Usually I run with my iPod—but when it died last week during my six-mile run, I plugged my new headphones into the treadmill’s built-in television instead.
Ouch! About two minutes after I tuned in Jeopardy!, I felt an electric snap in my left ear. I yanked the headphones off to see if there were any exposed wires or obvious problems. Nothing.
I cautiously hopped back on. A few minutes later I got a zap in my right ear. Help! I switched machines and it happened again. I dumped the torture device in the beverage holder and continued my run in frustrated silence.
At this point I felt like a lab rat in some sick social experiment.
I later dug out the headphone packaging to see if there were warnings about exposure to sweat or use with specific electronics. But the only precautions were about high volume (“may affect your hearing”) and traffic safety (“do not use headphones while driving or cycling”).
I googled and found I wasn’t alone. After reading the message boards of tech blogs CNET
and Head-Fi, I got to thinking that the problem might be static buildup from the treadmill traveling up the headphone wires.
I tried to confirm that with Sony (since this happened with the new h.ear Sports Headphones, which wrap around the ears). Several emails we sent to Sony’s corporate communications department went unanswered, but we did manage to reach a technical support agent on the phone who said he’d never heard of the headphones causing electric shocks; he speculated that the treadmill would’ve been to blame for the electric charge.
At $15 I guess I got what I paid for. But really the treadmill is challenging enough; I don’t need scary shocks to discourage me even further. Let me know if this has happened to anyone else out there.