Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Mile High Rub

This Q & A from the last weekend's "Off Duty" section of the WSJ caught my eye:

Q: I love my Bose headphones, but I hate that everyone else on the plane wears them, too. Are there other noise-canceling phones you like?

I know exactly what you mean. You shell out hundreds of dollars for the best noise cancelling headphones that money can buy only to experience the horror of having every other business traveling schmuck around you using the same brand. Terrible.

One way to avoid this unpleasantness is to do what I do. Use your seven-year-old Panasonic Phillips headphones that have seen so much wear and tear that they now need to be held together by a rubber band on one side. That's how you can stand out from the crowd.

Despite the annoyingly pretentious nature of the question, the answer (or at least one of the options) was actually enlightening:

A: I understand. You're one of those ├╝ber-miling road warriors, but you don't want to look like one, right? Same rolly luggage, same neck pillow, same noise-canceling headphones. They must issue this stuff once you hit Elite Gold status. Personally, I like the majority of Bose's headphones—they set the standard—but hey, I like to help. Here are three that will set you apart from hoi polloi.

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC27
Compared with most active noise-canceling headsets (that's where the headphone produces a frequency to "cancel" the ambient noise around you), these are a bargain without sounding like one—thumpy bass and clear, high trebles. I admire the simple, inconspicuous look. They're distinct in their discreetness. $120, audio-technica.com

Given that my headphones are due to be replaced and I--unlike many frequent fliers--am not prepared to pay the premium prices that Bose demands, I may just have to look into the Audio Technica cans as an option.