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What are the best noise blocking headphones/earbuds?

What is the best brand of noise blocking head phones to purchase for a red eye flight that don't cost a fortune? I would like to watch movies on my tablet but have difficulty hearing with the airplane noise. 

16 Answers

top answer by
Chadd from Appleton, Wisconsin

The Bose QC 20i's were gifted to me about two years ago and have used them every day since. Best gift I have ever received. As a frequent business traveler the in-ear headphones are incredibly convenient for both phone calls and noise cancellation on flights. I've written up several mock-commerials/sketches to emphasize how little I hear my surroundings. Can't say enough about them. They're amazing.

3 thanks

answered by
Brad from Winnipeg

I just bought a pair of Plantronics Backbeat Pro over the ear headphones. They are absolutely amazing and in my opinion beat out Bose that cost almost double. Battery life is unreal, over 12 hours. I can't remember the last time I charged, but the level is still high, plus you can easily pair and use it with multiple devices. Has a built in mic if you need to teleconference, and a listen mode, where you can hear everything around you amplified. Good for spying on others conversations on the plane. lol Also has great intuitive controls for controlling volume, music track, and interacting with Siri. And most importantly, they are very comfortable. If you look around you'll see rave reviews mostly everywhere. Bought them for flying, but often use them in noise environments with white noise to drown out all distractions for ultimate concentration.  Good luck!

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answered by
Krista from San Francisco

I used to work in a loud and chaotic open office, and really like Monster's products. I use the clarity HD in-ear headphones($40-$50), which are small enough that they're easy to travel with too.

Many of my colleagues swore by Beats (sold by/at Apple), so that brand is certainly worth checking out. Amazon reviews are generally pretty trustworthy, so that may be a good place to search. :)

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answered by
Matt from Singapore

I have tried many noise cancelling earphones, Sennheiser (good, durable, even ran them over with a car!), Sony (refurbished, $20 buy at an outlet mall, not really good) and finally settled with Bose QC20i (around 220 USD, refurbished at a Bose Outlet store). Reason: I wanted to use them while sleeping / napping, where the over-ear supplied often in Business Class are just too clunky to lean on. I also wanted a "loud" button to talk to flight attendants and I wanted to use it with my iPhone (mic) and various laptops and tablets. So far, I have not run out of juice with them even on 13hr flight. Even then, they recharge on any USB. Meanwhile I use the QC20i more often outside planes, too. After 2 years I see practically no wear.

Verdict: I agree with Chadd, Bose are hands down the best. If you think about how much you may spend on sunglasses, cosmetics and other things you put on/in your face (in a year) the price might become more reasonable.

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answered first by
Michelle from Melbourne

The reality here is that most good quality headphones are pretty expensive. I've flirted with cheaper models but they just don't do the same job. I use Sennheiser noise-cancelling headphones that fit snugly over my ears. They have a 'talk through' button so if a flight attendant asks you a question, you don't need to take them off.

I find earbuds to be very irritating when used for any prolonged period on a flight, so the comfort level of full headphones is the way to go for me. A further tip - if you wear earrings, I'd suggest you take them out and store them in your purse while you're wearing these headphones. I also find my ears get irritated if I leave my earrings in.

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answered by
Michael from San Jose

Sol Republic Wifi has great sound quality. It is quite affordable $69-$89. Everything with the headphones is replaceable and detachable. So, you can replace the component that is worn out easily.

If you have an Apple Store close to you. You can sample the high quality headsets in there before you make your final purchase.

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answered by
Dan from Memphis

I answered this once before, but for up-to-date info I recommend the excellent review site The Wirecutter:

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answered by

Just go to a Harbor Freight and get a set of ear muffs for the low price $2.99 - seriously its item #61372 (same thing is available at Hardware Store, Lowe's, Home Depot, etc. but will cost more).  This is what you wear when running a chainsaw or leaf blower because they work.  then just put your earbuds that came with your phone on underneath them.  no worries about battery life or losing them because they are cheap.  They also have foldable ones for $6.99.

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answered by
Leonard from Minneapolis

Can't go wrong with Bose, as many as mentioned here.

I use Sony noise-cancelling earbuds, as they are much smaller than headphones, plus you can find them cheap on eBay.

Some of the ones mentioned here (Shure, Beats) I believe not active noise cancelling.

They must have active noise cancelling circuitry for maximum effectiveness.

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answered by
James from Calgary

I personally don't use noise canceling headphones.

However I have noticed a lot of airlines today are not allowing passengers to use noise canceling headphone, some during all stages of flight, and some only during takeoff and landing. 

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answered by

I love my Shure SE215-K Earphones (about $140). They are in-ear, but comfortable to wear and they do a great job of blocking out airplane noise. (Pair them with some sleep sounds and you're set for an in-flight nap.)

I wear them on every flight and they do eventually get to be irritating, but that's usually after 5-6 hours of wear.

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answered by
Radhina from Dubai

I got gifted a pair of Bose headphones for Christmas (non-ear bud model) and they have been a lifesaver on every flight since - there is no going back! :)

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answered by
Nars from Boston

This is the product I use.

I can listen or sleep wearing this headphones. If you use it for hours, your ear does get a little warm.

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answered by
A from Richmond

Tips for choosing:

1. Always go with over ear headphones rather than those that rest on your ears. Earbuds are another option. 

2. Make sure they plug into your device. Bluetooth or wireless headphones will run out of battery every time you don't need them to while traveling.

3. I love LSTN headphones, they donate hearing aids to kids who can't hear with every purchase, the sound is great for the price. 

4. Make sure it comes with a case. Most headphones are not meant ot travel with and will break in your bag without a case made for them.

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answered by
qiao from Hangzhou

You can buy the 3M company's earbuds. It's small and portable, suite the long journey on the plan. Just can't stand holding the big headphones during the whole trip.

answered by
AZ from Phoenix

I bought the Bose Noise Cancelling earbuds, and love them - so much so that my wife made me buy her a pair of them also.  They're great for long, or short, airplane travel - but amazingly - I actually like wearing them while taking a weekend nap on the couch at home.  The quiet that you hear - once the noise cancelling switch is turned on - is quite incredible.  They also make great music earbuds, but many times, I don't even attach my ipod, just loving the quiet from using them.

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