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    • I've recently picked up yet another set of headphones Sony MDR-XB950N1 and as always the excuse was that they'll improve my productivity 😂. The honest truth was that they were a different version of the headphones I already love Sony MDR-XB950B1 with one additional feature (active noise cancellation) and came in my favorite stealth black color scheme.

      For how relatively inexpensive they are (under $200) I found them to have a wonderful soundstage and with a push of a button I can add a bit of extra bass to get that oomph. Now that the new set has an active noise cancelling feature I've already found a few use case where it really helped to turn it on. For example: if you have a fan going, it does a great job of drowning it out without pumping up the volume too high and sacrificing your hearing. Also the joy of not having tangled wires and the freedom to move around is a huge deal for me.

      What is your favorite set of over-the-ears headphones for work?

    • I work from home in a private office above my garage, so I'm lucky in that I don't have office noise to drown out.

      Which is great, because I love the AKG K 240 Mk II. It's a semi-open headphone so it doesn't provide much noise isolation and the sound it produces is faintly audible to those around you (if there is anyone around you), but it has an amazingly accurate, neutral sound that I just love. And it's a surprisingly inexpensive set of headphones for how good it is — just $99 on Amazon.

      Maybe not the best set of headphones for a noisy office shared with other people, but great for a private office with no one else around! 😀

    • I have just been using my Apple Airpods, they switch between phone / mac really seamlessly and are just really well made. Probably not the best if you want super high quality audio, or noise cancellation, but they are great for just background music and video calls.

      The best part for me is I'm going to carry them around anyway, and I can switch between going for a walk and listening to podcasts on my phone, and sit down at my computer and turn on Spotify or watch videos without having to switch headsets.

    • I marvel at people who can study or work with music in their ears. It ruins my concentration. It's hard enough to write in a Starbucks or Dunkin, with their incessant tracks.

    • I think it really depends on what music you are listening to. I prefer listening to soundtracks or songs in foreign language so that the lyrics don't distract me from the task at hand. I've tried services like brain.fm that would generate the custom soundtrack for you based on your mood.

      Even though I found the concept to be promising, the quality of the sound just wasn't good enough to the point where it started bothering me and decided to stop my subscription. For most people this probably won't be a big issue, but for me it stuck out like a sore thumb. Anyway... that aspect deserves a conversation of its own.

    • I hear you. For some tasks that don't require deep focus, I can listen to music. But most of the time I need deep focus and music is distracting.

      Mostly I prefer to listen when cooling down or ramping up to start a new task, which helps me relax and keep my stress level down when I have a lot to do. I like being able to focus on the music and nothing else.

    • I also use Apple Airpods. Very good sound, although limited compared to ear cover designs. I can use them anywhere, anytime. I make lots of phone calls, so no need to switch between music and calls. Its reliable and has good battery life with fast recharge.

    • I have become hooked on AirPods!! Every time I take them from their case I wonder at how Apple got every little detail right. The lovely shape that's comfortable but doesn't fall out. The way they snap softly into the case. How the case charges them. The way they synch like butter the first time you use them. The sound. I even use them while running and biking.

      Sometimes I don't even remember they're in while I chatter away with people.

    • how do you avoid the wind noise while cycling, I had to use inner ear ones and would only do that on trails so I didn't get smashed by cars.

    • I primarily use headphones for noise isolation. I don't especially like listening to music when coding but it's better to have predictable noise than the usual open office mess. I've always found in-ear headphones to be better for sound isolation.

      I went through three pairs of Etymotics. They're basically earplugs with headphones attached and I liked that I could put them on and work without playing anything. I stopped using them because I wasn't happy with how they held up in my bag. I'd get 2-3 years out of them before the casing around the wire by the headphones would split and fall off. They also seem to shift music towards the treble but less than the Grados I had in college.

      I'm currently using a pair of Sony XBA-H1s. I've had them for a year and they're holding up much better. They have an overcasing near the headphones and that is split but the cord itself is in good shape. They don't provide as much isolation but it's still pretty good.

    • sound guru here at https://www.innerfidelity.com/home
      he since retired and was to busy enjoying life to accept my invite here.
      Great fair reviews on a large set of headphones. worth a click for sure.
      Youtube has his review video's.

    • Interesting. I walk every day surrounded by traffic. I listen to podcasts on ear buds. I find that by doing so, traffic noise actually seems louder to me than when I don't listen to anything. I don't know what my brain is doing, except that it's the complete opposite of sound isolation. :-)

    • I don't know if it's an official designation but I think of earbuds and in-ear headphones as slightly different. I find that a lot of the earbuds I've tried (e.g. apple wired earbuds) don't provide much or any noise isolation and mostly sit in the ear and/or use the skin contact to stay in place. With in-ear headphones, particularly Etymotics, the headphone goes into the ear canal and provides a better seal and a lot of sound isolation.

    • For your Sony XBA-H1s, have you tried using foam tips? Comply makes great ones that create a really good seal. You have to replace them a few times a year, but I think they are more comfortable and actually help in-ear headphones produce better sound due to the better seal.

    • Brian Strong

      I also have and like the Sony MDR-XB950B1s. My biggest complaints are:

      - My ears start to hurt after about an hour of use.
      - The extra bass feature really does the job it's supposed to do, but is often too artificial and boomy. Overall sound fidelity is just okay IMO.
      - The headset functionality is basically useless. The listener other end can never hear me very well and the sound quality on my end is equatable to a tin can.

      I've spent a lot of money on headphones in my lifetime and yet I still search for the holy grail.

      Maybe I'm asking for too much.

      I want two sets: an in-ear pair for the gym and for walks outside, and an over-the-ear pair for home/work. Both need to be wireless. Both shouldn't leave my ears feeling like they've been stabbed after an hour. Both need to be able to act as a headset and sound great for me and my listener(s). Both need to sound exceptional for music. They don't need to be perfectly accurate, slightly biased towards bass is good, but I want to hear the details of the music.

      Maybe the Sony WH-1000XM2 for over-the-ear?

    • I have an older, on-ear version of Bose's non-noise canceling Bluetooth headphones (which they now make as an around-the-ear model). I keep that pair in my laptop bag and use them when traveling or just sitting on the couch at home.

      They sound great (less neutral and more bass-heavy than my AKG K 240 Mk II, but that's fine), have incredible battery life, and are really comfortable even for long-term use. Microphone quality in my pair is just okay (it uses an older, lower quality Bluetooth profile for voice), but reviews say the newer models are much better. Maybe worth looking into?

    • Brian Strong

      Ah yes I've heard great things about those! Thanks for the recommendation. Also on the list is the Sennheiser PXC-550.

      I wish there was a way to rent headphones for a week...

      As for an in-ear pair, I really wish Ultimate Ears and AirPods had a baby.

    • That's a great question. I didn't like to use sound isolating earbuds on my bike for fear of not hearing cars. Anything that sealed off the ear canal combined with active noise cancelling worried me.

      So I bought Terrano cycling speakers that hover just off the ear (pic below). They're bluetooth, noise cancelling, auto adjust volume with background noise, have a mic close to the mouth with wind guard for talking on the phone, and they have skip forward and back buttons. Pretty good. I thought they were the best thing going but above maybe 25 mph even they weren't good for listening because of wind noise.

      When I bought a Lumos helmet for its lights, I went on a ride before moving the Terrano stuff over, so I just used AirPods for that ride. Most earbuds I'd tried before made a terrible thundering noise when the wind got high. All of them sealed off the ear canal with tips.

      Surprise, surprise, the AirPods seemed okay up to 25ish without thundering or whistling, so I never did get around to moving the Terrano speakers over.

    • Kevin Harrington

      I'm late to chime in but here's what I've learned: I've tried a bunch of solutions over the years to realize the best headphone depends dramatically on the situation.

      I work from home now, and I have the luxury of not using headphones most of the time since it's just my puppy and me in the house.

      When I worked in a busy, semi-open office environment, I found it critical that I block out most of the chatter to get things done.

      Four kinds I like for different reasons:
      1. Active noise canceling headphones are great to cut out the office noise and chatter. I have the Audio Technica ANC9 Audio quality isn't great when the noise canceling is enabled, but sound isolation is pretty amazing. Great for planes, not as good for an office environment.
      2. Over the ear, audiophile-grade headphones. I have the Denon AH-600. These are my favorite headphones. Comfortable, high-quality sound, and pretty good sound isolation. They don't make them anymore, but they have newer models similar to that headphone available.
      3. In-ear headphones like this. Great sound, good sound isolation, terribly uncomfortable in my opinion. They're also really annoying put in and take out.
      4. Airpods. The most convenient headphones. My go-to for anything when I'm moving around and not at my desk. My favorite part is that they're wonderful for calls. Everyone on the other end of the calls thanks me for how well they can hear me. And they seamlessly connect with my iPhone. They're a fantastic piece of engineering.

    • Yes!!! I have a pair of these & like them for when I want a fuller music experience than airpods but don’t need extra noise cancelling.

      I have a pair of Bose QC-35s that I spend 2-4 hours using every day. They’re amazing for the office - I sit near our Opps teams which can get incredibly loud

      I have airpods too & use those for podcasts on the go, phonecalls, and as a backup pair. Generally don’t like the sound quality for music

    • AirPods are awesome. I have been using them for over 8 months now. Just the fact that they’re super portable and the fact that dunking them into the charging case charges them up so rapidly is a mega convenience factor for me.

      Yes there are a couple of use cases where they dont work well

      1 - Noise cancellation in an airport/airplane

      2 - if they dont fit in your ears right

      I got the twelve south airpods Airfly case and have attached them to my keyring so I never lose them. Waiting for the wireless charging case next!

    • Ananda Sim

      I've had years as a listener - nowadays listening to modern jazz (people like Bob James, Joe Sample, Lee Ritenour, Kirk Whalum) and also older jazz. I had a premium AKG years back, still have it but the cushions and connections are not good anymore. I bought a newer AKG I think it could even be the K 240 - my son grabbed it so yeah, one day, I have go get another pair. I have a small, over the year, Beyer pair which is ok. I used to love Sennheisers until I heard AKG. They make sound real and live for me.

      By the way, I prefer FLAC for close listening, otherwise Spotify free and 192k MP3 are ok. Often, the source has to be a good enough reference before you can assess an output device.

    You've been invited!