These Noise-canceling Headphones Were One of the Few Things That Brought Me Joy in 2020
In 2021, it's all about making working from home the best it can be.
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Somehow, it took me until a global pandemic to finally get a pair of bluetooth noise-canceling headphones. I'd been cycling through various excuses, from the expense, the possible discomfort of the over-ear design, the bulk of traveling with them...so, I'd always managed to talk myself out of needing them. But now, especially that I'm working remotely full time, these noise-canceling headphones have become one of my most valued possessions.
I know that seems counterintuitive. I'm now spending nearly all of my time at home, without commuting on a noisy subway or having to drown out coworkers' chatter while working. But hear me out:
The Bose Noise Canceling 700 headphones connect simultaneously to two devices, which means I can listen to music from my Spotify app on my phone, hop on a Zoom meeting with my coworkers on my laptop, and then seamlessly make a call on my phone afterwards. Yep, I can switch back and forth without having to disconnect and connect again to each device.
It certainly helps that they're sleek and provide a great listening experience for music. Most importantly, though, these headphones have enabled my now totally seamless workflow using both my computer and cell phone while working from home. Every time I turn on my headphones and the automated voice tells me that I'm connected to both my laptop and phone, I feel a moment of contented zen. (Hey, in 2020 — and 2020 redux, otherwise known as 2021 — it's the little things that really bring you joy.)
I also love the freedom of movement the bluetooth gives me during meetings (when you don't have to appear on video). If I need to get water or want to log some steps rather than sit in front of my computer, I can just freely walk about with my headphones on, fully tuned into the meeting at the same time.
As for making phone calls on the Bose 700, the sound quality is arguably better than when I use my actual phone, and I've never once had anyone complain about bad or unclear voice quality on my end. Again, in 2021, this is kind of a big deal.
Having noise-canceling headphones has also proven to be invaluable for when I'm working from home with my partner. If he has to jump on a call or wants to play music that I'm less than enthusiastic about, or wants to take a TV break while I need to concentrate, all I have to do is simply switch on the noise cancellation on my headphones and I'm immediately transported to a distraction-free zone (complete with music of my own choosing).
I've also noticed that my brain associates putting the headphones on with "focus time," as if it's some Pavlovian response. I'm infinitely more productive and focused when I work with these headphones on than if I just play music from my computer or on a speaker on the other side of the room (and the distractions of working from home don't come close to ending there, as many of us know). I suspect my sudden ability to focus has something to do with the tunes being pumped directly into my ears, but I'm no scientist. All I know is when I need to get in the zone, these headphones are going on.
The noise cancelation on these headphones also works wonders. I tested them out in various situations — with the TV on at full volume; with my partner actively talking during meetings; with drilling happening in the apartment next door; with the washing machine on the fastest spin cycle (why is this always so loud?); while church bells rang across the street; while construction and emergency vehicles blared outside my apartment — you name it, I couldn't hear it.
During every scenario, the headphones worked amazingly to shut out any outside noise. I also imagine these headphones could also provide some much-needed peace and quiet for parents with boisterous home-schooling kids who somehow have boundless energy all day long.
And, since remote work and the constant threat of a pandemic has made getting out of the house more of a task than ever, I've found that having wireless headphones has even made leaving my apartment that much more pleasant. I've really come to love wearing my Bose 700 Headphones while running errands or going on walks around my neighborhood, to catch up on a podcast, or listen to some music. And since it's winter, the headphones double as a pair of earmuffs that fit right over my knit hat, and I don't have to deal with wires getting tangled with a coat, scarf, or bag.
Which brings me to one of the best revelations of owning bluetooth headphones: I am finally freed from the shackles of untangling my headphone wires! This small, but oh-so-important time-saver has and will give me back hours of my life.
Oh, and as for the bulkiness? I actually appreciate that they're so big because I was always searching for my wired headphones that I'd tucked away in some pocket or bag and had no idea where I'd left them. These don't get lost as much — or really, at all.
Finally, a word about comfort (although I realize this is highly individual). I have a rather round head and previous attempts at using over-ear headphones always ended in frustration. The headphones would always apply a bit too much pressure, leaving my ears and head hurting, and I definitely couldn't wear them for long stretches of time. With the Bose 700s, I haven't found this to be the case at all. The cups fit comfortably around my ears, without putting any pressure directly on them, and the band has a wide enough construction that I can wear them for hours and not want to tear them off my head for relief.
These Bose noise-canceling headphones have turned out to be one of my best discoveries over the past year — one in which many of us find ourselves doing the same things day after day. And if we're going to do the same things every day, we might as well make it easier, more comfortable, and listen to great music while we're at it.
To buy: amazon.com, $330 (originally $480)
Karen Chen is always planning her next great escape and loves the beach more than anyone else you know. See her prove it on Instagram @karenichen.
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