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Noise cancelling head phones

Are they worth the cost and if so any brand recommendations?
Thx guys

Posted by
23432 posts

They are certainly worth it for reducing noise. However, there are off brands that function just as well as the $200, 300 Bose and other big names. Goggle the reviews. Over the ears cuffs are best but can be bulky to store when not in use. The in-ear bug take less space and are more more useful but can become uncomfortable over time. Try them out. And you do need active noise cancelling.

Posted by
737 posts

I've tried various types for work and travel but "Bose-QuietComfort-20-Acoustic-Noise-Cancelling-Headphones-Samsung-and-Android" are the only ones that I find effective. They have made many long flights bearable when infants were intent upon screaming over the entire Atlantic. I purchased a set for my spouse as well so that we can use them during guided tours. It helps us filter out noises around us so that we can concentrate on our guide's speech. They are however quite expensive.

My cousin has been a flight attendant for many years and she will recommend them wholeheartedly!

Read the many rave reviews (avg 4.8) at:

Bose-QuietComfort-20-Acoustic-Noise-Cancelling-Headphones-Samsung-and-Android

Posted by
5044 posts

I think you get what you pay for when it comes to active noise suppression. I love my Bose 25 headphones. I can wear it comfortably on long transoceanic flights and long train rides. I can't tolerate earbuds for long periods, but my brother in law swears by the Bose 20s mentioned above.

I'd go into a good electronics store and compare several brands to find what works for you.

Posted by
6788 posts

Are they worth the cost?

Impossible for anyone else to answer, but one thing you need to decide is what is your goal?

If your goal is to reduce noise, they work well. If your goal is to completely eliminate all noise, then that's not going to work. There is nothing that will completely eliminate the shrill cries of a screaming baby seated nearby. ANR headphones certainly help, but the peircing (high frequency) sound of a crying baby will partially cut through all measures intended to block them.

Posted by
737 posts

CJean correctly mentions that people can have definite preferences for over-the-ear versus in-the-ear phones. I prefer large over-the-ear beyerdynamic headphones for serious listening at home but I have used the Bose 20 earbuds to listen to the entire Peter. Paul & Mary catalog on one particularly sleepless Detroit-to-Paris night. I love the portability of something so tiny that I can put in my pants pocket before the day's tours start! We sometimes substituted them for the RS-supplied earphones when we needed to filter out extraneous noise. They really helped us hear our guide Virginie when we were packed into the crowded 9 AM Metro.

Posted by
607 posts

Bose QC 20 earbuds + a white noise app = bliss.

I use a free white noise app that offers a variety of sounds (rain, waves, fan, frogs, etc.) and variety of pitches/frequencies(?) (white noise, pink, brown, etc) from which to choose, to best cancel the particular sounds I want to block (crying baby vs loud talker, for example).

Posted by
387 posts

buy earbuds, not an over-the-ear headphone. If you are a RS-type carry-on traveler than you'll appreciate the savings in packing space. I used to have the Bose headphone noise-cancelling set, worked great, but I gave them away and love the earbuds with a case that fits into a pocket.

Now the anti-sell. These do not cancel voices all that well. They are great at cancelling low frequency and steady noises: plane noises, the buzz on a train, etc. But if you think they will make the world silent you will be disappointed.

Posted by
3941 posts

My husband bought me a pair of the Sony over ear, noise cancelling for Xmas - they were about $80 Cdn on sale. Finally got to use them in July when we flew overseas - what a difference. Turning them on and off, you could hear how much louder it was (it was even better when I realized I had them on backwards and put them on the proper ears - don't judge - our flights leave really late to Europe!). Even if you don't want to listen to music/watch a movie, just to quiet the noise of the airplane engines is nice. I'll be buying my husband his own pair this Xmas.

As for price - well, I guess it'll depend on how often you will be using them. For us, we only travel once a year, and I don't use headphones otherwise, so an $80 pair are fine for me - spending hundreds of $ on a pair to use for about 20 hrs a year on planes/trains didn't make sense - but if you are going to use them more frequently, I'd look at the Bose/more expensive ones.

Posted by
2136 posts

My only wish is that someday we can get ones that block out human voices completely.

My wife has been hoping for those for a long time ;-)

I use Audio Technica they work well. Bose gets good reviews but I refuse to do business with them (most of their products are overpriced garbage).

Posted by
3241 posts

My husband has expensive Bose over ear noise cancelling head phones. I have $50.00/60.00 Sony over ear noise cancelling head phones. I don't see much of a difference, if any. (He doesn't either...lol).

Posted by
737 posts

I should add that I've tried a number of brands and variations because I needed them for teleconferences at work as well as for travel. I think the worst of the lot was an "on the ear" variation (as opposed to "over' or "in") made by Phillips. It wasn't exactly cheap but it's noise cancelling ability was the poorest. The Bose-20 has the most effective noise cancelling ability for me personally. It's the only one I've used so far that has allowed me to focus on soft acoustic music because it does minimize loud plane roar and squawking children. Nothing can completely block sound as others have noted and sound isn't experienced solely via the ear canal. We can really only find the tools that minimize annoyance for each us on an individual basis.

Posted by
1055 posts

I've tried them. Gave my Bose to a friend. The two other sets went to Goodwill. I use a set of custom earplugs designed for shooters. They fit, they block almost anything including talking, and they cost a heck of a lot less.

Posted by
1152 posts

The shooter's ear protection seems like a good way to block out a wider range of noises, but the experience feels odd because it is so similar to putting ear plugs in. The standard ear protections are lightweight, but that is because all they do is block noise. (They do take up space, though.)

I have seen shooter's ear muffs that can also act as headphones. One version I saw also had an external microphone that could be turned on when desired to let some noises through, such as voices.

Another alternative might be other noise blocking headphones used in industrial settings. I'd be tempted to go with whatever had the lightest weight or smallest size.

My personal preference is for over the ear solutions. I just find then to be more comfortable.

Posted by
1055 posts

I have no idea what the rating on my shooting ear plugs is. They are custom made, and anyone who shoots a lot will probably have a pair. They are not the kind you pick up in a gun shop. Go to a trap and skeet (or Sporting Clays) range and ask at the pro shop about getting fitted for hearing protection. Not cheap, but anything less than 80 decibels is pretty much eliminated. Then you get good at reading lips.

Posted by
139 posts

As stated above, as long as you understand what they're supposed to do and not what the name suggests they do.

They reduce noises that are fairly steady, like a bus or plane noises, but you can still hear screaming talking laughing, etc...