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Noise Cancelling Headphones

Old 22nd Jan 2008, 14:34
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VS I just love that idea about a two way mic. Better still, a yoghurt carton and string "DO YOU WANT YOUR DINNER"
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Old 5th Mar 2008, 19:33
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Noise Cancelling Headphones

I have been looking at noise-cancelling headphones. I tried the fancy Bose on-ear ones a colleague in a seat beside me was wearing, connected to his iPod. They work perfectly. However, they are bulkier and more expensive ($300+) than I want. Sony have some $100 in-ear ones which were out of stock at Media Markt here in Geneva, and out of stock at Fry's in Palo Alto last week. So I bought some $29 Philips ones, which advertise themselves as providing 70% noise cancellation, and do about that. So my question is, does anyone have experience with effective in-ear noise cancelling? The reviews on Amazon of the Sony are mixed at best.

Indeed, reading lots of reviews suggests that there is no real solution other than the over-ear Bose headphones which are much more bulky than what I want. I use Sennheiser CX300 in-ear buds normally. The objective is airplane noise reduction only. Replacing airline headsets is not really what I am looking for as I mainly fly LH when going longhaul and their headsets are fine for films and hard-wired the seats. I fly every week. Ideas?
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Old 5th Mar 2008, 19:42
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Sony MDR-EX71 are superb for me. Great noise reduction and extremely good sound quality and happen to be the longest lasting set of in-ear 'phones I've owned (2yrs + now). Would thoroughly recommend them as they are relatively inexpensive (about 50 euro) but be patient in getting the bud size right (several sizes are supplied) and dont be tempted to push them tooooo far into your ears as that causes the end of the bud to be squeezed shut and spoils the sound rather a lot!

Hope that helps

PS. They are also supplied with a 50cm extension cable which is very handy, and if you like your ipod stuff, they do them in white too...
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Old 5th Mar 2008, 21:11
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I think it's accepted that the high end Bose headphones are the most effective and give the best sound quality but as you say, they are bulky and when you've got a bag full of other stuff to carry around it's yet more lost space.

As for in-ear headphones a good deal of their perfromence is lost because they never fit in the way that over-ear headphones fit. Generally speaking in-ear headphones are a compromise to size and weight and they will never match the sound quality generated by over-ear.

Sennheiser's PXC range is a good compromise, they are over-ear but they are lightweight and fold up into a small package. I have a pair of PXC300's and they seem to do an effective job, I can't remember how much I paid for them, maybe 180.
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Old 5th Mar 2008, 21:16
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I've got a little box of several different types including the Sony and Bose that I've tried over the years - but the ones I keep coming back to are a set of Koss ear buds designed for stage musicians.

They don't have any ANR but the passive noise reduction is fantastic, and they are small enough (entirely within the ear) that they don't get in the way while sleeping.
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Old 7th Mar 2008, 16:34
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If the goal of your noise reduction is to reduce fatigue (noise such as that inside an aircraft can be very fatiguing), then a good set of earplugs will do the job and are quite compact. If, on the other hand, your real interest is entertainment, then just about any good headphone, over the ear or in the ear, will do, but then you're just replacing one noise with another.
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Old 7th Mar 2008, 16:37
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More discussion on this here. I gave the Maxell a try as they were easy to get hold of. Only used them once so far, on an EZY flight a couple of hours and they seemed to cut down the a/c noise by around 50% subjectively.

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Old 10th Mar 2008, 17:39
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I gotta say the N.R.Earphones I've used on SG airliners have been very unsatisfactory, is it me with too high expectations or is it SG?
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Old 10th Mar 2008, 22:18
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I've only tried the cheap Maxell brand. They're cushion on-the-ear type.

They do cut the noise somewhat if used simply as silencers.

They do NOT cut the noise enough to actually listen to anything using them as headphones during flight --- checking the level of the volume setting, to be able to hear music through them, the amplifier has to be set well up into the dangerously loud range just to overcome the cabin noise level.

I just use earplugs nowadays.
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Old 12th Mar 2008, 23:14
  #30 (permalink)  
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I end up hauling my bulky Bose headsets (old original version). I tried some Shure in ear phones but they do not stay in that well plus it gets irritating after a few hours. (I may have to spend more time playing with the different earpieces.) I tried the Bose Quiet Comfort 2 and 3 and did not like them and sent them back. The Quiet Comfort 2 sounds beautiful but irritates my earlobes after a couple of hours of pushing on them in a way the old Bose phones do not (and my ears are not THAT big!). Just did not like the sound of the Quiet Comfort 3. Whatever you buy, try to get return privileges and wear it for the duration of the longest flight you will be on to make sure you are happy with it. What feels fine at first can get uncomfortable after a few hours.
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Old 14th Mar 2008, 16:35
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I bought some headphones from Bookstone ( When I bought them in early 2000 they were $100 and they worked a treat. They were light and easy to use and reduced the background noise to a minimum. They enabled me to listen to in flight entertainment including my CD player at low volumes.
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 09:31
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I used to always have a set of Sennheisers with me, which worked quite well, but I've since changed to a pair of Etymotic ER 4 in-ear. They come with foam eartips, which make them very comfortable to wear, and the sound is way beyond great.
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Old 16th Mar 2008, 20:53
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It depends what you want to achieve. If, as someone else said, you just want to prevent noise fatigue, then good ear plugs do the trick. Some people find them to be uncomfortable for long periods, in which case I'd suggest something like the smaller of the two types of bose headphones, as they are very good, but not too bulky. The bigger over ear ones probably work better, but I find the smaller bose's do the trick. The Bose's come with a two plug/one plug adptor for different airlines - which is actually more important than people realise, as the second pin controls volume (I think).

For short haul flights, I carry some in-ear bud style SHURE headphones, which are pretty high end, give good sound, and have many different types of ear buds to suite different ears. In my experience, on short haul, they do the trick, although its a hassle taking them in and out to talk. I think SHURE now do a better set, with a button on the cord, which allows you to switch to hear people speaking to you, so saving you have to take them out.

For long haul flights, I definitely prefer to use the Bose's. On one very long flight, for the ultimate in isolation, I used, ear plugs, with the bose's on top, and a very high quality light mask (which blocks 100% of light). Total isolation. Pure Bliss.
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Old 4th Apr 2008, 11:48
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Another regular Sennheiser PXC250 user here. I find the over the ear more comfortable for long periods than the in-ear type.
My only complaint is the increased sensitivity of the headphones compared with the normal airline ones. I've had to make a attenuator to cut the volume somewhat so that I can set the volume on the in-seat control above the bare minimum.

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Old 4th Apr 2008, 12:47
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PXC 250's for me as well, tried the Bose and the Sennheiser (Mxc 300's ) in-ear buds but found they were very uncomfortable.

I actually lost my first set and my Ipod a few weeks ago and tried the others but the PXC 250's were good enough (could not notice the difference v the 300's although they look a bit nicer), so I bought another pair for 55 on Amazon and a shiny new 80G ipod. I cannot praise these phones enough they really cut the background noise and allow you to enjoy what ever you are listening to.

Travelling without either of these tools would make my job and life much worse. I cannot recommend them enough.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 20:41
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Noise Cancelling Headphones

I was on a 777 recently, which I think is a noisy aircraft, and the pass next to me had some BOSE noise cancelling headphones that he swore by. Has anyone tried these? Has anyone tried other cheaper brands?

I assume the BOSE ones are ridiculously priced, but will check on Amazon.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 20:55
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Bose NC Headphones

I have a pair of Quiet Comfort II's, and find they are very comfortable and do the job very well. I use them regularly between LHR & BOM on a Virgin 340. Good either playing music or just as ear defenders. Easy to sleep with them on. Expensive - yes, but do the job no question.
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 23:36
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This is now a fairly regular topic, I wonder if it might be time for it to go into the FAQ, with links to old threads? Perhaps people would think that there are new units coming along that would require new discussion? Perhaps a single continuous merged thread?
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Old 8th Feb 2009, 23:58
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Bought a pair for 10USD in Thailand recently - not as good as the really good ones, but do a reasonable job....
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Old 9th Feb 2009, 07:29
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If you don't mind in-ear type earphones, get a pair of Sennheiser CX300's, available from Amazon for about 15. These are absolutely fantastic for noise cancelling to the point that whilst wearing them, you can only just hear a 96dB fire alarm sounding nearby. Plus, as they're Sennheiser's, the sound quality is excellent.
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