Headphones while playing

Thought I’d start a discussion on wearing headphones while playing. Who here wears them? What do you listen to?

I recently started wearing over ear headphones during tournaments. I usually put on low volume white noise. I find that it helps me drown out distractions and get into the game more. It forces me to really focus on what’s happening. While it does lower the overall volume of the game, I can still hear call outs and important sound cues. I think it lowers the overall signal to noise ratio, especially in really noisy settings. I do sometimes have trouble hearing tilt warnings, but i have yet to have that bite me.

The only time I would want to wear headphones when playing is if they were hooked up to the game audio. For the same reason I hate playing games with the sound turned way down or off.

Gotta hear that game audio

I wear them on and off. For me, they are less about noises and distractions and more about mood management. One of my biggest problems while playing is nerves and the fact that I tend to go into ‘what if’ rabbit holes of anxiety. If I’m blasting LCD Soundsystem it kind of keeps my focus on some music I really love that is upbeat and keeps my mind off things. I find it most useful in qualification settings where you’re playing one player games straight through and only have yourself to focus on. In match play it can kind of get in the way when you want to talk to people in between balls. The stop and go nature doesn’t work as well (for me.)

It also only really works on games I know really well already. If I’m stepping up to something new I want to listen to the game audio for cues. I usually don’t care as much about the game audio otherwise with some exceptions like Funhouse where the soundtrack is so good that I hate missing out on it. I have also been known to listen to ‘Ride The Lightning’ on headphones while playing Metallica in a loud environment where I can’t hear it otherwise.

I like baroque music I know really well. I have an album of the Bach violin concertos that works real well. Recently I’ve been playing this video game “Hotline Miami” and its music is pretty much dialed to make you want to kill, kill, kill (violent game). Don’t usually like electronic dance music, but I might try it while playing. Probably more consistent than the moods of the baroque stuff.

I wear earbuds. They’re pretty nice, so they block out sound and stick in my ears pretty well. Some guys wear the over-the-ear headphones, I don’t see how they don’t jostle around and distract.

In-ear earbuds, but usually only when the location sound is super-loud or the environment is overly claustrophobic, or I just need to calm the hell down and stop playing so frantically. I listen to, of all things, Gregorian chant music that I stripped out of the various Civ games that have featured it over the years.

Still experimenting, but trying out listening to podcasts while I play to get out of my own head about hitting shots - the muscle memory and subconscious know how to hit them, just need to get the brain out of the way.

I used to absolutely hate wearing headphones while playing, since sound cues are integral for me feeling connected to the game I’m playing. However, as an on-location player, I’ve found that they make a huge difference if the vibe of the bar I’m in is pissing me off. (Much like @heyrocker, music is mostly about mood management for me.) I fully credit headphones full of Taylor Swift for my win at a tournament held on St. Patrick’s Day with a terrible band doing their soundcheck during the final matches of the tourney. I also listen to radio broadcasts of baseball games, which, in addition to allowing me to keep up to date on important sportsball developments, gets me in the competitive zone while I’m playing.

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I talked about this on the Pinball Podcast. Episode will be out tonight with my thoughts. Anyway, I play MUCH better in tournaments if I have headphones or earphones while playing. If you’re going to do well in a tournament, you probably know the games well enough that the game audio isn’t too big of a deal, and more often than not, you can barely hear what’s going on anyway (unless the tournament machines are in a separate area).

There are so many little distractions that can creep into your mind with the ambient noise. I have actually lost tournaments due to distraction.

If I’m playing casually or at home, I don’t like having my earphones. I like to hear the game. But in a tournament, earphones all day.

No headphones for me (no earbuds for physiological reasons and over the ears are too bulky for pinballing IMO) but I’m always fascinated with what people might be listening to while they’re playing. I want to ask everyone I see wearing them but I never do since having headphones on is a bit of a sign that one is probably not interested in chatting much. But please, keep sharing… what are you playing while you’re playing?!?

Capsule and Giorgio Moroder currently kick off my pinball playlist. I’ve found rythmic/repeatative beats help me focus and find the right flow.

I’ve also noticed science-y audio books help clear my head of rules and shots and let me play more with muscle memory.

I think I am going to try wearing headphones and listening to music in the next tourney I play in. I get distracted very easily :slight_smile:

Mix Master Mike. If he’s good enough for the Beasties, he’s good enough for me.

This is my jam. Right here: http://mixmastermike.com/_downloads/The_BOLT-117_Mix.zip

I beat @bkerins White Water score at CAX last year while listening to Radiohead’s Everything in its Right Place. So let’s just say that it’s definitely a magical tune for playing pinball.

By the way, does anybody know how to find scores on individual tables from last year’s CAX? That one score I put up was so ridiculous that I would like to see it again. I think it was a top 3 score…something I’m sure I’ll never repeat.

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Nice, thanks. Top 5, it was, I guess. Must have slipped more than I remembered.

I love radiohead, but listening to them wouldn’t help me. I need to have positive vibes so maybe something like earth wind and fire, or raffi would help me.

I wonder if anyone has tried listening to a stand up comedian while they play? That might calm some nerves down.

As for what I do, I use noise cancelling bose headphones but I see no difference to whether it helps or not. I guess maybe I’ve done better in qualifying with them on but it hasn’t helped me in the finals that’s for sure.

I was thinking Radiohead would be a good choice. Easy to get a groove going with their newer stuff.

I’ve tried music before with some really repetitive stuff, like the field or Steve reich. It certainly helps me groove, but I’m just a really active listener win music and so I start paying attention to that rather than the game.

I find anything with lyrics or vocals to be incredibly distracting, as language tends to automatically attract attention.

I usually get some pretty gnarly anxiety at times if I’m playing, so depending on mood I’ll often use earbuds to tune out with. Don’t think I could use over-ears or anything too isolating, need to get some external noise through to keep in touch with the outside world.

Never thought of using white noise though, that’s a really solid idea. I also tend to have a single song on repeat as well rather than different ones as if the music is too fast or slow or just not suit the pace of the game I’m playing, then it’ll affect how I play.

Played in a comp last weekend (on a row of WWEs) with mostly just the buds to dull the outside noise and nothing else playing. Seemed to work a treat.

As an aside: if I have some nervous energy like tapping feet or I’m pacing around, I find chewing gum helps immensely. I don’t think I can do both music and gum at the same time, but each seem to help in certain situations.

I’ve listened to Coast 2 Coast while playing before. Nate is hardly a comedian, but he has a fairly constant tone that rarely distracts and dare I say it, can sometimes be soothing.

The social aspect of competitive pinball is too important to me to use earphones / buds while playing. I guess it’s also worth mentioning the leagues I participate in are just as much about talking and drinking as playing, so that’s going to colour the choice I guess.

When I play at home by myself I will often pop the buds in and listen to a podcast or music. I have found that as my brain focuses on what’s going in my ears I’ll often play better, then suddenly realise I’m putting on a huge game. So I think there’s certainly something to be said for listening to something in a tournament setting. However, as above, I just couldn’t do it. Having a laugh with fellow competitors is more than half the fun for me.

I agree, which is why you only have to wear them while actually playing! I take mine off in between balls/games.

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