(this article contains affiliate links, but is not sponsored by the manufacturer)
I am ALL about shop safety, Norm taught me well as a kid, I never want to be taken out of my shop by a dumb mistake or a trivial oversight. I also don’t want to be one of those guys in my 60s having lost 50% of my hearing because I enjoyed the sound of my router and miter saw SOOO much. The problem is, running and grabbing my hearing protection disrupts my workflow, and I don’t know about you but when a tool isn’t running, the silence of my 3M ear protection brings out the demons in me. Your worst critics always live on the inside and the silence can be terrifying, so I always have something on: podcasts, music, books on tape, SOMETHING.
For the longest time I just used my headphones in the shop to drown out the silence. But when I grabbed a tool, sometimes I would throw the 3M cups on over my headphones, but most of the time they were out of sight, out of mind. You wouldn’t think the high pitch scream of a miter saw or router would hurt your ears over the blaring music I listen to in the shop, but I did occasionally get a little “Hum in the drum.”
This is where the ISOTunes PRO come in. Not only can you listen to your tunes in your shop wirelessly but they also attenuate noise as well most hearing protection you are going to find. The ISOTunes PRO attenuate noise by 27 db while the popular over the ear 3M X Series I have been using for a while only reduces ambient sound by 28db with the best configuration reducing by 31dbs. But again, unless you feel like working in complete silence or dangling these around your neck all the time, you still have to stop what you are doing and go find these guys to protect yourself. I think the old saying goes the best ability to have is availability. So now, without interrupting my work flow or my favorite podcast, I can have the Making It Podcast, or Modern Maker, or Maker’s Hustle on all the time now while at the same time protecting my hearing. I was going to be listening to tunes or whatever anyway so now two birds, one stone.
With bluetooth 4.1, I don’t even need to have the phone in my pocket anymore, no more cracked screens from running into the corner of my tablesaw. I can even take phone calls from the headset with active noise cancellation, so the person on the other side of the line doesn’t hear my dust collector, air cleaner, or air conditioner. This headset has really changed how I work in my shop. Now I keep my hearing protection on all the time, along with my eye protection, so all I have to grab is my face mask. Hopefully it saves my ears from the fate of the guys I know who lived their lives in the shop. I would really like to still enjoy my music when I am 60.
In another life, I write audio reviews for enjoythemusic.com so I have heard my share of the best headphones in the world. As far as audio goes, the ISOTunes PRO do not punch in that league, but they do sound REALLY good for what they are. With the tight ear-plug-like fit they have above average bass and a really balanced overall sound profile, maybe a bit thin in the upper midrange. I bet half the people that use these have some level of tinnitus anyway though and won’t notice anyway. The Blacked Out Pros have a nice mellow profile that I really don’t think anybody would find to be fatiguing which is good when the music is all you hear. I have had several full day sessions with them working in the shop and in the yard and they have never had any sound hiccups or been fatiguing in the slightest. They are at the same level of audio performance as a set of Apple Ear Pods, which is actually pretty high praise. For audio quality the Apple earbud is the gold standard for sound quality for an “earbud” and the bluetooth variety of these are TWICE the price of the ISOTunes Pro.
The one complaint I have about The ISOTunes PRO, and this goes with the standards ones and the new Blacked Out ones, is when you really want to rock, the volume nanny steps in. They are limited to 85db to comply with OSHA guidelines for safe volume levels for 8 hour listening. The nice thing though, is you can actually listen to them for that long with the rated 10 hours of battery life per charge. The other critique complaint I would have is the lack of a next/previous track button (But wait, I apparently don’t know how to read directions, you can actually press and hold the +/- buttons for 2 seconds to advance/rewind the track) which would be nice when my wife Rick Rolls my Spotify account.
Overall I REALLY like these headphones, and the blacked out model makes even look cool now. These are integral for any shop, and will really change your work flow (believe it or not) your hearing is nothing to mess with and at 27db attenuation, the ISOTunes PRO is no joke. This is really sufficient for almost any tool you are a going to use in an average shop, they are also plenty for yard work and they are even fit well enough to take out on a nice jog if you want to get into that zen meditative state. I would say though, consider doing so on a closed course, because you can’t even hear a cement truck drive by with these things on.
I plan on doing a video synopsis of my safety gear so make sure you are subscribed to Wood Work LIFE to catch that when it comes out. Check out a couple videos while you are over there if you have a second.
If you would like to purchase a set of these headphones you can enter code WWL10 at checkout through the end of October 2017 for 10$ off!
(ISOTunes contacted me, you can use coupon code WWL10 for 10$ off through the month of October 2017)
10 hours playback time 240 hours in standby
IPX4 Sweat and Splash Proof
Bluetooth 4.1 + EDR (Works with basically all bluetooth devices)
Integrated Microphone w/ Active Noise Cancellation