Cheap Over the Ear Headphones that Keep My Music In
August 9, 2013 9:46 AM   Subscribe

That headline may sound confusing. I need headphones in a small congested shared work environment. The headphones need to be visibly prominent on my head & over the ear ONLY because folks realize I am working and don't bug me. Problem is, the nicely rated pair I bought from Sony on the cheap (and not too bad for usual user nor the price) blare the music out to those around me.

I am not sure if cheap noise canceling headphones will keep my music or whatever from blaring out. Normal cheap ear plugs work great but don't give that visible appearance of "Headphones ON, I am Working." I would like to spend no more than $40 so not sure what that will get me. I am not too concerned with the quality of the sound as much as the balance of keeping my music from disturbing others while still have a big ass headset on to deter them from bugging me. (And if you are wondering, I have told folks when I had my smaller headphones in, I am working but many - though nice people - just didn't notice. It happens.)
posted by snap_dragon to Technology (19 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Sonys look like their on ear headphones; I think you want over the ear--i.e., surrounding the entire ear, rather than sitting on top of the ear.

Here's a pretty cheap Sennheiser.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:49 AM on August 9, 2013

I have a pair of Bose over-ear headphones that are just amazing. They completely cover my ears, so I can listen at a much lower volume, and they also don't leak noise (as far as I am aware). I work in an open office with a bunch of really, uh, needy coworkers, and they most certainly complain if it were audible.

Now, they are generally pretty pricy (like $130) but you can find them used. Here they are for absurdly cheap on ebay, for instance.
posted by phunniemee at 9:51 AM on August 9, 2013

Have you considered big sound-blocking muffs (like shooting muffs) over your in-ear headphones? You definitely have big things over your ears, and it might be cheaper than buying a whole new set of headphones.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:52 AM on August 9, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: So, something like these 3M Peltor H10A Optime 105 Earmuff.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:54 AM on August 9, 2013

Best answer: I've heard good things about these headphones from Monoprice.
posted by zsazsa at 9:55 AM on August 9, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've been using variations of the Koss over-ear headphones for 10 years. They're big, block out external sound, and are very quiet, even when they're sitting on a table and still on. I use the ones with the mic (SB-45), but you could try the HQ1 or UR20.
posted by demiurge at 9:59 AM on August 9, 2013

I have super cheapo skull candy headphones that I got at Target for the same reasons you describe: a huge "Do Not Disturb" sign on my head at the office. The left ear did break the second day I used them but that's usually fine since it allows me to notice if something nutty is happening at the office which I'd otherwise completely miss.

It's only annoying when listening to something that was recorded to have, say, vocals coming out the left ear and drums in the right (for some reason a lot of Beatles songs seem to be mixed this way, so I have given up listening to them at work.) Most things aren't recorded that way, though, so it's a rare problem.
posted by data hound at 9:59 AM on August 9, 2013

2nding phunniemee on the Bose Triports. I used to looooove them when I need headphones for the same situation and didn't want leakage. They sounded good but were super comfortable and LIGHT.

I gave up on them because they were kinda fragile and I went through a few ~$150 pairs because they broke while traveling. But I had no idea they could be had through eBay at such reasonable prices.
posted by mullacc at 10:06 AM on August 9, 2013

Best answer: There's a really good selection at all pricepoints at Headroom. Every single product listing discusses sound leakage, etc. If you find a pair you like that are too pricey there, they're often available for cheap elsewhere or used on ebay. This is what happened with my Beyerdynamic DT 235's -- a sale around Christmas for under $40 on Amazon. Those would fit your purposes perfectly, actually. The white ones (which I got from Amazon) are REALLY obtrusive. I own two pairs and one is for the studio. I think the audio terms are "isolation," "sealed cans," and no "leakage."
posted by sweltering at 10:14 AM on August 9, 2013

I have these Sennheisers and they're really excellent. Might be a bit over your price range though.

Following on leahwrenn's earmuff suggestion: Instructables: DIY - $25.00 Soundproof HiFi Headphones. Seems easy/cheap/effective/comfortable.
posted by xqwzts at 10:27 AM on August 9, 2013

Here's a pretty cheap Sennheiser.

I have the Sennheiser HD201s linked here, and would recommend them -- they're hardly high-fidelity but they sound pretty good for 25 bucks. I use my pair at work, actually.
posted by neckro23 at 10:32 AM on August 9, 2013

Response by poster: @Admiral Haddock - You are correct. I need to get headphones that cover. My apologies to all on that crucial detail.

I like all the suggestions here. I am trying to discern if the Sennheisers or those on Monoprice keep sound leakage out.

In the end, I may have to just buy them and try. I know some reviewers say "GREAT"! but most reviewing don't seem to have the needs of not disturbing others right next to them so much. I need to read more on Headroom as posted by sweltering. I will keep a watch on the Bose on ebay. I am really intrigued by the firing range Earmuffs.

Feel free to keep commenting. I appreciate everyones' input though am getting a great idea of what I should be looking for, so thank a bunch.
posted by snap_dragon at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2013

I have owned the Sennheiser 201-type headphones (older model, same idea) and they do leak at sufficiently high volumes (50-75% of iPhone maximum volume if I remember correctly).

Maybe noise-cancelling headphones? I was told the pricier ones generate white noise, which might help block sound going out as well as sound going in (especially since they're made for use on airplanes, where you really wouldn't want sound leakage).

If all else fails, wear earbuds, but put a big cheap pair of cans over them with the cord cut off so you are visibly incommunicado?
posted by Nyx at 10:49 AM on August 9, 2013

Best answer: These (Audio-Technica ATH-M30) are my work headphones. They are not as cheap as your Sonys, but they are still pretty cheap in the grand scheme of what can be paid for headphones, and I think they sound nice.

I know that they do not leak sound because:

1.) I have turned up the volume to a point that I consider to be painfully loud, put them down on my desk, and been unable to hear the music coming out of them (when the pads are together, but not being held together with my hands).

2.) No one has ever complained.

I was always told that the trick with over-the-ear headphones and sound leakage is to look for headphones that are labelled "closed", but it seems like your Sony's are "closed", so I don't know what's up.
posted by sparklemotion at 10:51 AM on August 9, 2013

I also just asked a coworker who stopped by if he could hear my music while he was sitting inside of my cubicle. Again, turned up painfully loud with some good bass, and he didn't hear anything.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:02 AM on August 9, 2013

If you want to reconsider the earbuds idea, perhaps if you got behind the neck or over-the-ear style earbuds (often marketed for sports applications and variously labeled earloops, earhooks, ear hangers), perhaps that would send a stronger "I can't hear you, I've got a banana headphone in my ear" signal?

Example of the former
Example of the latter
posted by drlith at 11:10 AM on August 9, 2013

I'm super obsessive about not letting music leak from my ears, and I've had the best luck with ear buds. Is it reasonable to think that you could wear earbuds and then put decoy headphones over them?

I could be wrong about this, but my impression is that you can get better earbuds for less money than you can headphones.
posted by janey47 at 11:26 AM on August 9, 2013

my coworkers are quite annoying, and they talk A LOT. i bought some of these and they work quite well in my mac tower, with about 3 ticks of volume up from mute. many designs, roughly $40.
posted by koroshiya at 12:15 PM on August 9, 2013 [1 favorite]

I came here to recommend the Audio-Technica ATH-M30 as sparklemotion already did. They're a touch over your price range (on Amazon, at least - you could probably get them for $40 on ebay), but they definitely keep the music in and I think they sound great.
posted by antonymous at 2:52 PM on August 9, 2013

« Older The Written Chinese Bandwagon   |   Benefits, my ass. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.