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Noise canceling headphones for portable DVD player

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Don't ban me, please!

My girlfriend has a portable DVD player that is pretty much useless when we are traveling on the interstate, because the volume doesn't get loud enough to overcome the road noise. We haven't used it on a plane yet but I imagine the situation would be similar. I have zero experience with noise canceling phones, but I'm thinking they may be what we need in this situation. I already suggested IEMs, but she doesn't want to have to jam something in her ear.

Budget like $100-200, cheaper the better. She wants circumnaural phones. Comfort is a top priority, and movies are the primary medium, but I'd still like something that is at least respectable sonically. I have a reputation to uphold.

Anyone have any experience?

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A used pair of quietcomforts would seem to fit the bill, no? Perhaps they're not "respectable", but they are circumaural and comfortable. I wonder if their noise cancelling algorithm would be effective on the interstate, though, as they seem to be tuned for jet engines. Honestly, aside from the Bose the only noise cancelling headphones I can think of are the Audio Technicas, and I've not heard them.

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I actually did a bunch of research and testing for a friend when he was looking for full-size, noise-canceling headphones for the train.

As far as widely-available headphones go, Sony and Bose were pretty comparable with Sony tending to be slightly cheaper. I personally like the Sony NC60 the most as the NC500 didn't really offer a whole lot more for $100 extra. The NC60 was comfortable, fairly sturdy, canceled out store noise really well and $100 cheaper than the closest Bose model. The only problem was I can't comment on sound quality.

Though I'd agree with Sherwood and if you can find a used pair of QuietComforts, they were easily the most comfortable.

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One brand to have a look at is Blackbox. They use the ANR system from Phitek, designed here in New Zealand :) This ANR is meant to be one of the best systems out, and is used by other manufacturers as well (cannot remember which ones however). A friend had a pair of headphones with this system, and I remember being impressed with the ANR, even if I couldn't really test the sound quality due to the airplane entertainment system. They may be slightly beyond your price range, but you have the advantage with the exchange rate.

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Never tried any noise cancelling phones, but I've received good comments of the Sennheiser PXC250 and they're not expensive: Amazon.com: Sennheiser PXC 250 Active Noise Canceling Headphones: Electronics Maybe worth a try. These aren't circumaural though.

The PXC450 look awesome, but are way more expensive: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000R2PC2M/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_2?pf_rd_p=1278548962&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B000089GN2&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0H8FYH2867XEXZ2FRVEJ and I haven't received any comments about them :(

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thanks all for the comments! i am sure i can glean exactly the info i need from here. thanks especially for the link to tyll's review, i'll read that stat.

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I've got the ANC7 for situations like that and can pretty much recommend them. Soft pads, padded headband, very comfy overall unless your gf has really big ears, in which case they might not be circumaural anymore. Really good isolation against deep frequencies and uniform noise.

Soundwise a little on the bass heavy side (which is ok for outdoor use imho), but really good bass and mids quality and precision. The only thing I seriously dislike is the rolled off treble / brilliance which makes the phones sound pretty low-res in the highs; can be fixed by bumping an EQ around 8kHz a little. They do make a little static noise, but you wont hear that anymore once the music is playing...

The phones come with useful other features and goodies, the battery lasts forever and they are pretty cheap (got mine around 100$ iirc).

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I've got the ANC7 for situations like that and can pretty much recommend them. Soft pads, padded headband, very comfy overall unless your gf has really big ears, in which case they might not be circumaural anymore. Really good isolation against deep frequencies and uniform noise.

Soundwise a little on the bass heavy side (which is ok for outdoor use imho), but really good bass and mids quality and precision. The only thing I seriously dislike is the rolled off treble / brilliance which makes the phones sound pretty low-res in the highs; can be fixed by bumping an EQ around 8kHz a little. They do make a little static noise, but you wont hear that anymore once the music is playing...

The phones come with useful other features and goodies, the battery lasts forever and they are pretty cheap (got mine around 100$ iirc).

awesome, sounds like exactly what I am looking for. Of course I wanted to buy the AT's anyway, because well, they are ATs. They are $120 at amazon right now which seems reasonable.

Thanks for your review, I really appreciate it.

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Hey Posty,

I also have tried the AT ANC7 and they were pretty good for travel. Yes, they aren't the best audiophile headphones, but for noise canceling headphones, they worked well at keeping out the noise, are reasonably comfortable and fairly priced. For watching movies on the plane, they will work very well. They can also be used with the noise cancelling function off, but for some reason I liked the sound better with the noise cancelling function on. Good luck.

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i bought my girlfriend a pair of Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B phones, and she really likes them. they sound pretty decent, though a little hollow. you can get them for under $125.

I have a pair of the ATH-ANC7 and they would be my recommendation for this situation as well. They're not an "audiophile" kind of phone, but they do a decent job and are more balanced than the Bose QC and QC2 I used to own.

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So how do they all compare to just plain simple isolating IEM's, such as Etymotics or JH Audios and/or custom earmolds? Anyone able to do some comparisons?

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So how do they all compare to just plain simple isolating IEM's, such as Etymotics or JH Audios and/or custom earmolds? Anyone able to do some comparisons?

Most of my IEM (universal or custom) are better than the ANC7, and they isolate outside noise much better. I would probably even enjoy a budget Brainwavz M2 or M3, or Nuforce NE-700X more, for half the cost. However, when I would fly with my family I could not hear when my wife or children were trying to get my attention if I had my IEM inserted, while the ANC7 don't isolate as much so I am more aware of my surroundings and if someone was trying to get my attention. I first bought them for our trip to Hawaii Dec 2008, and it was nice having them for that and other trips like Canjam LA 2009. The ANC7 do a good job of removing the drone of plane engines or road noise without totally isolating you from things around you that you might want to be aware of. I use them maybe 4-5x a year for when we go on trips and want to cut road noise.

I haven't listened to them in several months, so I don't feel like it's a good idea to do more detailed impressions of the ANC7 right now. The Sennheiser HD25-1 II were a little better if I recall correctly, and they do isolate well but they don't cancel droning noise. So I gave the HD25-1 II to my son and kept the ANC7 for myself. If sound quality is more important those might be a better choice, or some IEM.

Custom IEM seem to isolate much better on an airplane than universals in my experience, but universals have worked well for me in a car. I remember once flying with IM716 and an iPod Touch with no amp, and I could barely hear the music over the plane engines.

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I was perfectly happy with the amount of engine noise that leaked through my ER-6i's (I.E. very little), the one or two times I used them way back when (tri-flange tips).

Thanks for the reassurance, I'll stick with them for travel.

Speaking of the PXC 250 II's, they're going on sale at goldbox at 6 a.m. PST until 10 or when they sell out, whichever comes first.

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It turns out my sister is seeking a Christmas gift for my brother-in-law along semi-similar lines.

It seems that John works out at 5 AM in a gym that blasts Bad Gym Music at ear-destroying levels. The gym workers claim that the volume is set for when the gym is full and they can't change it. Apparently at 5 AM, the place is anything but full. John has what appear to be low-end semi-IEM-ish earphones that he says don't isolate well. He says he has to play his music way too loud to overcome the Bad Gym Music.

He has expressed interest in noise canceling full size phones. Does anybody know if active noise cancellation would work against Bad Gym Music? I would worry that their algorithm would think it's conversation or desired music and not cancel it.

I wonder if maybe low end Shures or Etys with black olives or Complys might be a better solution.

If noise canceling full size headphones are the way to go does anybody know of an example that would stand up up use in a gym environment? For that matter, what about IEMs? Has anybody had good or bad experience with certain models surviving well or not?

I gather that isolation is the first priority, durability the second, and sound quality the third. And the budget should be about $150.

I'm not a gym-goer and my only experience with noise canceling headphones was been with the Bose professional jobs in aircraft (which work great, BTW) so I can't offer a very informed opinion. I defer to the group's wisdom.

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I was perfectly happy with the amount of engine noise that leaked through my ER-6i's (I.E. very little), the one or two times I used them way back when (tri-flange tips).

Thanks for the reassurance, I'll stick with them for travel.

Speaking of the PXC 250 II's, they're going on sale at goldbox at 6 a.m. PST until 10 or when they sell out, whichever comes first.

personally IEMs would be my preference for travel. In fact they were until I left my Etys on a plane. I have yet to buy more IEMs, but who knows.

Those ATs are at $108 now on amazon, I'm thinking about pulling the trigger and surprising the girlfriend. I'll have to lie though, she can't imagine paying more then $50 for a headphone.

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Does anybody know if active noise cancellation would work against Bad Gym Music? I would worry that their algorithm would think it's conversation or desired music and not cancel it.
I don't think that's how they work -- I think they cancel everything. Oversimplification, but they just invert the effective signal.

I think. People with actual experience with noise-canceling headphones should confirm or deny.

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I think the noise cancelation works better with droning constant noise like engine and road noise, or a window air conditioner. I seem to recall that it doesn't work as well with music and conversation entering the headphones from the outside, which can intrude more easily although they are reduced to a smaller degree. I think that an IEM with isolation would be better to block out the noisy gym music.

I'll pull out my ANC7 tonight or tomorrow and give it a try with the TV turned up and see how much it helps.

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I think the noise cancelation works better with droning constant noise like engine and road noise, or a window air conditioner. I seem to recall that it doesn't work as well with music and conversation entering the headphones from the outside, which can intrude more easily although they are reduced to a smaller degree. I think that an IEM with isolation would be better to block out the noisy gym music.

I've certainly noticed this on the less expensive noise-cancelling phones I've tried (been a few years, though, so technology may be better).

I had this odd sensation of being surrounded by a cloud when I used the NC function. A little bit of added hiss, a lot of "consistent" noise vanished, but murky drips of "inconsistent" sound sometimes leaked thru at low levels. Didn't bother me when playing music, but when I had a long delay and put them on to help let me rest, I found it odd to adjust.

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I've certainly noticed this on the less expensive noise-cancelling phones I've tried (been a few years, though, so technology may be better).

I had this odd sensation of being surrounded by a cloud when I used the NC function. A little bit of added hiss, a lot of "consistent" noise vanished, but murky drips of "inconsistent" sound sometimes leaked thru at low levels. Didn't bother me when playing music, but when I had a long delay and put them on to help let me rest, I found it odd to adjust.

Some people call that "feeling negative pressure" when the "consistent" noise is missing. It leaves a hole in the environmental envelope.

I tested my ANC7 and they only remove ambient droning environmental noise, but I still hear the TV and conversations around me.

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My wife wants a pair of noise canceling headphones. No iems. Just wondering if there's anything new out there worth checking out. right now, based on my limited knowledge, I am inclined to recommend Sony or Bose.

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My wife wants a pair of noise canceling headphones. No iems. Just wondering if there's anything new out there worth checking out. right now, based on my limited knowledge, I am inclined to recommend Sony or Bose.

I have a Sennheiser RS170 which is the closed version of the RS180. Not noise canceling but wireless. If you would like to I can send them so you and your wife can try them for a couple of weeks. I actually like them quite a bit, just take your time and you should be able to pick them up at a substantial discount from the MSRP.

Edited by mrarroyo

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