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Noise-cancelin' weed-trimmin' headphones

Many travelers have found relief from airline engine drone with a good pair of noise-canceling headphones. But noise-canceling headphones can also handle engine noises a little closer to home, too. For a number of years I've used hearing protectors while mowing and trimming in the yard. Both riding mowers and string trimmers can generate about 95 decibels of sound -- a level where hearing damage can occur.

Mowing and trimming two acres takes time, though, and the job was boring with nothing to listen to. So I solved that problem with a pair of Shure E3 sound-isolating headphones and an iPod.

Here's why they're especially effective for this kind of job: the E3s are earbud-style 'phones that sit inside the ear canal, which helps block out exterior sound. And after I insert the E3 earbuds, I put my ear protectors on. Between the protectors and the headphones, the whine of the mower and the string trimmer sound like muted drones. The sound is dampened enough that I can set my iPod's volume at less than half its maximum, ensuring that I'm listening to my music at a safe level.

One final tip: the headphones have a fairly long cord, so I run it under my T-shirt and bring it out at the neck. This prevents me from snagging the cord with the weed eater's handle as I trim, and accidentally yanking the headphones out of my ears. Once was enough!

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