Working in an office environment isn’t always going to be quiet. There are often people coming and going, with the sound of footsteps and the doors opening and closing. In addition, you’re usually able to hear at least a couple of people talking, be it work-related stuff or something else. That said, I don’t mind at all people talking about non-work-related things at work; for me it’s a sign of a healthy work atmosphere.
In this line or work, I consider it essential to have a good pair of headphones. I prefer closed headphones for two reasons. First, they keep a lot of the external sounds from reaching your ears. You don’t even have to play any music if you don’t want to – in this case they work as glorified ear protectors. Second, they insulate the noise the other way as well; they don’t let the sound spread to your surroundings. Which means that you don’t have to bother others with your music even when you play it loud. You can even occasionally listen to those horrendous 90’s party hits just to remember how terrible they were – without giving anyone a clue about it.
I currently have a pair of Sennheiser HD 212 Pro’s at work, which do an amicable job. They’re not top of the line – and not top of the price ladder either. Whenever I need to do some serious thinking, I put on the headphones and select some music with no vocals either from Di.fm or Spotify. The no vocals part is essentially important; I feel that I absolutely can’t concentrate when someone’s yapping into my ear.
As a lighter alternative, I also have Sennheiser CX-300 II’s, which I usually use with my iPod at the gym (or when vacuuming!). For the price they’re pretty good as well, and the noise insulation is not bad either. In fact, I used them as ear protectors when I was at the Australian GP this year. They had a FM transmission that I could listen to at the same time while I had my ears adequately protected from the noise of the cars (the Renaults were the noisiest, mind you).
To complete the set, I have a pair of Sennheiser (anyone recognise a pattern ?) PX-100’s which I use at home. They’re lightweight, open headphones with decent sound. I previously used them at work, but since they provide no insulation and seep out sounds when playing at louder volumes, I decided to go for the closed headphones instead.