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To me open offices remind me of factories or cattle pens, where people are forced into acting like machines. Unlike many you I cannot code while listening to music as being a musician, my brain winds up analyzing what I am hearing instead of concentrating on work. The worst thing of all is having music piped into a huge room making it impossible to even use headphones if you don't like the tunes. You may as well shoot me at that point.

Try something like noisli. It still has that masking background-noise effect without being music (i.e. without drawing your attention).

It basically allows you to play a configurable mix of background noises; e.g. Wind blowing, rain faling, white noise, train tracks.

Heck, writing this makes me want to try it tomorrow again.

As someone who is sensitive to sound quality, I've been using a combination of mid-range Shure 315 earbuds with custom ear sleeves which is low-fatigue compared to over-the-ear.

Noise-cancelling equipment isn't as effective for human voices, so I've used low-to-high volume music to mute out my coworker's voices. This works great until early afternoon when. I. am. Just. Acoustically. Exhausted.

I'm susceptible to music and can only use it as background for 2-3 hours at a time.

The other day I came across HN user's grahamburger's suggestion to "add in some white noise on top of" using over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones. [0]

So, I did some research/shopping and am going to experiment with audio tracks from "The Very Best Sound of Nature - Birds, Waves, Rain (with Forest, Creek, Wind, Thunder) [Sound for Relaxation, Meditation, Healing, Massage, Deep Sleep, Yoga]".

Also, as a result of your suggestion for Noisli, I'm going to try a background-noise generating application. Thank you for the suggestion.

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13564539

I personally find white noise to aggressive, mostly due to the high pitch. Pink noise works better, but it still keeps me on edge. That's why I like the more natural background sounds. They still mask outside signal, but give me less tension.

Thank you! I have this same problem and was never able to articulate why before, but it is for the same reason; I am a musician, and I can rarely let listening be a 'background' task.

I've never heard about PA music before in office environment. Who's mad enough to do that?

Have you tried earplugs?

Earplugs don't work. They cut out the lower volume background noise which ends up enhancing the piercing voices that get through.

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