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I got a new pair of headphones for my trip but also for general noise-blocking-outedness. When I buy things like this, I either do heaps of research and get all turned around by other peoples’ opinions, or I just go out and blindly buy whatever ‘feels’ right. This time I went with the former, but there is just so much stuff out there written by true audiophiles that you can be paralysed by too much choice.

I couldn’t decide between earbud-type headphones or the full, closed Princess Leia-type dealies. Depending on who you read, you can come to the conclusion that both earbuds and the big clamshells are the invention of the devil. So really it comes down to personal preference. But then I figured that the big ones make me feel like a doofus, and since I was buying them primarily to travel with, it made more sense to get smaller, portable ones. Then I read this review on and my mind was made up. I went on eBay and found them (new) for $70 less than anywhere else, bought them and patiently waited, hoping that my first eBay purchase wouldn’t turn out to be a dud.

My lovely white Etymotic ER-6i Isolator earphones arrived this morning (always exciting to get parcels in the post). I like how they look like tiny, tiny rayguns from the Jetsons or something. They are ‘in-canal’ earphones, which mean that they sit right inside the ear canal to block out any ambient noise. This is supposed to reduce jetlag on long flights, because you don’t have to deal with the constant whine and thrum of the plane engines and the air conditioning (and other people). It also means you don’t have to have your music very loud at all, and you can hear every tiny little detail (unlike conventional earbuds, where you have to have the music really loud to drown out everything else, which never works anyway and can leave you with permanent hearing damage). Music sounds clean and beautiful, the bass is just right, and I’m happy in my own little world here, unable to even hear the clicking of the keys as I type.

The in-canal style does take a little getting used to, though, as I discovered when I got to work. True, it blocks out the ambient noise very well. But it amplifies the internal noise! I am having to get used to the sound of my head. It’s a bit like when you dive deep in a pool and everything is deliciously quiet and muted, but your breathing becomes your soundtrack, and your teeth coming together sound like drums. The biggest surprise I got was when I started eating trail mix (as is my wont); hazelnuts have never sounded so loud (or so good).