Why you need a pair of noise-cancelling headphones
I'VE never really been cool with musical technology. When I had a Walkman, everyone else had a Discman. I never got the whole iPod thing until they shoved it into my phone, and the idea of walking around with earbuds jammed in my ears? Didn't that go out in the '90s? Now I'm the only guy without a set.
Despite that, I've found myself wanting a decent set of headphones for various purposes lately. A bit of music reviewing here, a few vocal lines to lay down here, and the Skype headsets from work, or the venerable Apple earbuds just weren't cutting it.
Cue the arrival of the Sennheiser 4.50BTNC wireless noise- cancelling headphones. I've never really felt the need for noise cancelling headphones - how well could it really work anyway? But we'll give it ago.
Adjust the muffs, put them on around your ears and the world disappears. It's gone. And they're not even turned on. The unit provides a solid seal around your ears that lets just enough of the outside world in to not make you look like a snob.
Let me point out that despite a long musical pedigree, I'm not an audiophile. MP3 is still A-okay to my ears, and while I can tell the difference, a lot of the time it doesn't really matter that much.
And these headphones are definitely not marketed towards the audiophile. For starters they're about $200 too cheap, and there's nowhere near enough acronyms for what they supposedly do on the box.
After a quick charge (a two hour plug-in gets you 19-25 hours of use), one button connects you to your favourite device.
There's a lot to be said for trying these out with the best possible source, and while Spotify high quality mode doesn't do a bad job, there's nothing like a bit of high definition uncompressed audio to make you feel like you know what you're listening to.
Tori Amos's Winter started off the test - the gentle piano cuts through and her voice has a depth previously undiscovered, complete with an audible reverb. The lower end of the strings leap through and suddenly you've figured out what you've been missing out on all these years with earbuds. Bass has its place, and it's right here.
Moving onto to Toto's Rosanna, once you get through the intricacy of Jeff Porcaro's opening shuffle, again it's the smoothness of the bottom end you find leaping through.
So is it too much bass? A quick run through Pantera's 1990 Cowboys From Hell epic says no. The bottom end is crunchy, full, and never distorts even at full volume which is loud, but not deafeningly so for short periods.
All this, and noise-cancellation too? One flick of a slightly awkward switch, and you can notice the noise floor lift slightly.
The outside world that had been just barely there under normal mode completely disappears. So does a little of the top-end and bass clarity, but it's a small sacrifice to make.
How well does it work? I asked my nine-year-old daughter to see if the headphones made the most annoying sound in her world disappear - her six-year-old brother's yelling.
From about a metre away, she barely flinched, and we had to prod her to see if she was making it up, or genuinely just enjoying her Carly Rae Jepsen song. They definitely work, and if it's silence you want, these give it to you and more.
If you've never heard music through decent headphones before, these are a wonderful place to start. At this price for this sound, wireless and some peace and quiet, you may never leave.
Grab a set of Sennheiser noise cancelling headphones when you subscribe today to a 12-month digital subscription to the Warwick Daily News. The offer is just $7 a week for the first 12 months and includes more than $600 of value*.
Head to warwickdailynews.com.au/headphones for more information.
* Only $7 a week billed every four weeks on a 12-month contract for new digital subscribers (minimum annual cost $364). Allow 15 days for headphones to arrive. Offer available while stocks last. Conditions apply.