Cushy Cushion Headphones
by the Gadget Gals
Grandparents, parents, and teachers may remember the oldCalifone reel-to-reel tape recorders that were once so prevalent many classrooms, for it was in 1946 that Califone began making products that could be used to enhance the curriculum. Today the company no longer manufactures its famous reel-to-reel machines, but it continues to provide products for schools and homes.
One of the Califoneproducts that attracted my attention at the National Education Computing Convention was a set of earphones with heavenly ear cushions. As I slipped them on my ears, the cacophony of the convention floor that had been a constant irritation throughout the morning, faded into the soothing soft music coming through the headphones. The cushy leatherette of the Stereo Mono Headphone, as this gadget is called, fit so comfortably that it was difficult to remember that the headphones were on my head. Connecting the earpieces was a headband that was equally comfy, not only because the metal frame was covered with a pillowy foam, but also because the headband was adjustable. The sound, in addition, could be changed from mono to stereo with the flip of a switch and could be adjusted for each ear.
When I removed the earphones and got unplugged from the music source, the Califone people pointed out that there was something even cooler about these headphones. They come with two different kinds of connectors so you can use them with your stereo or your computer. The mini plug needed go into computers and such was inserted into the 1/4" adaptor needed for other equipment. All you have to do is pull it apart making the headphones useful with most any kind of equipment. A definite plus these days now that MP3s and other music files are moving onto other sound sources.
After falling in love with the black Stereo Mono Headphone, I decided to try on the blueberry (also comes in strawberry) Multimedia Stereo Headphone. Its earpieces were almost as soft as those of the Stereo Mono Headphone, but the headband, although adjustable, was not quite as comfortable. The earphones come with one volume control that regulates the sound in both ears. Only a 1/4" adapter was attached to this earphone, so they are not compatible with my computer. I did discover, though, that I could insert the adapter into a jackbox (a device that connects multiple headphones to an audio source) and then plug the jackbox connection into my computer. That could be useful if you have multiple kids playing on the computer in a space where you need to cut out the sound.
Being interested in products for schools, I also tried on the Storage Headphones, and decided these would be an excellent addition to just about any classroom. The adjustable stereo headphones were much smaller and less luxurious than the other models I tried on, but they were also about half the cost. They came in moisture resistant plastic bags that could be personalized with students' or family members' names. These days school personnel are concerned about the unhealthful aspects (lice, for example) of sharing headphones so the price and the bag feature are particularly attractive. These headphones included both mini plugs and 1/4" adapters.
The earpads on both the Multimedia Stereo Headphone and the Stereo Mono Headphone can be removed for cleaning, and they can be replaced. Replacement foam-filled cushions cost $2.
For those who are interested in connecting multiple headphones to computers, stereos, CD players, etc., Califone offers a 10 Position Stereo Jackbox. All you have to do is to plug the earphone into the jackbox and then plug the jackbox into your audio source. Volume controls are included on the jackbox. This device would come in handy for several students playing a video game or for a group of students working on a project on one computer.
Stereo Mono Headphones
Blueberry or Strawberry, $12
10 Position Jackbox
Califone International Inc.
21300 Superior Street
Chatsworth, CA 91311
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