Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Passive noice isolation or Active noise canceling? Considering Bose QC15, or Koss Pro4AA, or other quality isolation.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Passive noice isolation or Active noise canceling? Considering Bose QC15, or Koss Pro4AA, or other quality isolation.

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 


 Hi, I'm new to the forum. Sorry if I haven't my homework, I haven't read many of the threads, I'm very very tired and should be in bed.


 I have an ipod, and rather long commute on a rather loud Skytrain + bus (Vancouver, BC). I need some serious noise reduction. The noise pollution is terrible. Low rumble and tumble train noises, but also high pitched screeches and chimes and PA recordings.


 I'm not rich but am willing to pay extra if necessary. I tried the the Bose QC15 in their store. It seemed like magic to me. I've read many reviews talking about audio quality. Personally I don't care. I currently use 20$ Sony buds. Anything over ear sounds really good to me.


 So how much of that QC15 magic is due to the active canceling, and how much of it is due to simply having quality padding, over ear cans? I didn't compare with Bose Around Ear model while I was there. Probably should have.


 Which ones are the best passive ones for commuting in the city? Say under 200$. And how much more noise would I be hearing when compared to the Bose?


 Koss seem to have some nice ones. What's the deal with Direct Sound EX-29?  Or Audio Technica ATH-A700?


 I went to the Sony store. A sleazy salesman turned me off that store. Won't be going there again.


 It would be nice if they were tough and durable. And it would be nice if I could walk with them, without hearing the hinges squeak or any such noise.


 Any help is greatly appreciated.

post #2 of 12

I would recommend the Sennheiser HD 25-1 II , very nice sound and awesome isolation.

post #3 of 12



You won't be able to block out that much noise when not playing music. But those sounds will disappear as you turn the volume up.


I suggest considering IEMs for better isolation. The HD25-1 II is supra-aural and often consider a good choice for isolation. 

post #4 of 12
First, you really should care about sound quality. You might not think so right now, but on the other hand, you haven't experienced a good headphone yet. Once you do, sound quality will have you hooked.

I don't like any of the active noise-canceling headphones much. They have an awful way of taking a lot of life out of the music while reducing noise. Further, Bose does not make good headphones. I've listened to all of them and not one has been good. Their old 901 speakers are interesting, but not the sort of thing you'd take on a bus.

Instead, I'd look towards IEMs. They offer the best isolation of anything and you can get some great sound from them, as well. That might not seem important right now, but once you get great sound, you'll want to listen to your favorite music more and more because it sounds so good.
post #5 of 12

I second that. IEMs are an excellent option for commuting. They're extremely portable and isolate very well while providing excellent sound quality. I don't have any recommendations myself but if I had nothing and wanted portable isolation, i would definitely be getting a pair of IEMs. You may not like the idea of stuffing something right inside your canal but imo you get used to it quickly. Also, take a look at http://www.complyfoam.com/ if you do decide on IEMs, they're quite popular.

Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post


Instead, I'd look towards IEMs. They offer the best isolation of anything and you can get some great sound from them, as well. That might not seem important right now, but once you get great sound, you'll want to listen to your favorite music more and more because it sounds so good.

Edited by Ninkul - 8/1/10 at 5:11am
post #6 of 12

Unless you know somebody who works at Bose (who wasn't laid off this year), you're talking about plunking down $300 for headphones just to get noise cancellation.  For that kind of money, you could get a decent pair of IEMs (in-ear monitors/earphones).  IEMs don't use electronics to cancel out sound.  They plug your ears.  It's an acoustic trick that works like a charm.  They're low profile, fit in a pocket, need little power and require no amping to sound good.  I'm not talking about earbuds or $20 JVCs hanging from a hook at Walmart.  For $300, you could get some very respectable IEMs with high-quality sound that will blow your old stuff away.


Or you could get Bose.  (Just don't buy the $99 Bose In-Ear phones, which were so bad I had my wife pull a U-turn a quarter of the way home so I could take them back immediately.)


Whatever anybody can say about the quality of Bose headphones (and brother, there isn't much that can't be said on that front), Bose does noise cancellation very well.  Their big innovation, forty years ago, was noise cancellation for aviation headsets.  It made the company.  I don't know any other company that makes a better noise-cancellation phone.  It's what Bose does.  Unfortunately, that's about all Bose does - at least with respect to headphones.


The QC15 works from two fronts, the first of which is passive.  Half of the QC15 is the Bose On-Ear Headphone, which sells for $179.  The Bose On-Ear has no electronics to cancel out unwanted sounds.  It uses the simple concept of a closed phone with a bean-bag-like cushion.  That cushion is a plump leatherette with a sound hole about the size of a dime.  When you put these cans on, you have to position the sound hole directly over your ear canal.  The rest of the beanbag flops around each ear forming a seal.  There's an immediate drop in sound, as if you'd just plugged your ears.  I've heard the On-Ear cans in the Bose Store, Best Buy, Target and the Apple Store.  In each case, the passive noise control of simply using bean-bag cushions on a closed phone is enough to cancel out a lot of outside noise - even without any additional noise-cancellation technology.


Unfortunately, what you get - inside this veritable sound dome - is a can-like presentation with the treble rolled off and bloated bass.  The music in the demos is meant to highlight a punchy mid-bass and mids, with specially-selected tracks designed to make the best out of a sonically limited platform.  In fact, I can still hear that sound in my head as if it were some kind of trauma that has stayed with me.  I visualize it as a kind of sonic black with sound in a box.


The QC15 adds the active noise cancellation technology, which basically uses sound to cancel sound.  For my money, I'd rather than have a nice pair of IEMs but to each his own.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 


 Yeah, I don't know why I'm intent on getting bulky headphones. I guess it seems to me that they'd do a better job at protecting me from noise. Plus they'd keep my ears warm in the winter!


 Couple years ago I tried some inserts. I think it may have been the Shure Se210. I forget because I returned them real soon. I found that walking, I could "hear" every step that I took. I couldn't tell if it was my shoes or my joints or what. That was after returning a pair of bulky headphones for the same reason. Actually in that case it was less of a mystery, I think the hinges were squeaking or knocking.


 Anyway, my new commute does not have me walking as much. But the various external sounds are really very loud.


 And here's another thing. I have tinnitus. I think I've had it for about 5 years now. I intentionally don't remember the date. I went through TRT (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy). I am pretty much as "cured" as anyone could be. Meaning that I don't notice the sound as often, and when I do it doesn't bother me anymore. 

 But for a few months when it started, I was truly going crazy. I had a rather severe phobia of loud noises. It was more than a phobia, fire trucks really made me suffer. I still cover my ears when an ambulance goes by. But for a time there I was wearing earplugs a lot.

 Since doing the therapy I have pretty much avoided ear plugs, except for the rare times when I went to a rock concert. The problem with earplugs is that it makes you notice the tinnitus even more! Which feeds the stress loop that reinforces the whole problem.


 In fact part of the cure is white noise. I have a white noise generator in my bedroom, and even one in my baby's bedroom. They are on 24/7.  The perfect silence of modern architecture just isn't natural. Our cavemen ancestors always had a stream or a breeze or something of the sort in the background. Water fountains might be more pleasant than the generators, but at first I was told to avoid them because the task of periodically refilling them would make me think of the tinnitus.


 So I don't think I'll be going for anything in the ear canal. I would be interested in knowing of a cheap in-canal solution for concert going though.


 But for the bus, I just need to decide between active and passive noise-reducing bulky headphones. And then which.

Edited by wpautz - 8/1/10 at 4:55pm
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

By the way, I realize I am being contradictory.   Do I want perfect silence or don't I? I think that if I buy the Bose, there is a very real possibility that I will return them, whatever reason.

Luckily they offer 30 days money back.


  But really the noise would have be truly 100% absent for my tinnitus to bother me. I don't think any model will be that good.


  I am a bit concerned about noise reduction not affecting all frequencies equally though. Does shutting out mainly low noise make high pitched noise seem louder?

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

ok, I just learned about impedance. Well that removes a bunch of options.

post #10 of 12

My 2 cents Sir;


I can only speak to airplane noise. For the last few years (not sure when I bought the Shure's) I've had the choice of either the current Bose over the ears (QC-15 for the last few months) or Shure E-4c's. The Shures are no longer current, but they reduce noise every bit as well as the Bose, and sound much better. I do admit that while the IEM's are comfortable enough, if I'm just sleeping, the Bose often win. When I use either, it's for 2-3 hrs at a time.



post #11 of 12

It depends on how long your trip is.


Without music playing, IEMS are less effective earplugs as for noise reduction.

They can give you couple hours of nice music and noise reduction without hurting your ears.

But as the trip time gets longer, putting music to mask the noise is not really good for rest or hearing.


The nice thing about QC15 is that you don't have to listen to music to enjoy the active noise canceling.

It really shines for longer trip while you want to block the noise without playing music.

In this situation, it is just a pair very comfortable, effective, yet expensive earmuffs (totally worth it).

The longer the trip the more you'll appreciate QC15.

Edited by stokitw - 8/3/10 at 2:03pm
post #12 of 12

The isolation of the 4AAs isn't very good. Just something about the way the cups are designed. I imagine it was better back in the day when the cushions were oil-filled but the only ones you'll be able to get these days are going to be air-filled. Not sure how much you've listened to them but they do have quite a unique sound that can be rather off-putting. If you want to stick with Koss I recommend trying to find an example of the rarer 4AAA on ebay or something. Much more practical with a better sound yet retains some of the same characteristics of its older cousin. I just found out last week Koss still makes replacement earcups for them too.


The headphone Koss currently sells as the 4AAAT is a completely different can from the classic version I'm referring to. How strange they would name an open headphone after one of their best closed models.

Edited by QuantumCarrot - 8/2/10 at 5:59am
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Headphones (full-size)
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Headphones (full-size) › Passive noice isolation or Active noise canceling? Considering Bose QC15, or Koss Pro4AA, or other quality isolation.