To test out earphones, you need noise — both coming through the earphones and around you. This was put into full effect as I got to try out one of Etymotic Research’s hearing products.
The company touts its products as being engineered specifically for people who operate loud machinery and power tools or are, simply, around continuous loud noises. Sounds like a farm fits that mold pretty well, so I did a test run while driving a mid-size tractor and a riding mower.
I’ll admit that getting the packet from Etymotic was a bit more than I expected, as there were two distinct styles of earplugs (3-flange and foam), as well as varying sizes. You’re going to be happiest with these products if you take the time to find the fit that’s most comfortable for you.
Once I pinpointed what suited me the best (the large, 3-flange style), I was extremely pleased with them. I easily spent three hours on the machinery, listening to music and podcasts. As if the noise of the machine I was using wasn’t enough, my neighbors across the street were getting some tree work done, and the chainsaws and chippers were further creating a cacophony in my area.
Still, all my music was loud and clear — the plugs are built in a way so as not to muffle or distort what you want to listen to as well as to reduce outside distraction. Sure, the earphones didn’t cancel out all of the external noise, but I popped in my normal travel earphones for comparison, and the difference in the performance of the Etymotic ones was noticeable.
Perhaps most notable is that Etymotic earphones are reduced-output earphones, which means that the intent isn’t going to be to crank them up. Rather, they block out the external sounds so that you can better listen to music or whatever you please at a volume that won’t damage your ears (for that reason, you won’t find a volume bar built into the cord of my test pair). The result is much clearer and more appealing.
While I was sporting the HD5 Safety Earphones, which have a noise reduction rating of 22 dB for the 3-flange tips and 27 dB for the foam tips, there are several different earphones that the company offers. There are the obligatory instructions that come with the product, and they answered every question that I had. (If you have an ego, sneak the instructions into the bathroom with you so that no one will know that you needed to read them.)
Innovation is always cool; innovation in the farm and machine-labor sectors is even cooler. Etymotic is doing a nice job in its niche to help lead the curve.