Flying 15k miles in a week... my experiences with heavy-duty flying and 'phones
Mar 26, 2002 at 2:42 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 18

meatman

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This past week I started an RTW (round the world) ticket that went (DFW-LGW-CDG-LHR-)JNB-HKG-NRT-HKG-SFO-DFW. For those of you that don't fly a lot that means I purchased a separate ticket Dallas-London Gatwick-Paris De Gaulle-London Heathrow-Johannesbourg, and then used the RTW ticket Jo'burg-Hong Kong-Tokyo Narita-Hong Kong-San Fran-Dallas. The outbound to JNB was done in one shot and the entire trip was 8 days, thus I had a LOT of time to play with different headphones. On this trip I took my iPod, a D-E900, and my trusty region-hacked Sony DVP-FX1 DVD player, along with the stock iPod headphones, the Sony NC-10 noise cancelling in-ear phones and the Etymotic ER-4P. I also had a chance to compare the Sony NC-5 which Cathay Pacific provides. (CX actually provides a different model but it's functionally identical to the NC-5 with a proprietary connector so they can't be used elsewhere.) I used the the phones both straight and with a Total Airhead. Source material was everything from BT and Paul Oakenfeld to the French version of Notre Dame de Paris, Patricia Kaas and the Yellowjackets, as well as Magnolia, the Matrix and a lot of other movies while I was at it
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I quickly relegated the iPod headphones to the bottom of the backpack as they were worthless in flight. I had to turn them up uncomfortably high to be able to hear decently while in flight and the sound quality, while not bad for stock, wasn't worth putting up with the high levels. I also quickly ditched the NC-5s. The level of isolation provided was minimal and the noise cancelling effect, while evident was greatly diminished by this lack of isolation. Thus, I spent most of my time between the Etys and the NC-10s.

Based on a tip I found here, I purchased the Comply eartips which give me the most comfortable fit I've found so far. I really need to get custom earmolds but the Complys fit well enough that I was able to live with the Etys for extended listening. As a Bose QuietComfort owner, I will say here and now that nothing, and I mean NOTHING is as good as the Ety's for in-flight usage. They quash noise like nothing else. That being said, they are NOT the end-all be-all for in flight usage. For those in coach, where there's not a lot of in-flight service it won't be an issue but I was in F for this trip and as such had flight attendants checking on me quite often. It was a royal pain (and even painful) to have to remove the Etys to converse, and even with the sound all the way down it was impossible to hear with them in. In this respect, the Sony NC-10 was better as it's easier to remove and reinsert. I got a decent seal with the NC-10s but I didn't find them a great deal more comfortable than the ER-4Ps due to the ridge that protrudes from the side of the phone. Basically what I found is that after 12 hours of usage, ANY phone will irritate you. However, the Etys, if left alone, become fairly irritation-free whereas the Sonys get more uncomfortable the longer one uses them. Also, the Sony 'phones are very much inferior to the Etys both with regards to noise reduction and sound quality. I found that the NC-10s only put out deep bass with the N/C circuitry turned off, and either way bass was boomy, lumpy and overexaggerated.

For those that can't deal with an in ear phone, I will recommend the Bose. They do a good job of isolation and provide a marked reduction of in-flight noise. The circuitry they use is more effective than the Sony units and they are very VERY comfortable for hours on end usage. The sound quality is very much in the Bose vein but once your ears have adjusted they are not grossly offensive. They're actually easier to sleep in than the Etys. That being said, I didn't bring them on this trip and probably won't ever use them again. The Etys are much more convenient and are far easier to pack, they also provide much more isolation.
 
Mar 26, 2002 at 4:20 PM Post #2 of 18

audiofool

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I also use Ety 4p's with an iPod and have enjoyed the results immensely. I am interested in your thoughts on use of the Airhead with the iPod. Several users of the iPod have suggested that external amplification is not necessary/helpful as there is no line out from the iPod.
 
Mar 26, 2002 at 6:10 PM Post #3 of 18

DeanA

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Quote:

Originally posted by audiofool
I also use Ety 4p's with an iPod and have enjoyed the results immensely. I am interested in your thoughts on use of the Airhead with the iPod. Several users of the iPod have suggested that external amplification is not necessary/helpful as there is no line out from the iPod.


I use the TAH with the the Nomad Jukebox, which does have a lineout. The difference is so remarkable that I don't go anywhere with the Jukebox without the TAH. And I mean every headphone I have, from the KSC35s to the ET4Ps, sound so much better.
 
Mar 26, 2002 at 6:16 PM Post #4 of 18

meatman

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While the Airhead isn't an improvement in volume over the iPod (which is definitely enough on it's own), the crossfeed is invaluable. So, while the iPod doesn't have a line out, the TAH still provides a marked improvement.
 
Mar 26, 2002 at 7:33 PM Post #5 of 18

Atomicarnage

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Quote:

For those that can't deal with an in ear phone, I will recommend the Bose.


What about Sennheiser's HD-280? They have 32db isolation, and according to reports have excellent sound. (They also cost much less than the bose)
 
Mar 27, 2002 at 12:59 PM Post #8 of 18

aeberbach

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meatman, great writeup, thanks. But I have no sympathy, if you have done that much first class flying you can afford Sennheiser HD280! I'm about 50% coach/50% business with points and my experiences are about the same, nothing beats Etymotics and helpful flight attendants are not always a plus.
 
Mar 27, 2002 at 1:52 PM Post #9 of 18

meatman

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I needed to go to Tokyo for business, and the roundtrip fare in business class was more than this RTW ticket was in First! So, for less money, I'm earning a LOT of miles, getting taken care of like a king (I will tell you that NO US airline can match British Airways and Cathay Pacific in service level or comfort) and spending a few days in places I've never visited. In May, I'm going to Sao Paolo, Brazil and Santiago, Chile for a weekend, then in July I'm going to New York for a weekend, then in September I go from Dallas, to London, then Dubai, then back to London, then back down to Jo'burg to finish off. All that cost $4200, is all in first class, and is earning me around 200,000 miles, whereas just the one Tokyo round trip would've been around $7,000. Getting to and from Jo'burg cost me another $2000 so I still paid less. Did I mention I like to fly a lot???
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Mar 27, 2002 at 3:41 PM Post #10 of 18

jpelg

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meatman,

The nc-10's have been discontinued and replaced with the new nc-11's. If the nc-10's can be found for a substantial discount (say ~$75 or less), would they represent a decent value, especially compared to the Ety-6's?
 
Mar 27, 2002 at 3:59 PM Post #11 of 18

meatman

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I've never heard the Ety 6's but for under $80 I'd say the NC-10s are decent value for the money. The sound is livable and they do provide good isolation and passable N/C benefits. Still, if the ER-6s are anything near the ER-4P I'd say they're worth the extra money.
 
Mar 27, 2002 at 5:10 PM Post #12 of 18

jbannow

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Quote:

Originally posted by meatman
I needed to go to Tokyo for business, and the roundtrip fare in business class was more than this RTW ticket was in First! So, for less money, I'm earning a LOT of miles, getting taken care of like a king (I will tell you that NO US airline can match British Airways and Cathay Pacific in service level or comfort) and spending a few days in places I've never visited. In May, I'm going to Sao Paolo, Brazil and Santiago, Chile for a weekend, then in July I'm going to New York for a weekend, then in September I go from Dallas, to London, then Dubai, then back to London, then back down to Jo'burg to finish off.


I feel your pain ... it must be rough travelling so much.
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(Lucky guy.) I agree that British Airways is a great airline to fly with. Top notch service.

- Jeff
 
Mar 27, 2002 at 5:30 PM Post #13 of 18

hokiefritz

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Quote:

What about Sennheiser's HD-280? They have 32db isolation, and according to reports have excellent sound. (They also cost much less than the bose)


I have the HD280pros and while they do sound excellent, they do not live up to the Sennheiser hype of up to 32db of isolotion. I'd say they isolate just a little bit better than my AT-W100, which doesn't block out much sound at all. They are not even close to Etys or the Bose for external sound attenuation.

I'm quite disappointed in their ability to block out sound, perhaps my expectations were too high. I really like the sound though and they work great as computer headphones for me.

These phones are not for the fashion conscious. They look extrememly silly as the plastic bar that connects the ear pieces sticks way out to either side when they're on your head. It looks like you have water-ski boat attachment on your head.
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Mar 28, 2002 at 12:51 AM Post #15 of 18

citroeniste

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Cathay is a wonderful airline, but avoid BA in the former colonies. I last flew BA three or four years ago from TXL (Berlin's Tegel airport) to ISB (Islamabad, Pakistan), and ended up having to pay US$200 in "excess baggage" fees.

Miraculously, my luggage weighed a full 25kg less at the calibrated digital scale at the Delta/Swissair's counter at THF (Berlin- Tempelhof) for my flight to ATL 10 hours after touching down in Berlin.

For me, it's Lufthansa, Singaporean, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, or... well, chances are I don't fly. Here in Europe trains are a viable and often more comfortable option. (Admittedly, Austria is a train backwater compared to Germany with the ICE or France with the TGV.)

Well, not necessarily. I needed to get to Lyon, France real quick last Saturday to visit a friend, so I took an Austrian Airlines flight from here (VIE) to Lyon. Not great, but not too bad. Definitely better than an American puddle-jumper flight.

Oh, any my travel cans are KSC-35's. I've sat next to so many interesting people on plane trips, such as eminent journalists, New Yorker staff writers, and former Presidents of the United
States, that I want to be able to hear the voices around me.

And as for your future travels, Dubai is a great place to go shopping (regardless if your taste tends more towards Hermes or to fake Vuitton), get pampered, or play golf. Wonderful place!

Joburg is a bit of a dump, though. If you have more than a day or two definitely investigate hopping down to the coast. Both Durban and Cape Town are wonderful cities.

Quote:

Originally posted by meatman
I needed to go to Tokyo for business, and the roundtrip fare in business class was more than this RTW ticket was in First! So, for less money, I'm earning a LOT of miles, getting taken care of like a king (I will tell you that NO US airline can match British Airways and Cathay Pacific in service level or comfort) and spending a few days in places I've never visited. In May, I'm going to Sao Paolo, Brazil and Santiago, Chile for a weekend, then in July I'm going to New York for a weekend, then in September I go from Dallas, to London, then Dubai, then back to London, then back down to Jo'burg to finish off. All that cost $4200, is all in first class, and is earning me around 200,000 miles, whereas just the one Tokyo round trip would've been around $7,000. Getting to and from Jo'burg cost me another $2000 so I still paid less. Did I mention I like to fly a lot???
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