Noise-cancelin' weed-trimmin' headphones


Ralph Graves

Ralph Graves is one of Crutchfield's blog editors, and part of the company's social media team. He writes about home audio/video gear, specializing in Apple-related and wireless technologies. Ralph holds a master's degree in music composition, and his works have been released on various labels. He's served as product manager for an independent classical and world music label, produced several recordings, and worked extensively in public broadcasting. Since 1984 he's hosted a weekly classical music program on WTJU, and is also active as a blogger and podcaster.

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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!