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I've got a college son who wants noise cancelling headphones for Christmas. I am assured they would only be used to help control the environment for better studying...:rolleyes:

I'm not asking what is the "very best" so much as I'd like to know what is the "best value", and where to buy without breaking the bank. I think we're looking at full-ear phones (unless there is a good reason to the contrary), so does anything compete with the Bose QC-15?
 

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I hope you realize that electronic “noise canceling” only works for constant sounds like an engine running at constant RPM…i.e. they work fine on airplanes and boats. I hope you’ve noticed that I did not include cars; even wind noise and crowd noise are not constant enough to be canceled out electronically. They will cancel some of the noise, but not even most. I’ve got a set of mechanical (ear plugs) “noise canceling” that I will not hear anything short of a person standing next to you yelling into your ear. These also have phenomenal fidelity. If you want phenomenal sound quality and true “noise canceling”, I would call these noise eliminating, headphones, these are the best for both noise elimination and sound quality. $300 is not bad either…I still have my set so I don’t need another…otherwise I’d buy them again, and again, and again… Etymotic Research, Inc. - ER-4? MicroPro Series
 

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Never tried either of the two above but for consumer headphones, I've always liked Bose. The micropro series mentioned above don't seem to have phenomenal specs but that is due to the small transducer in ear bud headphones. Im a recording arts student so I have a pair of sennheiser HD380 pros as my preferred pair. Sound quality is amazing and the specs speak for themselves (8hz-27khz). They aren't noise canceling since it would create (in ear) system noise in a professional environment but they have a reduction by 40db which is pretty impressive without having all the extra hardware in the earphones. They cost me $200 but I use them everyday and absolutely love them. But again, if you want consumer noise canceling headphones i have always been impressed with Bose headphones.


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Here is the frequency response graphs of some of the headphones mentioned. note this has nothing to do with noise canceling, just sound quality. Basically, the flatter the line, the better. Notice in the Bose headphones the HUGE boost in bass. This is common in many consumer headphones as it is what people like. In the ultra high frequencies you can see it start to drop off suddenly. In the sennheisers, you can see the line is a little wavy but nothing too exaggerated, it does have a weird dip in the 15khz-18khz range though but then it goes back to level without that steep dropoff. The etymotic headphones have a very impressive low-mids response but you can see in the high frequencies, the line starts going crazy. Ultimately, it's all about preference. Being able to visually see quality sometimes helps but still take in other factors like comfort and convenience. And the comfort on the Bose headphones is AMAZING.


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Discussion Starter #8
Is there a way to determine how much "isolating" the QC-15's provide?
 

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Any earplug is significantly more comfortable that any earphone.
True, and the convenience of not having to carry bulky headphones around is a plus too. After wearing the ear plugs for an extended amount of time I feel the comfort gets less and less. The tradeoff for earbuds is sound quality.

Is there a way to determine how much "isolating" the QC-15's provide?
Yep, with this graph, the lower the line, the better the isolation. They didn't have the 380s so i went with the next model down. This is only testing the isolation I believe and not the cancelation that bose has. But as someone pointed out, it will only cancel constant noise like an airplane. If you have a Bose store near you, you can test their headphones out for yourself. The earplugs clearly have the best isolation. They work basically the same as plugging your ears with your fingers
 

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True, and the convenience of not having to carry bulky headphones around is a plus too. After wearing the ear plugs for an extended amount of time I feel the comfort gets less and less. The tradeoff for earbuds is sound quality.

...

They work basically the same as plugging your ears with your fingers
My preamp goes from 0db (or 10) to -60dB (or zero).

The isolation is ~ -25dB. So a library at maybe 80dBA gets reduced to ~ 55dBA.
Same for work, the office is probably about 80dBA.

When I have the music on it is at about -55dB on the preamp, so you would have a hard time hearing it with regular headphones, but it is just above the background noise at a low level.

Same in the car - the car is at ~90 to 105dBA. Earphone isolate down to ~65 to 80dBA.
The earphones run at just above the background level so ~83dB.
 

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Etymotic fan for 15 years. The sound is amazing and the isolation is better than active cancellation

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So far, we’ve got one person asking the question here and 5 answers. There are 3 votes for Etymotic earplugs; 1 vote for Bose headphones and one vote for Bowers & Wilkins headphones. You’ve got 3 votes for earplugs and 2 votes for headphones. 4 of them were priced at $300 and 1 at $350. I think there is a runaway winner.
 

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;1801479 said:
So far, we’ve got one person asking the question here and 5 answers. There are 3 votes for Etymotic earplugs; 1 vote for Bose headphones and one vote for Bowers & Wilkins headphones. You’ve got 3 votes for earplugs and 2 votes for headphones. 4 of them were priced at $300 and 1 at $350. I think there is a runaway winner.
Just to clarify, I still vote for sennheisers. $200 for professional studio quality headphones. I do have to try these etymotic headphones out though.


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The 100$ etymotics are fantastic as well. I have the cheap and expensive set and i am not sure the higher grade ones are worth the difference in money.



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Just to clarify, I still vote for sennheisers. $200 for professional studio quality headphones. I do have to try these etymotic headphones out though.


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To be thorough you cannot beat these for comfort nor for sound and isolation... 3MAX | Sensaphonics , or any similar sensaphonics.

However in the "best for value" then, the etymotics are good value.

Alternatively you could also get the moulded sehnsphonics ear plug and put in the etymotics driver. Which is not a bad choice as it is easier to damage the cords than the ear plug.
However I am not sure if these make it easy to replace the drivers or not... For Etymotic Earphones | Sensaphonics
 

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To be thorough you cannot beat these for comfort nor for sound and isolation... 3MAX | Sensaphonics , or any similar sensaphonics.
For comfort and isolation, yes, but sound quality, no. Just look at te frequency response. 20-16000 Hz. Humans can hear 20-20000hz. Even the crappy apple headphones can produce those frequencies. Although those high frequency would be hard to notice, taking them out completely would severely affect the quality of your music. Earplugs like that are best used as walkie talkies at the race tracks. The sennheiser headphones I mentioned have a frequency response of 8-27000hz, well beyond the human hearing range. Although we can't hear those frequencies, it is known by professionals that frequencies outside our hearing range can affect the ones we can hear. Keep in mind all these differences in quality would only be noticed by someone with a highly trained ear, but if you're looking to buy quality headphones, why buy bad ones?


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I have the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B headphones, they are about half the price of the Bose headphones. I work in a loft with about 10 tech startups in the same space. With the headphones on and music playing, I can't head any outside noise. My coworkers sit right next to me and need to use hand signals to get my attention.

I'm not a huge audiophile, so I can't really comment about the sound quality, but I think they sound great.

One of the best features about them is they work ok when the battery runs out or is removed. You need to turn the volume up, but some active noise cancellation headphones can't work without being turned on, which really sucks.

[ame]http://www.amazon.com/Technica-ATH-ANC7B-Noise-Cancelling-Closed-Back-Headphones/dp/B002HWJT1A[/ame]
 

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I have worked in the reissue record business for decades, so we use headphones for critical subtle nuanced differences to hear in mixes. Not for sound isolating airplane headphones, which is simply an out of phase signal to attempt to trick your ear.

If he doesn't need isolation(most people don't) I highly recommend sennheiser 238 and 239 model. Unbelievable comfy too.
 

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I have worked in the reissue record business for decades, so we use headphones for critical subtle nuanced differences to hear in mixes. Not for sound isolating airplane headphones, which is simply an out of phase signal to attempt to trick your ear.

If he doesn't need isolation(most people don't) I highly recommend sennheiser 238 and 239 model. Unbelievable comfy too.
Yes! Another awesome sennheiser product. The price on those are great too


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