Road Hazards

Tune It Out

Gonna block that noise right out of your head

Ever wanted to shut out engine noise on a flight? Earplugs are helpful, but the most damaging sound waves go through the foam, raising your blood pressure and increasing your stress level.

The latest noise-canceling devices block harmful sounds, allowing you to reach your destination rested and ready for business. They send "antinoise" signals through the headsets; when you turn one on, the cabin appears to go quiet, as if someone cut the engines.

Two of the most popular models are the $200 Koss Quiet Zone 2000 from Koss Corp. and NCT Group Inc.'s $69 NoiseBuster. Each cuts harmful sounds and features adaptors that tap into the plane's in-flight entertainment system. In other words: free movies--although there have been reports of flight attendants demanding the $5 rental fee all the same.

The downsides are the price and required batteries, as well as the gadgets' impractical nature. Sleeping on the plane is impossible; you can't roll over if you're wearing one. And it's hard to remember to turn the device off after use because there's nothing audible coming out of the headphones.

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This article was originally published in the June 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Road Hazards.

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