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Anti-Noise Gear

Testing devices that drown out the roar.


Mack's SafeSound Earplugs.  

The neighbors are blasting the Red Hot Chili Peppers—and this time I’m ready. Earplugs first. Mack’s SafeSound plugs ($3.22, Duane Reade) slide smoothly into my ears. But there’s a weird crackling as the foam expands, and it feels like they might fall out. AOSafety plugs ($3.45) fit better, but neither pair muffles the bass.

Next up: Bose noise-canceling headphones ($299.95, Hammacher Schlemmer), which detect incoming noise and emit a mirror-image sound. They stop most of the music.

Bose QuietComfort Noise Cancelling Headphones.  

I even doze off for a while, but I can’t see spending the night in this bulky headset. A pair of Peltor shooting muffs ($19.50, L.L. Bean), the kind used at gun ranges, is even bulkier—I look like an air-traffic controller. But the silence is total: I’m reduced to lip-reading. Finally, I try the if-you-can’t-silence-them-join-them solution: white noise. The Sharper Image CD/ Radio & Sound Soother ($229.95) has some impressive simulations. One replicates a distant urban bustle—hardly the point. There are more soothing sounds as well, but you can’t adjust or mix them to your liking.

Marsona 1288 Sound Conditioner.  

The Marsona Sound Conditioner ($129.95, Hammacher Schlemmer) is more flexible. With Surf2 as my background, I add in Gulls and Loons. The mix is about as relaxing as Atlantic City. After rejecting Owls, Frogs, and Trains, I settle on the whoosh of Waterfall. It’s all I can hear—and that’s the point.


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