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Recommendations for Flight Travel and Portability

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

 

I wanted to get some recommendations for a pair of headphones that are good for flight travel as well just listening at home. 

 

A few things to consider...

 

Flying

 I fly 1 or 2 times a month domestically (2-3 hr flights) and would like headphones that can do a good job blocking out external noise. I am more looking at ones that can do this passively than actively as I have heard that active ones degrade the sound quality. Something else that is important in regards to flying is I want cans that will not leak sound since I do not want the person sitting beside me to be interrupted or hear what I am listening to. 

 

Portability

 With the theme of traveling I would like a pair of cans that are not bulky. Something that can maybe fold up and is compact? I have a limited amount of room in my laptop bag. Also, I will be using these mainly with my iPhone 5s and would like to have the 3-button cable so i can skip songs/change volume. 

 

Sound

 Right off the bat I just want to say I am a novice in the area of sound quality. I probably couldn't tell you if i am a bass head or want a more balanced sounding pair of cans.  I do listen to a variety of music types including indie rock, pop, alternative, and hip-hop. Lot of my music comes from pitchfork.com so it varies. I will not be listening to classical music or metal.  I would also use these to watch movies with and listen to podcasts especially on a plane.

 

Price

 I am willing to invest in a pair for up to $300 if they are worth it. I am assuming with this price tag most of my criteria will be met.

 

What am I currently looking at

V -Moda m100 – I feel like these could be ideal for me. Great reviews on amazon. Supposed to great for portability and does a good job for noise-isolation.  Only cons could be ear cup size is too small (of course this is subjective) but could be fixed with XL replacements if I need them. Also, these come with a one-button cable so I won’t be able to control volume. It maybe small but that bothers me especially if your phone is in your pocket walking thru an airport.

 

What I had before; 

 

I previously owned a pair of Audio-Tech M50 that sounded good but were not ideal for travel. Even though they folded up they were bulky and stuck out of my laptop bag. The coiled cable was so annoying b/c it was so long. I really had to tuck the wires inside my pocket.  I sold these after a year b/c my right ear would hurt after putting them on for 30 minutes. The shape of the earcup changed to more of a rounded shape on that side…not sure if that is the reason why.

 

I tested a pair of Harmon Kardon CL recently. They were pretty comfortable but I thought they were odd looking and made metal noises when you made head movements. I believe this was b/c of the top metal touching the leather. The sound quality was good but did not “wow” me.

 

OK, thoughts? Suggestions? 

post #2 of 4

I use my P5s for traveling. 

post #3 of 4
I always use customs - very good isolation. Mine are the 1964Ears Quad, but any custom should be good as long as it's not vented. One of the least expensive brands is inearz.com. I have had two universals reshelled by them (TF10 and Klipsch Custom 3) with good results.

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post #4 of 4
Quote:

Originally Posted by irfan22 View Post

 

OK, thoughts? Suggestions? 

 

Based on the criteria you've written down it seems that an IEM would be your best bet.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by irfan22 View Post

 

Flying

I am more looking at ones that can do this passively than actively as I have heard that active ones degrade the sound quality.

Something else that is important in regards to flying is I want cans that will not leak sound since I do not want the person sitting beside me to be interrupted or hear what I am listening to. 

 

IEMs seal your ear canal so as to block out other noise sources, and they do that a lot better than an ear pad around your ears. You'd have to have a strong clamp to do that with a headphone, and yet given the shape of the head where the rear of the earpads rest, chances are they won't get a good enough seal (skull begins to curve inwards and downwards there, behind the ears). Also, they tend to be easier to drive off most portable devices (I use mine with a Galaxy S3 but if I'm sitting down long enough, I prefer to use my iPad2).

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by irfan22 View Post
 

Portability

With the theme of traveling I would like a pair of cans that are not bulky. Something that can maybe fold up and is compact? I have a limited amount of room in my laptop bag.

Also, I will be using these mainly with my iPhone 5s and would like to have the 3-button cable so i can skip songs/change volume. 

 

The bulkiest IEM kit I've seen are the ones that come with or people transfer into a small Pelican water proof case, and that's where they store everything that came with it, like the cleaning tool, spare eartips, maybe a stock cable that has a microphone for use with a smartphone while they have an "upgrade" cable for a dedicated audio system. In quotation marks because the improvements may not be audible, or may not be worth it for some people as some cables can be several hundred bucks. In any case, most come with their own case, and you can always get another one and split the IEM from some of the accessories depending on how the space in your bag can be managed (for example, if it needs to be slimmer).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by irfan22 View Post
 

Sound

Right off the bat I just want to say I am a novice in the area of sound quality. I probably couldn't tell you if i am a bass head or want a more balanced sounding pair of cans.  I do listen to a variety of music types including indie rock, pop, alternative, and hip-hop. Lot of my music comes from pitchfork.com so it varies. I will not be listening to classical music or metal.  I would also use these to watch movies with and listen to podcasts especially on a plane.

 

Among IEMs I suggest you read up on the Earsonics SM3, Sennheiser IE80 (beware of fakes though), Aurisonics ASG-1, and Red Giant Ossicle (this one I haven't listened to though) for a start, but I'm sure there are a lot more in the IEM forum.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by irfan22 View Post

 

Price

I am willing to invest in a pair for up to $300 if they are worth it. I am assuming with this price tag most of my criteria will be met.

 

One more criteria though: comfort. Here's the thing with universal IEMs: some people tend to have discomfort with a tight seal in their ears, and it depends on the material of the eartip, and sometimes the preferred sound is achieved by the most irritating tips if you're really unlucky. On top of that, the IE80's shell is a little large due to the size of the dynamic driver (meaning a conventional design, not the multiple hearing-aid drivers sold by...well...companies that specialized in hearing aids before they sold IEMs for hi-fi and pro monitoring). The shape also isn't as organic as Shure, Westone, etc and that boxy shape has had a fair deal of negative feedback.

 

This is where the ASG-1 comes in. It uses a very large dynamic driver, and instead of a conventional shell, it uses one that looks like a custom IEM based on a rough average of human ears (or their clients, more likely). What I realized when I tried it on is that it isn't as dependent as the other universals on a tight fitting eartip to stay on my ears - the outer shell's shape anchors well enough to my outer ear once the cable is tightened, and so I get to use it walking on the street and up into the train without numbing me to what's going on around me (like a-holes in huge SUVs or loud fast n' furious Hondas who don't stop when they take a right turn despite a pedestrian crossing with on it). If you want more isolation just switch to a different pair of eartips (I use Westone clear normally, but switch to the large size when I need more isolation). The only trade-off though is that while a large dynamic driver delivers prodigous bass, the treble rolls off at around 10khz. For my preferences however it isn't that bad considering portable devices driving it tend to sound shrill through IEMs like the Westone 4 (on most eartips anyway), and I sometimes still use it at home when I'm listening while using the computer. It can't replace my dedicated listening system with a Sennheiser HD600 but if for example I had to go somewhere for a long time and I can't bring my main system with me I can be satisfied with the ASG-1.

 

The Red Giant Ossicle uses two dynamic drivers (one for high frequencies) and a similar concept for the shell design, however I have not listened to it personally so I can't really add anything more beyond that. The Earsonics SM2 and SM3 for me seem less fussy about the amplification so that's also a good alternative. Westones just suck on their own clear plastic tips for some reason (the sound is "plasticky") but are great with the smooth foams or Complys; ditto Shures on their "olive" smooth foam ear tips. As much as I like these smooth foam tips though one ear needs a larger ear tip than the other to anchor properly, and so the other one is deeper in and closer into my ear drum so there's an imbalance in the sound; ASG-1 sits outside the ears and avoids this problem for me.


Edited by ProtegeManiac - 1/20/14 at 8:47pm
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