My Prime Day 2018 purchase was my very first noise-canceling anything: Bose QuietComfort 25 over-the-ear headphones. Though painfully late on the experience, the dulled-out sound of nothingness was revelatory. For the first week, I just walked around with the headphones unplugged — to the bodega, in my apartment, while typing away at work — in my own silent world. Noise, you’ve been canceled.
During daytime hours, noise-canceling headphones almost feel like anxiety-reduction technology. Everything gets taken down a few comforting decibels and fades smoothly into the background.
At night though, I need something a little different. As an insanely light sleeper, a creak in the floorboard from an upstairs neighbor getting up to pee causes my eyes to spring open immediately. A rustling blanket leaves me awake for hours, contemplating my mortality or if there’s enough oat milk left for coffee in the morning. And foam earplugs have never worked for me: I still hear things over them, until they invariably fall out.
We included the Bose Noise-Masking Sleep Buds in our Worth-Its package last fall (the conceit: Writers made the case for why certain items legitimately warrant a higher price tag). When Caitlin O’Shaughnessy filed her tribute to Bose’s newest earwear, my own ears … perked up. These $250 buds, she claimed, were “particularly outstanding for travel — recently, while sharing an Airbnb loft with a friend who had a 2:30 a.m. conference call with her Hong Kong team, I marveled at my ability to block out any negotiations.”
Last Christmas, I got a pair. At first, the fit took some figuring out. There are three different sized silicone “cases” — the smallest, for example, is better for side-sleepers, like me. They are not noise-canceling, but rather “noise-masking”; they play looped sleepy-time hits like babbling brook, ocean waves, and airplane engine. The headphones operate like a mini-Marpac white-noise machine, just installed right inside my ear. While I don’t wear them every night, they function a bit like emergency melatonin (usually, I can pop them in without needing to synch up my phone). As Caitlin said, they are wonderful for travel — they are indeed much more comfortable than giant headphones for sleeping on long flights. Chris Bosh is a fan, too.
Another noise-canceling gizmo we love that’s on sale
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