Sound Isolation or Noise Cancellation

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by silenthill33, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. silenthill33 macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2007
    Hey everyone,

    I am wanting to buy some high quality headphones for the holidays, but would like them to have some form of noise reduction. From my research, I have found that the Shure SE530's (isolation), and the Sennheiser Pxc450 (cancellation) seem to be the best reviewed. Both are in the same price range, so that isn't a factor. As of now, I am leaning toward the Shure set as I have heard the Sennheisers require a portable amp to function correctly, and I am not even sure where to start as far as purchasing one of those. If the Senns are indeed a better pair of headphones, could you suggest a high quality amp to power them?
    Thanks in advance for all help!
  2. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    personally, I always go for isolation. noise-cancellation requires a sound to be played back, which may be uncomfortable and requires some sort of power. isolating headphones can also double up as earplugs.
  3. donga macrumors 6502a


    May 16, 2005
    i thought about this when looking for headphones too.

    i like the passive noise reduction over the active technologies. with those bose & etc. you've got to have batteries and have it on... didn't want all that. just wanted regular headphones that pretty much eliminated noise

    ended up going with ultimate ears superfi 5 eb. when music is on, i can't hear anything else. :)
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    One more pro and con (in different ways) for sound isolation is that physical isolation tends to work selectively at certain frequencies -- this is why a lot of machine noise and so on are almost completely blocked out when you wear earplugs, and yet you can still hear other people relatively well. So if you need to block out people talking, for instance, cancellation works much better as a technology. On the other hand, that also means that you should only use it in situations where you'll be safe not hearing other people (e.g. an airplane, or perhaps studying, but not outside walking around).
  5. Moks macrumors member

    Jul 18, 2008
    For me it really boiled down to whether I preferred to stick things in or over my ears. I am far more comfortable with traditional headphones, so I went for Sennheiser PXC450. Very comfortable, noise cancellation is fine, and they're also great as 'regular' headphones when you don't need the noise cancellation (and no batteries needed in this situation). Unlike some other noise-cancelling headphones, they don't suck when the noise-cancelling is switched off.

    EDIT - I've had no need for a headphone amp.
  6. gothamm macrumors 6502a

    Nov 18, 2007
    ah, just when i almost lose hope in MR, you guys make me proud. :cool:


    for reasons, just google.
  7. Rewes macrumors member

    Apr 26, 2005
  8. Bengt77 macrumors 68000


    Jun 7, 2002
    Noise isolating IEMs for sure. Their sound is miles beyond anything noise cancelling phones will get you.
  9. stuarthatto macrumors regular

    Nov 5, 2008
    I have had a pair of Shure E3C's for 3 years now and have never had an issue with them.

    They produce great sound at high volume with no distortion.

    I went for isolation rather than cancellation after being very disappointed with a pair of Panasonic cancellation headphones. I found that whilst cancellation worked well with the constant higher frequencies of say the air rushing past an airplane in flight, they did little or nothing to remove the thrumming of the engines.

    The isolation headphones remove both and leave you totally isolated from external sounds.

  10. gnasher729 macrumors P6


    Nov 25, 2005
    Noise isolation has the advantage that it works both ways. People around you are less disturbed by the music that you are playing.
  11. .Andy macrumors 68030


    Jul 18, 2004
    The Mergui Archipelago
    I've not tried cancelling but my noise isolating are amazing. I've got some Shure SE210s and they have seriously completely changed the way I enjoy music. On the train to work (~1 hour) I may as well be in my own private world. You can still hear some ambient noise (albeit at very reduced levels) but everything is so well blocked out I can drift off to sleep/be absorbed in my audiobook as soon as I plug them in my ears :).

    p.s. I commute with my wife every day. That's how well they work.

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