Cordless Headphones

I’m a big fan of cordless headphones. I’ve had some since probably 1995. I don’t remember if I originally got them for work or for home. I think it was for work. I found it annoying to use corded headphones and turn around or reach for something and trip over the wire or yank it out of the stereo or have the headphones yanked off my head.

Later, I got some for home. Since I left home I’ve always lived in an apartment so I can’t crank the TV or stereo up at night to watch a movie. Wireless headphones made that problem go away and there were no wires to clean up. I can even walk to the kitchen late at night and still listen.

I think what happened after that, I had 1 pair at work and 1 at home. I moved to Japan and didn’t bring them so I bought 2 more pairs, one for work, one for home. They were not that expensive. Maybe $60 each. Because they are infrared you can use as many headphones as you want with one transmitter so at some point I bought one more pair with no transmitter for home so me and a friend could watch late night action movies with loud sound without waking up the neighbors.

Eventually I got the 2 pair from the states back giving me a total of 5 pairs of cordless headphones!!!

Well, last week I just bought pair #6! The reason is as much as I liked the headphones, they were all the kind that go over your head. Meaning, if you have the kind any kind of hair style that requires you keep things off your head you are kind of out of luck. I tried just wrapping them around the back anyway but they are not designed for that and slide off all the time.

So, looking for a solution I found out here in Japan Sony has the MDR-IF50K. They work the same as all the others, infrared, but this time the receiver is a little separate base with a headphone socket so you can plug any headphones into it. It’s not quite as convenient since you have to find a place to clip the receiver but now I can use any headphones including the kind you stick in your ears, the clipon kind, or the kind that wrap around the back of your head, in any case, not messing up my hair :-p

I should tell you, as far as I can tell, infrared cordless headphones are not super high fidelity. It’s not a problem for me. I find them good enough but if you are more picky you might not. The new setup I just got means I can use any headphones but I suspect the issue is more of the infrared transmission, not the headphones. The other issue with them is you can only have one transmitter in an area. That means for example you can’t have them and also the person sitting behind you at the office. The two transmitters will conflict. So far I’ve been lucky. As much as co-workers have liked them they haven’t ever gone out and gotten their own. If they do I’ll have to look for a new solution, at least for work. :-p

  • Zehgerman

    I had a similiar problem with cordless headphones where they picked up a cordless phone’s signal and you could listen to what people were saying while they taking on the phone.

  • One of my friends who was a music major, piano, masters… Never uses headphones.  She says they damage your ears…

    As I said, music major, so she’s probably overly sensitive… but still makes me think.

    I listen to earbuds like… ALL the  time at work.  I plug my iPod into the concent to save the battery.   People often ask me how I work with music… This office though is -super- Japanese. Like, no cubicles, just desks stuck together.  I can’t imagine how they can work with everyone talking all the time!

  • bionicroach
    Of course headphones *can* damage your ears…

    …just like going to too many loud music concerts or working in a constantly loud environment like a factory can damage your ears. The problem is not the headphones, but that most people tend to turn the volume up too loud in order to tune out the noise around them.

    Most good portable audio devices these days have “volume limiting” features designed to keep you from turning the sound up past a safe level, but many people turn these features off becasue they’re already used to listening to their headphones at an unsafe level and the “safe” level sounds too quiet.

    Another alternative is that most of the major brands like Sony and Sennheiser have headphone models that offer “noise cancelling” circuitry that actually lowers the perceptible outside noise level by creating a reverse phase sound pattern. The idea then is that you can turn your music down since it will seem like your surroundings are quieter. I haven’t actually tried them yet, but I have heard a lot of people claim that they do actually work. Then there are “in-the-ear” or “earplug” style headphones like those that Etymotic Reasearch makes. These cancel out noise by sealing your ear canals just like earplugs do. These work great, but the one problem I’ve found is that you have to either sit very still or secure the cord in such a way that it does not tap on anything – otherwise you get a “microphonic” effect from the vibration.

    Basically, I believe that any headphones are safe as long as you practice common sense and keep an eye on the volume control. Just because your stereo surely has way more juice than you need, it doesn’t mean you’re supposed to turn it up that far…

  • Headphones a unsolved mystery


    I have been listening since ive been a kid. Of course back old days I had the luxury of my own room and very patient neighbours. they were 80 and so never could they hear anything. Thanked god for their deafness. I moved 2 uk for my studies and started living with friends. Everyones got their own sense of music. So opted out for headfones. I got addicted 2 it. I still use them because No one can ask you to turn off u rmusic and it works.

    The biggest problem though is the effect on ears. I am starting to feel the pain. I have read some where the headphones makes bacteria gorwth in the ear nearly treble. causes itches and pain and stuff. I am seriously worried about the long term problems.

    Started to listen 2 ipod in a very small range of volume but years of damage have shown their affect.

    anyone has opinions or experiences and solutions as well. if you have then please feel free to mail me at or visit my site at



  • Daniel
    How about eye damage from the infrared?

    Do you know if the is any study indicating the possibility of eye damage from the infrared radiation of the transmitters?