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Usacomp2k3
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Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Wed Jun 27, 2018 11:46 am

I'm starting to do a little bit more traveling for work, so thought I would get a set of low-end noise cancelling headphones. My main use case would be 3.5mm into either a phone or the airplane entertainment unit. The secondary (and optional) use-case would be bluetooth to a phone. Tertiary (and very much optional) would be a built-in mic to due phone calls.
I've seen lots of options in the $200 range, but I don't travel enough to make that investment. Sound quality isn't super-important for me. My ears will adjust anyway. The look isn't important at all. They can be straight black, neon yellow, small, large, I really don't care.
The obvious option is the Bose QC35 (or even the QC25's) but they are way outside of my pricerange. Used QC25's start at around $125, which is really more than I want to spend, but might be the cheapest entry into getting what I want.
I've had a hard time getting straight answers whether most of the low-end units will meet my main use-case. There are many units like the Cowin E7's that are in the right price, but they appear to only support noise cancelling over Bluetooth and not while hard-wired, which is a requirement for me. The Avantree ANC031's look like a good bet also, but again I can't find out if they work without bluetooth. Maybe I'll send both Avantree & Cowin an e-mail to get a solid answer.

Any other recommends on specific models, or maybe a marketplace to get a used pair of some mid-end units into my pricerange?
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Wed Jun 27, 2018 12:36 pm

IME the cheaper ones have lousy fidelity, lousy noise cancellation, or (generally) both.

Back in the day, the best compromise between "doesn't suck" and "affordable" that I found was the original Sennheiser PXC 250. Its main drawback was a somewhat bulky battery/electronics dongle, which you had to clip to a pocket or your belt. Mine finally died a couple of years back, but I got a lot of good use out of it.

I have no experience with the newer version (PXC 250 II). The dongle on the II variant is smaller and lighter (takes a single AAA battery instead of a pair), but they recommend against using NiMH rechargeable AAAs (due to NiMH having lower voltage than standard disposable alkalines). The (potential) incompatibility with rechargeable AAA batteries has kept me from buying one.

And they're still more than you said you wanted to spend ($150 street price, currently).
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Usacomp2k3
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Wed Jun 27, 2018 1:30 pm

I enjoyed the PC150's I had from Sennheiser. I'll give hte PXC's a look. I'm not generally as much a fan for on-ear for extended duration, but the HD 4.50's look like a good deal. I see used ones for $90 which is near my pricepoint. I did confirm that the 4.50's at least work with the noise-cancelling in either the bluetooth or cable'd modes.
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:08 pm

Confirmation from Avantree customer Support that the ANC does work in wired mode. Nothing from Cowin yet. I'm leaning that way for $70, but still not really decided.
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:30 pm

just brew it! wrote:
IME the cheaper ones have lousy fidelity, lousy noise cancellation, or (generally) both.

This is true from everything I have heard and read.

I would very much consider expanding your budget if you can. Maybe try and snag last year's model or a used set if you can. You already mentioned the QC35's which are pretty great at what they do, but also take a peek at the Sony MDR-1000X. I don't think you'll regret spending that much on either set in the long run.
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:55 pm

Just to put it in perspective, I don't own any headphones at all other than my iPhone headset and I've used that maybe twice in the last year. 90% of my music is listened to over the phone's speakers and all my gaming is done using the 7.1 in the theater room. It's hard to look at investing $100+ for something that realistically I'm only likely to use maybe 6-10 times/year.
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 3:54 pm

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
It's hard to look at investing $100+ for something that realistically I'm only likely to use maybe 6-10 times/year.

Fair enough.

But if you get something that sucks, you'll probably use it once or twice, then toss it in a drawer never to be used again.
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 5:21 pm

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
90% of my music is listened to over the phone's speakers

*shudder*
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:18 pm

You're probably not going to find anything decent for less than $150, certainly not new. NC technology worth caring about isn't cheap.
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 8:32 pm

DancinJack wrote:
You already mentioned the QC35's which are pretty great at what they do, but also take a peek at the Sony MDR-1000X. I don't think you'll regret spending that much on either set in the long run.

I'd have a really hard time justifying paying that much myself. Especially for something with an integrated (and likely not easily replaceable) battery that's probably going to stop holding a charge after just a few years.
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:03 pm

ludi wrote:
Usacomp2k3 wrote:
90% of my music is listened to over the phone's speakers

*shudder*

I’m not an audiophile when it comes to music for sure. It’s only even on as background, which the phone speakers work perfectly fine for.
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 9:05 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Usacomp2k3 wrote:
It's hard to look at investing $100+ for something that realistically I'm only likely to use maybe 6-10 times/year.

Fair enough.

But if you get something that sucks, you'll probably use it once or twice, then toss it in a drawer never to be used again.

Maybe I need to just stick with the passive noise cancelling, aka earbuds. I loved the set of Shure E2C’s I had back in the day and they worked great for noise blocking the summer I did lawn-care with power tools all day.
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:23 pm

That's definitely a lot easier to prescribe something for.

Etymotic makes some decent earbuds and has some good passive isolation because of the tips they use. Might look into them. Though obviously you can just buy some Comply foam tips or whatever for the headphones you currently have.

Like these: https://www.etymotic.com/consumer/earphones/mk5.html
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:24 pm

just brew it! wrote:
DancinJack wrote:
You already mentioned the QC35's which are pretty great at what they do, but also take a peek at the Sony MDR-1000X. I don't think you'll regret spending that much on either set in the long run.

I'd have a really hard time justifying paying that much myself. Especially for something with an integrated (and likely not easily replaceable) battery that's probably going to stop holding a charge after just a few years.

I don't know what to tell ya, dude. Those two models are really the only NC headphones people talk about (and for good reason). There just aren't that many active NC headphones with decent NC and decent sound out there.
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jun 29, 2018 10:28 pm

DancinJack wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
DancinJack wrote:
You already mentioned the QC35's which are pretty great at what they do, but also take a peek at the Sony MDR-1000X. I don't think you'll regret spending that much on either set in the long run.

I'd have a really hard time justifying paying that much myself. Especially for something with an integrated (and likely not easily replaceable) battery that's probably going to stop holding a charge after just a few years.

I don't know what to tell ya, dude. Those two models are really the only NC headphones people talk about (and for good reason). There just aren't that many active NC headphones with decent NC and decent sound out there.

I don't doubt they work well. But that's a lot of $ for headphones... especially ones that'll probably need to be serviced in a few years.
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Sat Jun 30, 2018 5:48 am

Hmf...I should probably get on with it and pick up some QC25s while they're still available. Been needing to replace a deteriorating and mediocre to start with Panasonic model and I'm not so keen on the whole no batteries or 3.5mm thing the newer models are moving toward.
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:19 am

You want a hell of a lot for no money. Why just not buy a pair of older closed over-ears instead? those tend to block out quite a bit of noise due to their design without the battery/NC higher pricetag that comes with the better pairs. Personally I got a Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2.0 and I honestly use them all the time, from making calls to surviving my daily commute, so I didn't mind spending 250€ on them.
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Sat Jun 30, 2018 9:29 am

If you're considering switching to passive noise cancels, the Shure SE215 is a great buy. They frequently will hit sale prices around $80. The foam tips do a great job quieting the world around me. I've had a pair for about 2 years and have used them (no exaggeration) hundreds of times for everything from personal practice headphones, so as to not disturb the family, to personal monitors for live performance.

edit: "Like new" from Unique Squared $85 on Amazon right now. I've bought tons of stuff from Unique Squared on their own shop in the past and they're good to work with. Couple that with Amazon's no-questions-asked return policy on Prime items and there's basically no risk.
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Sat Jun 30, 2018 12:39 pm

Thanks for all the feedback. I have more options to research.
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Tue Jul 03, 2018 10:48 am

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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Fri Jul 06, 2018 2:54 am

Nice find! That is indeed a good deal; new for what most sites charge for refurb.
 
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:53 pm

https://www.amazon.com/Bose-QuietComfor ... 4b327ad778

125 for QC25s. Snag that up, duders.
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Re: Active Noise Cancelling headsets

Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:50 pm

So I ended up buying nothing. Any the flight was fabulous. The 787 is significantly quieter and less harsh on the ears than any other plane I've flown on. Much more so than the 737, 757, 767, * A320 that I've flown on in the last few months. Thanks for all the input anyway.

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