Sounds of Silence


Men’s Fitness took Bose’s new noise cancelling earphones for a run on the weekend and was very impressed, despite almost getting killed.


Like the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan, when a close explosion temporarily deafens Tom Hanks, I can’t hear anything except my laboured breathing, despite the fact I’m in the centre of a city at an busy intersection. Cars fly by, a bus grumbles to a stop, and pedestrians’ mouths move, all without sound…or at most, a faint, hubbub. It’s disconcerting, but strangely pleasant, like I’m not there, or invisible. Then with a clear, crisp burst of sound, Eminem starts telling me that I’ve got one shot, one opportunity. Will I let it slip? His voice is so clear, I swear I can hear flem in his throat. The little man at the lights turns green and I burst off on my run again.

Welcome to the wonder and beauty of Bose QC20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones. Noise cancelling technology works by placing two tiny microphones in each ear bud; one senses the sound approaching, the other measures the sound inside. The measurements are then sent to an electronic chip located in the control module. The chip calculates an equal and opposite noise cancellation signal within a fraction of a millisecond. The result: dramatic, peaceful silence. The only thing you hear is your music. I was to learn this isn’t always the ideal but can be changed easily.

The QC20 come with an “Aware” button. Push it and the QC20 keeps the music playing, but allows surroundings to be heard clearly. Of course, I didn’t read the instructions before the run — what guy would — and neglected to use this feature when navigating a particularly tricky part of the run. I was almost knocked over first by a bunch of MAMIL (Middle-Age Men in Lycra) cyclists, then a red-light, right-hand turning car, who compared me to not too bright female genitalia. It was bloody close.

The ear buds are held in place by patented StayHear tips, moulded fittings that supposedly keep the buds in place no matter what. I went into 20 burpees and 50 star jumps to see if they’d stay in place and they did.

All up, the QC20’s are impressive, they supply perfect sound and allow you to focus on your workout. You aren’t constantly reinserting your white iPhone earphones. But the QC20s should be impressive. They cost nearly $400 bucks. Still, they are bloody good and would last several years. Make a good father’s day pressie I reckon.

Available from places you buy electronic gear and online.

By Todd Cole



Name: BOSE QuietComfort 20

Cost: AUD$399.00, NZD$479.00



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