Why noise cancelling headphones will change your life
Do you ever travel on a bus? Or a train? Or the tube, or a plane or indeed any form of transport?
If so, start saving up NOW for a pair of noise cancelling headphones. Trust me – just do it.
Up until a couple of months ago, I had never tried them. Spending any money at all on posh headphones seemed like an unnecessary extravagance to me – after all, your phone comes with a free pair – but because I have weird ears, I can’t use the standard Apple earphones. They literally just fall out of my ears after a few steps. It's really annoying.
So to get round this, years ago I bought a cheap set of earphones that had a kind of rubber clip that sat on the back of the ear to keep them in place. All fine and dandy, except when I was travelling. I get the Underground to work every day here in London, and for those of you who haven’t been on it, let me tell you, it’s loud.
Even with the volume on my phone turned up to 11, for large parts of the journey the Tube is so loud, I could not hear a thing through the headphones. I gave up trying to listen to podcasts on my commute because I spent so long having to rewind to hear the bits I had missed on the journey.
And let me tell you, dear reader, I thought there was nothing that could be done.
Enter my boss, Tim Rodie. Tim is a tech guy. Tim likes gadgets and bells and whistles and cool stuff. And when he bought a brand new set of Sony noise cancelling headphones, I thought he was mad for spending hundreds of pounds on something that essentially did the same job as my £20 earphones.
And then he let me try his fancy ones. And within seconds I understood. I understood it all. And in a hugely uncharacteristic fit of spontaneous extravagance, I hopped on to Amazon and ordered a pair for myself.
I couldn’t really afford it, but hey, I’ll use them every day and that's what credit cards are for, right? I can pay it off in the new year.
When they arrived at the office, I unboxed them carefully – at £265 they represented comfortably my most expensive single purchase since my phone.
“They will honestly change your life,” my colleague Lucy told me. She was also a recent convert.
And you know what? She was right. Tim was right. They are great. Putting them on is like donning a cloak of calm and quiet. For commuting, they are perfect – because they block out all noise you feel calmer, and you are even able to think more clearly without all the audible clutter you are normally ingesting. It is a shock to the system when you take them off at the end of your journey and all the normal background sounds of the world return.
And it meant I could finally listen to podcasts all the way through without having to pause them every time my Tube train hit a particularly squealy piece of track.
I have a long flight coming up next month, and that too was part of me justifying the expense to myself. Wiling away 18 hours on an aeroplane will be a lot more palatable if I can block out the noise of the engine *and* watch films/listen to music without having to literally push my earphones into my ear to hear anything. Happy days.
But there is another chapter to this story. A sad chapter.
Two weeks ago I went to the pub to meet some friends. My fancy headphones were zipped up safe and sound inside their carry case, inside my rucksack. At some point during the evening, I realised my bag was not at my feet where I had put it. Some opportunist thief had half-inched it – and got my headphones into the bargain.
Of course no one saw anything, there was no CCTV in the pub and nothing anyone could do. By the next morning they were probably already stripped for parts, or resprayed and on a container ship to Romania.
And this is the second lesson I must impart to you all: if you do buy a fancy, expensive pair of headphones, MAKE SURE YOUR HOME INSURANCE COVERS THEM WHEN OUTSIDE THE HOUSE.
Because mine didn’t. And now I am facing the prospect of either braving my 18-hour flight without a set, or dusting off the credit card again and buying a new pair (still haven’t paid off a penny of the original ones, mind).
“Just buy a cheap pair,” my brother said. “Mine only cost fifteen quid.”
I sighed. “I don’t think I can do that.”
“Because now I’ve been to the top of the mountain," I said. "I’ve driven the Rolls Royce Corniche, I’ve drunk the Dom Perignon ’69, worn the Saville Row suit. Eaten the Ferrero Rocher. How can I go back?”
And that is my dilemma. What should I do?