If you’re a long time listener with us, you’ll know I’m not a big fan of stuff. I live in a sparsely furnished apartment and I run what I consider to be a minimalist aesthetic. I really try not to buy stuff for the sake of buying stuff. I really try not to hold onto stuff for the sake of holding onto it. When I finally bought a couch a few months ago to compliment the armchairs in my lounge and stop my friends from giving me grief, I only assuaged my guilt by going to the City Mission and donating the ottoman that had been in the couch’s place. One piece in - one piece out.
This philosophy extends to technology. Until fairly recently, I didn’t own a TV. That’s despite working on telly. I just had a laptop and streamed stuff when I wanted. As tempted as I’ve been to give in to my impulses and buy a drone, I haven’t. I don’t own a fancy digital camera. When my family huff and puff at Christmas and lament that I’m impossible to buy for. I ask them simply for guitar strings or chocolate. No one needs more stuff.
There is, however, one exception to all of this. One thing. One purchase. One piece of tech which I have to confess I shelled out a lot of money to buy.. and don’t regret for a moment. In fact, no, I’ll go further than that. This piece of tech has significantly improved my life.
My Bose Quiet Comfort 3 Blutooth Noise Cancelling Headphones are, behind Gibson guitar, my single favourite possession.
I bought them a year ago in a moment of philosophical weakness as I prepared for an international trip. They cost, gulp, almost 500 dollars.
If you’ve never worn noise cancelling headphones, this is how they work. Unlike Earmuffs, they don’t squeeze your head or rely on a really tight seal and big padded earpieces to block out the sound of the World. No.. the earphones have sensors which pick up low frequency sounds, and then match those frequencies with an exact opposite frequency. It’s genius. And it means when you’re on a plane and you have that hum of the jet engines for hours on end, you can put on the earphones and it all disappears. You slip into your own World.
I’ve taken to wearing my headphones a home. I can walk around the house, changing my sheets or doing the vaccuming, and the quality and clarity of the sound never changes one bit. If you walked away from your radio right now, or jumped out of the car, you couldn’t hear my voice anymore. Not an issue with my headphones.
I’ve even started wearing them at work, in the office. Sometimes I don’t even have them switched on. I just put them on my head so people don’t come up and bother me.
My only regret, is that I didn’t buy them sooner. I think about the scores of flights I took when I was working as a correspondent in the United States, wedged into a middle seat in row 37 and toiling away the hours.
If you are by any chance considering investing in noise cancelling headphones – and I use the term investing quite deliberately - my advice is to do it. I’m not being paid a dime to say this but my Bose headphones have changed music for me. They’ve changed radio. They’ve improved my life.
And if, like me, you have some philosophical rule about buying things. Avoiding fads, and maintaining a minimalist life. Just remember, rules are made to be broken sometimes.