Q. Since the Hifiman HE400se headphones are open-back and let in external sounds, do you think they would be a good choice for jogging? I think I can deal with the wires.
—B.B., Kansas City, Missouri
A. I do not think it is a good idea, and the open-back design is more about letting the planar-magnetic drivers perform their best, not allowing in external sound. That is more of a side effect than a feature, though many listeners prefer not being isolated from their environment. The HE400se and other fine open-back headphones are at their best when used for dedicated music listening, not as a sports accessory. As for wires, the $329 Hifiman Deva-Pro headphones include a Bluetooth amplifier that attaches to the side of the headphones. If you wanted to use planar-magnetics for this purpose, ill-advised as it is, you would be better served with the Deva-Pro.
Distracted running and cycling leads to property damage and many injuries each year. Whenever I have discussed this topic in the past I end up receiving a bagful of emails urging me to tell my readers not to do any listening at all if running or cycling in a public place. I will continue to stay out of that argument, and suggest that if you want to listen to music or podcasts while engaging in sports, that your best option is to be extremely cautious and to use bone conduction headphones, which leave the ear canal completely uncovered. Bone conduction headphones have come a long way in the past few years and while not quite as satisfying as a great pair of earphones or headphones, they are good enough for the purpose. I have recommended the Mojawa MOJO2 in the past and they are a solid choice, especially if you like dynamic music. They are extremely light, have great bass and have racked up great reviews with Forbes Magazine and the Gadgeteer. The MOJO2 bone conduction headphones are $109 on Amazon.
Get a Vegepod for deer-free vegetable gardening: The electric lawn mower columns have been very popular so I decided to share my experience with another great product for the home and garden, the Vegepod. I started growing my own vegetables last year and found myself engaged in a constant battle with the local deer, who ate almost every tomato I grew and even started eating my peppers later in the season. Everything was in a planter or in a raised bed built into the side of my porch, so fencing it off was not an option and deer repellent, flashing lights and streamers did nothing to keep them away. It was extremely frustrating, and out of three tomato plants I only got three small yellow tomatoes all season.
I learned of the Vegepod at a home show and realized it would solve my problem. The Vegepod is a raised bed planter with water wells in the bottom, a cover and an integrated sprinkler system that connects to a hose for easy watering and maintenance. I bought the large Vegepod with stand for $749 from Home Depot (I tried contacting the manufacturer directly about their home show sale and never got a reply, so I stuck with a vendor I knew and trusted) and assembled it, which was somewhat difficult and took several hours. I finally got it put together, filled the water wells with perlite and topped it with raised bed mix. My Vegepod is now filled with happy, healthy plants that are fully protected from the deer. The Vegepod comes in several sizes, and I have a more thorough review with pictures at soundadvicenews.com.