New Headphones

I have been using some Sennheiser CX300 headphones for 3 years now. I really like them and have thought about getting another pair, now that they are cheaper, about half of what I paid. When I got home Thursday there was a box that had been delivered on my doorstep that day. I didn’t have any flashlights or other stuff on the way, so I wasn’t sure what it was. The only thing I’m expecting is a rebate of some kind, which is what I thought it might be since the return address was “Fulfillment Center”. But once I opened up the box, there was another box with headphones in it a packing list that said “iLounge Envi winner”. Then I remembered that I had entered a monthly drawing on iLounge for free headphones. I had never won anything from them before, but this time they were giving away 50 pairs of headphones, so my odds had gone up substantially I guess. Even though they had my email address, they hadn’t told me I had won (though I found an article later on with the winners).

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The “Envi” isn’t necessarily a variation of “envy” but is short for “environment.” The company that makes the headpohones, RF3, makes them for cell phones saying they dramatically reduce the radiation your head receives from holding a cell phone or Bluetooth device up to your head. Or even regular headphones because part of the design is the speaker seems to be a couple of inches from your ear and the last connection is an air tube. So you never have a wire that close to your ear. I remember the old airline headphones that were just tubes that carried the sound and they were terrible.

The box itself is all corrugated cardboard with the shape of the headphones cut into the packaging. So no plastic at all. That’s pretty neat though I’m not sure whether it is better environmentally to use 1 ounce of plastic or 6 oz of cardboard. And the headphones themselves have wood components (renewable, I suppose). They say the plastic and metal parts are made from recycled materials. So all of that is pretty neat, but the first thing I did was plug them into my iPod and listen. The ends of the headphone are similar to the Sennheisers in that there is a rubber mushroom tip on the end that fills your ear canal and turns into a woofer that can deliver really good bass if the fit is just right (so they come with three different sizes of rubber tips to fit all ears). But in spite of some excellent reviews for a similar model at Amazon (5 5-star reviews by people who have only ever posted one review; smells like astroturf), I didn’t think these sounded any better than basic earbuds even with the fancy packaging and a retail price of $90. I put the bigger rubber tips on and this may have improved the sound a little. I just don’t know that the air tube does much for you (though it eliminates most of the noise I get from brushing the cable which is transmitted right into my ears with the Senns).

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The clips hold the buds in place pretty firmly so they definitely aren’t going anywhere, but are still comfortable. And the cable is a Y cable instead of the J cable I’ve gotten used to where one cable goes behind your neck (kind of nice because that means you can take the headphones out and they will hang from your neck). But the Y is needed because the cable also includes a microphone which needs to be in front of you. I haven’t tried that out yet.

Still, they are free, so I will take them to work as a backup set in case I forget to bring my headphones with me in the morning.

3 thoughts on “New Headphones

  1. I’m sitting in a VW service center waiting room using WIFI with my Mac listening to Norah Jones over Pandora via my BlackBerry ear buds (all I had on me.) I’m just amazed by the sound and portability of all this.

  2. I was trying to understand the “tubes” reference and the photo. So are the speakers inside the two nodes in the lower half of the photo and then a tube transmits the sound up several inches? Seems like those nodes would be bothersome on the side of your neck or jaw.

    Since your ear canal is a tube of air, too… so headphones are not really right up against your ear drum, is this all a gimmick?

    The sound could still be turned up too loud whether you are going through 2 inches of air or 5.

  3. I don’t really notice the nodes. I thought they were some kind of weights to keep the cord hanging straight at first, but they are connected to the earbud by a hollow tube. I don’t think it is a great idea and I don’t think the “radiation” they are shielding you from is significant with an iPod, though it would be a lot less than from a cell phone or bluetooth earpiece. There must be some kind of driver in the node that gets the air vibrating in the tube and I think the air then vibrates a diaphragm in the earbud, because the earbud has a tiny grille over the end and it looks shiny under there like there is a piece of mylar underneath.

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