Written by 4:20 am Audiophile

Noise Canceling Headphones Can Get You Killed

Steven Stone almost eradicates a jogger…

This afternoon around 1:30 I was coming home from planet fatness and I spied an older guy (if gray hair is a tip-off) about 100 yards ahead on my right. If I turned onto the side street at my current speed I would reach that side street just about the same time as the aforementioned headphoned runner. 

AR-jogging3a copy.jpgSo, I slowed down to see what he would do, and which way he would go. He entered the street and turned to the right into my street. He took a W-I-D-E turn that put him plumb in the middle of the street. And he continued jogging in the middle of the street. 

So I honked. A short honk to alert him to my presence. No response. I was stopped, turned halfway into my street at this point. He was about five feet off my left bumper. I honked again. Longer. 

Still no response from the gray-haired Bose noise-cancelling headphoned wearing runner. 

So I honked for a full second. Still no response. 

So I honked even longer, long enough to disturb the three or four big dogs in the neighborhood, who thought it a splendid opportunity to sing along with my horn. 

Finally, finally, there was some response from our mid-street runner. 

“Sorry, Sorry!” 

AR-jogging1a.jpg“Do you realize that those headphones will get you killed?” But before I could finish my admonishment he was back running and I was idling in the middle of the road. 

Please, puhleeze, don’t be that guy. Do not use noise cancelling headphones or 35 dB isolating in-ears when you are road-running, biking, jogging, speed-walking, moto-biking, driving an automobile, or operating anything heavier-duty than a tricycle in public. Pretty please. 

There are headphones that work GREAT if you want to listen to music and do something out in the world – open cans! 

Sure, the outside world will leak in. And if someone is nearby and your music is pumping they will hear it. But the important advantage of open enclosures is that you won’t lose contact with the external environment. The modern world requires situational awareness. 

AR-jogging2a.jpgIt’s ironic that the one thing that bothers me most about open cans when on an airplane or in a library (no isolation) are the exact reason they excel when you do need to be here now and conscious of your surroundings in the real world. 

So, again, don’t be that isolated headphones guy…because I really, really, want you to live long and prosper…

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