Meditation is about keeping the world out while you keep your focus. This, however, can prove difficult in public areas. The solution could be a good pair of headphones, but it is a challenge to find the right pair. We will guide you.
Meditation in public areas often require a very good focus, strong discipline and the ability to tune out the noise from everyone around you. Before meditation apps such as TakeTime were developed you were often better off meditating in the comfort of your own home – or at least somewhere secluded.
Today, you can meditate anywhere with the right meditation app. When the team and I sat down to develop TakeTime, it was our hope that you could use it at the office during your break, on your way home from work in the train or sitting in public just relaxing. However, there was still one prerequisite for a good meditation – shutting the rest of the world out. How can you do that?
With TakeTime, our photos help you keeping your eyes fixed on the screen, while the music and sound effects help you tune out your surroundings. Sound and music alone can’t do the trick. If you only use the speaker in your iPhone or iPad, you will have a difficult time utilizing the sound and music to shut the world out – you need a good pair of headphones.
Your needs and budget
There are many different kinds of sound devices. You have your earplugs, your earbuds, around-ear headphones and on-ear headphones – what to choose? If you feel lost, don’t worry about it! Unless you take a great interest in sound and music, knowledge about headphones probably isn’t a priority for you. It took me years to figure out my preferences. Here’s what I usually tell people when they ask me for advice:
First of all, you have to figure out what you want to use your needs are: Do you listen to music often? Do you like to listen to podcasts? Or do you just want something to shut out the world during your meditation?
You also need to understand comfort: Do you like it when you have a pair of earplugs in your ears or do they annoy you? Do you like having ear cups around your ears or do you prefer to have them on your ears? Comfort is everything. If you buy headphones that you find uncomfortable, you will never use them.
Consider your surroundings. Do you spend a lot of time in public or surrounded by a lot of people? If so, you might prefer headphones with noise-cancelling technology, which means that the headphones have one or more tiny microphones that help filter noise from your surroundings. The sound from your headphones will be clearer while the background noise will be reduced. If you don’t mind using earplugs, you can automatically expect a certain level of “natural” noise-cancelling. Also, on-ear and around-ear headphones have a small ability to shield you from background noise.
Let’s be honest. TakeTime is developed by a small, Danish start-up. We don’t have a huge music budget like Hollywood film studios. In turn, the soundtracks to our themes are relative simple; they set the mood and gives you something to listen to while meditating, but please don’t expect subtle nuances like the complex samples or a distant background choir. In short, if you’re only going to use your earphones with TakeTime, don’t spend a million.
You can get a decent pair of earplugs for around € 25 and a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones for about € 100.
The good brands
Okay, you have established your needs and your budget, which brand should you choose? In the 10 years I have written about sound and headphones as a contributing writer for Danish media, I have come across a few brands that I trust and feel comfortable recommending to you.
- Sennheiser: You rarely go wrong with Sennheiser no matter the size of your budget. They have all sorts of headphones and earplugs – with and without noise-cancelling. If you want to go with a pair of high-end headphones, Sennheiser understands the balance between bass and treble, which allows the mid-tones to caress your hearing.
- Bose: Has a very good understanding of bass and treble. The bass is generally a bit heavier than Sennheiser, but you can hear the mid-tones, nonetheless. Bose is also famous for their noise-cancelling headphones, but they are a bit pricy.
- Plantronics: If you’re looking for minimalistic and professional design coupled with great sound, Plantronics is your brand. Their collection includes all sorts of sound devices ranging from ear buds to headphones. Plantronics is usually pricy, but worth the investment as you get various extra features, which makes your life easier in the workplace.
- Philips: From inexpensive to high-end, Philips also has a broad selection of sound devices, but Philips headphones often have a heavier bass for electronic music. If you’re looking for good earplugs or headphones at a relative low price, Philips is the way to go. Only real downside is that few Philips sound devices have a decent noise-cancelling feature.
What to choose?
How much will you use your future headphones? And just how much you love to listen to music in the office or on the go? If you’re only need something for casual use, an inexpensive headset, earbuds or earplugs, would do well. If your need extends beyond that, you should consider investing in a pair of proper headphones. Your choice should also depend on the environment in which you wish to meditate. If it is in the office with a lot of noise or in other public areas, you should go with actual headphones – preferably with noise-cancelling technology. Once you’ve established your need, you can move on to comfort.
Headphones, like clothes and food, have an individual effect on people – what is comfortable for me isn’t necessarily comfortable for you. My ears are maybe bigger than yours and my ear canals aren’t very sensitive, which means I don’t mind a pair of earplugs nor do I mind having ear cups around my ears – that’s me. I suggest you try on several headphones to figure out what is most comfortable for you before you make a purchase.
If you are a music buff, you should ask the salesperson at your local electronic store for guidance. If you like electronic music, rap or house, you would probably be happy with a brand that focuses on bass. If you’re more like the acoustic or classical type, you should ask for headphones with an even balance between bass and treble – you want to hear the subtle as well as the sharp nuances in the opera piece clearly. In short, describe the music you listen to and a good salesperson will be able to zero in on the brand that matches your need. If you’re really serious about investing in a great pair of headphones, I suggest you bring along 4-5 different songs that you can listen to in the store – that way you will know whether or not you have the right brand.
Co-Founder and Managing Partner