Ah, the New Year. A time for reflection, and rejuvenation. But focussing on your goals is never easy, with all the distractions that the modern world can throw at you. If only there were a way to filter them out.
For a long time, active noise cancelling (ANC) has been the preserve of super-expensive luxury headphones. You know, the sort with huge over-ear designs that weigh about a ton, making you feel like you're carrying around a speaker on your shoulders.
Things are changing, though. Active noise cancelling is starting to become more widely available and affordable, and, equally importantly, it beginning to be found in smaller form-factors.
We're big fans of the Libratone TRACK Air+ which have smart noise cancelling so it can be adjusted automatically or manually. They also come with a handy charging case so you can take them anywhere.
We thought New Year's was the perfect time to run through some of the ways ANC earbuds could help you achieve your big (and little) goals.
1. Meditate away
We can't be the only ones that greet the turn of every year with a pledge to take more time for self-care and relaxation. We all know that daily, or even just periodical meditation can be a superb way to ease the mental burden on ourselves, and take time out of the day to calm down.
But it's never easy, whether next door's kid's having a tantrum, ambulances are wailing or you've got that one clock that ticks just audibly enough to throw you off. With noise cancelling, though, everything fades away.
Given how great the TRACK Air+ buds sound, you could pair your meditation routine with calming sounds from a playlist, but if you prefer silence they're perfect for that too. Slip them in, turn the noise cancelling up in the Libratone app, and get your zen.
2. Get your reading done
Another pledge we make every year is to read more - again, we're not alone in this, right? Reading, even if it's a leisure activity, is something that can take a bit of dedication, and certainly a measure of focus. If the flat upstairs is moving furniture, or blasting music out, the TRACK Air+ will be a lifesaver.
The earbuds come with multiple sizes of silicone tip to choose from, helping you to ensure that you get the right fit. And, weighing only 5.6g per earbud, you can curl up in bed with them without any discomfort for that extra reading boost. You'll be crunching through the classics in no time flat. And, with a battery life of 6 hours (24 hours in the case) you’ll be able to get through plenty of audiobooks too.
3. Crush that workout
We all want to be healthier - there's no shame in that. New Year's is an opportunity that countless people use to turn a new leaf and get exercising if only to work off some of that Christmas dinner excess.
Headphones that work for daily use as well as in the gym or out running are pretty elusive, and that crossover appeal is part of what makes the TRACK Air+ so attractive. They've got IPX4 waterproofing as standard, which means that they're completely fine in all weather, and also have no issue with sweat. That's huge - they're designed with exercise in mind just as much as leisure.
Plus, if your gym's playlist is as awful as ours, you've just found another brilliant use for ANC, keeping you in a world of your own. And the ambient setting still enables you to have that conversation - or hearing traffic if you prefer the streets to the treadmill.
4. Learn a new language
Another classic from the "new year, new me" genre is the ambition to become a little more worldly. Whether it's because you want to move abroad, refresh your ancient GCSE-based memories or just set yourself a challenge, learning a language is a great way to keep yourself mentally active and gain a genuinely useful skill.
Again though, focus is the key. If you're using Duolingo or another language-learning app, the worst thing for you is hearing the babble of people around you speaking your native language. Not only is it distracting, it's also linguistically confusing.
Tune that background noise out with ANC, and concentrate on the important bits - like butchering your Portuguese pronunciation, but getting the grammar technically right.
5. Don't miss a second of your commute podcast
We listen to them, you listen to them - everyone's podcasting (and if they're not listening, they might just be recording them).
One of the small banes of modern existence, though, is exemplified by sitting on the trains, listening to some urbane repartee, only for loud noises to absolutely drown out your audio for a few seconds, leaving you confused.
You might notice a trend here, but ANC means waving goodbye to those discombobulations. No more lapses while a truck overtakes your bike, or any other commuting-based noise disturbances.
With a new year, and a new raft of recommendations from friends and family, you'll be sitting pretty in audio bliss.