passive solution with no need for the juice? I was very dissappointed with that set.

For a year or two I've had countless pairs of Sony MDR-808 earphones (cheap, sound fine, sit perfectly nicely in my ear) and some loose, comfy old Peltor ear protection on top of them. It's just such a better solution. You can take the Peltors off when the machines go off and the music still keeps coming. You don't need to pay $80 for it. The Sonys are $9 and the old Peltors I found from some box in our company garage/store room. Noise-cancelling ear phones never do a good enough job for me anyway and I listen mostly to audio books so I don't need the "bass boost" or whatever they provide Happy

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