HeadRoom Picks Best In-Ear Isolating Headphones
Some in-ear headphones sit deeply into the ear thereby providing the most noise isolation and a very secure fit, while others do not sit as deeply into the ear canal and thus offer a bit less isolation but are usually more comfortable and easier to wear, especially for newcomers or sensitive earlobes. The very easy-fitting Sennheiser CX 300 II delivers the best in-ear headphone around $50 and their eartip array works well for folks with smaller ears; the CX300 makes the perfect upgrade from lowly buds found with your portable device or iPod. Motorcyclists and helmet-wearers will particularly enjoy the clear tone, small earpiece size, and thorough ear-seal of the NOCS NS800 (w/mic) which are terrifically clean-sounding for the price. Etymotic Research makes awesome headset / smartphone in-ears like the HF2 or the Apple iPhone/iPad Etymotic HF3 model with built-in mic + 3-button controller. The high-end big daddy of in-ear audiophile sound is the Shure SE535, triple-driver in-ears with a spectacularly lush and layered sound delivering a galvanizing listening experience anywhere your music takes you. 'Audiologist customization' allows you to enjoy the best of the best with the simply stunning series of Jerry Harvey Audio in-ear monitors, easily everyone's in-ear faves here at HeadRoom.
HeadRoom Picks Best Noise-Blocking Sealed-Back Headphones
Without any 'active' (battery-powered) electronic noise-canceling aboard, the well-priced Audio Technica M50 still provides very respectable isolation from ambient noise as do the excellent Sony MDR-ZX700 and the sonically superior Shure SRH-840 headphones. The reasonably priced, high-performance Beyerdynamic Custom One Pro is a 'semi-sealed' can with an adjustable tonal presentation and highly competent acoustic performance; the ability to "personalize" the sound is a fun plus. But if you're looking to go completely over the top and get what we think are the world's very best closed headphones, the Ultrasone Signature Pro or especially the superior Fostex TH-900 will surely become your lifelong personal listening audiophile havens.
HeadRoom Picks Best 'Active' Noise-Cancelling [NC] 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 dang few come close to sounding as good as the fully-featured Polk UltraFocus NC800, a frequent airline traveler's NC headphone of choice due in no small part to its block-of-oak build quality. The lovely sound of the Sennheiser MM450-X offers travel listeners great Bluetooth wireless sound with a warm-toned musicality and excellent long-term wearing comfort from its deeply padded mid-sized 'on-ear' cushions.