Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?
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  1. #1
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    Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?

    I almost never use headphones, but I've been thinking it would be nice to have a good pair for travel (i.e. long airline flights). And if I'm going to have sound, I want it to be good sound, right?

    I suspect that noise cancelling units are probably not ideal from a sound quality standpoint, but it seems like they would offer real benefits in terms of ambient noise rejection. Any experiences to share on that front? In-ear monitors may be another option, though I've never really had much success from a comfort standpoint. They'd definitely be easier to pack, though!

    Any recommendations from the road warriors among us?
    Jeff

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    Re: Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?

    Before I retired I travelled internationally weekly. I went thru a couple of iterations of Bose noice cancelling units before determining that they weren't worth the space and weight they consumed. I continue to just carry inexpensive in ear devices. I am not concerned about travel SQ.
    Jim

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    Re: Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?


  4. #4
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    Re: Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?

    I bought a set of Hifiman Edition s or something like that, not on sale they run about $250.00. The sound is outstanding, they fold some and have a carry case, the side plates can come off or back on for open or closed back use, and, they are easy to drive.

    I've not used them personally but seems Etymotic is a leader for in ear monitors.

    A friend of mine who rides public transportation every day and most reviews still show Bose is the best in noise cancelling, only average sound, maybe less considering price but the technology for cancelling is there.

    A recent review said a new Sennheiser model was close to Bose in noise cancelling. Honestly, I've had a few sets of Senn's, still have a couple, comparatively I haven't been happy with how long they last. For instance, the foam inside my HD580 & 600 just decentigrated, where the foam on an old set of AKG lasted for years.

    I can't rave enough about those Hifiman, I've been extremely happy with them. Crazy good for the price. The Senn's mentioned above have a larger sound stage and fuller bass sound but the Hifiman are more accurate IMO. The bass on the Hifiman is not weak, just tighter, more punch.
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    Re: Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?

    I’ve tried about everything as I log over 100k air miles per year. For me SQ and portability (small size) are key. I like always having my headphones with me so have most recently used IEMs which I always have with me in my briefcase. I had used various Etymotics which isolated noise on planes just fine and had decent SQ.

    As you've experienced some IEMs are not the most comfortable. Last year I purchased custom fit IEMs from Empire Audio. I got their entry level model (about $600). Very likely the best bang for buck hi fi purchase I’ve ever made.

    I’d urge you to go through the hassle of getting custom molds made. No comfort issue at all as you’re not really aware you’re wearing ‘phones. SQ is much better than the Etymotics but the price is double so you’d expect that. The custom molds also seems to improve spatilization of the music (more realistic instrument place/ soundstage).

    They sounded good with the DAC and amp in my phone (LGv30) but I knew I could get more out of them so I just bought one of the new Astell and Kern players. Another step up.

    Hope this helps.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?

    Active noise canceling headsets are fairly effective at reducing lf noise but rely on the ear cups to reduce hf noise. I get a ‘stuffed ear’ feeling that is really unacceptable when I use them. I do not recommend them at all.

    High quality IEM’s with custom ear molds are the way to go. I like Westone because the drivers fit inside my pinnae so I can sleeep with them in on long flights and not hear a thing around me. They attenuate everything 20 dB or more so even screaming children are not a problem.
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    Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?

    For another alternative, I use custom molded ear plugs - about $25 and do the trick for domestic travel. Cuts the ambient noise, but of course no tunes.

    Agreed on the Bose recommendation for in ear and really agree on the westone customs. I have both, but the simplicity of the plugs does the trick and I find myself using them most.


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  8. #8
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    Re: Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?

    I guess I need to look at the in-ear-monitors a bit more closely. They've never really appealed to me, but if they cut noise enough to come close to an active NR headset, and offer better sound quality, that's worth closer examination. I'm one of those people who won't wear contacts because I don't want something in/on my body. IEMs sort of fit in the same category, though I'm well aware there's a difference between ear and eyeball. Otherwise, it looks like Bose is the way to go for traditional NR cans.
    Jeff

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    Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?

    I bought a pair of Etymotic ER-4P about 15 years ago. While not the most comfortable, admittedly, I have used them several time a year on trans-continental and trans-Atlantic flights ( mountain time zone to Great Britain). Neutral, work with an iPhone or iPod with great results. Donít need the extra amp.

    Very accurate sound, and lasted over 13 years of frequent use so far.


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  10. #10
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    Re: Headphones for travel - noise cancelling or not?

    I have tried many types of headphones, cancelling and ordinary, and Shure in ear.

    None were really quiet. You end up having to jack up the volume to drown out aircraft roar, which canít be healthy.

    My revelation came when an audiologist made me a set of custom fit ear buds for my etymotic hf3 in-ears. They cost very little (50 bucks maybe) but they transformed the sound of the cheap etymotics. Suddenly I had bass. More importantly I had quiet. Stewards a foot away were completely inaudible. You can see their mouths moving but hear nothing, nada, zip. Also no engine noise. No wind roar.

    My HF3s + the custom buds sound better than my SE525s and work way better than Bose noise cancelling phones.

    One day I might try custom buds plus the more expensive shures, whose design allows me liť on my side.




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