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Loud Music in the Middle of the Night: A Hybrid Headset Comparison

Thu Jul 27, 2006 - 2:45 PM EDT - By Jay Gross

Headphones are a necessity

My building's last brick was placed in 1949, when ceilings were high and walls were respectably thick. These walls are concrete and plaster, bearing umpteen coats of paint accumulated over the comings and goings of many tenants. So with such thick walls and high ceilings, why do my neighbors on the next floor up always bang on the floor when I play music in the middle of the night? Do they sleep on the floor? Or try to? Do they hate Mozart?

The real problem is that I don't keep "normal" hours. I do try to be considerate of the other people in the building, however. During the day I don't worry about being noisy. At night, I try to hold it down to a moderate roar and I don't play music over a whisper.

Some days, though, my frazzled nerves need the soothing of the dulcet tones of a Kathleen Battle solo. My ears pine for some Mozart, Ravel, or Sarasate and my psyche needs a Rachmaninoff fix. After midnight.

The solution has me by the ears.

To make both myself and my neighbors happy, I'm looking into headsets, ear buds, and headphones -- wireless and otherwise. I have an adequate set of regular headphones (leatherette cuffs cover and surround the ears) for my laptop, but I like listening to music with my Treos. They're portable, so in case I need to spend some quality time in a small but cozy room I can do that. I'm mostly new to hybrid headsets, so if you're a newbie in this realm like me (or just curious), come exploring with me.

My first contender is Seidio's 2-in-1 hybrid headset [Review|Buy]for the Treo 650, 700p, and 700w . The company calls it the "Ingenious 2 in 1 Headset". In fact, "Ingenious" is a whole series of headsets that includes models with and without the handy retractable cord-coiler that mine came with.

(A little FYI: I figured you wouldn't be terribly interested in seeing me wearing the ear buds, so I photographed them on a much better looking model.)

I'm treading trails already blazed by TreoCentral's headset enthusiast, James Hromadka, who reviewed the Seidio 2 in 1 in February. I agree with James' review by and large, especially the bit about about clogging up only one ear with music while driving. Tempting as it is to knock out the noise, you just might need to hear someone yelling or blowing the horn at you – not to mention the laws in some states.

At home, however, sitting at my desk, I want sound coming into both ears. The only horns that interest me are French.

The earbuds don't fall out – James hit that issue on the nose, too – but they do move around. When that happens the sound changes. All of the sudden there's no bass in one ear, or even both, because some motion I've made (reaching for the coffee mug, probably) caused an ear bud to realign itself. Quickly, before too many bars of Bach go by, I'll have to tinker with one ear bud or the other. This is an annoyance -- and a frequent one.

It's a shame, too, because the audio quality when the buds are in place is great, the listening experience excellent. Although they don't literally "cancel" surrounding noise (like the window air conditioner three feet behind my desk), they do a good job of sealing it out, filling my ears with Gershwin and Debussy instead. Of course your mileage will vary. The product comes with three sets of rubber inserts labeled "Large, "Medium," and "Small." The large ones were the best fit for me, though they still slid around too much.

Next Page: The Palm Hybrid Headset >>

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