Key Takeaways

  • Air tube headphones reduce EMR exposure by moving electronic components further from your head.
  • EMR hypersensitivity isn’t scientifically recognized, but these headphones eliminate EMR effectively.
  • While they work, air tube headphones may compromise audio quality and are bulkier compared to regular ones.

Depending on which circles you move in, you may have heard about “air tube” headphones that have some purported health benefits. If you’re looking at buying a pair, now’s a good time to look at what these products are, what they claim, and whether there’s anything to them.

What Is an Air Tube Headphone?

In a normal set of headphones, the “driver” (that’s the little speaker) sits directly in your ear, and pumps those sick beats directly into your ear canal. With air tube headphones, you put hollow tubes into your ears instead with the speakers at the other end. Sound is then transmitted through the air in the tube into your ear canal. You can actually think of these headphones as an extension of your ear canals, putting more distance between your head and the drivers.

What Are the Claimed Advantages of Air Tubes?

The main selling point of these headphones is a reduction in exposure to EMF (Electromagnetic Frequencies) or sometimes called EMR (Electromagnetic Radiation). The idea is that by moving the actual electronic components of the headphones further away from your head, the EMR strength is reduced dramatically. This is mainly to address EMR/EMF hypersensitivity, a condition that some people claim to have, although there is no scientific evidence that the condition actually exists. In double-blind studies, people who claim to have EMF hypersensitivity can’t reliably tell when they are being exposed to electromagnetism or not. These people definitely have some sort of condition that affects them, but no one knows for sure what it is.

I’m not here to make any pronouncements on the validity of what people with EMR sensitivity experience. All I can say is that it’s not recognized by medical science as having anything to do with EMR as of this writing.

Do They Work?

So, the short answer is that air tube headphones do work, and they do achieve what they promised to achieve. EMR decreases exponentially with distance, and wired and wireless buds are already putting out an unbelievable tiny amount of EMR to begin with. So, by extending your ear canals with hollow tubes, you will in fact eliminate the EMR coming from the headphones.

However, while the headphones do what they promise, this has to be put in context. As I said, Bluetooth EMR is already only a few milliwatts in strength, and you’re already being exposed to much more powerful EMR from Wi-Fi, cell towers, the Sun, and even outer space. So removing this one tiny source of EMR doesn’t seem worth the sacrifice, and there are some sacrifices.

As you might imagine, attaching long tubes to the speakers before the sound reaches your ears will have a negative effect on volume, clarity, and how well the mix of high-, mid-, and low- frequencies come through. You may also find that these headphones are more fragile, complex, and bulky than regular headphones. Though that depends on the specific model and design. Basically, don’t expect the same audio experience from air tube headphones compared to regular headphones for the same money.

Who Should Buy Air Tube Headphones?

If you don’t care about a potentially degraded audio experience, then there’s nothing wrong with buying air tube headphones. If you’re concerned about the EMR/EMF coming from wireless buds, then it’s a legitimate way to remove that radiation from your ears. Whether that’s worth doing or not is something I can only leave to you.

However, since you’re going to have tubes dangling from your ears anyway, you may consider regular wired headphones. While there is still some EMR coming from the wires, it’s miniscule compared to the already insignificant EMF levels produced by Bluetooth buds. They are cheaper, sound better, and don’t expose you to any more EMF than a TV, electric blanket, household electric wiring, or any of the numerous sources of radio waves you’re sitting on right at this moment.

You could even apply some sort of shielding to the cables and headphones themselves, though again, in reality, any EMF-blocking material applied to these extremely low-powered devices is highly unlikely to make any difference other than on highly sensitive scientific testing equipment.

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