The opposite of noise-canceling headphones.
January 7, 2010 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Does there exist such a thing as headphones that allow/amplify/mix ambient noise in addition to the audio coming from whatever source they're plugged into? More or less the opposite of noise-canceling headphones.

I've done some searching but the closest I can find is a brief mention of some specialized headphones used for therapeutic listening.

I can't be the first person to dream this up. Perhaps I just don't know the proper keywords to search for? These headphones would include a built-in mic and volume control separate from the audio coming from the source (ipod or whatever). Among other uses they would allow you to stop saying, "huh?" when someone tries to talk to you while you're wearing headphones.
posted by J-Garr to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I have some, they're not so much "headphones" as they are "ear protection" that include an input jack to listen to music, etc, as well as an external mic so that I can theoretically hear people talking with them on (the audio from the mic cuts out if it's above a certain level)

Definitely not "hi fi" but quite useful.

I think the ones I have are Peltor Worktunes but I'm not sure at the moment.
posted by RustyBrooks at 12:34 PM on January 7, 2010

Best answer: This adapter from Shure does exactly what you describe.
posted by sandig at 12:55 PM on January 7, 2010 [5 favorites]

There are quite a few headphones meant for hunters that ampliy sound up to a certian point. They're so you can hear deer walking around from a distance but not be deafened by your gunshot.

Here are a few.

I suppose you could wear earbuds underneath for the tunes.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 1:33 PM on January 7, 2010

Are you looking for headphones that allow you to hear the world outside while still listening to music, or provide the ability to mix two audio sources at once? If you're looking for the former, I love these over-ear phones (Koss KSC75 Portable Stereophone Headphones). As I understand it, they fit into the category of "open" headphones (vs closed, or isolating). Here's a good discussion from audiophiles of open vs closed. The Koss phones are light-weight and have great sound (esp. for something so inexpensive), and I can hear the world outside well enough while walking that I can react to sounds.

If you want something more heavy-duty that actually has a microphone for surrounding sound, these might be the thing (Peltor Tactical Pro Headset).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:33 PM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

RjDj is an iPhone app that looks like it can take ambient noise and turn it into music, using input from the microphone.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 1:37 PM on January 7, 2010

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