Noise-cancelling headphones bargain

Noise_cancelling_phones You’re probably familiar with noise cancelling headphones from the likes of Bose. Their QuietComfort series practically created the category single-handedly. But a pair of QC2S will set you back $349+tax. May we suggest a more modest alternative…

Typically, when you hear the word "convergence", it means the merging of technologies like the Internet and TV or Internet and telephone service. But there’s another example of convergence out there and it’s taking the entertainment world by storm: Yard work and Digital Music.

At the heart of this revolution is a product being offered by venerable Canadian retailer Lee Valley – a name synonymous with high-end carpentry and gardening tools. No fancy initials or mixed upper and lower case letters for this item; it’s simply known as "Electronic Hearing Protectors with FM Radio & Input Jack".

But don’t let the grass-roots, plain-spoken nature of this gadget fool you. Under its racing orange exterior you’ll find features that aren’t available on even the most expensive noise cancelling cans from Bose or any other manufacturer.

The EHPwFMRaIJ (I guess that explains the lack of an initialism in the marketing material) is the ideal companion for noisy environments. As the name suggests, it contains a built-in FM Radio with an external antenna for improved reception. It also features separate control knobs on each ear-cup to let you fine-tune the amount of volume and noise-cancellation – perfect for those who find themselves in a window seat next to a particularly chatty person on the other side.

Now I know there will be those who mock these headphones for their garishly unfashionable colour or for their enormous size. Others still will declare their sound-reproduction to be below-par and hurl abuse at me for even daring to compare this unit to those offered by Bose.

But consider this: you won’t find a pair of noise-cancelling headphones anywhere for the price of these industrial-strength speakers. At $45.00 plus tax, they are a stunning value. Lee Valley even throws in a 3-foot extension audio cable for use with your iPod or other audio source.

For those unafraid of making the bold statement "I value function over fashion!", these are the noise-cancelling headphones for you.



  1. becca

    RYWH — Just click on the link in the article (the underlined "Lee Valley". The company is headquartered in Ottawa at Pinecrest and Iris.


  2. Rich

    One catch – these are *not* noise canceling headphones! Yes they have a sensitivity adjustment, and they do have an external microphone, but they don't cancel outside noise, in fact they amplify it.

    These headphones have decent passive sound attenuation, but the electronics do not cancel out external noise. Instead, they amplify outside sound at low levels (like voice) so you can hear it inside.

    I bought a pair, based on this blog entry, and was quite disappointed to learn they don't have the noise-cancellation feature I was looking for.


  3. Simon Cohen

    Hey Rich, I'm sorry you were disappointed… I've never actually tried these headphones myself – I simply read the description "electronic sound reduction that lets you balance the level of external sound you want to hear as well as blocks all sound over 82db." and figured they'd do a decent job at noise cancelling. That said – I was hoping the tone of the post would make it clear I was being tongue-in-cheek with the whole thing – it wasn't meant as a sincere recommendation. There's no way a pair of $45 headphones could rival the technology found in a $400 pair of headphones, but perhaps my sarcasm wasn't so easy to detect. I do apologize if you felt misled, certainly wasn't my intent!


  4. Rich

    Simon – no, I didn't detect any sarcasm whatsoever, so I guess I was misled. I have a Sony noise-canceling headset (for indoor use only, no passive attenuation) that I paid $49 for and I'm very happy with them. They do cancel ambient noise. So, $45 for similar technology didn't sound off the mark.

    Since there are others who have expressed interest (see first comment) you may want to clarify your article's intent, lest others are led astray as well.