Introduction: Jackhammer Headphones

About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific I…

These home-made hifi headphones work as well or better than Sony or Bose noise-cancelling headphones.
Cost: $20
Time to make: one minute.
Difficulty: none.
As seen in my article in Make Magazine volume 5
Unlike the commercial products, these block outside noise instead of cancelling it.
Listen to music or books on tape without hearing traffic noise, screaming babies, etc.
I've been making these for more than a decade. People sometimes ask "isn't it dangerous not being able to hear?" No. Talking on a cellphone shuts off most of the brain whereas listening to headphones is no more dangerous than say, being deaf.
Lots of my friends use these units and no harm has come to anyone.

Now on Know How! Click on the steps above for more details.

When you're done with this episode, check out episodes two, three, four, five, six, and

Step 1: The Three Ingredients

1) Industrial ear-protection earmuffs from McMaster-Carr, etc.
These are Peltor model H10A, my favorite.
2) Airline or walkman headphones of the one-wire-per-ear variety.
3) A cutting tool.

Step 2: Cut Off the Head Loop

clip, cut, or chew off the plastic loop that connects the earpieces.

Step 3: Shove a Speaker Into an Earpiece

Peltor brand earmuffs are perfect for this. there's a rim inside that holds the speaker in place.

Step 4: Speaker in Place

it looks like this.

Step 5: Finished

repeat with the other speaker, and you're done! enjoy!

If your earlobes are the right shape to use earbuds, you can do something even easier,
which is just wear the industrial earmuffs over earbuds. My earlobes don't have that keyhole-shaped bracket thingy that retains earbuds, so they fall out.

Step 6: Comparison Testing

I was fortunate to run into these gentlemen wearing different active-cancelling headphones.

The verdict - The Jackhammer Headphones win on


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