When “just right” for one family member is “too loud” for another, wireless headphones can be a peacemaker.
My taste in movies runs toward the bombastic. If a DVD has car chases, aliens, gunfire and explosions, count me in. And crank it up. Big, loud movies call for big, loud audio and that doesn't always play well with the other members of my household who might be another room reading a book or watching another program.
We've discovered the key to maintaining a peaceful coexistence: wireless headphones. When I'm wearing a pair, I get my fill of raucous action, the house stays quiet, and I can walk around without missing any of the dialogue. A set attached to bedroom TV has proved to be just the ticket when she's ready to sleep and I'm ready for another episode of "Breaking Bad."
Another reason I like wireless headphones is that after attending too many loud rock concerts, my ears aren't as good as they once were in tuning in to a movie’s quiet passages. One model that is especially good in that area is IR210T from Able Planet, a company that makes a full line of headphones designed for people with some level of hearing loss.
The IR210T (about $100 from Adorama.com) have a pair of padded cups that rest comfortably on your ears. The cups are connected to a headband by a unique swivel mechanism that turns off the power to the headphones when they are removed or laid on a flat surface. In other words, they automatically power down when they’re not in use and that extends the life of the two AAA batteries that fit inside one of the cups.
The stereo sound comes from an infrared transmitter that connects to the headphone jack of a TV or another audio source. Infrared, by its nature, delivers lower fidelity than what you would get from a cable connection. But the Able Planet phones come pretty close.
The Able Planet products also use a patented technology called Linx Audio that boosts the higher frequencies, the area where many people with hearing loss have difficulty. The headphones add clarity to speech and music so that even when I turn down the volume, I can hear and understand all of the voices.
Two other headphone sets that I've tested offer wireless sound for less money, but both come with compromises. One is the Sennheiser RS120 (about $80 at amazon.com), the other is the C2G phones from Audio Unlimited (about $62 at walmart.com). Both are larger and slightly heavier than the Able Planet. And with their wider ear cups and thicker headbands, they may be a little too bulky to wear in bed or relaxing on the sofa.
In addition, both units are powered by a rechargeable batteries housed in one of the ear cups. That eliminates the need to replace batteries, but it also means you have to make space for a changing cradle somewhere near your audio source. The Audio Unlimited system has other annoyances: you have to fiddle to get them in the right position on the charging cradle and they sometimes shut off when the the volume is too low.
I've had none of those issues with the Able Plant headphones, so I'm nominating them for the Household Peace Prize.
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