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Noise-Canceling headphones (not isolating)

EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
edited September 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
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).

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Posts

  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    This is anecdotal, but I've always had great experiences with noise-cancelling headphones on flights. I've owned 3 different noise-cancelling clamshell-style headphones in the past 15 years, and all of them have been very good at cancelling out the engine hum of an airplane, and I've definitely been able to sleep more soundly while they are on. On all three models, I didn't have to listen to any audio through the headphones to get the noise-cancelling effects. They didn't cut out the engine noise completely, but they did reduce the most of the low frequencies to the point where it's like car noise.

    Your mileage may vary. I can't recommend any good pairs, but I think making sure that you have a comfortable clamshell model that totally encloses the ear would be the best bet. Avoid anything over 100 dollars, as the difference between a cheap model and an expensive model is very small in terms of the noise cancelling effect. You will get better audio quality from the more expensive models, but if you wanted that, you'd probably purchase your own studio monitor headphones or something.

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  • GihgehlsGihgehls Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Not exactly what you're looking for, but these are what pilots use for those long flights. If they are good enough for the pilot they are probably good enough for the passengers! Might be hard to sleep in though.

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  • HerkimerHerkimer Registered User
    edited September 2010
    EggyToast wrote: »

    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).

    1. That's how mine work.

    2. They're not the cheapest, but I've been very pleased with them so far. I owned a pair of (more expensive) Bose noise-cancelling headphones before I got these, and find these much more comfortable.

  • EggyToastEggyToast Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    Yeah the engine noise really bugs my wife, but if you're by an engine it's loud even if you're OK with it. Have any of you guys run into issues with the supposed "high pitched noise" that's supposedly common for noise-canceling headphones?

    Hahn: what kind do you currently have? Anecdotal recommendations are fine by me.

    Gihg: Pilot headsets do seem to combine the best of both worlds, with attenuation and cancellation, but the prices are probably too high for us. And yeah, with their bulkiness it might make sleeping difficult. Or easy, perhaps, as the head may not bob so much.

    Herk: Thanks!

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  • ShogunShogun Hair long; money long; me and broke wizards we don't get along Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I have the Bose QC3. They are amazing and work exactly how you want them to work. They are $300 or at least they were when I purchased them. Used them on a 14 hour flight to Japan. Fell asleep after we left Chicago, and woke up when we landed in Japan.

  • SatsumomoSatsumomo Rated PG! Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I have cheapo $20 Sennheiser headphones, and they work great. I can only imagine that higher end stuff from them is superb, as many people have suggested before. They also have mid-size portables.

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  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    The bose QuietComfort line is amazing, it's the set I have. I had occasion to look into this some time ago and heard that an organization called Grado, I think, based in New York, puts out comparable hardware at half the price. You have to have them ordered, though, and I think it can take some time.

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  • cmsamocmsamo Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I had Quietcomfort 3's and they were very good. You didn't need to be listening to music to use them, you could just put them on and you would stop hearing the hum from the plane.

    However I found them uncomfortable when trying to sleep for a long period, they would make whichever side of my head I was leaning on ache a bit. I found it easier to sleep by making a pillow and leaning to one side. If you sleep bolt upright then these might be for you.

    I sold my Quietcomforts and went for some passive Shure earphones, with buds that you press into your ear. To be honest I would say they work just as well as the Bose and they were only $99 from Best Buy, and that was some years ago (like maybe 3 years). The Shure in-ears are much more comfortable.

    Check this link out - it has a good reviews of all the major players in this field.

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  • Red RaevynRed Raevyn Ooga booga booga Registered User regular
    edited September 2010
    I think these Philips are a great value. I've used them on flights to Japan and Chile (from the US), among others, and felt that they made a difference. Don't go into noise-canceling headphones expecting them to produce silence. They just reduce it, and make it much more tolerable. And yes, anything in your ear for a long time stinks - though I usually bring my iphone earbuds as well, because everything sucks after 10 hours of it.

    At $40 each, this is the way I'd go if I were you, buying them for both my wife and myself. (And when you sleep, wear foam plugs AND these for a blissful experience). The noise cancellation part is powered by a AAA battery, and is toggle-able via a switch on the rear of the right side.

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