SpeakerNet News Compilations

Noise-Canceling Headphones

Rebecca Morgan

Page Sponsors
How to sponsor this page

Here are the responses to my question: Has anyone actually heard and compared the quality of the Bose Quiet Comfort headphones (around $300) to the Plane Quiet headphones ($80). If so, give me your advice whether the Plane Quiets are comparable. Any others you'd recommend of high quality?

-- Bob Treadway

There's a review at The Travel Insider of the best headsets and, more to your request, a forum where the headsets are discussed.

You also get a 10% on the Plane Quiets on this site.

-- Patti Hathaway

I've been very happy with the Sony Noise Canceling headphones for air travel. They fold compactly and come with a carrying bag. Cost is less than $100 if I remember correctly. I only use them on cross-county trips and not for flights less than an hour in length because unfortunately the flight attendants won't even let you wear them (for just the noise-canceling feature) even when they are not plugged into a CD player during take-offs and landings which is one of the nosiest times.

-- Cam Marston

I bought a pair of Shure headphones recently for my plane flights and love them. They're ear buds that fit in your ear. They cancel the outside noise superbly. Best of all, they come with a simple, small container to hold them. My carry on luggage is already packed with stuff and the last thing I needed were bulky headphones to throw in there. These are small and I can just drop them in my laptop bag.

Check them out here. I bought mine on eBay for around $80. They look a bit geeky but when you get them on and fitted properly you'll never go back to the traditional headphones again.

-- Marv Marshall

If you really want to spoil yourself, you will purchase the Bose Quiet Comfort headphones. (Be sure it's the second generation where the control unit is self-contained in the headphones -- not in a separate unit). Then when you fly, you connect the headphones to your iPod which has your prerecorded music. You almost look forward to a flight.

-- Rita Risser

I suggest that you spend a fair amount of time in the store wearing them. The ones I have don't fully encase the ear, as the Bose do, and after a few hours my ears really feel squished! I end up taking them off and then what's the point of having them?

-- Jim Pancero

After working through several cheaper "noise canceling" headphones the Bose units are the slam-dunk winner. My life is so much more enjoyable and peaceful since I started wearing them on the airplanes...with and/or without music on. I have finally ordered my "mini iPod" to go with it.

They are also great because they collapse into a really nice carrying case.

Bose is superior for 3 reasons:

  1. Full cup earphones completely enclose your ears. Significant noise reduction even without them turned on.
  2. You can use them without the wire plugged in (just the headphones)
  3. Fantastic sound quality. The bass and full range are especially impressive.

Spend the extra bucks -- it is definitely worth it.

-- Joe Bonura

I own both. The Bose is not worth the difference in price. The less expensive headphones will give you the same result.

-- Ken Braly

Dan Gillmor said in his newspaper column a few months ago: "Noise-canceling headphones. In the category of stress reduction, these things rate about 9 on a scale of 10. On airplanes, they are miracles, filtering out the noise of engines and letting you listen to music, or nothing at all, in relative peace. I use the Bose QuietComfort set, which is not cheap, at just under $200 (a new model costs about $300). And I have heard good things about the $150 Sennheiser PCX 250 model as well."

And somebody responded with the comment: "Lots of people swear by noise-canceling headphones. Bose makes a popular line that's pretty expensive; Audio Advisor has a pair of Sennheisers for $100 that might be worth checking. I've borrowed the Bose 'phones and liked them all right for silence but not for music; I have different Sennheisers at home for music that I'm very happy with but haven't tried the noise-canceling ones."

-- Tom Terrific

A great pair of noise-canceling headphones, with microphone for your phone, is the Radio Shack model #43-1952. For $30 they can't be beat and they work better then anything I've found.

-- John Kalpus

I have been using several noise-canceling headset models over the past several years. Here's a brief rundown of the models I've used, all of them manufactured by Sony:

  • Sony - NC10 noise-canceling earbuds
  • Sony - NC11 noise-canceling earbuds
  • Sony MDR-NC5 noise-canceling compact headphones
  • Sony MDR-NC20 noise-canceling full-size headphones

All the units performed extremely well. However, the Sony NC10 earbuds are a real bonus because they're extremely small and come in a tiny carrying case. Ear fit is extremely tight and comfortable with each "bud" snuggling into the ear canal.

The Sony NC-20 headphones are full-sized units which are the top of the line. Although much bulkier than the earbuds, they fold up compactly and provide superior performance and comfort. I've used all these units over the past several years and now carry only the Sony NC-10 earbuds on every flight. They're *so* compact I even left one set on some flight somewhere in the seat pocket! You're welcome, to whoever found them. Remember to take them with you!

You can find the NC-10s on the Net for around $90-100, and the NC-20s for about $150-200; substantially less than the Bose units of comparable quality.

-- Laura Stack

If you've been eyeing the Bose Quiet Comfort headphones but can't quite bring yourself to cough up $300, consider the much lower-priced (but still high-performing) Plane Quiet headphones for $79.99. You can also listen to the airline's movies/music and your own portable player.

-- Belinda Bryant

I've used and compared the Bose headset (bulky and expensive) with the Sony MDR NC11. Has small ear buds and quality is better than Bose. Doesn't disturb your earrings! Cost $150 and you can purchase at Brookstone or Sony stores or Web site.

SpeakerNet News is produced by Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly. It is not affiliated with the National Speakers Association. Send comments or suggestions