I inadvertently acquired some Bose QuietComfort 15 headphones a couple of weeks ago and I’m chuffed to bits with them. More so, I think they now complete a perfect hattrick:
That’s the Bose QuietComfort 15 ($300), Etymotic E6i ($125) and Hama HK-3023 ($10).
It’s quite an investment. An opt choice of word, I feel. I dislike owning anything particularly expensive, but given I spend a good portion of my day in front of a computer listening to music, it makes sense to have decent headphones that allow me to enjoy the music more and keep greater focus whilst I work.
The Bose headphones are incredibly well known. They’ve got their direct marketing campaigns and retail presence (less prominent outside of the US) down to a fine art. You can pick up a pair on a 30-day money back guarantee and I’m sure the return rate is pretty low; and for a good reason – they’re damn good headphones. You pay top dollar for the branding alone, but you’re rewarded with superb comfort and excellent sound quality. The impact of the active noise cancelling is incredible; it completely changes the enjoyment level of long-haul travel especially. Far too bulky and precious to use out and about, but perfect for keeping on the desk for focused work sessions.
On the other hand, Etymotic is probably a company you’ve never heard of. Reasuringly, they specialise in just one product group (headphones, earplugs) and have a record of supplying products to music professionals. Whilst they don’t have any active noise cancelling, shoving the eartips into your ears gives a near identical effect. With the volume cranked up, you’ll be unable to hear anything from the outside world. The compact size makes it perfect for the great outdoors. One problem I find is that you become pretty sensitive to any movements of the cable, with the vibrations sent directly into your ears. This makes them uncomfortable when running or on long walks. You also need to be incredibly careful about anything that could snag onto the cable and rib the earphones out of your ears – it’s really painful and could cause damage to your eardrums.
The particular model I have is now discontinued. This video has a nice overview of the three new products that Etymotic currently produce:
Lastly, I picked up some cheap, generic in-ear earphones by Hama (German). Turns out, they’re pretty good and get great reviews for their price class. I use them exclusively for exercise as they let in a good amount of external noise (think: safety) and the low cost means you don’t tend to worry about the risk of water damage.
Next up: I picked up a custom earplug mould kit and plan on hacking it to create custom fit earphones (here’s a nice guide on how to do it) using the Hama earphones.
I cringe whenever I see someone with a fancy new iPod using the standard Apple earphones. If you listen to music a lot, I really encourage you to go down to your local electronics shop and try out a bunch of options – you won’t regret it.