When you are working outside and want comfortable headphones that will both provide noise isolation and allow you to plug in your MP3 player, I can think of no better solution than the Ryobi Headphones with Noise Suppression RP4530. These phones provide over 25dB SPL of noise reduction. We used the headphones while trimming and mowing a 1/4-acre lot and found them to be extremely effective at reducing noise. There is a control knob on the right headphone that controls the volume for the microphones located at the front of the headphones. These microphones are filtered and allow and amplify only narrow-band speech while continuing to suppress external noise. With a lot of external noise, however, be aware that they aren’t going to allow you to maintain a detailed conversation.
As pure headphones they are substandard, providing very little bass and only mediocre treble detail. They aren’t, however, designed for use as audiophile headphones. Rather, the Ryobi headphones are designed primarily for use as noise suppression headphones. Taking these and our pro headphones outside and comparing the two there is no comparison – the Ryobi headphones provide about 3-4 times the amount of noise reduction. The balance is a good one. One of the few negatives was that these headphones are difficult to drive (“inefficient” is the audio term) meaning that they require a lot of input voltage, and your standard iPod, while capable of driving these phones, won’t exactly blast you with high energy sound. The internal amplifier and volume knob does not control the 1/8-inch stereo input, only the level of input from the front microphones, which makes this a largely passive device. Still, even with our outdoor testing we found the volume to be more than sufficient and the experience was largely enjoyable. We got the benefit of good music while doing yard work and didn’t have to deal with the dangers and annoyance of the 100+dB noise levels associated with gas-powered trimming and mowing.
After extended use (about 90 minutes) the Ryobi headphones did begin to get uncomfortable, largely due to the fact that they didn’t quite surround my ears and instead pressed down on them. For an hour or so they will work fine, but for long-term use you may want to consider your ear size and ensure that they will be comfortable for you over the long haul.
In comparing these Ryobi headphones to other products on the market we consider this a very high value due to the fact that you will save a lot of money by not having to replace the batteries every few days if you happen to make a living working outdoors in a noisy environment. Overall, this product really makes the work of outdoor lawn care much more pleasing and we’d have to recommend it to anyone – especially if they are already using other Ryobi Tek4 products. If this review seems short, it’s simply because sometimes the best products are the simplest. These headphones just work and there is practically zero learning curve and not much complexity involved. Highly recommended.