суббота, 23 апреля 2016 г.

Reading in public transport and associated difficulties

Long ago I used to read a lot at home. Starting from the eighth grade I was almost always short of time for that, yet I began spending around 40 minutes in public transport six days a week. That compensated me for those hours of reading at home. Four years after I entered the university and began spending even more time in the public transport (it takes me around two hours to get to the university from home) but not so regularly. Moreover, nearly a half of that time I spend in minibuses and usually I can't read there because it makes me sick. Audiobooks could be a workaround for that kind of transport, but what to do on the subway, where it's too noisy to listen to an audiobook, in that case? Read about two solutions, that I came up with, below and feel free to share your own experience in the comments.

Solution 1. Use acoustic earmuffs on the subway.

Explanation: buy acoustic earmuffs and in-ear headphones without details protruding outwards. Now plug your ears with the headphones and then cover them by the earmuffs.

Note that many standard options like the below one will not work because the outwards details will hurt you when being squeezed by the earmuffs.

My formula consists of 3M Peltor Optime 1 and AKG K323 XS (both are present on the first photo).

It works well on the subway in Saint Petersburg. Without earmuffs even the maximum sound level (obviously, harmful for your ears) doesn't help when it comes to listening to an audiobook or a podcast. But when your ears are covered, even less than a half of the maximum level may be enough. You will still hear driver's announcements but you'll almost get rid of the irritating subway noise.

However, I encountered one troublesome detail regarding that workaround for listening audiobooks. The earmuffs still squeese your head and after some time it leads not to pain (as it was in the case with protruding details) but to discomfort. That's why each 2-3 minutes I adjust them on my head. I don't believe it can lead to some health issues because in that case 3M Peltor Optime wouldn't be widely used in industry. Moreover, I never wear them outside the subway, thus limiting continuous usage of the earmuffs by 40 minutes at most. However, due to that small disadvantage I can't call my solution perfect.

Solution 2. Think on your own for a while and say what is the most trivial solution for the problem described in the first paragraph?

If I can only read on the subway and only listen to audiobooks in a minibus then why not to do exactly that with the same book? It took me another half of a year to realize that after I came up with the first solution, not so banal one.

Even that approach has its pitfalls. Certainly, you can't read with such pace that you'll always reach the end of the chapter once you'll have to get off a train. A minibus can't cover the desired distance within the time which a narrator spends to read the integral number of the audiobook chapters either. Hence each time you switch from reading to listening and back you have to search for the lines you stopped at. If you've just listened to the audiobook you can remember some outstanding phrase close to the end of the part you've heard and search for it (of course, only if you use e-reader or some other device). That workaround is one-way because you can't look for a specific phrase in an audiobook. Thus, when switching from reading to listening you'll almost always have to listen to some part which you've just seen once again. It isn't convenient, is it?

I believe that better approach exists. By the way, have you ever tried text synchronized audiobooks?

3 комментария:

  1. What kind of noise does these 3M cancel in the subway, exactly? Does it cancel high-pitch noises (like train's whistles, wind, wheels knocking) or low noises (like engine's) as well?

    Have you ever tried headphones with active noise cancelling? If yes, how do they compare to the combination of yours?

    1. I checked it this week to refresh my memories. I'd say that it doesn't completely cancel any kind of noise but it makes all noises quiter so that they don't even distract me from listening on medium loudness.

      No, I haven't. I considered that option but decided that it's too risky: high-quality headphones with active noise cancelling cost much, so if they wouldn't cope with noise cancelling in the subway, it would be too disappointing. The price of my combination was around ₽2.5k (1.5k for Peltor, and 1k for XS in-ear headphones), risks were much lower. Do you know any good headphones with active noise cancelling which allow to listen to audiobooks while on the subway?

    2. The ones I use - Bose QuietComfort 25. Best option among all over-ear active noise cancelling headphones, hands down. Confirmed by WireCutter ( http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-noise-cancelling-headphones/ ).

      It, uhm, costs only ten times more :) I believe you can always try it out in the "DoctorHead" shop. You won't be able to test it fully, though - there are not too much noise in the shop itself. Or I can lend you mine for a while so you can test, compare and write an additional blog post - that would be interesting, I think.