Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A-Z April Challenge N is for Shhh

Did you ever want to block out the noise that is constantly around you?

For instance, the TV, which, even though it has its own built in speakers, must be enhanced with four additional surround sound speakers and those said speakers have to be ramped up to LOUD, you know, to get the full effect of the gory battle scenes in Game of Thrones.  And even though you are in another room trying to listen to a book and knit, you are bass vibrating.

What about the cars whizzing by on Mirage Blvd doing 40 when the "strictly enforced" speed limit is 25?  Or those Harley's that are driven by the old men who live in an unnamed senior community who are afraid to take their bikes outside of the gates so they just ride around and around the block?

Then there is that dog who wakes you up at 3:00 a.m, then again at 5:00, then finally at 6:00 a.m. with his incessant barking and whining.  It only becomes "finally" at 6:00 because that's when you can't take his barking anymore and you get up. That's when he smiles,  knowingly laughs to himself at you and then lays down beside you and goes to sleep.

Of course, let's not forget about the phone calls from your many friends, especially those who have 800 numbers.  The 800er's are my favorites.   They are such tricksters, calling you and then hanging up.  How cute is that?

Not to mention the noise that is continual in your head.  The voices of the past, present and future.  Their monotonous shoulda, coulda, and whatif mantras have become quite pesky and frankly I'm bored with them.

Well, I, for one am ready to stand up and say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

So I decided to "google shop" for head phones.

What I found out is there are devices which can cancel noise.  That's right they can actually cancel the noises you don't want to hear and only let in what you want to listen to.

When I googled "How do noise canceling head phones work?",
I found the following information from the website:  "How Stuff Works"

Basically, there are two types of noise canceling headphones,  active and passive.

"The best passive noise-canceling headphones, however, are circum-aural types that are specially constructed to maximize noise-filtering properties. That means they are packed with layers of high-density foam or other sound-absorbing material, which makes them heavier than normal headphones. The tradeoff of all that extra weight is a reduction in noise of about 15 to 20 decibels (dB). But considering jet engines create 75 to 80 dB of noise inside the aircraft cabin, passive models have some serious limitations". 

"Active noise-canceling headphones can do everything that passive ones can do -- their very structure creates a barrier that blocks high-frequency sound waves. They also add an extra level of noise reduction by actively erasing lower-frequency sound waves. How do noise-canceling headphones accomplish this? They actually create their own sound waves that mimic the incoming noise in every respect except one: the headphone's sound waves are 180 degrees out of phase with the intruding waves."

"If you look at the illustration below, you can see how this works. Notice that the two waves -- the one coming from the noise-canceling headphone and the one associated with the ambient noise -- have the same amplitude and frequency, but their crests and troughs (compressions and rarefactions) are arranged so that the crests (compressions) of one wave line up with the troughs (rarefactions) of the other wave and vice versa. In essence, the two waves cancel each other out, a phenomenon known as destructive interference. The result: the listener can focus on the sounds he wants to hear."

Makes sense, right?  Okay maybe not, completely.  But I what I got out of this is Actives are more effective than Passives.

I then went "goggle comparison shopping" to see which pair I should buy.

Cnet  rated PSB M4U 2, Harman Kardon NC, Bose Quiet Comfort 15, Bose QuietComfort 3 and Soul By Ludacris SL300 as excellent.

Those range in price from $140 - $400.

Ross and I took a trip to the Apple store.  They had the Bose and the Harman Kardons for $299.00.

I had to stop and think about that.  Did I really need to cancel $300 worth of noise?

I spotted this cool looking white pair of "Skullcandy Supreme Sound Navigator's".
I don't know if they were active or passive, but they were cute and they blocked out quite a bit of the noisy noises in the "always crazy with people", Apple store.

When I told the very nice "Blue shirt Apple Nerd" young woman which ones I had decided to buy, she said, Oh you went for the pretty ones."

Yep, that's what I did.  I went for the pretty and cheap ones.

My Skullcandy earphones cancel out $99.00 worth of noise.  But I look good wearing them.

I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge
Today's Letter is N for Noise(Canceling).


  1. When Annie and I used to leave the mountain, and go down to her folks' place in Willits, the sound of a car driving by used to wake me up in the middle of the night. It is so quiet on our mountain. I read your post with curiosity, and am glad I live where I do. Good luck, stifling the racket!

    1. Actually I probably should appreciate that there are sounds of life in our senior community :)

  2. I seem to be highly sensitive to noise. I will immediately walk out of a noisy restaurant, I resent the sound of motorcycles and skateboards on the street where I live and do not get me started on either leaf blowers or barking dogs. I used to have some noise canceling headphones that I bought primarily for use on airplanes but the pressure on my head gave me a headache. I should give them another try. I love the skullcandy little earbuds - colors and all!

    1. I speak with a soft voice. Ross has difficulty hearing me when there are no extraneous noises. When we are in a noisy restaurant, I refuse to shout, so conversation between us ends up being limited. That’s why I prefer quiet places too. Anyway I am an eavesdropper. When it’s noisy how could I possibly listen in on the conversation between that bizarre looking couple in the next booth? :)

  3. Noise is one of the things that gets to me most as well. Like Gracie, I'm actively resentfully of excessively noisy vehicles, etc. There are railroad tracks in our backyard, which doesn't help anything--though I suppose I should be grateful that the number of trains has decreased dramatically in recent months (for some reason unknown to me) and on the other side of the tracks is a factory that is currently operating twenty-four hours/day. There is a tractor trailer sized garage door on the side of the building facing our house and it is left open all night so I can hear the machines and the public address announcements, etc. Every couple of hours, a load of scrap metal is dropped into a metal dumpster in the parking lot. Added bonus? My bedroom is on the side facing the factory. I've thought about ear plugs and noise canceling headphones, but I am paranoid about not hearing something I need to hear. I do run a fan all year long to create white noise in hopes of drowning out the worst of it, it mostly works.