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Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 12:50 AM   #1
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Neat gadget review.

O.K., so I work in a cube farm, and I have to take the occasional (once every other month) business trip, so the newfangled "noise cancelling" headphones have attracted my attention. Bose was totally out of the question-$300! But there are several others on the market. After reading many reviews, I settled on the Sony MDR-NC50. It retails for $120-180, but I found it open package on ebay for $50. Just got here today and I have to say - WOW! My little LAN of computers here puts out quite a bit of noise with all the fans going, I plug these headphones into the sound card, switch the noise cancellation on-near silence.

Now, it's not magic, you can hear a little white noise eminating from the headphones, like holding a large seashell to your ear. But I don't mind it at all, and I can already tell it's perfect for cancelling out airplane noise. It even has a little button on the side so you can temporarily turn off the silence (say if DW wants to tell you to get off the computer ). Oh, and the sound quality is very good, not audiophile good, but laypersons like myself will truly enjoy the sound, good range and depth. Once you put a song on, you will not be hearing anything around you, and you don't have to crank the volume to accomplish that. Imagine, saving your eardrums!

One con would be comfort. While the earcups fit fully around the ear, and are nicely padded, the headband pushes the earcups a litte too firmly into the head. This is so you get a good seal (A lot of the silencing is passively accomplished), but I can tell after a while you would get tired of the pressure. I'm going to see if I can adjust that.

Overall, I would say they are well worth the money, a truly revolutionary product. Oh, and it comes with an airplane adapter so you can plug into the armrest and watch the movie!
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 01:48 AM   #2
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Re: Neat gadget review.

Hey, that sounds not bad!

I was thinking about those the other day.... Pretty much the most important time to have noise cancellation is when you're stuck in a crowd, like on an airplane or a bus. But, by definition, those are the times when there are lots of strange people around -- so right when you need your awareness the most to avoid getting ripped off by some dufus, you're cancelling out the noise the pickpockets make! Do you have an answer for THAT?

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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 04:33 AM   #3
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Re: Neat gadget review.

Laurence, thanks so much for the review. I agree that the Bose seem overpriced for random non-audiophile. I have thought of getting a pair for long term travel.

Does it use 2 AA batteries? How long do they last?

I have heard that some only let you listen to music with the active noise cancellation on.

I have heard that anti-noise waves can feel like pressure while you are trying to rest and so you get tired of wearing them after awhile -- what do you think?

The newer units are totally self contained with no hip clip. I assume the Sony is so? Does the unit seem durable enough to stuff in luggage?

Was your unit from Ebay used?

At some point in the future, if I ever get a noisy neighbor (has not happened), how would one best go about hooking it up wirelessly to your TV?

Thanks, Kramer (sorry lots of questions!)

ps: And finally, how would you hedonically adjust the CPI to account for this product?? Just kidding!!
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 08:38 AM   #4
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Re: Neat gadget review.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Laurence
O.K., so I work in a cube farm, and I have to take the occasional (once every other month) business trip, so the newfangled "noise cancelling" headphones have attracted my attention. Bose was totally out of the question-$300!
I have no technical comments, but if these headphones will improve your productivity, your company might well pay for them. I should've thought about asking for them when I was working. I can't concentrate well in a noisy environment, so I often wandered the halls in search of an empty conference room to edit in.
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 09:19 AM   #5
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Re: Neat gadget review.

i'm still waiting on the long term effects study for cell phone use and radial keratotomy.
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 09:55 AM   #6
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Re: Neat gadget review.

Yes...we've got him now...someone plug in the 'suggestion' tape.

We'll have pictures of laurence shaving his legs on the board tomorrow.
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 10:09 AM   #7
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Re: Neat gadget review.

So I defintitely wouldn't wear them while walking around, nevermind pickpockets ,I don't want to get run over!

Kramer:
It uses 1 AAA battery that fits right into one of the earphones, very slick. Allegedy it can last up to 30 hours, haven't read any complaints of short battery life.

This one will let you listen to music without power, I read about that problem with some of the others.

Anti-noise waves feel like pressure? Not yet, but I've only worn them a total of an hour so far.

No hip clip totally self contained, and I would say this unit seems very durable, in fact, I read several reviews where people switched from BOSE to SOny because they broke their BOSE on travel!

Mine was used, but looks new and came with all the components. The seller has a 7 day warranty, so I figured it was worth saving $60-70.

As far as wireless, haven't done any research on that, but I can tell you the one flimsy part of the thing is the headphone cable. It's detachable at both ends, so that's handy so you don't pull out the wiring accidentally and ruin your headphones, but the wire is too thin, I worry about it getting caught on something and tearing. Fortunately, the phones are compatible with standard male to male plugs at radioshack, so I think I can pick up something more robust. Still, for office, airplane use, etc. it should be fine.

Astro:

My work has put a temporary end to overtime because of budget constraints, I'm just going to eat this cost myself. Funny, layoffs seem to be inevitable at this point, but I'm not feeling too scared. I'm the only one with a charge code through February.

LG4NB - all I can say is, AAHH!? I don't think it's quite as bad!

Oh, I already have those pics right here CFB, wait.....
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 10:20 AM   #8
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Re: Neat gadget review.

EWWW! I didnt say I wanted to see them...


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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 02:03 PM   #9
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Re: Neat gadget review.

I've never tried noise cancelling headphones. If someone starts talking to you while you have the headphones on do they first come in loud and clear, then gradually fade to white noise?
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 04:00 PM   #10
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Re: Neat gadget review.

No, they are muted but audible the whole time. The speaker on the outside of the earphones picks up the sound a split second before your eardrum does, and sends out a cancelling wave. This model has a "monitor" button on the side of the left earphone that turns off the cancelling and the music (if playing) so you can hear what some one is saying.

On another note, you may have some trouble adjusting for comfort in your head is big (like mine). The pressing on the side of your head gets old. Currently adjusting to make it a little looser.
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-27-2006, 08:05 PM   #11
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Re: Neat gadget review.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JB
I've never tried noise cancelling headphones.* If someone starts talking to you while you have the headphones on do they first come in loud and clear, then gradually fade to white noise?
I want stock in the first company to make that claim!

I think they'd have to study teenagers to figure out how to make it work for grownups...
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-29-2006, 09:48 AM   #12
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Re: Neat gadget review.

My previous computer had several fans that produced loud high pitched noise.* I shopped for noise cancelling headphones but was always disappointed with the high prices.* A new computer solved the loud-high-pitch annoyance but I've continued to search for the noise cancelling headphones.

Yesterday I bought a pair of Koss QZ50 Active Noise Reduction headphones to try them - they are $15 AR (after rebate) at CompUSA this week - regularly $60 - they use one AAA battery.* This price is well within my "I'll try it" level.* When wearing them I hear a low level of white noise that is not objectionable.*


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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-29-2006, 11:20 AM   #13
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Re: Neat gadget review.

Noisy computer fans?

Look here
http://www.directron.com/noise.html

I've bought both the top rated enermax and the #2 rated silencer.

Both are verrrrry quiet. The enermax does so by spinning pretty slowly, but includes a thermal probe that can be placed on a hard drive or other warm area in the box and will speed up the fan incrementally. I'd use this somewhere I needed a low flow that would pick up if needed. I use this on the front of my hard drive 'cage' to give a little airflow over the hard drives, and put the probe right on the back of the drive. If one of the main fans craps out and the box starts to heat up, at least this will kick into high gear and 'save' the drives. Supposedly.

The 'silencer' on the other hand is a fixed speed fan that simply moves a ton of air and makes almost no noise at all. I put these into our old series1 tivo's and a couple into my computer. The tivo's are now nearly inaudible and the computer verry quiet.

Of course, the power supply fan plays a major role in computer noise. Several units from a variety of manufacturers are quieter or completely silent compared to regular supplies. And they generally make good power too.

Sometimes you're just into ten bucks and five minutes to change your case fan, or a hundred bucks and an hour to swap a power supply and a fan. Quiet computer. No headphones needed.

John, in your case the high pitched noise was probably the cpu fan or graphics card fan. An AMD chip by any chance?
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-29-2006, 11:53 AM   #14
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Re: Neat gadget review.

CFB - my old computer was one that I had been using to do a lot of overclocking , and yes, it had a variety of AMD processors in it. The cpu fan was a 92mm fan that was speed controlled and cooled one of those big copper "flower" heat sinks. That had a low hum so it was not the problem, and the video card I usually used didn't have a fan. I tried several power supplies - the worst one had two fans and they did the opposite of cancelling so I used only a one fan supply. I probably just had too many fans although I believe that the case itself amplified the sounds to add to the noise levels.

In January I got a new system - another AMD made by Compaq (SR1710nx) - sound level is quite quiet. This is my first factory-built system since my original Compaq 8088 PC. I'm waiting for the dual processor chips to drop to my retiree comfort level of cost.

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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-29-2006, 12:39 PM   #15
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Re: Neat gadget review.

I second the recommendation for noise cancelling headphones for anyone who spends a lot of time on a plane...I feel much less worn-out after a flight with my headphones versus traveling without them. There's just something draining/irritating about the normal cabin noise...and it makes it much easier to get work done or sleep.

I've had these Maxell NC-IIs for over a year, $35 at Wal-mart (don't think they still carry them but you can buy from other retailers):

http://www.pricegrabber.com/search_g...sterid=2860498

I did a hands-on comparison of them to the $300 Bose headset and the Maxell is not quite as good. However, for a tenth of the price, they do a great job and I would highly recommend them if you dont want to invest in the Bose. I have a hard time sleeping on flights so they were key when I went direct from Atlanta to Japan, 13 hours in the air. I fire these up with a DVD in my laptop or my MP3 player and it really makes long flights more bearable. The headphones don't require an audio input to work so you can enjoy the quiet just as easily. They fit over your entire ear to help block out the noise...I wouldn't buy any set that sits on top of your ears because it just won't be as good.

Also, pricegrabber.com is a great site if you're looking for the best price from online merchants.
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-29-2006, 01:05 PM   #16
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Re: Neat gadget review.

In my first office job many years ago (1975), our lab was in large open building that housed the machine shop on one end and our lab on the other. Sometimes the noise was unbearable. I went out and purchased headgear from a gun shop that simply muffled noise. I don't remember what it cost -- next to nothing. But it worked really well. I realize it's not a kewl electronic gadget, but you get an awful lot of noise supression for a lot less $$. Of course you can't listen to movies on the plane with them on.
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-29-2006, 02:35 PM   #17
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Re: Neat gadget review.

You can if you slip earbuds under them. Then you're just doofy looking

JohnP - You might be unaware of this, but many AMD processors include a "Squealy fan noise circuit" that makes exactly that sound you describe.

Theres probably some tie-in joke that it was designed by Squealy Dan, but I'll leave it at that.
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Re: Neat gadget review.
Old 05-29-2006, 04:09 PM   #18
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Re: Neat gadget review.

But you got the "thrust" of it...
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