Friday, December 7, 2007

Ask Engadget - Best Earbuds?

I really like the "Ask Engadget" posts. They open the comments to the community to try and get advice on a particular topic. This one is all about music earbuds, and is right up my alley.

First off if you're still rocking the white buds that came with your ipod, STOP IT! The headphones that come with most MP3 players are REALLY BAD FOR YOU!

I'm talking about the really-cheapy-hard-plastic-rest-just-on-the-outside-of-your-ear-phones. The problem with these earbuds is they don't create a very good seal around your ear. That means a LOT of sound from the outside world can leak in. The more outside sound that leaks in, the louder you have to play music to rise above the extra noise. The louder you have to play music, the faster your ears get tired.
Some experts even believe that hearing loss starts after an hour of listening on buds, so the problem will compound as you have to keep jacking the volume as your ears tire and wear out.

So how do we fix this issue? We reduce the noise around you!

Recently there have been huge advances in consumer noise reduction technologies, and you can pick between Active and Passive reduction.

Active reduction headphones have a microphone built into them that "listens" to the world around you, and then "removes" the noises you don't want to hear.

Passive reduction is just that, passive. It works by creating a better seal around your ear to physically stop sounds from entering your ear. Either way, there's less competition for your ears, less crap for your ears to filter, and you can turn down the volume while having a better listening experience.

Both active and passive have their pros and cons. Active needs power, and that means a battery bulge somewhere. Active also wont block single noises, just constant noises (airplane engines, traffic noise). This can actually be good as you should be able to carry a conversation with little effort, or you should be able to hear an alert if your walking around (like a horn honk from a car about to run you over).
Passive on the other hand blocks EVERYTHING. It's a hard adjustment for some, as the world around you will sound like you're underwater.

Personally I actually prefer Passive, just because of the battery issue, and I like the thicker bass that usually comes with having your ear closed up, though some people find it muddy. Right now I'm rocking a pair of Sennheiser CX300's, which were a great buy at $45.

Using the following links, shop for Music or Headphones on Amazon, and you'll be supporting this site at no cost to you!

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