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Headphone Suggestions Requested

I am seeking suggestions on Headphones for my next Rick Steves European tour. I wear hearing aids and require headphones rather than in ear/earbuds. I have worn non-noise cancelling on a plane and the interference from others as well as the plane itself was nearly intorelable. I am concerned, though, that noise cancelling will block out too much noise on the museum tours and not allow me to navigate properly.

If you have any success or suggestions on either please let me know as well as any suggestions for brand. Thanks

Posted by
7633 posts

Which tour are you considering? I am NOT the headphone expert BUT I'd want more sound blocking on a tour of the Vatican than I would need at say....The Orangerie in Paris.

Posted by
658 posts

Bose noise canceling headphones and ear buds are excellent, I have a pair of the ear buds and I use them on every trip to Europe.

Posted by
2760 posts

I wear hearing aids and have taken 16 RS tours. I take noise cancelling, over ear head phones to wear on the plane.
More and more RS tours are using listening aids where the guides speak into a speaker and the tour members wear receives with ear phones. I take along a good pair of ear phones, not the noise cancelling ones, to plug into the receivers that the tour members are given. I have found this mostly successful.

Posted by
487 posts

One thing I suggest is that you make sure you try them on before you buy them. You don't want to find yourself on a transatlantic flight with headphones that hurt your ears, no matter how well they cancel the sound.

Posted by
26 posts

I highly recommend the Sony WH-H900N Bluetooth Noise Canceling Headphones. They are over the ear and very comfortable. The batteries last all day and sometimes a second day (about 11 hours of total operation). The batteries charge quickly (about 1.5 hours). They operate as wired for things like airplane entertainment or tour group audio devices. They also operate wireless via bluetooth for connecting to your phone to listen to music, movies, phone calls, and audio books. When in wireless mode, you can control volume and tracks and answer phone calls by single-finger gestures on the right headphone.

The noise cancelling is very effective at helping me clearly hear what I want to even with my hard of hearing issues. They cancel out vehicle and crowd noise very well. But they have two features I did not expect and am pleasantly surprised about:
1. when a car horn honked twice on the television show my wife was watching, they did not cancel out the first honk - I heard it loud and clear, but they did cancel out the second honk. We replayed that portion of the show to verify the headphones were actually doing that. Imagine if you were wearing them near traffic, you would want to hear a honk if it was meant for you.
2. when you cup your right hand over the right headphone, the noise cancelling is turned off and you hear what is around you at an amplified volume thanks to the microphones that are on the outside of the headphones. Take your right hand off the right headphone and noise cancelling resumes. This is very handy when you need to hear someone talking briefly but don't want to take off the headphones.

They are available at Costco for $229. I bought a pair in December when they were on sale for $179 but I think the features and comfort on this model are worth the extra money. Costco's return policy is no questions asked full refund for the first 90 days and also includes an extended warranty at no additional cost.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the great info. I will check out the Sony headphones.

Posted by
440 posts

I only wear over-the-ear style phones and ended up with Beats Studio 3 noise canceling phones because they were at Costco for $310 vs $350 at Apple Store. And they fit me a little better than the Bose or Sony units that were also on display. I do not know if the model is still available at warehouses, it’s not online.

The active noise canceling processor can be disabled by holding down the function button. The earmuffs still do a decent job of isolation but I don’t think you’d be cutoff from the rest of your tour mates while in a museum. That’s something you’d want to test drive before committing to an overseas trip. They’re wireless or you can use the provided cable. Charge lasts a long time but I don’t know if it’s going to hold for the entire 6-hour flight to Scotland this spring.

I like them. The case is h u g e. Worth it.

Posted by
65 posts

I have only used Bose headphones. The latest ones I have are the newest Bose over the ear Bluetooth headphones. They are super comfortable and the battery lasts a long time. I don’t think you can go wrong with either a Bose or Sony noise cancelling though.

Posted by
3283 posts

This is a pretty low tech response, but our family has a variety of headphones and earbuds. We do like the Bose earbuds. Sometimes we want to listen to music, etc., but need to also hear a bit of what is going on around us. I'll remove an earbud while my husband actually situates one of the buds to be just partially in his ear.

Posted by
66 posts

I got a pair of Bose noise canceling headphones and found them to be much better than I expected. You can use them without the noise cancelling option, and the difference is significant - but it also gives you the option of turning it off if you are finding that you need to hear more.

I have some hearing loss and pulsatile tinnitus due to a car accident, which means I have the constant ringing and also hear my heartbeat. Hearing aids made things worse. The noise canceling gives me clear sound and the internal noise and external ambient noise is managed very well. They fold, so I will be taking them along on travels.

This site has some information and reviews:
https://thewirecutter.com/electronics/headphones/

I got over-ear, since earbuds bug me. Mine are the Bose Quiet Comfort 25, and I got them for US$100 on sale. They come with a case, including a battery slot and adapter for airline jacks.

Posted by
25 posts

The devices used by Rick Steves are pretty simple receivers. They do not have blue tooth (unless there's been a serious upgrade in the last 18 months). You'll need a set of headphones with a standard jack (can't use the new Apple or Beats sets with lightening plugs).

If your hearing aids are completely in the ear you might do well with some of the "sport" models that have a hook that goes over the ear to hold them in place.

Another suggestion, talk to your audiologist and see if they have any recommendations.

My daughter just reminded me that your tour guide will also have a few sets of over the ear head phones that are compatible with hearing aids. We had a couple of people on our last tour who had no trouble using them.

Posted by
5287 posts

Agree that over-the-ear is the way to go with hearing aids -- hard to put an earbud on top of what is essentially an earbud! I have Sony noise-cancelling headphones that ran about $40-$50 at Target ... Not cutting-edge technology, but they work great on the plane and hook into the plane's entertainment system.