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Best Noise Canceling Headphones

Every once in a while we come across a product that has the potential to change the world.  During the past week, we’ve been reviewing an amazing set of headphones.  Headphones can change the world?  Yes, headphones.  These are not just any set of headphones.  Normally, on any long car or plane ride we’ll bring a set of noise canceling headphones along.  Noise canceling headphones are great for blocking out the ambient drone of a plane or automobile.  However, we’ve noticed (and often lamented) the fact that though our Bose QuietComfort 3 Acoustic noise canceling headphones are great, they don’t block out the scream of a baby, or the incessant whine of a hungry 5 year-old.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous if your headphones could do that?  It’d be like a mute button for those times when your kids are just driving you plain nuts.  Selective noise canceling if you will.

P4019028This past week we’ve been reviewing the Whin R2600’s.  These are a lightweight (if not somewhat large) and well-made pair of headphones.  Normal active noise canceling headphones attenuate the ambient noise level across the board, which causes car and airplane “white” noise to become quiet.  However, it leaves certain frequencies alone, so for instance you can carry on a conversation while you listen to music.  In the case of parents, on occasion it’d be great to mute certain conversations but not all of them.  Full isolation headphones will block out 90% of all noise, but then you can’t carry on any conversation or hear much of anything.  The Whin R2600’s attempt to solve that issue with a super long acronym technology (SAAWCT) that cancels out and increases the noise reduction coefficient of the specific frequency of a kid’s whine.  How is this possible?  The folks at Whin discovered through their research that the base 2600 Hz frequency is specific to children who whine from ages 3 to 7.  They then take this frequency and auto cancel it, even adjusting as the sound waves modulate.

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In the lab, the headphones were tested using a method called real Ear Attenuation Threshold (REAT), where people identify the sound level at which they can no longer hear the test noise.  Although, we did not have access to a sophisticated lab and wouldn’t know what to do in one if we did, we decided to take the headphones on a recent trip to Los Angeles for some real world testing.

Our test methodology consisted of renting the cheapest and noisiest compact car we could find, and hightailing it down boring Interstate 5.  We brought only boiled spinach as a snack for the kids.  At the 45 minute mark, our 7 year-old started complaining that he was hungry.  We offered him the spinach, but he refused and demanded an orange.  Wow, I guess we raised him right since it’s still a healthy choice.  Since the oranges were in the trunk of our rental, my wife quickly threw on the Whin R2600 headphones to test them out.  The whines began, “I’m huuuungaarry!”  The whining came in more incessant waves and increased in frequency.

The whining came in more incessant waves and increased in frequency.

Throughout the whines, my wife calmly carried out a conversation with me about the current state of the economy, while completely ignoring our 7-year old.  After about 5 minutes, I could no longer take it and pulled the car over at the next exit in order to grab an orange from the trunk.  My wife calmly removed the headphones with a smile and said, “Keep calm and carry on”.  The incessant whine of a hungry 7 year-old trapped in a car seat had lost the battle against the R2600 headphones.  Perhaps next time, we should both wear headphones.

Pros:

  • Stellar sound quality and high noise reduction coefficient
  • No fuss controls
  • Adaptive baffle damping
  • Super Active Auto Whine Cancellation Technology (SAAWCT)
  • Neodymium magnets
  • Solid, foldable design

Cons:

  • Very expensive.
  • Audio quality takes a dive when full noise canceling is enabled.
  • May cause permanent hearing loss of the “whine” 2600 hertz range.
  • Neodymium magnets are so strong that they sometimes stick to nearby metal objects.
  • Your kids and/or spouse may get upset with you.

Noise reduction coefficient:  “It is the arithmetic average, rounded to the nearest multiple of 0.05, of the absorption coefficients for a specific material and mounting condition determined at the one octave band center frequencies of 250, 500, 1000 and 2000 Hz. The absorption coefficients of materials are commonly determined through use of standardized testing procedures, such as ASTM C423.” – wikipedia

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One Response to Best Noise Canceling Headphones

  1. Elaine Schoch April 2, 2013 at 5:27 am #

    Is this an April Fools Day joke? They sounds too good to be true. To have a conversation and not have to listen to the whining?!?! Every mom’s dream…

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