Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › I'm on the fence: ANC headphone or custom molds for IEMs for long flights?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

I'm on the fence: ANC headphone or custom molds for IEMs for long flights?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Salutations! smile.gif

 

I'm in a bit of a dilemma, and I really don't know what to do (don't worry, it's a first world problem). I am looking for the best headphone solution to give me peace and good sound on long flights. Long in this context means up to 11 hours of non-stop flight. There is in-flight entertainment, so I need a headphone to listen to music and watch a movie. Naturally, I am looking at over-ear headphones with active noise cancelling as an option to fade plane noises away while listening to some sweet music. The use of a headphone amp is an option I'd really like to avoid, so if we can do without, that'd be great.

 

I've had the pleasure to use the Bose Quiet Comfort 15 of a friend for a few weeks, and I found the sound and the mechanics to be just acceptable while the noise cancelling was nothing but superb. Since then, I have tried many other headphones with active noise cancelling, and while some sounded better than the QC15, the noise cancelling capabilities were always disappointing. As a result, despite its age, the Bose QC15 seems to be the best headphone currently available when ANC is the top priority. But here's the thing: I don't want to spend 300 Euros for a headphone which is just average in everything but noise cancelling.

The next best ANC headphone I found after some research is the Panasonic RP-HC700E-S. I never listened to it, but reviews say that it sounds better than the Bose while having average ANC. It costs about 120 Euros, which I would deem affordable. But I'm not convinced that it really delivers, because the reviews raved about all the other headphones I tested, too, and those were not good at all. I would be willing to spend Bose money on an ANC headphone, but then it has to have top notch ANC, good mechanics and good sound.

 

After some reading on head-fi, I intentified custom IEMs as an alternative. The lack of ANC is compensated by their excellent seal of the ear canal. I possess a few IEMs which I like very much, such as the Ultimate Ears triple.fi 10 Pro, the Shure E500PTH and the Sennheiser IE8. My favorite in terms of sound is the TF10P, however, I do not really find it comfortable to wear over longer periods of time. Thus, I am currently looking into getting custom molds where these IEMs plug into. I was previously thinking about getting the TF10 reshelled, but I am worried that it will spoil its good sound. Getting custom molds where the IEM plugs in has the advantage that the plug can also be used as ear protection while the IEM can remain in one piece and be used normally. There are several manufacturers in Germany that offer making custom molds for the TF10P, and at 150 Euros, it costs about as much as the Panasonic ANC headphone.

But I've never used an IEM with custom molds. Many praise them for the ultimate fit, but are they really comfortable when being worn for many hours during a long flight? Would I have problems with pressure equalization? Are they easily removeable when I need to talk to someone?

 

So I am looking for people with experience. People who have used ANC headphones and/or custom IEMs during flights and are willing to share their experiences with that. Also, if anyone knows of an ANC headphone which rivals the Bose QC 15, I'm all ears (no pun intended). dt880smile.png

 

Thanks for reading the long-ish test and sharing your view with me!

The Interceptor


Edited by the Interceptor - 2/23/13 at 3:05am
post #2 of 8

Welcome to Head-fi. I also love the comfort and NC capability of the QC15 but find it's sound a bit sterile. I also have the TF10 so I am interested in seeing the responses you solicit. Good luck!

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bubsdaddy View Post

Welcome to Head-fi. I also love the comfort and NC capability of the QC15 but find it's sound a bit sterile. I also have the TF10 so I am interested in seeing the responses you solicit. Good luck!


Thank you! Actually I've been registered for quite some time, but I've only been lurking thus far.

 

I like the QC15's comfort as well, and I don't hate the sound either. Bose's "dark" sound signature is an appealing one, because it is never annoying. But regarding precision, details and tonal neutrality, there sure are many better offers for this money. If the QC15 would be available for 150 Euros or less, I'd buy it for traveling. But for more than twice that, its superb ANC just isn't enough to convince me.

 

Best regards

the Interceptor

post #4 of 8

My personal experience: I have a QC15 collecting dust. I like it's confort and all, but ever since I got a Shure SE215 I am using IEMs for flights. Now that I bought a Westone 4R I don't think I'll ever go back to ANC. The isolation on IEMs is better than ANC and if you get a tip that fits perfectly, they are quite comfortable.

 

Cheers,

Leo

post #5 of 8

Another alternative you could consider are headphones with a lot of "passive" noise cancellation - ie good old fashioned isolation - HD25 (I can wear them all day but some people don't like the on-ears design - but they weigh less than 200g, sound great and are very tough), Fostex TR50, whatever. If you to headphone.com they have graphs of isolation against frequency (the Bose ANC only cancels out noise very low in the spectrum as I remember) under "specs".

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leogodoy View Post

My personal experience: I have a QC15 collecting dust. I like it's confort and all, but ever since I got a Shure SE215 I am using IEMs for flights. Now that I bought a Westone 4R I don't think I'll ever go back to ANC. The isolation on IEMs is better than ANC and if you get a tip that fits perfectly, they are quite comfortable.

 

Cheers,

Leo

 

Comfort is my main concern with IEMs. The only one I can wear comfortably for a longer time is the Phonak Audeo 122. The Senn IE8 comes close behind, and all the others I tried start an become annoying after an hour at best. Especially the TF10P with its big opening is a pain for me. I always use foam tips, and their pressure against the ear canal is what gets me after a while. It's annoying at first and then becomes painful until I take them out.

The thing is that I just can't get along with silicone tips. They don't isolate as well and never give me a uniform seal for both ears. Therefore, I'm thinking about custom mold tips for the TF10P.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scuttle View Post

Another alternative you could consider are headphones with a lot of "passive" noise cancellation - ie good old fashioned isolation - HD25 (I can wear them all day but some people don't like the on-ears design - but they weigh less than 200g, sound great and are very tough), Fostex TR50, whatever. If you to headphone.com they have graphs of isolation against frequency (the Bose ANC only cancels out noise very low in the spectrum as I remember) under "specs".

 

I haven't considered classic on-ears without ANC so far, so I'll definietly check that option. I'm not an on-ear person, because I wear glasses, and they push my pinnas against the glasses' frame, which starts to hurt quickly, so I'll be on the lookout for well-isolating over-ears. I am concerned however that they will not drown-out the constant low frequency rumble on flights.

 

The Bose ANC is excellent on paper also by the way. Here is a comparison done by a German magazine with ANC off (green) and on (red).

 

 

There is no positive feedback in the low bass region you see with many other ANC headphones, and the amount of noise reduction up to the midrange is outstanding. As much as I want to dislike Bose products - this is one they did well.

 

EDIT:
I just checked the "isolation" measurements over at headphone.com - very revealing! Even the best ANC headphones (the QC has a positive feedback below 35 Hz in their measurement btw.) do not rival a good IEM in terms of isolation. Here's a comparison of the QC15 with a Shure SE530 (similar to my E500PTH) and a passive closed-back Audio Technica ATH-M50 for reference:

 

 

The over-ear Audio-Technica provides no isolation at all up to 250 Hz, so it won't be able to quiet the low noises of a plane at all. The ANC of the Bose shows a similar positive feedback below 30 Hz (probably a comon problem of closed over-ear cups since the passive one shows the same behavior), but otherwise fades noises above very efficiently at 15-20dB. However, not only does the IEM isolate best overall, it also works from the lowest bass upwards and drowns out noises above 1 kHz very efficiently.

 

So it seems that my best choice for the right combination of effective isolation and good sound would be an IEM. The only problem I would need to circumvent is the questionable comfort with foam tips. I really need the opinion of some custom-IEM owners on long-time comfort...

 

Best regards

the Interceptor


Edited by the Interceptor - 2/24/13 at 1:44am
post #7 of 8

Score some Shure olives, I don't know if they are compatible with your IEMs but I don't put anything else on my Westones.

post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by leogodoy View Post

Score some Shure olives, I don't know if they are compatible with your IEMs but I don't put anything else on my Westones.

 

I use Shure foam tips for my IE8s, and they are much better than the original ones. However, I did not find any foam tips to fit onto my TF10P, because their opening is much bigger in diameter than on any other IEM I own. To raise the comfort with the UEs, I think getting custom molded tips is the way to go. The questions that remain are: would silicone tips be more comfortable than acrylic in the long run, how good is their respective isolation? And do they change the sound over properly seated original foam tips?

 

The latter is very critical, because sound matters greatly to me. Some people say the custom tips improved the sound of the IEMs, others say the new tips ruined it. I may have to test that, even if I might end up with throwing 139 Euros out of the window and still having the problem I started with. At least I'd have learned something...


Edited by the Interceptor - 2/23/13 at 1:04pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Portable Headphones, Earphones and In-Ear Monitors › I'm on the fence: ANC headphone or custom molds for IEMs for long flights?