Wednesday, December 21, 2005


Avoiding Noise

Earlier this year, I bought a pair of Bose QuietComfort 2 headphones to try to eliminate noise in cubicle-land. I occasionally listen to music with them, but usually I just wear them unconnected, to cancel noise.

This has worked fairly well, but there are a couple of drawbacks. First, they are great at drowning out background noise, but do little to silence conversations and ringing phones in adjacent cubicles. Second, there is a buzzing noise whenever my Blackberry or a nearby cellphone perform wireless communications.

I was recently given a wireless modem to add to my collection of junk that I constantly need to test, and now the Bose headphones are buzzing all the time. I decided I needed a lower-tech solution.

I picked up a pair of protective earmuffs at Home Depot, and they work pretty well. There is no buzzing, and they block out all sounds, not just what Bose thinks of as "noise." The only drawback is that they squeeze my head pretty tightly, because a tight seal is needed to block sound.

I've considered wearing my aviation headset to work, as it has a higher noise reduction rating than the earmuffs, but I think I probably look silly enough already.

I've been offered a real office (with a door!) a couple of times, but have wanted to stay in the cubicle so that I'll remain close the people I work with. I'm not sure I'll maintain my resistance; the next time I'm offered an office, I'll probably take it.

Hi. I'd be very grateful if, for a day, you would go ahead and wear the aviation headset and let us know if it is successful in drowning out the conversations as well. I've moved from an office in one job to a cube in another and the transition is not going well. The sound makes it impossible to concentrate and disrupts whatever I was thinking about. There are many positives about the job, but the sound is driving me up the wall and I simply must find a solution to it, even if it means buying an aviation headset. I've already tried a $200 noise cancelling headset and it does reduce noise, but still lets the conversations right on in.
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