Originally Posted by jazzman7
Thanks for the post on this in-ear model.
I have had a couple of Sony in-ear noise cancelling (NC) headphones, mainly to see how well they work in terms of NC. A noise-cancelling in-ear headphone has to do "less work" than a regular over-the-ear NC headphone because the passive isolation of the in-ear tips does a lot to block out treble and midrange sounds. Since the bass is the easiest to cancel due to physics (long wavelengths -- good for active NC), it is actually a good match.
The problem with the Sonys I've owned is that they tend to add high frequency hiss due to the active electronics in the signal path. This kind of defeats the whole purpose of the NC. For overall isolation, I find that any good set of in-ear headphones with well-fitting tips (Complys for example) does better in terms of isolation in most cases. The only place where the Sony's in-ear NC beats a regular IEM is on a plane or train where there is persistent bass/lower mid "rumble".
Now, Bose knows active NC, so the QC20's could beat the Sony's. The problem is that a normal in-store listen won't show this. I'm curious though, so I may have to figure out some sort of setup that allows me to test it in my nearby Bose store. Maybe a pair of over-the-ear headphones worn over the QC20s and playing some low-frequency noise from a separate DAP. I wonder what the Bose folks would think of me if I came in with such a setup!
EDIT: The reviews on Amazon say the QC20 also has the high-frequency hiss when NC is on. I think I will pass.
There is a hiss, a sort of white noise hiss. You can't really hear it out in a busy street. But in quieter settings, especially at home, it is there. If a Bose showroom is in a crowded, echo-y mall with lots of foot traffic than that's why you didn't hear it.
What I notice much more is how the SQ is affected. I wouldn't care much about the hiss, so long as the music itself sounded great. It doesn't really. Not $300 worth anyway. :(
These are not totally "in-ear" as they sort of rest outside of the canal. So not much passive isolation to begin with.
What's strange is how outside noise seems to be hyped up just after you turn off the noise-canceling feature. Perhaps this is due to the ear-drums "popping" back to normal? Anyway, it gives an artificial sense of how much noise is being eliminated. Hey, I know the world is loud, but it ain't THAT loud.
In the end, I think it's a case of exchanging one set of irritating noises for another irritating noise/sensation.
Bottom line: Do you want bad quality music you can hear clearly or good quality music you can barely hear?
PS -- Do the Klipsch's isolate pretty well? Anyone?