VALCO laboratories test: noise-cancelling headphones
Author Valco Laboratoriot
The news had reached my basement that some miracle noise-cancelling headphones have started to appear on the market. My preconception was that they filter out a certain amount of noise with some digital gizmo, improving the listening experience and reducing the impact of background noise on the desired listening experience.
Well, the VALCO laboratory of course needs just such noise filters to cut out the constant background noise from life, the noise caused by a few children under 10 years old and the loud and constant woman who commands them and who gave birth to these roars. Not to mention the neighbour who renovates all year round and should return his borrowed percussion drill.
The headphones are really intended mainly to filter out aircraft noise and other noisy machinery, but there is no one in our laboratory who is in any way bothered by the noise emanating from fine machinery, the result of high engineering design.
The beautiful, steady jet engine noise of an aeroplane or the purring roar of a car engine are more likely to soothe the nerves and nourish the imagination. If you don't happen to have the same kind of engineer's soul, these are perfect for air travel.
So the laboratory test was specifically geared towards the normal life of a middle-aged man with a family.
After testing a few devices, we naturally settled on the best one, where the lag-free connection perfectly covers the area between the living room sofa and the fridge without any interference. This area, which used to be full of chaotic noise, is now filled with soul-warming music or TV and radio programmes, without the need to turn the devices up to overdrive to compensate for the chaotic background noise of 'wonderful' family life.
The headphones are sturdy, with cups that go over (or around, depending on the size of your ears) and absorb most of the noise by their very existence, like a pair of paddles. Once you hit the counter-noise, the silence is palpable.
These headphones should also be sold as idiot filters, because they can undoubtedly filter out the latest brainwaves of the idiot grumbling in the workplace and the steady, tiresome roar of the open-plan office, using state-of-the-art technology.
There's also remote management and two-device connectivity, so you can plug in your phone alongside your music player or other gadget, so you can't miss your mate's request for a beer or other important work stuff, if there happens to be any - important stuff. The sound quality of the filter's mics has also been found to be excellent during calls, meaning a request for a beer in the middle of a roar is almost a whisper.
You can also share your own listening experience with others with similar headphones, so sometimes you can even indulge your spouse by sharing the serene silence digitally if he or she happens to have escapist dreams amid the family hubbub. Decent silence helps with all the troubles. Silent treatment is also much more effective digitally, because the protest-like clattering of places and over-loud toilet scrubbing that usually accompanies it doesn't get through the filters.
A manual comparison of the sound quality with the previous wired Bose Quietcomforts came to the conclusion that the Bose should stay on the shelf because, despite the huge price difference, they are no better in use. In addition, my Bose headphones have a beer-restricting cord.
In our lab test, we rated the features on a scale of 1-5 stars, where 1 star is crap and 5 is damn good:
Airborne noise * * * * * * *
Train noise * * * * * * *
Bus noise * * * * * *
Children's noise * * * * (even the peltors don't filter everything)
Wife noise * * * (requires double shielding)
Vacuuming * * * * *
Washing machines and other household appliances * * * * * *
We especially appreciate the good battery life and comfort of use
We complained about the price. The Chinese sweatshop is cashing in heavily on quality this time. We could have found cheaper ones, but they were crap. We think it's pointless to buy crap for 5 tenner when you can get the best for 100.