For some time I’ve wanted a good pair of noise reducing headphones for “mowing season”. Ideally they’d have am/fm stereo so I could listen to the radio (or something broadcast from my little FM transmitter…) REALLY ideally, they’d have a way I could patch something directly into them. I’ve found such a thing from Amazon.com in the Peltor HRX52A-01347-BD-GV Racetunes AM/FM Radio Headset and Hearing Protector with Audio Jack and Scanner Patch Cord.
They just arrived this afternoon and I’ll update this post after I’ve had a good chance to try them out and report how well they do. I’m curious about a number of things AM reception, FM reception (the transmitter signal can be weak in places through the yard, but a good receiver can pick up the signal as far as I’m interested in going from it. I’ll also try to note how effective the noise reduction is (whether or not you can hear what you’ve tuned to….) and anything else that comes to mind on the product. Watch this space if you want to find out how well they work….
Ok – let me go ahead and give the first impressions (after a few (15) minutes of testing….) Works fine on rechargable batteries (a traditional alkaline gives 1.5 volts, rechargable gives 1.2 – so I’ve seen some devices that don’t like the lower voltage…) It takes two AA batteries, easy to find and open chamber, my only concern is that it may be too easy to pop open, but we’ll see. At first I thought the patch cable was a bit flimsy and short, but a quick test showed that it would reach waist level with an inch or two to spare, so you could thread it under a shirt or jacket down to an mp3 player or something in your pocket. (I’d suggest threading it under clothing to prevent it snagging on something.)
The volume control acts as the on/off switch. There is a recessed switch for am/fm which looks a bit flimsy, but it seems to work just fine. I did a quick test of AM reception which I was most dubious of for a headset like this and found that it does fairly well. I haven’t yet tested FM reception, but went straight to the patch cable. It should be noted that if you’re using an mp3 or some other device through the patch cable you’ll want to just switch the headset on and use your mp3 or other device to control the volume of whatever you’ve patched in. Otherwise, you could end up listening to both the radio and the patched input (that was a bit weird, but once I experimented and found the headset volume doesn’t affect the input jack all made sense….)
As for the comfort, on first putting them on I thought WOW, that makes for a tight seal, but it is comfortable. I wear glasses and some headphones are uncomfortable with the glasses on, thus far these seem ok. No mowing to do right at the moment, so the noise reduction was a tv in the room and with the radio cut off, there was noticable attenuation of the tv sound in the room, with the radio or input on I didn’t notice that there was any thing else playing in the room. The frequency response of the headphones doesn’t sound impressive on what I tested. Admittedly my hearing may be a bit muffled by spring allergies, but it seems as though the sound on the headphones was bass and mid heavy – I didn’t hear much in the high range. Cymbal hits seem a bit flat with no sparkle as do snare hits, I think it’s more than my allergies affecting that… (One ear has been a bit stuffed the last day or two, but…..) I’m afraid it’s been too many years since I went through “golden ears” training, so I’m not sure I can say what frequency range the roll-off is.
Instructions and packaging come in three languages (English, French, Spanish).
Now that I’ve gone through about three mowings with these let me do a bit more of a review. (Ear’s have been more unstuffed too.) The sound quality is pretty good – it still does sound a bit dull in the high end, but it shouldn’t be a BIG problem. The Peltor Racetunes headset is holding up pretty well, I brushed the antenna against a limb which causes a pretty loud scraping (not through the headphones, but a physical vibration through the muffs…) it was a bit surprising at first. The headphones do a good job of blocking out the sound of the mower and are not too uncomfortable with glasses as well. The longest mowing session I’ve had so far was about an hour and a half, they are a snug fit (need to be to seal out the noise…) and obviously they had got a bit sweaty, but they cleaned up well and I can’t say that my ears were worse for wear.
They do a good enough job blocking out the noise that with one mower I pulled it to start and wondered for a moment if it had, but could hear a faint grumble from the motor. (I already had some audio going through the headphones. I figure if these make mowing a bit more enjoyable I’ll get my moneys worth out of them pretty soon. I’ve used rechargable AA’s in them and haven’t yet had to swap them out (just 3 mowings plus the original test, so MAYBE 4 hours of use?)
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