Top 10 Rated Noise Canceling Headphones 2013
By Brian Jones
Listening to music on the go is becoming increasingly popular due to the flooding of smartphones that are capable of storing our entire music libraries. Since we are out and about while we are catching some tunes, there is bound to be some distracting environmental noise that takes us away from our music listening experience. Noise cancelling headphones are designed to counter and drown out environmental and ambient noise to create the perfect listing conditions. This way we can fully enjoy our music during travels, on our commute, in the office, or at school. Plus, if you don’t feel like listening to music, these headphones can create your own little space of peace and quiet by just having them on. We looked for the following criteria when compliling our list on noise canceling headphones:
1. Size and comfort for short and extended period of use
2. Sound Quality
3. Noise cancelling ability
4. Power source (and battery life if required)
5. Price vs. functionality
6. Extras like additional cords, adapters, and carrying cases
1 AAA battery required
Bose has a good reputation in the world of audio. The Quiet Comfort 15 headphones are aptly named. They provide a comfortable fit while quieting the noise around you to whispers and hums….Read More
Powerful passive noise reduction (no battery)
This pair of headphones from V-moda is unique in many ways. The lightweight metal construction and kevlar reinforced audio cables make this one of the most durable pairs on the list. V-moda even calls it “Military Level Quality.” The large 50mm drivers…read more
1 AAA battery required
Headphones have not always been the focus of Polk Audio, it’s been big speakers for home theater systems and car stereos. And their products are very well received…read more
1 AAA battery
This is one of Sennheiser’s top of the line headphones, and its really one of the best performers on the list. Sennheiser really focused on achieving great sound quality…read more
Lithum-ion/AA battery operated
Sony has incorporated digital noice reduction into their NC500 headphones. What is digital noise reduction? It is a feature that automatically selects outside noises and gets rid of them while you enjoy your music…read more
1 AAA battery required
This pair of headphones from Audio-Technica has a perfect combination of features and price. If you are serious about noise cancelling headphones, these will do the trick without dropping $300+ dollars…read more
1AAA battery required
This is a great middle of the road pair of noise cancelling headphones. On top of the powered noise cancellation technology, JVC has added a double housing…read more
1 AAA battery required
Audio-Technica has a great line of noise cancelling headphones, which means there are plenty of options for you. This pair has 2 40mm drivers with neodymium magnet…read more
1 AAA battery required
Sony’s lower end of the noice cancelling headphone offerings has its fair share of pros and cons. On the positive side, the MDRNC7′s are pretty inexpensive, they can get very loud, initially comfortable…read more
Not completely noise cancelling
Sennheiser has a lot of professional grade headphones on the market. If you are in the market for headphones but don’t want to drop hundreds of dollars on a pair, these might be for you. They are almost a steal…read more
Noise Cancelling Headphones Buying Guide
Understanding Sound Quality When Buying Noise Cancelling Headphones
People buy noise cancelling headphones for one main reason. These are used for getting rid of sounds from the real world when you want to be fully engaged in your mobile music or videos. Noise cancelling headphones create anti-wave sounds to effectively cancel out sounds on similar wavelengths. This is most effective for the low rumbling sounds of a plane, train, or any other similar sound. Many have modes that will cancel out sounds of the office or library that aren’t as loud as a plane but sometimes get through a good pair of headphones. Many can also be used just to cancel out noise. No music or video needed. They are a good investment if environmental and ambient noise become a real problem in the work space or during travel.
Whether you’re a casual music listener or an audiophile, it’s worthwhile to review the basics of sound quality so you understand the specs on the side of a headphone box.
Sound perception is different for everyone. The only way you are going to know if you like something is to try it. Because everyone has different shaped heads and ears, they’ll perceive music and sound differently, especially since noise cancelling headphones pipe music directly into the ears. Hence, it’s important to try on different headphones not only to see which ones are comfortable to wear, but to get an idea of how rich and full the music sounds.
Consider the following questions:
- Since you are looking at noise cancelling headphones, how quiet do they really get?
- Does the sound come out clear with no distortions or muddiness?
- Is the bass clear, powerful, and controlled?
- You don’t want a bass so strong that it overpowers the vocals and lighter sounds.
- Some headphones have shaking technology that lets you feel as well as hear the thumping bass.
- Are the high sounds tinny or smooth?
- Is there a distinguishable hiss with a wireless set?
A comfortable fit is almost as important as sound quality. Many modern headphones are incredibly lightweight, but make sure you’re comfortable wearing a set for times longer than half an hour. Padded surfaces are a must. Ths goes for the headband too. With circumaural headphones, you want a good seal over the ears, but make sure it’s not so tight that it puts undue pressure on your ears and head. Some headphones make your ears heat up or feel tingly if you wear them too long.
Being able to adjust your headphones is critical, especially if you’re a professional who wears them a lot. The headband should adjust for different head sizes, and pivoting ear cups making getting a comfortable position easier. Unless they’re wireless, headphones typically come with a cord anywhere from 6 to 10 feet. Some have a Y split in the cord, with each end connecting to an ear cup. Headphones with a single-sided cord allow for more freedom of motion.
Understanding Other Sound Terms
Frequency: Headphones capture the complete range of sounds that humans can hear, from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. The question is how well they reproduce those frequencies. Any low frequencies below 20 Hz aren’t audible, but you can sometimes feel them.
Sensitivity: Headphones measure their loudness efficiency in terms of decibels per milliwatt of power. You want a high sensitivity number of at least 100 dB if you’re using a portable device. The lower the sensitivity, the harder the headphones have to work to sound as loud as those with high sensitivity.
Impedance: Impedance is measured in ohms and it relates to how much resistance the headphones put on an amplifier. Most headphones for professional and commercial use have impedances under 100 ohms. The higher the impedance, the more power you’ll need.
|Brian Jones has had a passion for photography and anything related for the majority of his life. One photography class in high school was all it took to get hooked on everything to do with the subject. He became more focused on learning about camera… See more about Brian|
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