A Brief History of My Headphones


As good technical people may tell you, a decent set of headphones can be the difference between a productive day and a really productive day behind the keyboard.  Being able to zone into the task at hand is made so much easier by an immersive sound, and excellent acoustics.

Over the past decade and a half, as a Software Engineer, as a Solution Architect and more recently as a Technical Delivery Manager; I’ve worn a variety of headphones.  In the early days these were cheap and nasty, but fairly reliable units which were easy to replace.

As time wore on, and as I could afford it, I started to amass a very eclectic range of headware.  With the recent purchase of the limited edition Tango from Turtle Beach, I realised I’d amassed a rather interesting assortment of headphones in a relatively short window of time…. so why not write about it?

It all started with a pair of…

Sennheiser TR130

Sennheiser TR130

This was my first decent wireless headset.  It came with rechargeable batteries which are still in the headset to this day (and they still work).  I suspect I bought this unit in 2006, but I’m not 100% sure.  It feels like I’ve had them forever, they even made it over to China when we lived there a little while ago.

Featuring auto frequency synch, over ear design and such a comfortable fit; they have been one of my best supporting gadgets for a long time.  Their range is pretty impressive, and they even work through walls in different rooms.  I used to wear them whilst mowing our lawns, way back in the day.

They now reside in the A/V room as an audio option for the projector.  There was a big gap until late last year when I bought my first decent pair of on-ear headphones, primarily for their noise cancelling feature.

Introducing the….

Sennheiser PCX250II

Sennheiser PCX 250 II

This travel ready set is ideal if you have limited space.  They fold almost flat and come with a handy pocket which can also store a small media player and extra batteries.  The noise cancelling isn’t great, but the audio quality is really superb, especially the bass.

The failing of the noise cancelling is partly to do with the fact that it’s an on-ear set; but it’s a great set for exercising with, or for travelling since they aren’t bulky.  I bought them primarily because I didn’t shop around, and it’s all JB Hi Fi stocked in the Sydney city store at the time.

This year I started working in an enclosed office which became very loud when a few people had a conversation.  Therefore, noise cancelling and over-ear design became a huge priority, so I bought…..

Bose QC15

Bose Quiet Comfort (QC) 15

These are realistically the best noise cancelling option on the market period.  There are some contenders, but Bose have nailed it with the QC15 and they improve with each generation.

Whilst they don’t eliminate all noise entirely, they do a pretty impressive job nonetheless.  You ideally want to be playing something through the unit (rather than just to engage the noise cancelling effect in isolation).  The only drawback?  It has to use a battery to operate.

It also came with a special cable for use with an iPhone, which allows you to use the set for making calls.  It’s a great unit, but not great for gaming as it only caters for a single source of sound.  When I’m gaming, I’ve got teammates on via chat, as well as game sounds from the console.  Therefore, recently I bought a….

Turtle Beach Tango

Turtle Beach

Call of Duty Black Ops II

Ear Force Tango

Which I’ve written up recently.  They seamlessly blend two sources of audio simultaneously from wireless (for game) and from up to two Bluetooth connections (for chat).  The set is made with memory foam, so over time the headphones will become even more comfortable then they are out of the box.

There’s a number of pre-set audio functions which are programmable, as are many of the controls on the set.  It features a USB recharge option which can be used while the set is in use.  Only sticking point at the moment?  It takes a few seconds longer than indicated to switch on or off certain functionality (like power, Bluetooth and headset pairing to the wireless base station).

Summary

Despite the disparate nature of the collection I’ve amassed, I still think each unit brings something to the table that the others don’t.  I’m amazed that the TR130 still functions, it’s been a really reliable unit.  The PCX was a little disappointing, but is still a really good option for travelling and the QC15 is a revolution in noise-cancelling terms.

Perhaps because it’s so new, I’m presently enamoured with the Turtle Beach Tango.  It won’t replace the QC15 as my desktop headset, but it’s really changed my gaming for the better with simply incredible surround sound.  I really to endorse all of them, for the benefits stated.


About Rob Sanders

IT Professional and TOGAF 9 certified architect with nearly two decades of industry experience, 18 years in commercial software development and 11 years in IT consulting. Check out the "About Rob" page for more information.

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