To fully benefit from my first luxury essential for a trip I look for something of real quality to enjoy listening to the audio of the iPod.
If you buy an iPod, or indeed any digital music player you are likely to receive complimentary ear phones with the player. Often these do not give true justice to the music or sounds you are listening to.
I appreciate that Apple have now improved the styling and quality of their earphones, yet still they are not to my high standards.
When iPods first came out it was as much a fashion statement to wear the white Apple earphones. You’d see joggers or people on public transport with white earphones. This backfired a fair bit in the early days. It was clear product branding and these people were targeted by muggers. Thankfully since iPods are now mainstream this danger appears to have faded.
Whilst travelling I not only want to enjoy my music, I also don’t want to hear the distracting sounds around me. You know, the guy sat behind you who can’t have a private conversation on his mobile phone. Or the guy sat next to you who just can’t stop sniffing.
There is also the typical travel background noise. The hum of the aeroplanes engine or the sound of outside traffic.
To address this issue I look for something to take that background music away. This is where the battle of noise isolating earphones v noise cancellation headphones comes in.
Noise isolating is where the typical in ear phone blocks any outside noise from entering the ear drum. Specially designed ear phones and often foam or soft rubber fittings.
Noise cancelling tend to be more the “can” style headphones. These often require some electrical power, maybe one or two batteries fitted into the headphones. An electrical frequency is produced which cancels out the outside noise.
Fairly modern cans do fold up but they’ll never be quite as compact as earphones. In addition as cans they can be cumbersome and very much against my aim to travel light. Wearing them can be uncomfortable for some and they have a tendency to feel warm/hot against your ear after a while. If I lie back in your seat on a long flight I can find them uncomfortable.
There are many brands who offer their own version of noise cancelling cans. For top of the range you are probably looking at the excellent Bose. I’ve tried demo versions of these and they are really good at cancelling out noise. Just by switching them on without any music input you can notice a major difference.
I’m not fortunate enough to be able to afford Bose quality every day. I also prefer the concept of an in ear device. This is lighter to carry and does not require batteries. I hate to be part way through a journey only for my batteries to go flat.
I’ve found with earphones that you tend to get what you pay for. A few years ago I went for the higher of the mid-range and bought my first ever set of Shure earphones. Wow! I was blown away with how good they are.
It is not just the noise cancelling which is good. It is the sound quality. You really hear the intricate details that many earphones don’t exemplify. Real quality comes out and you notice so much more. I am now a fully fledged Shure customer and they are always my first choice if I look for sound equipment.
The Shure design sees them thread from behind your ear, they loop over the top of your ear and then nestle into your ear drum. The lead effectively comes down your back rather than down your front and hang in front of your neck. I find this very effective, not only with the snug in-ear fit but you are less likely to knock and pull on the thread which can accidentally knock the earphone out of your ear.
Shure promote themselves as the product used by professional musicians. You often see artists on stage with earplugs which go over and behind the ear, Shure style. I even see BBC Sports reporters wear this style of earphone at live events.
Last year for her birthday I bought some Shure earphones for my bride-to-be. I just had to be there when she tried them for the first time. I watched with delight as her face lit up after she followed my instruction to first listen to “Broken Strings” by James Morrison and Nelly Furtado.
She then had to put on some of her favourite Il Divo songs.
Whilst she now still loves the Shure earphones she wants cans. She doesn’t want to compromise on quality, she just prefers cans to in-earphones. It is down to personal preference.
For me, in-earphones are to my liking. And it is always a Shure thing for me.
A little tip for everyone as well. When you have finished listening to your iPod don’t leave your earphones plugged in and wrapped around the iPod. As I’ve found out there is a high risk that you will damage the input socket of the iPod and make it difficult to obtain a clear and stereo output from your iPod. Always unplug your earphones/headphones.
Irrespective of which brand you use I would strongly advise that you push the boat out and buy some decent earphones/headphones so you can relax and travel in style. That is why Shure earphones for me are a Luxury Essential For A Trip.
For the record I bought the earphones myself and have not been paid to write this review. However if you do click on one of the images above and make a purchase then I’ll receive a small commission (towards my annual website costs). I only endorse products I truly believe in.
To read about my first Luxury Essential For A Trip click here.