Best headphones/earphones for sound isolation/noise canceling?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dekimasu, Sep 2, 2010.

  1. Dekimasu macrumors regular

    Jan 17, 2008
    This is the thread where I bow down before the wisdom of the audiophiles.

    I'm about to get my first iPod in 8 years (as you can see from my sig, I try to milk my electronics for all they're worth), and I want to match it up with some better over-ear headphones or in-ear earphones. I'm going to be using my iPod almost exclusively on trains, since I'm on them (and packed like a sardine) about two hours a day.

    My #1 and #2 concerns are shutting out the train noise and shutting out the train noise. To be fair, my #3 concern is not to force any of the other sardines to listen to my music. The music itself has to be down around #4; I ripped most of my mp3s at 128kbps so they would fit in my original touch wheel iPod, so I won't get a wonderful sound experience anyway.

    I've read a lot of good things in old threads about Klipsch, Denon, Shure, etc., but most people are (understandably) looking at sound quality first when making recommendations. Has anyone had a really impressive sound isolation or noise canceling experience from a set under, say, $150?

    If it's at all useful, some people and bands I listen to a lot are Pavement, Wilco, My Bloody Valentine, Velvet Underground, Andrew Bird, Spoon, Happy End, T. Rex...

    Thanks for your help.
  2. tannerpp macrumors newbie

    You get what you pay unsurprising comment to be found here!

    I travel on planes regularly and have tried a number of different solutions. However the BOSE QC15 are the best compromise between Sound Reproduction and Noise Cancelling that I have found.

    They are around £275 GBP so not in the budget range you were talking about but I cannot praise them enough.

    Comfortable to wear - not too big - they have a detachable lead so you can sleep in them without strangling yourself - the battery life (1 AAA) saw me from the UK to Auckland and back to Dubai (over 24 hours).

    Seriously try them out in the Apple store, they are good. But try them out on a plane or with continuous industrial noise in the background and they are amazing.

    As with all things - just my opinion and others will have a different opinion. I like my Audi, others prefer Fords.....
  3. fr4c macrumors 65816


    Jul 27, 2007
    Hamster wheel
    Just get the Apple In-ear headphones. They're quite good for the price, and surprisingly is dual-driver design.
  4. jim4spam macrumors member

    Jun 14, 2009
    I agree that Bose over-the-ear are great for planes, and even driving. When driving (company pickup truck) for hours at a time, I find that I need the volume at only 60% of the amount needed when no noise cancelling.

    I'd recommend them. But get them where/when they are cheap (275GBP =400USD) is far too pricey. I think I paid 300USD for mine here in the states (QC15). But it's not like I tried 100 different types either....
  5. jb27 macrumors newbie

    Mar 4, 2010
    I have the Sennheiser PXC 450's. They produce good sound and they do a pretty good job of noise canceling. I think I paid about $250 USD for them. I like them because they operate without a battery should it die mid-trip and they feature a talk through button that you can hit which will silence the music and open up an external microphone. This means you do not have to take your headphones off to have a quick conversation with someone.
  6. appleguy123 macrumors 604


    Apr 1, 2009
    15 minutes in the future
    They're not in your price range, but I have the Bose qc 15's and they are amazing. When you turn them on it's like all sound is underwater, and when you put music on there is no sound at all. I can't recommend anything else because these qre truly as good as it gets.
    Sent from my iPad excuse any typing errors.
  7. NicoleRichie macrumors 6502

    Jun 30, 2007
    I agree the QC 15's are great, but I just picked up the Sony MDR-NC500D. I feel they have a better all around sound.
  8. wywern209 macrumors 65832


    Sep 7, 2008
    do you rly want to know?
    the klipsch S4 have good isolation and sound really good. any of the ultimate ears headphone sound nice. Surprisingly, the monster turbine Copper sound good and have decent isolation. Something that i recommend for great isolation is getting some comply foam tips. these isolate a bit more than the silicone ones and are also more comfy.
  9. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Anything from Etymotic has unbelievable isolation - I've tried tons of other styles of both active (Bose type) and passive (Shure, Ety, Klipsch, etc.) and nothing comes close to the ety's. I literally listen at the same volume on an airplane as in the office. The major question is if they would be comfortable for you.
  10. wywern209 macrumors 65832


    Sep 7, 2008
    do you rly want to know?
    only problem w/ the etymotics is that they don't havea lot of bass. a lot of treble. What is there is amazing. but the missing bass leaves a lot be desired.
  11. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I don't find that they are lacking in bass, just that they don't accentuate it like most phones. It is also highly dependent on having an excellent seal. Without that, you'll have NO bass, and little sound isolation.
  12. wywern209 macrumors 65832


    Sep 7, 2008
    do you rly want to know?
    I am no basshead and the etys just emphasize the mids and the highs too much. The klipsch has a more well rounded sound.
  13. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    I use my bose for when I travel on planes. If i'm on the train commuting into NYC or just standard listening I use my Klipsch S4i. It blocks out the train noises and people's chit-chatter and cell phone rings
  14. acidburn517 macrumors newbie

    Jul 26, 2008
    I would suggest the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B Active Noise-Cancelling Closed-Back Headphones. Kind of poor mans' Bose QCs. It's what I used before moving on to the QC15s. Decent noise cancelling and within your price range. Another option would be Denon AH-NC732. Both are obviously not quite like Bose in terms of noise cancellation but do a pretty good job. Audiophiles may tend to complain about the decreased bass with both but if noise cancellation is your main concern, these 2 will do a decent job. Fairly comfortable ear cups as well.
  15. Love Juice macrumors regular

    Jun 2, 2008
    i would read / research over at it is only place to go for headphone enthusiasts, and you can find any question you may have (usually several times over) in the forums there.
  16. dawnraid macrumors regular

    Nov 9, 2007
    Sennheiser HD-25 mkII are all you need, simply an outstanding pair of headphones.
  17. eastercat macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    +1 to head-fi
    An excellent portable choice is in ear headphones. They go deeply into your ear canal, so you only hear music and very little of the train; this has the benefit of not needing as high a volume--which saves your hearing for your senior years. There's a number of sub-$100 choices. Personally, I'd avoid the noise cancellation. Most of them are overly bulky; bulk is fine when you're at home, but a train requires either the portability of ear buds or in ear headphones.
  18. QuarterSwede macrumors G3


    Oct 1, 2005
    Colorado Springs, CO
    As I hate active noise cancelation with a passion I'm going with a good old studio standard, the Sony MDR-7506. Excellent sound quality, as flat a response as you can currently get (meaning you can EQ it to your liking) and doesn't distort when pushing them hard and you can get crazy kicking bass if you're a bass head without distorting the mids or highs.

    They'll seal out the noise well. When I'm listening to music in a quiet house I can't hear my wife talking to me when she's sitting next to me in bed (that pisses her off :D).

    The only issue is they are bulky because they're over the ear but they come with a drawstring carrying pouch and offer a folding design. They're built out of high grade plastic and metal but you can replace any part that may get broken (they're like the Jeep Wrangler of cans).

    I absolutely LOVE mine as they don't color the sound by default. I get to do that myself by EQing. They're also very comfortable for long listening (I'm not a fan of in-ears for that reason).

    They generally run around $99, although you can sometimes get them for $89. It's a very, very good price for a studio standard.
  19. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    LOL! The Ety's are the closest thing you can get to neutral! It's fine if you don't like that sound, but they don't emphasize anything. The Klipsch have a significant emphasis in the lows - check out the frequency response graphs.
  20. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    I love the 7506 as well, and they are a great choice for closed cans at home or in the office, but I don't personally think they seal out noise well enough to be ideal on an airplane or on the train.

    One thing you should take from this Dekimasu is that you should buy from a place that allows returns - there is a lot of preference that goes into headphone choice. Online stores like Headroom have a good return policy, and perhaps you can find a local place to try some of the recommendations.
  21. MadMitch89 macrumors regular

    Mar 31, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Hey guys, can anybody tell me what the Sennheiser PXC 310 BT headphones are like. I'm interested in purchasing them. Thanks in advance.
  22. peterbooth macrumors newbie

    Feb 25, 2010
    Do you research, read reviews

    A few points:

    It simply isnt true that you get what you pay for. There are definitely bargains/example sof great value to be had at each price point.

    I'd encourage you to increase your expectations. When I invested in good earphones I discovered a whole ne wlistening experience - I was able to hear detail in what I thougt was music I already knew well. It shocked me that I could hear more from a $140 pair of in-ear, sound isolating earphones than a $5000 hifi, buts its true.

    Four years ago I read reviews and ended up at a website called "earphone solutions" . Based on their review I bought a pair of Westone UM1 for about $140 and I was blown away. I could hear detail that I hadnt heard before. Because of this I ended up listening to a lot more music. The one danger is that these earphone sblock out everything else, which is very dangerous when walking on NYC streets. The twisted cables, which look weird, have the advantage of not tangling:

    Two years later I trod on them and crushed them. I then spoiled myself and bought a pair iof
    for $270, and yes, they were noticeably better, but I was terrified of losing or breaking them. (I lost them).

    Underemployed, I needed something cheaper and went with the apple in-ear earphones. They have very positive reviews, but I couldnt get a great seal with my ear and was disappointed with them.

    I bought a second pair of UM1, loved them, and once again, trod on them and crushed them. I'm about to go shopping again.

    I can recommend the reviews at the website I suggested - they seem to honestly compare their products from differenbt vendors and dont just rave about the well known company's.

    I was able to to test drive a pair of higher end tymotic and, whilst both sounded good, they didnt fit as comfortably as teh westones. I have a big head, big ears, so YMMV.

    Good luck! You really can hear an amazing difference when you jump from $60 to $130

  23. peterbooth macrumors newbie

    Feb 25, 2010
    Also - about noise cancelling

    One more point:

    I have a pair of Sennheiser active noise cancelling over-ear headphones. They are great for airplanes where the low frequency sounds are a killer.
    I even use them on a plane if Im not listening to music, just teh noise cancellation leaves me feeling less tired from the flight.

    But I am afraid of damaging my ears (from high volume) if I use them all the time on trains. For walking in the city, or on subways, I find that my in-ear sound isolating Westones work better. I can use much lower volumes, they are more comfortable and teh sound quality is better.
  24. R94N macrumors 68020


    May 30, 2010
    My two favourite brands for this kind of thing is Sennheiser and the Beats by Dr Dre. Both work really well.
  25. the Helix macrumors regular

    the Helix

    Sep 16, 2003
    Bose Qc15

    I regularly travel from the US to Europe and am frequently on trains, planes and public transportation. I swear by the BOSE QC15. They cost a lot, but are well worth the more pleasant journey they provide.

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