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Get The Most Out Of Your Music
by rob

Noise is all around you. Whatever the source, there are sounds constantly bombarding you that try to take away from the fidelity of your music. Today, I'll be discussing two technologies that promise to reduce background noise so you can listen to your music in peace.

Fight noise with noise

Altec Lansing AHP712i Noise Reduction Headphones
Altec Lansing AHP712i Noise Reduction Headphones

One technology, known as 'noise reduction' or 'noise cancellation,' is found in many newer headphones. It uses a tiny microphone and circuitry to analyze nearby ambient sound (noise). It then generates an opposite sound wave (anti-noise) that cancels out the noise. The extra hardware must be powered by some external source, usually a replaceable battery. Expect to pay only $40 to $120 for headphones featuring noise reduction or noise cancellation.

Pros:
Fairly inexpensive
Fits over ears like standard headphones

Cons:
The extra hardware and battery makes this type of headphone more bulky
Must replace the battery

Blocking out the noise

Shure Earphones
Shure Earphones
For even more noise-blocking goodness, there is a technology called sound isolation used in the Shure and Altec Lansing lines of earbuds. These earbuds fit inside the ear canal like earplugs and form a seal to keep out background noises. Sound isolation earbuds have an extra advantage in that they eliminate offending sound waves without the need for extra circuitry or batteries.

One thing to remember when buying earbuds is that you might feel uncomfortable with inserting something in your ear canal. You'll usually get a couple of different sizes of tips so you can get the best fit. However, since these tips will be somewhere that can get... dirty, sharing your listening experience is not as sanitary as swapping headphones. Tips made of flexible rubber can be cleaned of earwax but the ones made of foam must be replaced when dirty. These earbuds will run from $50 to $300.

Pros:
Better noise reduction
Lighter and more portable

Cons:
More expensive
You might be averse to ear canal placement
Must clean or replace tips

Either way you go, you'll save your ears some wear and tear because you won't have to crank your tunes as high to hear them above everyday racket. Until next month, keep away from jackhammers and air-horns while enjoying your music.

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