My best friend Mike travels a crazy amount for work including to Europe and Asia. I recently saw him and he was singing the praises of his new Bose 20i noise cancelling headphones.
He had me put them on. He turned them on. Ambient hiss and white noise went away. When he spoke, I heard mostly the high frequencies of his voice.
“I can hear you talking,” I said, as if to say that noise cancelling earbuds can’t live up to their name if I can hear him talking.
He told me that the headphones perfectly cut airplanes noises… Engine roar, wind, hiss. He was thrilled. Sounds like those might be good for moto riding. Cut road noise, engine, and wind without killing too much car horn frequencies.
But I’m writing this post on a plane that has a screaming and crying baby. And this is hour three.
And it occurs to me that noise cancelling headphones designed to cut airplane sounds might not cut the most dreaded in-flight sound, the unhappy infant.
I can sleep through plane sounds. I can’t sleep through unhappy baby sounds.
And as a sound engineer, it seems like it would be easy to fix this.
Step 1: record babies from all over the world making various crying and screaming sounds for various or no reasons.
Step 2: analyse these frequencies to determine the range where most babies go when freaking out.
Step 3: add a button with a baby icon to your noise cancelling headphones’ inline control. When I really need to cut unhappy baby sounds, that button goes right for those frequencies. Cut them all. If I really need to hear someone talking, I’ll use the control switch that turns off all noise cancellation.
But please give me a button that cuts out all or nearly all baby noise. I’d pay for that. A lot. I’m noticing my stress and tension level. How much I’m grinding my teeth. And how I’m not getting the rest I need. How I paid to upgrade to economy plus so the tray table and the seat in front of me reclining don’t hit my boobs.
I’d pay for this product. My plane doesn’t have Wi-Fi but you can be sure I’ll be Googling to see if this product exists. Even if it exists, make a better one with lots of granular controls based on ranges of unwanted sounds.
PS: Googling “baby noise cancelling headphones” brings up noise cancelling headphones FOR BABIES. Like people taking babies to rock concerts. Ugh, please invent what I need!