Enjoy tangle-free listening to music and podcasts instead of your mower, protecting your hearing for just 60 dollars
May 3, 2015 Update - I have come up with a $140 solution with much better sound, documented here. Original article appears below.
Noise Suppression Stereo Headphones with Bluetooth Controls (4 item shopping cart)
I often find myself searching for a device that nobody seems to make. Instead of giving up or over-spending, I usually first try to put together my own solution. When it comes to mowing, or even leaf and snow blowing, I'd rather not spend a lot on a device that's going to take quite a beating. I'm happy to say I feel I nailed this one, with a simple and affordable assembly that even works even for vacuuming, despite the large amount of RF interference and noise that such motors are prone to spewing out. There are companies that made such devices, like Peltor's discontinued 25db reduction Peltor MT53H7AWS2. But that thing was ~$350. There's also home improvement store models that either don't offer stereo, such as this Ryobi. The there's the various models at Ear Plug Superstore that just don't have the right combination of features and price. This 2nd generation of carefully chosen and tested parts is much improved over my original $75 to protect your hearing while listening to podcasts (this one’s for you, fellow geek-mowers!) post from Jul 17 2012.
- much better sound quality, with some decent bass to actually enjoy music, while protecting my hearing from excessive ambient noise
- a bit more standardized charger type, using mini USB instead of a proprietary plug on my previous Bluetooth dongle
- much longer battery life
- Velcro is simple to install and holds on very well, even in hot weather so you can take just the dongle indoors for recharge, if you'd prefer
- higher NRR (Noise Reduction Rating), with the Howard Leight coming in at 25 dB (versus the older 3M at 22 dB)
- basic audio controls are great for listing to podcasts (3 buttons for Play/Pause, 10 seconds back, and 30 seconds ahead), leaving my phone protected from my grubby hands, I just use the buttons on the Bluetooth receiver by touch, with physical buttons that can be readily located with my fingertips
- controls work well with the Pocket Casts app (auto-download content on WiFi, then head outdoors to listen to locally saved podcasts)
- maximum volume of the headset's speakers are limited to 82 dBA, to help prevent hearing loss
- pairs easily with variety of Bluetooth enabled players and phones, such as my iPhone 5
- all black design doesn't look ridiculous on your head, with no antennas sticking up
- occasional sound drop outs (<1 second), not a big deal. It doesn't seem to matter if I disable WiFi on my iPhone, and doesn't seem to be closely correlated with the pocket I choose to carry the iPhone in.
- somewhat flimsy feeling to the headset, so I wouldn't throw them around. Buy hey, they're $18.
- barely big enough for my head, and a bit too tight, but both problems reduced by slightly bending the headband near where the wires emerge (shown in the video below)
So if you're interested in trying this out for yourself, use the large Amazon shopping cart link below, or the photo, and your shopping cart will be then automatically have exactly the 4 items you need. Unboxing and assembly will likely only take you about about 5-10 minutes. You'll notice from the photos below that I put a leftover Velcro disk over the entire surface of the Bluetooth receiver. It just happened to fit perfectly, hiding the hideously bright LED, and the less than amazing looking blue VICTSING logo. The small hole I created with an Xacto blade lets the Bluetooth Logo LED shine through as a subtle pinpoint of light, rather than an obnoxious beacon of dork. Here's the 3 minute assembly summary:
- cut a furry (soft loops) side of a Velcro disk in half, then apply half (semi-circle) to the back of the right ear cup (seen pictured below)
- on the underside of the Bluetooth module, remove the rubber feet, then apply a whole Velcro disk (hard plastic hooks)
- remove film from the LED side of the Bluetooth module
- using a blade to carefully create a tiny hole in another Velcro disk (hard plastic hooks) near the edge (seen pictured below)
- apply this disk to cover up the entire LED side of the Bluetooth module, aligning the hole with the Bluetooth LED/logo
- insert 6" stereo cord right-angle connector into the back edge of the Bluetooth module
- insert the other end into the bottom of the right ear cup
Alternatively, since the headband admittedly won't fit on particular large heads (noted by some Amazon reviews), you could head over to the homedepot.com listing for just the headphones here, to check if your local Home Depot stocks it. That way you can easily see if they fit you, and more easily handle the refund if it just won't fit. If you're still on the fence about this, see also the accompanying video below. And be safe out there, making sure to not use these anywhere near automobile or foot traffic, since you will not be hearing ambient noises. May 22 2014 Update - I've since replaced my somewhat bulky and noise-prone VicTsing Bluetooth receiver with the Jumbl Bluetooth Receiver for $27.95, so far, it's working very well!
This Bluetooth receiver doesn't come with a charger, so if you don't have a USB port on a computer or a USB charger handy, you might want to take a look at these devices that'll help you get a fast charge, maybe even in your garage:
Belkin SurgePlus 6-Outlet Wall Mount Surge Protector with Dual USB Ports (2.1 AMP / 10 Watt) RCA 2 Feet Coiled Mini USB Cable - Black (AH731CBR) PowerGen Black 2.4-Amp (12 Watt) Dual USB Wall Charger w/Swival Plug Designed for Apple and Android Devices PowerGen 2.4Amps / 12W Dual USB Car charger Designed for Apple and Android Devices - Black
You are using these at your own risk, and it's up to you to follow all manufacturers guidelines.