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Soundproofing a Cubicle?

Cliff posted more than 10 years ago | from the minimizing-the-disturbance dept.

Businesses 108

Anon! A Mouse Cowered! asks: "I work in a 10 x 10 ft. cubicle that's about as low-end as it can be (my back wall is made of my filing cabinets). I have a cheap set of speakers on my desktop for internet radio, but if I play anything other than light jazz or classical at anything above a squeak, it's annoying to my coworkers. Are there any other Dilberts (or Wallys, even), who can offer ideas on making a workspace more livable so that I can enjoy my Primus albums at an audible volume while working?"

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Headphones (5, Insightful)

jgaynor (205453) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305537)

I know of an amazing new technology named (tentatively of course) 'headphones'. They may be the answer to your prayers - be an early adopter!

Re:Headphones (3, Insightful)

alexjohns (53323) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306587)

This is really the only comment that needs to be made for this discussion. Everyone else, please move along. Thank you for your attention.

Re:Headphones (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306721)

well, one comment needs to be added.

add a sensitive microphone to the mix and you'll be able to hear other people as well..

Re:Headphones (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9307535)

Hmm, I've tried it and it's not that great. Too much hiss and such if the microphone is turned up loud enough to hear overhead pages and the phone ringing. People behind you isn't as much of a problem, you can always put up the little mirror or simply let them tap you on the shoulder.

One thing I tried, and which had moderate success, was to build a little optically-controlled attenuator to put inline with the headphones. Basically two transistors and two phototransistors arranged so that when a phototransistor receives enough light, the transistors pull down the audio signals nearly to ground. The phototransistors ara taped to the "Page" and "Line" lights on the AT&T office phone so that when there is an overhead page or the phone rings, the headphone volume automatically kicks down and you can hear it.

Re:Headphones (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 10 years ago | (#9307911)

Now that's geeky.

Re:Headphones (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308852)

well, It would be preferable to have it so that it'll only pass into the phones if there's enough of input(like a guy speaking _in_ the cubicle).

Headphones (0, Redundant)

akehurst (3891) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305543)

You can always get a nice pair of headphones. Grado or Seinnhaiser(sp?) come to mind.

Re:Headphones (1)

phlyingpenguin (466669) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305601)

That's a no on Grados. You'll hear those 15ft away since they're open air headphones. I love my pair to death, but I've never been able to use them at work due to the fact that they're almost as audible as regular speakers. Unless there's quite a bit of white noice in the office, that doesn't seem to work very well for me.

Though if you aren't trying to go deaf, maybe they aren't too terrible?

Re:Headphones (1)

notsoclever (748131) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311547)

How high do you have your volume turned up?

Do you want to have any hearing left in three years?

I'll second that question! (1)

munpfazy (694689) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311799)

I've got a pair of grado 80's, and I can't imagine that ambient sound would be a problem at any sane level. I've been using them in the lab for a while with no complaints from co-workers.

If I set a normal listening level and place them on my thigh in a moderately quiet office environment (a very large room with a couple computers and other gizmos humming), I can't tell whether or not they're turned on.

Sure, open air headphones could be a problem if you're in a recording studio, or *possibly* sitting directly next to someone trying to concentrate in a totally silent room deep in the woods. But for an office, it's not an issue; at least that's true with their usual headphones. I've never tried their monitor series. Could be that the bigger ones are louder.

Incidentally, their headphones are great. Lovely sound, for a fraction of the cost of the competition.

We should all discourage Primus listening (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305581)

But on the serious side, you should consider a good set of comfortable noise-cancelling headphones to avoid annoying everyone.

This might be tough if your company doesn't have IM or you need to use the phone though.

Otherwise, I got to agree with your co-workers. People with music in the office drive me nuts. The current offender in my area whose tastes alternate between old-school gangster rap and country. Needsless to say, its rather annoying.

Re:We should all discourage Primus listening (2, Interesting)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305747)

Or you could just do what I do: don't put them directly on your ears. This will let you hear stuff out in the room (like phone ringing, boss walking in, etc). You can always take them off in a hurry if you need to answer the phone.

Or for a more geeky solution: hook up a mic and enable it as an input source. That way anything the mic picks up will be mixed in with the music. Adjust the volumes to suit and you're good to go.

Re:We should all discourage Primus listening (2, Informative)

vthome (21702) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306207)

Even better, get the headphones that are "acoustically transparent" - meaning that not only you hear what's playing, but also the sounds in the room. The sound from the headphones doesn't get out, though.

I've been using AKG Acoustics K-240 Monitor [] for many years - superb sound quality, durable, comfortable.

There's also K-240 Studio and K-240 DF, but I haven't had a chance to try those out.

Re:We should all discourage Primus listening (2, Interesting)

Jahf (21968) | more than 10 years ago | (#9307936)

Back when I was in a cubichell I regularly put on headphones without playing any sound so that I could work. I immediately had an excuse to not answer the "Hey, dude, how do I tell someone to do X?" (I was an admin but the support reps were in the same cube farm). To get an answer they had to walk to my Cube (which was strategically placed as far away from the door and farthest away from the other cubes except the guy next to me who was a friend and a web designer who didn't need to bug me with dumb questions), which was usually more effort than just looking it up themselves.

I would frequently hear them ask an inane question and simply ignore it, listening to the others try to figure out the answer. I think I upped my productivity (and in the end theirs since they had to figure it out themselves) by at least 50%.

Then I started bringing in incense candles to kill the smell from whoever kept eating chili for lunch.

After that I clad the entrance to my cube with a curtain and put boards across the top of it to dim the lights from the amazingly bright overhead flourescents.

By the time I left I pretty much had an office and almost didn't care about the work from home program :)

Point? None except that headphones have significant benefits. If you need to be answering the phone regularly, look into one of the headphone mixing systems ... I didn't get one but a friend got one that allowed him to put his headset into it and mute the music when answering the phone. There are also motorcycling products that might be useful here. It will help if your phone has a headphone+microphone style jack instead of only the RJ-11 type.

Re:We should all discourage Primus listening (1)

ArmpitMan (741950) | more than 10 years ago | (#9310845)

Noise-cancelling headphones while listening to Primus? Doesn't that sort of defeat the purpose?

Hmmmmm (0, Redundant)

hords (619030) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305585)

Headphones? That's what I have on my desk.

The best path... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305596)

Is unfortunately you will just have to learn to love light jazz and classical.

Headphones (0, Redundant)

troyml (122411) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305609)

Keep the noise out and the audio you want to hear in with a pair of headphones.

A cheap set will still sound more enjoyable than the person in the cube next to you listening to their choice of music interfering with yours.

If you aren't going to be listening to music just stick some earplugs in your ears. Worked for me when I worked on a machine room floor, and I bet I had more sound to keep out then you did.

These solutions mean your noise isn't polluting the airspace of those around you either. I'd be the lucky guy in the next cube over who doesn't care for your Primus and you could spare me listening to it all day.

Seriously is the what Ask Slashdot has come to?

Earplugs (5, Funny)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305619)

Get yourself a pair of monumental speakers, turn them up to full volume, and liberally distribute earplugs among your co-workers.

Alternative headphone use (5, Funny)

DaveJay (133437) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305634)

I don't think you should give in to the tyranny of your coworkers. Buy THEM all noise-cancelling headphones, and listen to your music at any volume you like.

Cheap method \ $10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9306738)

For those of us who like to spend under $10. There's the cheap ear bud headphones like I'm wearing.

They have the advantage of not leaking sound when you remove them while still delivering decent volume (unlike the person whose headphones I can hear if I turn off my winamp).

Re:Alternative headphone use (2, Interesting)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306841)

When I wear my Bose noise canceling headphones, I find it makes it easier to hear conversations and music from neighbor's cubicles, since they signifigantly lower the ambient noise but only mildly reduce more dynamic sounds like talking or music. Seems like the opposite of what he should do.

Re:Alternative headphone use (0)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306977)

No, that's exactly what the headphones should do. It's just that you and the headphones have different ideas of what constitutes signal and what constitutes noise.

Sounds like you're not looking for headphones. Sounds like you're looking for earplugs.

Re:Alternative headphone use (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308677)

Read what I said again. I'm saying that what the headphones are supposed to do is the opposite of what the parent to my comment was intending from them to do. Note that the subject of that sentence in my comment is 'he', refering to the person asking the question, and not 'they,' which is what I would have written were I saying the headphones worked improperly. Luckily for you this isn't an SAT question.

The headphones work as intended, not as the misguided advice-giver thinks they do.

Re:Alternative headphone use (-1, Flamebait)

Twirlip of the Mists (615030) | more than 10 years ago | (#9309092)

Note that the subject of that sentence in my comment is 'he', refering to the person asking the question, and not 'they,' which is what I would have written were I saying the headphones worked improperly. Luckily for you this isn't an SAT question.

Holy cow, you're a dick.

Yes, I misunderstood your statement. I assumed "he" was a typo for "they," since you were talking about the behavior of your headphones.

Maybe you need to read your own post and wonder why you were misunderstood.

Re:Alternative headphone use (1)

joeljkp (254783) | more than 10 years ago | (#9315623)

I'll back you up on this one. I thought he meant "they" too.

Re:Alternative headphone use (0, Troll)

Jhon (241832) | more than 10 years ago | (#9319660)

Luckily for you this isn't an SAT question.
I would suggest that YOU are lucky it wasn't an SAT question. You need to re-read what you said and note how anybody would believe you made a type-o. Either you dropped the wrong word ('they' for 'he') or you confused the antecedent. The subject of your prior sentence was NOT your neighbors, but the headphones. As it was in each prior sentence to be exact. The use of a pronoun ('he' in your case) was inappropriate to denote your neighbors. The correct use of a pronoun there would have been "it" or "they" as the antecedent were those headphones.

For the usage you indented, you would have wanted to explicitly state your "neighbors".

Advice: Don't make snide remarks about others confusion until you are SURE you weren't the cause of such confusion. Otherwise you come off as being a jerk.

Wireless headphones. (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305644)

What you really need is to get is a wireless headset that looks like a phone headset. Then you're co-workers would think that you are busy on the phone all the time.

Re:Wireless headphones. (1)

hillg3 (656728) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305859)

Would they really think you're doing something productive while "singing" along to a Primus album? They'd probably think you were going insane bobbing your head beating on everything in site with your pen(cil)s pretending to be the drummer.

Quality Headphones. (3, Informative)

nuxx (10153) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305656)

Get a pair of rather nice, open-back, full ear headphones. The set I use with my iPod are Sennheiser HD 590's [] (purchased at The Great Indoors for ~$30, down from ~$70). They sound absolutely amazing, but because they aren't sealed you can still hear the phone, people talking directly to you, etc.

Earbuds are nice and cheap, but they block out too much sound. You need to ensure that the headphones are really comfortable and have a nice long cord, though, since you'll probably want to move around your desk a bit and be wearing them for hours on end. Also, if you are running the sound out of your desktop or notebook and it's kinda crappy (bad S/N ratio, interferance, etc) look into a Griffin Technologies iMic [] . As they are just a standard USB audio device, they work without drivers on Macs or PCs and sound excellent.

I personally find it extremely rude when coworkers insist on playing music out loud (headphones solve this) or having conference calls on speakerphone (that's what headsets are for). Hopefully if more people start using a more personal listening device, the workplace will be calmer for everyone.

Re:Quality Headphones. (3, Informative)

mr3038 (121693) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306742)

Get a pair of rather nice, open-back, full ear headphones. [...] because they aren't sealed you can still hear the phone, people talking directly to you, etc. [...] You need to ensure that the headphones are really comfortable [...] since you'll [...] be wearing them for hours on end.

If you want comfortable, you can't go wrong with Sony MDR-F1 [] . Sure, some open headphones sound better [] but MDR-F1 is probably the most comfortable pair of cans available anywhere. Forget Sennheiser's if you wear glasses. Be warned though, that MDF-F1's are a quite demanding headphones - for the best quality you'll need a separate headphones amplifier, though one can get acceptable sound quality even from the sound card plug. The drive units are 50 mm diameter which is probably more than your average office desktop speakers have...

Re:Quality Headphones. (2, Informative)

nuxx (10153) | more than 10 years ago | (#9307160)

Just FYI, the particular pair of Sennheisers I have fit very comfortably with glasses on. It's possible that some other models of theirs don't, but these are just perfect.

I probably would have gone with another brand, but I found these on clearance (for some reason) for something like $32. Extra dirt cheap for *great* headphones.

I'd love a pair like those Sony's, though. Match them with a nice tube amp... Mmm...

Re:Quality Headphones. (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306929)

This is the way to go. I have HD-495s and I love them. They're way better with an amp though. I got one that was built into a Stereo-Link 1200 [] and bypassed the super-crappy, extra-noisy, on-board soundcard in the stardard issue Dell desktop they have where I work at the same time. They sound pretty good plugged into the iPod too, though the bass isn't as impressive.

Why soundproof a 10'x10' area when you only need to soundproof the 1' cube around your head?

headphones are not an option? (5, Insightful)

aneurysm36 (459092) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305676)

since the headphones solution is so obvious, maybe we should assume he has a job that requires a telephone headset.

Re:headphones are not an option? (1)

unics (741003) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306682)

telephone headsets are evil. you get all the jokes from the VP when he comes over to you and names you "TIME Life Operator". Then proceeds to ask you "aren't you going to sell me anything?" :-)

Re:headphones are not an option? (1)

{8_8} (31689) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308162)

If he has a job that requires a telephone headset, though, why is he listening to music? Wouldn't the music interfere with phone conversations? Of course, maybe he just doesn't care.

Re:headphones are not an option? (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308299)

In which case, he could wear earbuds underneath the phone headset.

Re:headphones are not an option? (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311270)

if his music is so loud to irritate his coworkers I don't think he's on the phone so to speak.

The straw that broke the camel's back... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305708)

That's it, I am now filtering 'Ask Slashdot' posts because they are way too stupid to warrant my attention...

Who the heck is publishing these stupid submissions?

Out of 25 'Ask Slashdot' posts there are maybe 1 or 2 that are worthy of being published.

I mean come on! Sound proofing a Cubicle so someone can listen to Primus? Try head phones! Try working instead of listening to music at work. Try an iPod. Try tailoring your listening to something in the least common denominator of the general public. Primus is not easy listening material!

Headphones are the cheapest solution next to inventing a 'Cone of Silence' or trying some form of noise cancelation (180 deg out of phase amplifier).

Heck, keep playing Primus in your cubicle! Crank it up! Get fired so someone with a clue can take your job!

Re:The straw that broke the camel's back... (3, Informative)

Usquebaugh (230216) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306073)

It's worse than the crap posts being allowed, it's the good posts being rejected int he last year I have had 2 rejected. the first is an alternative to light guns for panel monitors, the second is fault tolernant clusters. Either of these two are geeky enough for /. of course they do require thought so prehaps that's why they were rejected.

Re:The straw that broke the camel's back... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9306663)

I believe Slashdot is becoming the Wal-Mart of tech websites.

Re:The straw that broke the camel's back... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9307525)

"is becoming"??? try "has become"

Absolfuckinglutely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9306237)

Heck, keep playing Primus in your cubicle! Crank it up! Get fired so someone with a clue can take your job!

The best comment I read all day.

maybe there should be moderation of stories (1)

Numeric (22250) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306413)

I've come across many "Ask Slashdot" post that have some obvious answers such as this one. Maybe / code can have some story moderation.

Here's some the choice:

1 Did you try google?
2 Uninformative
3 Interesting
4 Blame Microsoft
5 Blame SCO

In Soviet Russia... (1)

I'm not a script, da (638454) | more than 10 years ago | (#9310447) tries you!
...un informs you!
...inter stings you!
...Microsoft blames you!
...SCO blames you!
... ???'s Profits!!! you!

What a country!!

Its Cliff. (1)

molo (94384) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306640)

It seems that Cliff has been in charge of Ask Slashdot for a while. The questions he selects are rediculously horrible. This is nothing new. I think I'm going to add him to my list of filtered editors. Previously only JonKatz has had that honor. This is getting rediulous.

Oh, and most times that someone complains about it, they are modded down to -1 Redundant.. I mean, wtf. Someone needs to fix this.


Cochlear implants! (4, Funny)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305728)

Is this not /.? Do we not strive to be bionic? Cochlear implants let you pipe music directly into your brain by stimulating the cochlear nerve. When these things get perfected I'm gonna get one even if I have perfectly "normal" hearing.

Re:Cochlear implants! (1)

andfarm (534655) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305780)

Sound quality still sucks with those implants, you know. Badly. Pitches are *way* off; only about 80% of users can understand spoken English.

The deaf are the testers (1)

Thinkit4 (745166) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305813)

That's why they won't take those who don't have hearing loss. It's good enough that they do take those with partial hearing. Just give it time.

Re:Cochlear implants! (1)

illusion_2K (187951) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306448)

Even better, he could hack one of these [] to listen to his tunes and get his sugar-fix at the same time. :-)

For those wanting a less invasive solution... (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306620)

Get two of those vibration coupling thingies. the ones they had 30 years ago that you could screw into a wall to turn the whole wall into a speaker. Then screw one into the bone behind each ear, to couple the sound straight into the skull. Be sure to use stainless steel or other nonreactive screws. Save on delicate-tissue surgery.

get these closed-back studio headphones - AKG 271 (0, Redundant)

loomis (141922) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305759)

The AKG 271 studio headphones are $180. They offer good frequency response, are lightweight, and are "ideal for all applications where no sound must leak from the headphones."

Here are some for sale []


Re:get these closed-back studio headphones - AKG 2 (1)

karnal (22275) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306666)

I'm not sure if I want to buy a set of headphones described as "Eargasmic" for work. (see review at bottom of parent's link)

Now, for home....

Ceiling Hanging Heavy Canvas (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305779)

Would soundproof your cubicle- but the question is would the building manager approve?

Otherwise- headphones is what EVERYBODY in my office uses. It's almost a requirement for working here it seems; it's rare to see somebody working without headphones. If you need to wear a telephone headset as well, well, why not just go the McGyver route- duct tape headphones to your headset?

Re:Ceiling Hanging Heavy Canvas (2, Interesting)

geirt (55254) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306669)

Like the tent of doom [] ?

Re:Ceiling Hanging Heavy Canvas (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306925)

Yeah- kinda like that, but with heavy sailing canvas instead. I saw a solution like this at PDX [] on a tour when I was a kid in the 4th Grade. The central lobby between the gate wings in the days before huge security upgrades used to have these 4'x20' curtains hangling down-weighted at the bottom and placed rather randomly. A kid shouting at one end of the lobby couldn't be heard at the other end, the heavy canvas just completely absorbed the sound. For me, this was my first inkling that sound was truly mechanical waves moving through air. Kind of mindblowing to a 9-year-old-kid.

Planning on putting a roof up? (1)

perrin5 (38802) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305792)

honestly, I don't see a way to make an open cubicle soundproof without raising the "walls" and putting a door on it and/or putting roof up. Otherwise there will always be sound bleed.

The Answer... (2, Informative)

Polo (30659) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305814)

Good headphones will give you exactly what you want and more...

Get a good set and you'll be amazed by the sound and your neighbors will be happy.

I recommend a high-end Sennheiser model, like the Sennheiser HD-580 []

After using them for a while, you won't go back to "computer speakers"

Re:The Answer... (1)

cjpez (148000) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305932)

Hell, I was always happy enough with whatever cheap $10 headphones were available at Shopko or wherever for my work headphones. It's not like I'm really *listening* to the music or anything while I work. I've found that even really low-end headphones will beat the pants off of your average computer speaker system most of the time, anyway.

Re:The Answer... (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306214)

True, but closed-back headphones are a necessity if you want to listen to music in even a moderately noisy environment and don't want to disturb those around you. Plus they're great for listening to music at home, much cheaper than speakers of the same quality.

Seriously here (1)

quantax (12175) | more than 10 years ago | (#9305954)

Dude, wtf? I work in a similar environment only we do advertising work, so having music going on at any volume is not really possible when trying to work on a TV spot. Ironically enough however, my co-workers and I have amazingly gotten around this problem by investing in the technology thus referred to as headphones or the even more cutting edge, ear buds. Seriously, just go invest in a decent pair with a respectable cord-length and you can listen to your music at whatever volume you prefer, and no need to subject those around you to your music tastes, whatever they may be.

Water = quiet (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9305956)

Since water does a fairly decent job of muffling sound, the answer is obvious: build yourself a cubiquarium. A few sheets of plexiglass, a snorkel and a standard garden hose should get you started.

Re:Water = quiet (2, Insightful)

TVC15 (518429) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306232)

>Since water does a fairly decent job of muffling sound, the answer is obvious: build yourself a cubiquarium. A few sheets of plexiglass, a snorkel and a standard garden hose should get you started.

i LOVE that this was moderated "Informative". thats even funnier than the original post!

Use your brain... (3, Insightful)

rit (64731) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306141)

and buy a pair of fucking headphones, dumbass

milton quote! (3, Funny)

dotgod (567913) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306148)

I was told that I could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven, I told bill that if Sandra is going to listen to her headphones while she's filing then I should be able to listen to the radio while I'm collating so I don't see why I should have to turn down the radio because I enjoy listening at a reasonable volume from nine to eleven.

Re:milton quote! (2, Funny)

austad (22163) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306658)

He's gonna burn the place down! Quick, someone call HR.

Re:milton quote! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9306758)

Oh good! Maybe HR can contact accounting. I've heard he hasn't received his paycheck...

What good (1)

Gigahertz (768208) | more than 10 years ago | (#9306176)

What good is the on-duty editor if an article can't get shut down during the subscriber only time period?

I'm sure more than just I emailed "OMG!!!! HEADPHONES!!!!"....

Ask Slashmoron.

distance.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9306182)

I just put my speakers right in front of my monitor (which is raised off the desk anyway). That way, I can put them on low enough that no one can hear a sound from more than 4 feet away, and yet from my distance of 2 feet, everything sounds great.

An option besides headphones.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9306808)

There is an alternative option!

This won't let you turn your music up much louder, but trust me, it will help. Try also playing some white noise, or apply a low pass filter to the white noise at around 1000-1500Hz, and aiming that sound outward at your fellow employees. This sounds like an air conditioner, and therefore your co-workers will hear less of your music, and you can turn it up louder.

Nicknames (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9306914)

Okay, I concede. "Anon! A Mouse Cowered!" is a much better nickname than my previous favorite, "Ann on a Moose, Cow Herd." It makes sense, for starters, plus it's got that whole "Anon!" thing which makes it sound cool.

Why Headphones Suck (2, Insightful)

Eneff (96967) | more than 10 years ago | (#9307410)

I knew better than to read Ask /. hoping for an answer.

Headphones, at least for me, cause discomfort and pain after 45 minutes or so with music at a reasonable volume. (Reasonable volume being where I can still hear a coworker's typing.)

Noise-cancelling headphones are even worse. I've never found a pair that I could stand having on more than five minutes. I'd imagine I'm not the only one.

Now gimme that damn red stapler back.

Re:Why Headphones Suck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9307576)

Discomfort and pain how? A headache from the headband part/pressure on your head, or ear pain from the volume/sound right in your ear?

Look fathead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9308104)

If your neanderthal cranium is a bit too bulbous for the average set of headphones, try some ear buds. Alternatively you could forgo your "right" to listen to music in the workplace and just listen to the ambient sounds of business like most people do. Keyboards clicking, people chattering on the phone, papers shuffling, the 12 gauge cranking a round into the breach behind your fat head...

Re:Why Headphones Suck (1)

Bishop (4500) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308227)

Shop around for a better set of headphones. Two factors that can affect comfort are fit and sound quality. Sound quality is often overlooked. Higher end headphones should fit better, and have a better sound. A headphone amplifier may be required.

Understand that some people cannot stand any level of music even if you are able to deaden the sound. It is not because they hate you or your music. It is because they find music of any kind very distracting.

Re:Why Headphones Suck (1)

cultobill (72845) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308289)

You need some decent headphones, then. I've got a pair of Sennheiser HD280 (closed back) that I've been wearing since I got in to work today (~6 hours), and they're still comfortable.

If the band irritates you and you can get by without hearing too much of your coworkers (phone flashes, there's a door, etc), good earbuds are a solution. Not the little foam things that come with every portable music device, but some in-ear-canal ones. Nice ones will have plugs made out of the same foam that earplugs are made out of. You know, the expanding stuff that will perfectly fit your ear.

The downside? Both make it hard to hear anything else, so they're not viable for every job. They are both expensive (Senns are about $100 for the good stuff, comforable ear-canal buds will run more).

Clip your toenails... (3, Insightful)

sbryant (93075) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308078) loudly as possibly. Every day. For several months.

It's what Wally would do.

After that, people will be relieved when you stop to listen to your music.

Tell 'em this.... (2, Funny)

justkarl (775856) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308084)

From Office Space:
"I was told I could listen to the radio at a reasonable volume...I believe you stole my stapler..." -Milton

Some real solutions... (4, Informative)

stienman (51024) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308381)

Since the obvious ( headphones!!! ), for whatever reason, is not applicable, there are a few ways sound travels from one cubicle to another and a few good ways to make it not travel so well.

Your cubicle is a big speaker cabinet that's pointed at the ceiling. Anyone within a few cubicles will get the reflections from the ceiling.
* Place sound deadening ceiling tiles above your cubicle (and out 8-10 feet). Cover them with loosely attached cloth (so it drapes several inches below ceiling height). This will reduce the largest portion of sound reflection.

Cubicle surfaces are attached to neighbor cubicles. Sounds from within the cubicle can be transmitted directly to the cubicle and reproduced at other points as the sound travels through the system.
* Place the speakers on sound deadening material and then on top of a rubber pad. Surface your entire cubicle with sound deadening material. Place loosely attached cloth around the cubicle (the heavier weight the cloth, the better)

Sound, by its very nature, travels through the air very well. All the previous measures only prevent reflections and transmissions through and from solid surfaces. Now you need to prevent the sound from traveling through the air to your neighbors.
* Extend your cubicle walls to the ceiling, or at least place several layers of cloth, preferebaly with sound deadening materil inbetween, from the top of your cubicle to the ceiling. Install a door of some kind. Put cones around your speakers to direct the sound energy towards you - you shouldn't be sending sound pollution to places you aren't at, so place the cones to prevent the sound from going all over the cubicle.

Of course, some sound is still getting through, and, let's face it, Primus isn't intended to be played at low volumes. I recommend installing a concrete block on top of a rubber pad/shock system inside your cubicle. On top of that pad you'll need double walls with sound insulation between them, and, of course, a similar door and ceiling.

But you'll probably have a better time (easier, cheaper, faster) buying wireless headphones or convincing your employer to allow you to telecommute.

For my part, I just find this hilarious when the worst part of your job is you can't listen to Primus at your preferred volume.

You must really be suffering, but remember that you need to choose your battles wisely. You may win this one, but the next one might be more important, and you might not have any more room to move.


Re:Some real solutions... (1)

SiggyRadiation (628651) | more than 10 years ago | (#9312830)

>> Sound, by its very nature, travels through the air very well

Sollution to all your noise-pollution-problems in one word: work in vacuum.

Are you sure it is the music? (1)

eltoyoboyo (750015) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308420)

I have a cheap set of speakers on my desktop ... it's annoying to my coworkers

Maybe you should draw those Les Nessman (WKRP in Cincinnati) [] lines around your cube and tell your coworkers not to hear anything outside the lines.

Soundproofing (1)

howman (170527) | more than 10 years ago | (#9308982)

I used to work for an industrial door manufacturer and we on occasion built soundproof doors...
You say your work space is 10' x 10'
Start with a wooden frame 2"X6" and 10' square. Cover one side in 10 guage steel plate, sandwich sound proof insulation into it and lay on a layer of lead sheet. Over the lead sheet place 5/8" drywall and seal the units final side with 10 guage steel plate. Repete 4 more times, 5 if you want a floor. Make sure you put a door into one of the walls. Assemble the units into a big ass cube and cover the inside surfaces with sound proofing conical foam sheet. At this point you should have a comfotable 6'X6' work enviornment inside which you can hold a Metalica concert without disturbing your co workers, aside from the vibrations, which can be taken care of by relocating to the basement and bolting your cube to two concrete walls and the floor. Best of luck with your hearing.

Phone headsets (1)

jptechnical (644454) | more than 10 years ago | (#9309145)

by Plantronics can easily be 'hacked' into to feed another sound source.

I used to work at a place and dealt with the same thing, headphones sucked when you needed to answer the phone or when someone talked to you.

So I took the plantronics headset and base for my phone home with me (prepare to buy a new one if you screw it up) and drilled out a hole big enough for a standard stereo minijack and soldered it inline with the mono headphone output on the phone headset.
Then I got a standard male to male stereo cable and ran it from a cd player (later the pc) into the plantronics base. Then I could listen to music in the same ear as my headset which was surprisingly comfortable for most of the day anyway.

When someone talks to you you still have one ear free, and if you have a phone call just puase the other source and you are good to go.

I think it was a total of $4.00 and 1 hr of tinkering around, kinda relaxing at the time too.

Net result: problem solved. Everybody's happy.

-Added side benefit... if you are on the phone with a moron you can just un-pause and let the tunes drown out their stupidness.

Koss Porta Pros (1)

Myrcurial (26138) | more than 10 years ago | (#9309433)

Seriously -- those retro 80s looking fold up blue and black monstrosities.

They rock.

Pretty much everyone here has em -- and loves em. Went through a big peer pressure "try them, you'll love them" about a year ago -- now we look like the control room at NASA.

Oh, and gotta love the $6 shipping+handling to make good on the lifetime warranty - you'll be thankful of that after a mis-timed chair roll.

It's not as simple as everyone thinks. Maybe. (1)

magefile (776388) | more than 10 years ago | (#9309979)

Headphones, but here's the thing:

-nice headphones, so they're comfortable -get 'em with a boom mic so you can talk on the phone with 'em -get a two-way splitter so you can quickly switch between multiple inputs -if your phone doesn't have a 1/8" input, you can get a converter that goes from 1/8" to telephone cord (RJ-whatever) -have a monkey mirror (from Thinkgeek) on your monitor, so you can see when folks are behind you

This'll also make you more productive, as "idiot questions" and "gossip" will go away (more of a barrier to entry).

BTW, if your concern is that you wear hearing aids, like me, and the monitor interferes with the telecoil, ask your audiologist about a DAO cord - it'll plug directly into your aid from a walkman/computer jack. Beautiful sound fidelity, too. I haven't seen one with a boom mic, for obvious reasons, but you could get a mic on your desk and probably find a mixer somewhere (for the phone).

Re:It's not as simple as everyone thinks. Maybe. (1)

magefile (776388) | more than 10 years ago | (#9310014)

Almost forgot - you can get wireless ones, or if you find a wired pair you like, a wireless "extension cord" that clips to your belt, with a base station on your desk.

I noticed you complained that they're uncomfortable. Be prepared to spend some money ($150 at most) on some really nice ones (maybe try 'em at the Bose store first?) or use earbuds, which are really comfortable. Earbuds also come out quick, too - just yank the cords where they come together, no need to do 'em one at a time.

Turn down the volume! (1)

bluGill (862) | more than 10 years ago | (#9310234)

I've have had cube neighbors who listened to music, and it didn't bother me. The volume was low enough that I didn't notice. I shared a cube with someone once, and hardly noticed that the radio was on.

Real music sounds great at low volumes. Bach for instance. Or real jazz. (though the soft jazz some radio stations play doesn't sound good at any level) If you are listening to the music, you are cheating on your company. If it is noise you don't need much anyway.

Headphones (1)

Nomeko (784750) | more than 10 years ago | (#9310256)

Headphones should be the obvious answer, but since it has been repeated so much, I'll post another. My old physics teacher used to ramble about how you could cancel sound, by sending out the same sound waves, only half a wavelength delayed. Now, get yourself some huge speakers for your cubicle, and another set of speakers to point out to the rest of the office. Now, use your physics to ensure that the sound waves from the outer speakers are delayed by half a wavelength. Soundproof any other mediums the sound could travel through. Now you should be able to play at your level of preference. I would only pray that the sound waves would come out half a wavelength delayed, and not one :)

Re:Headphones (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9310542)

You're an idiot. Not half a wavelength delayed. Out of phase. For a pure tone that might be the same, but methinks primus is anything but pure.

Two words. (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311158)

Head. Phones.

Re:Two words. (1)

bandy (99800) | more than 10 years ago | (#9311945)

They don't work when you've turned them up to '11' in order to drown out the ambient hub-bub. And then someone will have the nerve to complain about the noise coming from your headphones.

Give up.

Re:Two words. (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 10 years ago | (#9313629)

Worse, in a few years they'll start to complain about you missing words in conversations, and then they'll complain about your hearing aides sqealing.

There is another possibility other than headphones (1)

geoswan (316494) | more than 10 years ago | (#9312095)

There is another possible alternative other than headphones. There are speakers that work kind of like a phased array radar. Instead of one big speaker emitting big sound, there are a whole bunch of little emitters, emitting little sound.

A phased array radar can steer a beam across the sky without moving any mechanical parts by altering the phase of the signals sent out from the little emitters it is made up of. If the emitters are all in synch then they reinforce one another and emit a strong beam normal to the surface. Off to the sides the little speakers cancel one another out. Mind you, I imagine this works better with high frequencies than low frequencies.

Wasn't there a minivan that came with individual speakers, so each passenger could listen to a different audio source? I figured it used this technology.

Of course, unlike phased radar, these speakers would not have to be steerable. You would mount them in the headrest of your chair.

everyones nuts (1)

philbert411 (784927) | more than 10 years ago | (#9314825)

okay. everyone who says "dont listen to music" or "not at work" or "people suck" ... well people DO suck but we must be nice at work or we get canned. right? right! soundproofing and headphones are a wee tad overboard right? Right? combine 2 technologies together.... Phased sound, and parabolic sound isolation dishes. some internet/gaming cafe's use a parabolic dish above the user to direct and isolate the sound around their workstation while gaming etc. stick a few small speakers on the top, outside facing into the dish, and get the drivers (speakers) to reproduce sound in phase in a methodology similar to this phased array idea. biggity BANG primus in your general area now you can rock out and look like you have torrets while your co-workers hear nothing Right? Right!

Blackadder II comes to mind (1)

Kesha (5861) | more than 10 years ago | (#9312390)

You have three choices:

1. Kill your coworkers for being annoyed with your taste in music.
2. Kill yourself for working in a cubicle.
3. Give up, get headphones and live out your meaningless existence in the cubicle.

Hope this helps,

Hardwall office simulation (1)

smoon (16873) | more than 10 years ago | (#9312692)

Simulate a hardwall office with a door. Fill the cube walls with concrete powder then soak them with water (best done after hours when no one is around). Build a ceiling for the cube out of 4x8 sheets of 3/4" plywood (or the euro/metric equivalent). Cover this with 2-3 inches of concrete & wet it. You may need to reinforce with a support column to hold up the ceiling. Fit a sheet of plexiglass entryway with some gasket material and maybe a bungee cord or something similar to keep it tightly shut. You'll probably need to rig a 2-layer with air gap piece for the door to prevent sound from leaking out. Finally fill the bottom 2-3 inches of the cube with concrete. This will provide you with a virtually soundproof box in which to work.

There are some drawbacks of course:
1: It will get quite warm.
2: It's rather odd. Most non-idiots use headphones.
3: $$$ Cost
4: Oportunity cost of getting fired and paying for the damages.

Since headphones are not an option (1)

fireklar (533430) | more than 10 years ago | (#9312833)

All this talk of 'sound-proof panels' and 'wearing headphones' is extraneous. We should attack the root of the problem, being that sound travels through air. Remove the air and you remove the problem.

Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#9313309)

Well....I didn't realize that a simple question would create such a flood of invective. I thought this forum would be aswarm with some cool folks who would enjoy the challenge of the problem. Instead, I find a lot of the same sort of uncreative, sniping need-a-lifers that I could have gotten on any newsgroup. Pity.

That being said, honest and true thanks to those who did post constructive ideas. Headphones (I think they got mentioned once or twice 8^D) are not really an option as I work with a headset. I've tried the Logitech combination headset/headphones, but the volume control on those is awful and broke minutes out of the box. I did like the idea of soldering the headphone jack into my Plantronics box, but I had already spoken with someone at a shop about this and was told that the different power voltages required for the two would make the line incompatible. Still, I might have a go at it on a spare box just to see. Reconstructing my cubicle is probably out of the question, realistically speaking, and I suppose the fact of the upward travelling sound cancels the idea of sound baffles. Thanks to all those who contributed some brainpower.

Re:Thanks (1)

Kiryat Malachi (177258) | more than 10 years ago | (#9315706)

If you'd noted in your question that you need to wear a headset, you might have gotten less obnoxious responses.

Directed sound (1)

tmillard (757681) | more than 10 years ago | (#9317279)

Try Directed Sound [] Tue May 04
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