Use Noise Cancelling [NC] Headphones for Peaceful Listening
Go straight to recommended Noise-Cancelling products.
Noise cancelling [NC] headphones are designed to prevent loud environmental noise intrusion and are specifically designed for airline, auto and train use. Noise-cancelling headphones employ a tiny built-in microphone within the earpieces to sense the sound around the headphones and an 'active' battery-powered electronic circuit that amplifies, then inverts that signal and adds it back into the music signal to cancel the acoustic noise pressure at the earpiece. (Some of the best noise cancelling headphones use digital signal processing (DSP) to create isolation). Because noise cancelling headphones have an internal headphone amplifier, there is slim benefit from external headphone amplification except for additional volume, if needed. Basic 'closed-back' [aka 'sealed'] headphones block high frequencies generally as well as active noise-cancelling cans, but do not isolate low frequencies as well, so are not quite as good for airline travel. Noise cancelling headphones are almost always closed-back and block the constant low-end frequencies heard in airline/train cabins very well. However, good In Ear headphones always provide far more noise blocking ability (like true earplugs) but some folks are apprehensive and don't like the feel of 'earplugs' deep into their ears.
Top HeadRoom Noise-Cancelling Headphones
The affordable Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b is a slim, solidly-engineered and very competent noise cancelling design, a traveler's headphone ready for road trips and airports. The pricier Audio-Technica ATH-ANC9a ups the sound quality while improving noise-cancelling ability. We've tested a lot of noise-cancelling headphones and very few come close to sounding as good as the fully-featured Polk UltraFocus NC800, a frequent airline traveler's NC headphone of choice. The lovely sound of the Sennheiser MM450X offers travel listeners great Bluetooth wireless sound with a warm-toned musicality and excellent long-term wearing comfort from its deeply padded 'on-ear' cushions.
We've listed our top HeadRoom picks below, or see all noise-cancelling headphones.