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Noise-cancelling headphones
Old 09-14-2008, 08:22 PM   #1
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Noise-cancelling headphones

I tried a pair of Sony noise cancelling head phones on sale at Sam's for $80. The kiosk was designed to simulate jet noise on a commercial flight. The units seemed lightweight and sat on your ears rather than over them, but were pretty softly padded.

The performance was pretty impressive, at least the way they had them set up. I do a fair amount of travelling and like to listen to music or podcasts, or just to doze off.

Anyone had any experience with these things? I'd look for serious noise reduction as a primary feature. Brands, performance, music quality?
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Old 09-14-2008, 08:30 PM   #2
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I have a pair of Bose over-the-ear noise canceling headphones. They work great for steady noises, like airplane engines and ventilation fans. Not so good for intermittent noises, like conversations, door opening and closing etc. I hooked them up to my Ipod and the music quality is great (as you would expect from Bose). They are quite comfortable. The downside is that they are very expensive.
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Old 09-14-2008, 08:40 PM   #3
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I have a pair of Bose over-the-ear noise canceling headphones. They work great for steady noises, like airplane engines and ventilation fans. Not so good for intermittent noises, like conversations, door opening and closing etc. I hooked them up to my Ipod and the music quality is great (as you would expect from Bose). They are quite comfortable. The downside is that they are very expensive.
My wife has those too. Same experience, great with steady noises, not so great for intermittent noises. But she loaded an application with background noises (ocean waves, wind, etc...) on her ipod and when she combines the Bose headphones and the background noises (or music), she can really tune out almost all outside noises. Very comfortable, good sound quality.
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Old 09-14-2008, 08:58 PM   #4
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A few years ago, I looked at the $300 bose noise cancelling headset and decided instead on a $30 pair from Maxell sold at Walmart (link for similar product below). They are cover-the-ear style which I find is more effective at blocking out noise than the on-the-ear style, even if the NC technology isnt activated. With the NC feature turned on (there is a little dongle in the cord that holds the switch and two AAA batteries). For the period when I was travelling a lot, the $30 was definitely worth it. Don't know what it is about airplane noise, I was much less tired when I got off the plane after using the headphones. Also worked well if you wanted to plug them into the laptop to watch a DVD or ipod.

I did compare them once to someone else's Bose and the Bose unit is definitely better engineered (for example, they dont have a separate battery dongle in the cord) and they did a slightly better job of blocking airplane noise. However, I didn't think the higher quality was worth 10x the price - maybe if you fly around the globe on a reguar basis, it would be. Also, this was 2 years ago, so maybe Bose has improved things even more.

Maxell HP/NC-II Noise Cancellation Headphone - 190400 - Buy.com
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:11 PM   #5
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Be sure to fully investigate ear plugs. I find that when I get the 33 dB ear plugs inserted all the way, it really cuts down just about everything but the voices in my head.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:30 PM   #6
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I bought a $70 pair of Panasonic noise canceling, folding headphones, and they worked great for about 6 months until the head band started falling apart. Despite my aggressive crazy gluing all the weak points, the headphone eventually became a torture device for my head. My $15 POS Sony headphone, on the other hand, is still going strong after 6 years.
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Old 09-14-2008, 09:46 PM   #7
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I have used the 33 dB soft foam earplugs on airplanes routinely. They work great. But a few weeks ago, I bought some Sony noise-cancelling ear-buds. They worked extremely well on the plane. First, they are earbuds that go in your ears, so they work almost as well as the foam earplugs. Second, they have noise cancellation circuitry which works well with a constant drone kind of noise. Third, they let you listen to your MP3 player, iPod, airplane entertainment audio/video with a low volume since outside ambient noise is cancelled out. Fourth, they are tiny and easily fit in a small pocket.

I highly recommend them. One review I read said they had a high frequency noise, but I didn't (or couldn't) hear that at all.

Here's a link to the earbuds I have: SONY Noise Canceling Earbuds Black: Compare Prices, View Price History and Read Reviews at NexTag
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Old 09-14-2008, 11:24 PM   #8
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I have had Sony noise cancelling ones headphones for a few years now. They work great for airplane, train, and ferry background noise. While I normally despise Sony products, they were rated almost as good as the Bose, but much more durable. Given my habit of breaking everything, I am very satisfied with them. I also use them for music / dvds on my trips - they work fine for this also.
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Old 09-15-2008, 06:54 AM   #9
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earplugs
I had custom ear plugs made for motorcycling years ago, which I use when all I want is blocking (e.g. live music too close to the speaker, sporting events, mowing). I was hoping the noise cancellation technology would provide good quality stereo with decent blocking of jet noise etc.

The custom plugs work so much better than the foamies that I gave the latter up for good.
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Old 09-15-2008, 07:30 AM   #10
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Amazon.com: JVC HAFX33A Marshmallow In-Ear Stereo Headphones (Blue): Electronics

I have been using these for my ipod and work great and cheap....
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Old 09-15-2008, 08:13 AM   #11
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I have a pair of inexpensive noise canceling headphones from Sharper Image that work nearly as well as the Bose, though as others have noted, the hardware quality is not the same. But, they were a good value. I use them with an inexpensive MP3 player on planes and find them to help a lot, especially near the engines.

When I was w*rking in the cube farm, I used shooter's ear muffs (passive) and found they really helped my concentration, since they work for all types of noise. I'd love to see a combination of a good passive (well sealed around the ears) and antinoise technology in one design.
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Old 03-14-2018, 01:12 PM   #12
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I thought I might resurrect this thread rather than start a new one.

I am looking for noise cancelling in the in-the-ear headphones. Any idea of which are good and comfortable.

I seem to have an oddly shaped ear as most of the rigid plastic earbuds won't stay in my ear for more than 10 seconds. Others will stay in but are loose and the sound is not very good. I really need ear buds that have a very flexible foam insert that will shape to my oddball ears.

I tried buds with a hook that goes over the ear and they are a pain for me, won't stay in, and feel uncomfortable.

Price? I would like to keep it under $100.

Any recommendations?
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Old 03-14-2018, 01:49 PM   #13
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I am a big fan of the in-ear Bose, and they have various earpieces to fit most. But they are more than $100.
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Old 03-14-2018, 02:12 PM   #14
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+1 for the Bose over the ear noise-cancelling headphones.

We've owned one for over 10 years. Something went wrong or broke (I can't remember). DW contacted Bose and they sent a replacement.

The newer one works equally well for airplane noise. Sound quality of the music seems better and they are more compact when packed..

I too find that they reduce fatigue while flying.
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Old 03-14-2018, 02:24 PM   #15
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I have the Bose QuietComfort 20 in ear noise cancelling headphones.

Pros --
  • They are very compact so take almost no room in your bag or pocket
    They are pretty comfortable, I can make it through a 2 hour movie easily
    They block constant sounds, like jet engine noise, very well
    The rechargeable battery lasts long enough for flights to Europe, but I haven't done an Asia trip with them so can't comment
    I think I paid $199 for mine on a black Friday deal
Cons --
  • They do not block random sounds, like voices or babies crying, very well.
    After a 2 hour movie, I am ready to pull them out and rest my ears for a bit.
Bottom line; since I can't sleep on planes, these block enough noise to meet my needs. They let me listen to in-flight entertainment at a much lower volume than if I wasn't using noise cancelling headphones. But if sleeping on a plane, or blocking out noisy co-workers is your goal, then you probably should get one of the over-the-ear models. Oh, and I like their sound quality, but I did not do any side by side comparisons before buying. Some people find their active sound a bit bass heavy.

Edit to add -- these are not an inside the ear canal design. Rather, they are a soft material that fits into the outer ear. They use active noise cancellation. Inside the ear designs don't so much cancel sound as seal it out. I have not found a pair of inside the ear headphones that fit me comfortably enough to wear for extended periods, but they can sound excellent.
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Old 03-14-2018, 02:38 PM   #16
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I am a big fan of Klipsh for their long history of crystal clear and accurate sound reproduction. They have a number of different in-the-ear headphone options, check Amazon. Most have a variety different interchanagable ear bud ear tips, hopefully one of these fit your ears. You can even buy replacements for just the ear tips if needed.
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Old 03-14-2018, 03:33 PM   #17
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... Any recommendations?
Yup.

I've been flying with these headsets for years: https://www.clarityaloft.com/pages/aviation-headsets and it is a lot noisier in a light airplane compared to a transport jet. The key to the headset is the "Comply" tips. https://www.complyfoam.com/professional-products/

Clarity used to publish attenuation curves on their web site. I don't see them now, though. What they showed was that the Comply tips provided overall better attenuation than the electronic noise-canceling headsets except at low frequencies. From personal comparisons I can only say that they seem better overall.

I have a couple of pairs of custom-molded ear plugs that I bought for shooting, but their attenuation is nowhere as good as the Comply tips. I think it is because the ear canal can vary a little bit from day to day, leading to an imperfect seal. I would not recommend this approach.

I also have a couple of pairs of consumer headsets that are exactly what you want; no microphone and not big bucks. Just the in-ear speakers and the Comply tips. I won't take a commercial flight without them. They are so effective that I don't hear the PA announcements (My wife pokes me if it's important. She wears an electronic noise-canceling headset.) and I can hardly hear the flight attendant when he/she is looking directly at me and asking me a question. Since they are basically high-tech ear buds, they weigh nothing and take no storage space.

Unfortunately, a quick search on the internet did not yield anything like the consumer headsets I have, so maybe they are out of production. I would suggest contacting the Comply people and asking about consumer headsets that use the "professional" style tips. I see that they do offer various style tips for consumer headsets but all I can speak to is the pro style tips on my Clarity Aloft sets and (the same tips) on the consumer sets that I have.
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Old 03-14-2018, 04:46 PM   #18
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I tried NC headphones years ago when they first came out. They worked well to block the noise but I found after wearing them for a couple of hours that I was just as fatigued. I think the counter-sound was having the same affect on me as was the noise.
Are the new ones any better?
And anyone having the same issues as I had?
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Old 03-14-2018, 04:50 PM   #19
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I can't get the in ear ones to stay in my ears, so I've given up on them. I am happy with my Bose QC35 over the ear headphones, but they are definitely more than $100. Good luck with your search.
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