Active Noise Canceling vs. Ear-canal Earphones

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by swingerofbirch, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. swingerofbirch macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    I'd like to get noise canceling ear phones for upcoming air travel (my first time in 9 years and I have a lot of anxiety issues and think blocking ambient engine noise could help--I have relaxation tapes and music). After looking closely through all of the over the ear models I would go with the audio technica pair (ATH-ANC7), which are $120. The downsides with these that I see is that they do take up more space and I assume they would have the pressure feeling I experienced when trying out the Bose QC line. The benefit is that they look comfortable than ear-canal models and can block sound even when you're not listening to music, and I assume block more noise overall as you're not relying on just the music and physical block to block out noise.

    But then I started to also consider the idea of in-ear canal earphones. I am writing to ask how good these function as noise-canceling earphones. Is sound blocked out pretty much only when combined with music being on? Would it drown out much of an airplane engine? Also does anyone have experience with the apple in-ear headphones with regard to much sound they block out? Or do you think it's better to go with a line designed for noise canceling, such as some by senheisser designate as travel in-ear canal earphones?

    I feel like I know more about the over-ear models than in ear-canal, and if I went with over the ear I am pretty sure I would go with audio technica, but I really don't have much clue about in ear canal models. I would like the Apple ones for the price, that they're Apple and are supposed to have good sound quality.But I'm guessing the sound canceling wouldn't be as profound? It would essentially be like having the sound protection of silicone ear plugs while simultaneously blocking out noise with music, I'm guessing?

    Also does anyone have any experience with anxiety caused by the pressure feeling active noise canceling causes? I experienced no anxiety when I briefly tried in QC 2 and 3 headphones in a store, but I definitely noticed the sensation, but I noticed one reviewer at Amazon said the pressure made him feel "sick." I can be sensitive to things, like fluorescent lights or vibrations,so I am curious if the pressure over the long run would cause dizziness or anything like that.

    Thanks for any input you have.
  2. jackiecanev2 macrumors 65816


    Jul 6, 2007
    Any in-ear phones will do a good job of blocking out ambient sound (usually 20-25dB without the music on, and you shouldn't be able to hear anything at all with the music on), but you have to get a good fit. If you're using universals, you will have to find the tips that are most comfortable and that completely seal your ear canal. Otherwise, they're pretty much useless. With a good seal though, I think that in-ears/canals are superior: less bulk, no battery dependence for noise cancelling, less ambient noise, and usually better SQ due to all of the above reasons.

    If you're particularly sensitive, though, I'd try and figure out how sensitive your ears are. Having things in your ear canal can be an interesting sensation until you get used to it: some find it uncomfortable, some find that they disappear and feel absolutely nothing. Depending on the size and shape of your canals, finding a good seal and comfort combination can sometimes be tricky.
  3. wahoo10 macrumors 6502

    Feb 11, 2009
    I have some Sony in-ears and they're fabulous. When I turn on my music, I can't hear anyythingg. It's truly an awesome experience and I can hear so much more in my music, and it's great for walking/library/airplane use since they do a great job blocking out noise.
    As for an airplane, they do a great job blocking out noise. However, you have to be listening to music for them to do a good job, so if you're planning to try to sleep while having no music on, you might want to consider the noise-canceling ones.
  4. swingerofbirch thread starter macrumors 68040

    Oct 24, 2003
    The Amalgamated States of Central North America
    Thanks for the advice...I may try the apple in ear headphones....I do like the smaller size and not needing a battery
  5. kinkster macrumors 6502a

    Sep 15, 2008
    I would check out the Sennheiser HD25s. As far as headphones go they're pretty portable and their said to have great sound isolation, that's one of their main strengths.

    they should provide better audio quality then the Bose On Ears or qc3s too.

    do note that there's different versions though. dont get the SRs or whatever they are(something with an S)
  6. thegoldenmackid macrumors 604


    Dec 29, 2006
    dallas, texas
    I am a big fan(boy) of the Shure's. One thing to remember is that in terms of noise isolation, their product line is no different because they all use the universal fit tips. The one downside is comfort, I had never had a single problem with any of the some 15 earphones that I had owned, and then I tested the Monster Turbine's for Monster and after four hours my ears were killing me, this pain did not ever go away, unfortunately. There are numerous downsides to over-the-ear headphones like the Bose (besides being overpriced.) My largest problem is not the loss of sound quality, but the "white noise" effect, this causes me massive headaches, so I would make sure this is not a problem for you, otherwise you will find, like me, your headphones are just as annoying as the sounds around you.
  7. applevik macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2009

    I'm a big proponent of IEMs for MacBook usage. I think they deliver the perfect amount of isolation and excellent sound quality, limited only by their source. Are they the end-all of headphone listening? Absolutely not.... but they do their job well and without any major issues. I use my Shure SE530 (E500s are the same) with my MacBook Pro, but with a DAC and amp in between. I get wonderful sound and find it perfect for drowning out the outside world and being one with the music. Of course, IEMs have the downside of often limiting the "size of the listening area", which is why I listen to a different set of headphones for long-term or critical listening. (Sennheiser HD650 are my goto cans). Give IEMs a try.... there is an adjustment period and anyone who tells you otherwise if either super-lucky or smoking crack. There will be some pressure in your ear canal when using these, maybe even some discomfort or itchiness... but after the very short adjustment period, it's pure dividends. :)
  8. applevik macrumors member

    Feb 12, 2009
    My thoughts on noise-cancelling HP

    Shoot, I forgot to mention one more thing. I've never heard a noise-cancelling headphone that didn't compromise sound quality in one way or another. I feel that passive noise-cancelling through a proper seal in the ear is better than actively cancelling out the sound electronically. I would love to hear a set of open cans with some kind of noise cancelling built in, to give that open, cool feel without the side-effect of hearing everything around you, but have yet to discover that magical combination. Anyone who does... please illuminate the rest of us with the discovery too. :D
  9. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    Personally, I wouldn't get active noise cancelling headphones. I don't see the point when IEMs with averaging isolating properties are going to be far better at blocking out ambient noise than active noise cancelling. Also, some of the noise cancelling earphones emit a quiet buzz when the music isn't on.

    If it's really a huge concern, then get a pair of Etymonics with tri-flange tips. THIS is what they'd look like. These are a pair of Etymonic ER6i. There's cheaper, I think.

    Anyway, if you're interested in listening to anything that requires a lot of bass, these won't be great. :eek: You didn't say what you listen to, so it's hard to recommend anything to you. :eek:
  10. WoD macrumors newbie

    Feb 9, 2005
    I flew fairly long distance recently with a pair of Sennheiser PXC350 active noise canceling headphones. They only seem to cut a specific portion of the noise out, but it was enough to make the experience considerably more tolerable. They certainly weren't lacking in sound quality and didn't emit any unwanted noise, were comfortable and came with a little carry case into which I could also cram my iPod. I can't use in-ear phones, period, even if I wanted to so. I couldn't say if they are better or worse.

    The Sennheiser IE7 or, if I were feeling particularly affluent, the IE8 would be my choice of in-ear if I were able to use them. Yet as big a fan of Senny headphones as I am in general, I use a pair of Roland RH-300 monitors for day to day music listening. They don't need noise attenuation because they can handle such a high volume level without distorting that I quite comfortably use them as improvised desktop speakers. Fighting fire with fire!

    But I digress, I can recommend the Sennheiser PXC350 and by extension the slightly better 450 model if you should choose active noise canceling (and can actually get hold of a pair).

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