Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Music and motobikes, solved!

I went for a motorbike ride out to Charters Towers on sunday, which gave me a chance to try out the Etymotic Research ER-6 Isolator headphones that I bought specifically for highway riding.

When riding a motorbike there is a lot of noise. There's the noise of the engine, the road noise, the sound of the wind rushing past your head, and it's all very loud. This is easily pointed out by the fact that to listen to music using standard headphones i have to crank my iPod to full volume just to hear it. This is annoying for two reasons. One: The quality of the music is greatly reduced when turned up that loud, and two: the damage it is doing to my ears at that volume. But it's not only my headphones, what damage am I doing to my ears just riding the bike with all that other noise? Hence, I decided to invest in a pair of headphones to try combat these problems.

First I tried a pair of Sony MDREX52SLB in-ear headphones, which didn't work out too well. They were better then my standard iPod headphones, but not by much. The only real advantage was that the in-ear model made it easier to get my helmet on without pulling them out. So I decided to look for a noise-canceling set of Sony headphones, and in my searches instead came across the ER-6.

The ER-6 is a set of in-ear noise-isolating headphones, for which Etymotic Research claim it's noise-isolating design "far surpasses that of active noise-canceling earphones". My opinion? pretty damn good. I plugged in the headphones, cranked the iPod up to half way (which is what I put it at if i want to block most other noise out) threw my helmet on away I went. I was instantly impressed. 100km/h and i could still hear the music. 110km/h, music was fine. 140km/h, still singing along! Of course it wasn't perfectly clear. The other sounds were still there (which is a good thing, for safety reasons), they were just a lot quieter. When driving through the city, I could hear the other bikes and the cars, which is impossible with normal headphones without stopping (or fumbling around while riding) to turn the music down or off.

These headphones are exactly what I wanted. I hope my ears will thank me. And as for Etymotic Research's claim about it's noise-isolation, I've got a pair of Sony MDR-NC22 noise-canceling headphones just waiting to be tested out on my next long highway ride. They've got a lot of impressing to do though!