Which Is Better For Drowning Out The Sound Of Your Own Crying, Headphones Or Earbuds?

Like many of us, I’ve been in work from home mode for the last month or so. Isolation means your bedroom suddenly becomes your study, just like back in Year 12!

Unluckily for me, my neighbours on BOTH sides have children – children who are learning musical instruments. In my normal, non-coronavirus-impacted life, this has no effect on me. I usually get home around 6.30pm, and must have missed their practice sesh’s.

Not now, though.

Now, I have to sit through HOURS of clarinet. BAD clarinet. On the other side, it’s hours of trumpet. Who let’s their kid learn trumpet these days!!!! PICK A LESS DEMONIC INSTRUMENT PLEASE.

I’ve never been a headphone or earphone wearer during work hours, unless I have to listen to a video or something. But now, they’ve become a necessity. But which type is best for drowning out the dulcet tones of BWAAARP BWAAARP BWAAARP? Or the subsequent sound of your own wailing? I investigated.


Bose Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones, $495

Bose sent me a set of their new noise cancelling 700 headphones last week, and I put them to the test. Even when they’re not switched on, the horrible trumpet sounds went down to a level 1. HEAVEN.

I actually sat there with them not on for ages just because it was so nice not to have medium-level tension c/o trumpet boy. But once they’re on it’s like WHOA. I didn’t realise noise cancelling was like, a thing that you could switch ON. I had a squiz on site about the technology, it’s wild.

They use a sophisticated proprietary electronics approach to active noise reduction, placing microphones both inside and outside the earcups. The electronics system senses the sound in almost any environment and then measures, compares and reacts—instant by instant—to produce an opposing cancellation signal. The passive noise reduction is achieved by the combination of the acoustic design and materials chosen for the earcups and cushions.

That’s what the Bose website says. What? Little microphones everywhere? Opposing signals? I’m scared. I never understand technology and then I get afraid of it. I’m totally going to be one of those old people who refuses to upgrade their life to some new, universal tech aren’t I.

Anyway, moving on – what you DO need to know is, once the headphones were switched on and the noise cancelling dialled up to level 10, Everything was muted. For example, I’m a REALLY loud typer. I know, god help anyone who works in my office pod, right? My typing was nothing more than I gentle tapping sound with the headphones on. WILD.

At one point my dog downstairs was barking like a maniac, and I could hear her but very, very faintly. The trumpet boy was gone. This is all without, by the way, putting any tunes on. Once I played music all I could hear was the music. Delicious.

I’m firmly in the 00s

Okay, what about the crying. Well, when you make noises while wearing the Bose 700  headphones, it sounds muffled. Similar to when noises happen outside – but obviously, because the noises come from you, it’s a bit louder. I’d give them a 5/10 for muffling the sound of your own isolation sobs.

Downsides? Nothing about the headphones per se – they’re excellent. The sound quality is crisp (I have NFI about sound so like, no music aficionados or sound techs come for me, I only know “good” and “shit”).

But I find it incredibly weird to have my ears inside two domes all day. I just can’t hack it! I’m sure over time I would get used to it, but it was a very weird experience for me. The headphones are comfy – they’re very padded and feel leathery. It’s not actual leather though, if you hate leather things.

It was just a real change from nothing on your ears. Also – and I know other people feel similarly – noise cancelling over-ear headphones can feel a bit weird. Like a light pressure sensation, which takes some getting used to.


Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2, $499.95

In a weird twist that led to this article, the same week Sennheiser loaned me their new Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds. These are in-ear and sort of cover the whole inside bit, if that makes sense. Here, look:

These are obviously a BIT less noise cancelling than the headphones were. They still diminished outside noise, but for example my loud tapping was dulled to more of a mild, less annoying tappa tappa.

The trumpet boy was still muted, but I definitely needed music to full tune out his incessant playing.

I think the biggest benefit with these was that I forgot they were even in my ears. It was only times when, like, my sister came to the door and I said hi, then heard my own muffled voice in my ears when I realised they were in. I left them in all day and didn’t get annoyed.

Here’s the thing, though – they definitely do not mute the sound of your own voice. They muffle it, yes – but because they’re inside your ear, you can hear the muffle pretty loudly. That means for the “do these mute the sound of my wails” test, they score a lowly 2/10.

The Momentum 2 Wireless are more about perfect sound over insane noise cancellation, though. Like, they’re the kind of earbuds you get when you’re Neil Young and actually know the difference between ~detailed treble~ and… shit treble. I obviously have NFI on that front but I can tell you I played this I C O N I C tune – not sure if you can tell I’m in an OC music mood rn – and it sounded very… good.

name a more 2005 song

They have touch controls built in, but they’re a BIT hard to master. Like, when you can’t see where you’re clicking and you’re unco like me, you’ll absolutely skip songs unintentionally. I did work out that holding down on the left turns the volume down, holding down on the right turns it up.

I think you can also tell I didn’t read the instructions and went in blind. My advice? Read the damn instructions. And don’t be unco.

Important note – in the pack, you get varying sizes of the rubber earbud bit. You HAVE to do this properly and choose the ones for your ears, or the earbuds won’t sound good. Trust me, I didn’t bother at first lol.


Okay, which is better? If we’re talking specifically about drowning out the sounds of your own crying/the stupid fucking trumpet boy, it’s the Bose 700 Headphones. This is 100% because you will always get better noise cancellation from an over-ear design. I could wear them with no music playing, and hear barely anything.

The music quality of the Momentum 2 is superior, I reckon. Which it should be given that’s what they’re about. I also found in-ear was more comfortable for me long-term, but that’s also because I don’t wear headphones regularly. I know a lot of people do, so there’s that to consider.

For me, I think the Momentum 2 come out *just* a bit in front of the Bose 700, because I can also wear them running with comfort, which is a big win for iso-me. I’d go the Bose 700 for long haul flights for SURE – supreme noise cancellation – or if the trumpet boy was about to cop a brick through his window coz I was so stressed. But as with anything, it comes down to what you like and whether it suits your lifestyle! Wow, how Switzerland of me!