By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Many months ago, I chanced upon an IndieGoGo campaign about QuietOn, a pair of ear plugs that operate almost like a pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones. By using active noise cancellation, a fair amount of low-frequency sounds can be filtered out with this sound blocker. This Finnish re-invention looks at the sounds bouncing within the ear canal and creates additional filters for quietness.
After a few weeks of my own testing in random environments, these plugs do work as advertised. They are described to effectively block sound when filtered through walls. For example, those sounds of jet engines from far away, the loud neighbours from the next room in a hotel and elephant stampede in an apartment one level up are nonexistent. I have yet to try sleeping next to an air conditioner and when the noises are not blaring directly at you, they function as intended. Snoring beasts are difficult to prevent, so my quest continues lest I have that suitcase Newt Scamander from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them carries to stuff those monsters into.
While I can not explain why the droning whine of a bus engine or cars roaring by are not fully filtered out, I suspect part of the issue is that those frequencies include mids and highs that QuietOn do not fully examine to mute. Conversations are also not silenced. I compared wearing Bose’s Quiet Comfort 20 and QuietOn in these situations and the results sided on Bose being slightly better. I have Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9 for listening to my music and the performance is about a half point worse for effective wide frequency noise cancelling. Trying to find a perfectly fitting set of muffs for my ears that will block 95% or more of the world’s noises is proving to be nearly impossible unless I want to shell out $400 or more.
Noise cancelling technology is not a perfect science when considering how well or bad an individual’s hearing is. The best any blocker can do is drop the sound by 10 decibels or more so the listener can either hear it or not. Most headphones claim up to 90% efficiency for a wider spectrum and for QuietOn they rank the same for low-frequency use. In this company’s defense, they will soon be sending Comply Isolation foam buds to all IndieGoGo backers and it will eventually be available for order. They will further help reduce environmental noise.
The only real difference that matter is in falling asleep with them on. The feel is very good and I can still listen to my music (or TV with that sleep inducing late night program) on. This geek will continue to look for an effective blocker for those loud snorers I have to share a room with. Something must exist somewhere, short of stuffing a pillow down certain individual’s mouths.
Original article can be read here.
4 Stars out of 5