There is little that’s civil about civil aviation these days, especially if you fly discount carriers or, frankly, just about any airline based in the United States. The best thing you can do is hunker down in your undersized, cramped seat and enter a bubble of private audio entertainment.
More and more airlines are looking to save weight by dumping their seatback in-flight entertainment systems (IFEs), but there are still some holdouts. They’ll even sell you (or sometimes give you) a pair of cheap earbuds.
Here’s some advice: don’t do it. Those earbuds are truly, truly awful. They’re cheap Chinese-made junk, sometimes from factories with terrible working conditions.
The Next Web takes look at them.
It’s one of the worst feelings in the world: You’re on an airplane, only to realize you’ve forgotten your headphones. You’re then forced to use the pair of earbuds provided by the airline just so you don’t have to spend your flight in silence. Unfortunately, they almost always end up being even more awful than you could have possibly imagined.
That’s close to what happened to Dr. Sean Olive, Senior Fellow at Samsung-owned Harman International, and former president of the Audio Engineering Society. Olive was on a flight to Denmark and forgot his cable for his headphones (AKG’s new N700NC), so he was forced to use the earbuds provided by the airline. In his own words:
They sounded so bad I chose to watch the 2018 movie “Quiet Place” because it has little to no sound. If the heroes in the movie could have harnessed these headphones as a weapon, the sound-seeking, human-devouring monsters probably would have scurried home to their alien planet.
Sounds about right.
Olive then took the buds back to Harman’s test labs. And measured the buds. The results were… alarming: