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This has come up a few times in the past but I wanted to get some opinions from people who have used these. I'm going to be on some very, very long flights in the near future and want to make sleeping easier and reduce ear fatigue. Some googling tells me that there is a worthwhile advantage to noise-canceling headphones over foam earplugs due to the fact that they *cancel* rather than just attenuate noise (especially low-frequencies), and over-the-ear headphones are generally more comfortable for 10+hr periods compared to having something shoved in your ear. Plus sleeping, etc.
So my questions are:
1. Must you listen to audio in order to experience the noise-canceling effect of these headphones? Most are active and battery powered, which makes me believe that you can "turn on" the canceling effect even if you're not otherwise using the headphones, but I haven't been able to find anything conclusive
2. Anyone have any good pairs to recommend? My wife and I are looking for something cheap, as spending $400 for us to each have headphones is a hard sell compared to just living with $2 for 10 foam earplugs, but searching just based on price brings up in-ear noise-isolating earbuds (which we already own).