Insights For Success

Strategy, Innovation, Leadership and Security

Relaxation

Bose QuietComfort 25 Review (QC-25)

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
qc1.png

TL;DR: I have tested dozens of headphones over the last 12 months and the QuietComfort (QC-25) 25 is still the most comfortable headphone with excellent noise cancellation and good sound reproduction. 

Comparing the QC-25 to the QC-35

The QuietComfort 35 (QC-35) is the wireless bluetooth version of the QC-25. The QuietComfort 35 (QC-35) offers slightly better noise cancellation and a slightly different noise profile. If you need bluetooth (iphone 7 or iphone 7 Plus) then get the QC-35 otherwise I would recommend getting the cheaper QC-25.

Not for everyone

Noise cancellation headphones are not ideal for people that need noise-cancellation sometimes. Noise cancellation headphones are not a replacement for regular headphones. If you need good all around headphones then don't get this (or any other noise cancelling headphone) or you will be disappointed. 

The golden rule is that noise cancellation headphones add about $100-150 to the cost of headphones and typically deliver worse overall sound quality when compared to non noise-cancellation models. I can't stress that enough. 

Noise cancellation works extremely well for low frequency (machine style) sounds like train on a track or airplane engine noise. They don't work as well for higher frequency sounds like voices or crying babies on a plane.

If you only need noise reduction occasionally, then you may be better served by a good pair of sealed headphones. You would get better sound quality and would probably pay a lot less.

Who should buy the QC-25

I just wrote 4 paragraphs of who shouldn't buy the QuietComfort 25 (Qc-25). It is important to note that anyone who is a frequent traveler (plane or train) will definitely benefit from these headphones. By making your travel a little bit quieter, you will arrive less stressed and more refreshed.  

Quietcomfort 25 (QC-25) versus in-ear headphones

The best question I need to address is the eternal debate between these types of on-ear headphones and in-ear headphones. The truth is that there is no golden rule that is right for everyone.

Some people opt for in-ear headphones because they are smaller and lighter. Many people who wear glasses also prefer in-ear headphones because their frames may prevent the headphones from sealing properly this allowing the dreaded noise in.

Bose, likely due to owning several important noise-cancellation patents, currently makes our picks for the best over-ear and best in-ear noise-cancelling headphones. Which one should you choose? There’s no simple answer, as it depends on what you’re looking for.

The third reason I have found some travelers prefer in-ear headphones is that they find them better to sleep with on flights.

The fourth reason is that some people find that on-ear headphones make their ear hot after extended use. 

The fifth and final point is on noise cancellation for low frequency sound. From a sound quality, the Bose noise cancelling headphones (QC-30) tend to reduce low frequency noises a little more and offer some noise-isolation which makes things just a little bit quieter. Mid and high sound reproduction is always better with bigger headphones for the QC-25/QC-35 takes the crown here.

Additionally some people just can't stand having anything inserted into their ears. They find it annoying and bothersome. Obviously if you fall into this category, go with the QC-25/QC-35.

Conclusion

If you are looking for amazing sounding, super comfortable wired on-ear noise cancelling headphones then get this. The sound is good enough, it is comfortable (even on a long haul Toronto to Hong Kong flight) and it fits in a relatively smallish case for easy carry.

It offers good low frequency sound reproduction (40Hz or below) and the rest is a little muddied (which is normal for noise cancelling headphones). You can use the QuietComfort 25 even when the batteries die (which is a nice upgrade from previous models) but the sound is pretty bad but at least you aren't stranded witout entertainment. 

If you need bluetooth because you can't live with wires or your smartphone got rid of the headphone port (looking at you Apple), then go with the QuietComfort 35 (QC-35).

Most relaxing song in the world (science)

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment

Everyone knows that music has a magical ability to enhance your emotions. It can push you to your exercise faster, smile more or fall into deep meditative contemplation. A British band called Marconi Union has used scientific research to produce what it calls "the most relaxing song" ever created. The bank worked with professionals (like sound therapists) during the process. 

The song was specifically engineered to lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels, and even lower your heart rate. The combination of sounds and music creates such a state of relaxation that users have been warned not to listen to it while driving.

Mindlab Insight performed research and determined this was the most relaxing song they have ever tested. Weightless "induces a 65% reduction in anxiety and a 35% reduction in physiological  resting rates.

First look at the Bose QC-30 Bluetooth noise-cancelling earphones

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment

Apple hates ports and will kill each and every one of them come hell or high water. The iPhone 7 / 7 Plus pushed the market away from wired headphones into the loving arms of Bluetooth. Audiophiles will explain that Bluetooth has limited bandwidth which means audio fidelity is severely compromised and they are right. Bluetooth can't match the quality of a good set of wired headphones, but let's be honest, most people aren't listening to high quality audio tracks fed through a good headphone amp and $1000 headphones. Most people are streaming their music via Google Play Music, Apple Music, Spotify or Pandora at 128/256 kbps (some are now streaming 320kbps). 

For the geeky reader, a CD ... Yes that plastic disk us old people use to play music from ;-)  So a music CD was 44.1 kHz x 16 bits x 2 channels = 1411.2 kbps, just for comparison.  

Let's dive into the new in-ear Bluetooth noise cancelling champ from Bose. 

This is more of a first look at the QC30 and a more in depth review will come later. The Qc30 seems to beat the QC35 when strictly comparing noise cancellation quality.  The QC35 has a 12 step noise cancellation intensity control. Where is this useful? When you may want "some" noise cancellation but still need situational awareness (e.g. using these while walking on a busy street). 

QC use to mean QuietComfort buy now means QuietControl. A slight branding update undertaken by Bose

So the branding change was done because you now (for the first time) have that variable noise cancellation strength. 

Design

Most users assume wireless and light weight go hand in hand but not when it comes to the QC30. The QC30 has that strange neckband that connects to the earbuds. When passing the device around, people liked the headband, were indifferent about it or absolutely ragefully hated it. Regardless of how you feel about it, itis universally regarded as ugly.

The ugly spaceship around your neck is the lifeline of the product housing the battery. Bose promises 10 hours of use per charge which is good for most situations (except the long haul overseas flights to Asia). 

Remember that the QC20 had that in line battery compartment which itself was ugly and relatively heavy. 

The other noticeable improvement is fit. I have normal medium sized ear canals and rarely have fit problems with in-ear headphones. The QC30 seem to fit better than the QC20 did which means improved sound quality and noise isolation

The audio control module has all of the standard controls you expect plus additional buttons to control the level of noise cancellation. After a couple of days, you can control everything by feel because of the unique shape of the control module. 

Sound Quality

Let's cut to the chase,  the noise cancellation delivered by the QC30 is truly spectacular. The noise cancellation of the QC30 is as good as the full sized (over the ear) QC35. The only difference is the QC35 benefits from much better noise isolation in addition to active noise cancellation.

I cannot stress how useful the variable noise cancellation strength feature is. It means you can use this on the plane, on the train or while walking on the street. 

Like every other noise cancellation headphone I have ever tried, sound reproduction typically suffers. The QC30 offer clean and clear low/mid ranges. The highs are were it suffers. Highs are drowned out by the other ranges and don't sound as clean as I had hoped. 

The Bose QC30 offers better sound reproduction than the QC20/20i and the sound-stage is more open and airy. So when comparing it to good headphones, sound quality suffers but is a step up when compared to its older sibling.

The bad

Sound is more bass heavy which may impact your enjoyment of some types of more balanced music.  The on/off slider is badly designed (difficult to figure out if the device is on or off when you aren't using the earbuds. 

The ugly UGLY neckband. 

I have to add the price here. At $299 its a rather considerable investment. Not surprising as this is typically the price range for Bose noise cancellation headphones but still....

Conclusion

There is no perfect device. The truth is that this type of noise cancelling headphone has always catered to a specific affluent customer base. Unlike previous years, the in-ear earbuds now offer noise cancellation on par with the on-ear big brother. 

Sound reproduction is good for noise cancelling headphones/earphone but not as good as "normal" ones. If your primary use isn't while on noisy transit and sound quality is important to you, you may want to look at a non noise-cancelling product. If you need noise cancellation, the QC30 offers sound quality better than its noise-cancelling competitors.

If you are looking for standard in-ear bluetooth headphones with decent sound quality and good battery life, take a look at the JLAB Epic 2

6 Tips to beat stress now

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment

Whether you talk to a teenage or a 95 year old grandmother, everyone has "valid" reasons to stress out. 

Why Stress?

Stress is a survival mechanism developed over thousands of years of human evolution. Thousands of years ago, our ancestors were stressed when they were being chased by a lion on the Serengeti. In today's modern world, you probably aren't being chased by a lion but any stress you experienced is still treated the same way by your body.

As soon as your senses detect a stressful situation (aka hungry lion or work stress), you body puts into motion a complex series of action that result in a surge of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol.

  • Adrenaline is used to increase your heart rate which boosts energy supplies and drives more oxygen to your muscles
  • Cortisol increases available blood sugar and cell repair substances. Cortisol also makes your all of your body functions are tuned for the fight or flight response. Anything non essential to that get's altered to secondary status (immune system, digestive system, growth and regenerative processes, etc).

Obviously these are function no longer required in our urban jungle and the effects can be far reaching since most people are constantly in a state of stress.

How do I beat stress?

  1. Meditate - Research has shown time and time again that regular meditation (a couple of minutes a day) makes practitioners much more resilient to stress. You can take the traditional route of learning meditation (which is a wonderful thing) from a trained teacher or use the quicker audio based guided meditations with brain wave entrainment technologies (basically special sound waves that "force" your brain into a meditative state). I am a trained meditator, practitioner of QiGong and also you these quicker shortcut meditation takes once in a while. While many of them are good, I like the Paraliminal recordings from Learning Strategies.
  2. Breathe - Remember to breathe. Find a quiet secluded location. Sit down on a chair with both feet flat on the floor. Place your hands over your knees (thumbs not touching each other). Close your eyes and slowly breath in on a count of 5. Hold your breath for a cound of 5, then exhale for a count of 8-10. As you breath in, we want to relax every muscle in your body from toes to your head. As an example, as you inhale, clench the muscles in your feet for 5 seconds. When you hold your breath, relax those muscles and see how good it feels. This type of controlled breathing will slow down your heart and counter many of the effects of stress.

  3. Live with gratitude - Many people get stressed when they start to feel overwhelmed, when they believe they are losing control of their lives. Gratitude is a fantastic way to counter this effect. Read my article (link) on how to use gratitude in your life and how it will make you happier.

  4. Live in the moment - We are so worried about missing time that we rarely live in the moment. As you are eating supper with your kids, are you thinking about work, reading emails or watching TV? Take a step back and enjoy the time with your family, friends or even alone. As I walk my dog, I can think about how to plan my next work day, all the to do items on my list, etc. Or I can just listen to the sounds of the bird and the street. Feel the sun gently caress my face. I can feel the wind gently blowing. It is in this moments of absolute presence that you typically are the happiest. Being present in the moment is the only way to be truly happy.

  5. Social Support - Some people feel much better as soon as they talk to someone impartial about their stresses. Find a friend you can call who will listen non judgementally and provide non biased calm advice. Often times you see thinks worse than they really are an having an impartial support system you will listen to is invaluable.

  6. Move - Sometimes a little exercise will be just what the doctor ordered. If you feel stressed and can't seem to shake that feeling, go and take a walk. Listen to your favourite music and take a walk. The more vigorous the movement (exercise) the better it will help shake your stress off.

 

 

Conclusion

Remember that we decide when to feel stressed and therefore you can decide to live a calm and in control life. 

You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control your attitude toward what happens to you, and in that, you will be mastering change rather than allowing it to master you.
— Brian Tracy

Why not read some of my other self improvement articles (link).