Regardless of if you love to fly there are downsides for me its aircraft and cabin noise without my favourite set of Noise Cancelling Headphones I find it hard to sleep and end up at my destination tired and irritable. Since this topic is a popular one I decided to dedicate this section of my blog with the latest reviews, news and comparisons of NC headphones, I also plan to delve deeper into the technology how it works.
It’s important to note that these devices only eliminate repeating lower frequency noises things like cabin, air, engine and very distant chatter. Sounds such people chatting with each other or a screaming baby won’t be eliminated by this technology, however an in ear or thick padded set may help.
How do Noise Cancelling Headphones work?
There are two types of noise cancellation the first being Passive which means sounds are being blocked by padding or in-ear sets which basically block outside sounds from entering your ear.
The second type are what is referred to Active, which work by cancelling out that repeating low frequency sounds, this is achieved with the use of one or more microphones on the outside of the headset that picks up the unwanted noise the processor in the headset inverts/phase shifts this noise 180° sending this inverted noise into the headset and in theory eliminating it. The below illustration does a good job of visualising how this technology works.
Illustration courtacy of EDN Network
What are the leading sets on the market?
Bose and Sennheiser are the market leaders with both companies releasing sets for commercial pilots at around the same time in 1986. Other leading brands include Audio-Technica, Sony and Plantronics.
Should I Get a Set?
Even if only travelling a few times a year getting a cheaper set is well worth the investment especially when flying economy where airlines standard economy sets don’t have this technology, that being said I would also recommend picking up a pair for frequent flyers who fly business and first class as I hate to admit most airlines the NC headsets usually offer very little cancellation that’s if they work.
The series of articles we have planned will look deeper into this technology, look at reviews of different models as well as look at the latest news.
If you want to purchase a set without reading through our reviews below are the sets we currently recommend:
Bose QuietComfort 25
The leading over-ear set with 3 button remote for iOS and Android devices. Price US $299
Bose QuietComfort 20
Again from Bose this is the leading in-ear set which again has remote functions for iOS and Android devices. The great thing about this set is that its in-ear design does a great job of blocking higher frequency sounds such as people talking and babies screaming which the active technology does not block. Price US $299
Sennheiser PXC 250 II
The Sennheiser PXC 250 II is our favourite on-ear set that, has an amazing 50 hour battery life and folds to a compact. Price $123.75