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Noise-cancelling headphones

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Apologies if this has already been discussed at length (although I've searched and found nothing):

As a daily - 2 x 1 hour - commuter on the London underground (subway, le metro, etc) I'm curious to know how effective the noise-cancelling headphones by Sennheiser, Bose, etc really are. I quickly gave up using closed-back headphones because of intrusive external noise but would love to be able to listen to music or speech of my choice during those two hours of forced inactivity.

The publicity material seems geared towards air travellers, but do such devices work on transport with more variable background noise?

Any input gratefully received.
post #2 of 8
They don't work well at all with variable noise. A better bet is supra-aural (closed) headphones, or canalphones like the Etymotic ER4S or ER4P.
post #3 of 8
Bhasi, your statement should have said,

"I quickly gave up using OPEN-back headphones because of intrusive external noise"

The fact is, the right closed headphones will block the most noise.

The problem with active noise cancellation is that it isn't good at sounds that change from the background, and they just don't sound as good as real good normal closed headphones. (READ: ACTIVE NOISE CANCELLATION = SUCKY)

Go for the Etymotic ER4P or the Etymotic ER4S's, depending on the source.
post #4 of 8
Bhasi,

I agree with the others in recommending the Etymotic Research ER4S/P for the daily commute. They block out external noise extremely well (they're basically earplugs w/ drivers inside).

They are a little costly if you're not picky about sound, but well worth the price to those who want both isolation and great sound quality.

I always feel relaxed after getting off a long bus ride or plane when travelling w/ my etys. Lower that stress and get some etys!
post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thanks, guys, for these replies.
I gave up on open-backed 'phones after living in Holland for a while, where they are actually - and very sensibly - not permitted on buses, for example.
But even closed-backed ones by Technics and Sony found themselves left at home after a few days' use because of poor isolation, especially through some of London's screechier tunnels.
Also, I found the in-ear devices which came out in the 80's incredibly uncomfortable
Your recommendations of the Etymotics are very encouraging, though, so I'm ordering a pair from Headroom today.
Thanks again.
post #6 of 8
Here's the thing...closed back phones *CAN* give you the best sound isolation. However, having a closed back does not necessarily mean it blocks the most sound...it's just that closed back phones POTENTIALLY block the most sound of anything.

And the Ety's? *IF* you put them in your ear right, they will block 29 dB of outside sound (which is a *WHOLE* lot), and they'll be comfy, and the'll sound great.

Which did you get, teh ER4P, which doesn't need an amp, or the 4S, which does to reach it's full potential?
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Gluegun
Thanks for your follow-up post.
I'm going for the 4S model plus a Total AirHead to go with my trusty 8 year-old Technics portable CDP. If the sound of this combination can get anywhere near that of my Grado SR60s straight from the same CDP at home, I'll be a VERY happy commuter indeed!
By the way, I suspect I'm one of those (fortunate?!) people to whom 'real' (i.e. really expensive) high-end is irrelevant: I spent ten minutes with the top Sennheiser valve-amplified Orpheus system at the Novotel hi-fi show in London on Saturday and was left pretty unmoved. Any step up from the HD600s I tried just before was lost on me.
Okay, I know show conditions are never conducive to really critical listening and exhibitors' preferences in music can be a distinct turn-off if you don't share them, and this may even just be semi-conscious 'sour grapes' thinking on my part, but it seems that the law of diminishing returns applies pretty clearly at the upper end of the headphone market.
post #8 of 8
Needless to say, the ety 4s/TA combo will cream most of anything you throw at it...most definitely the grados and to quite a few (including myself) the senns.

Just make sure to give the etys some time...most people take awhile to adjust to wearing headphones in the deep recesses of their earcanal
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