It’s difficult for me to remember the time before I travelled without noise-cancelling headphones because, put simply, they were life-changing.
I always wanted a pair, not just for travel purposes, but they were (and often are) quite expensive, so I never invested the money.
Then, on one particular flight across the United States, I was sitting a row behind a baby who cried for the four-hour ride. While it’s difficult not to empathise with the parents and feel the discomfort of the crying child, it’s also difficult to ignore the noise emanating from said child.
It was on that flight that I decided to fork out for a decent set of noise-cancelling headphones.
But, back to my original point: they are bloody expensive.
So, my first foray into ‘next-level’ aural input was noise-isolating ear buds. They were a lot cheaper than noise-cancelling headphones and did a pretty good job of isolating the noise. Still, that baby would ring through.
I was lucky to pick up a pair of Bose QC15 noise-cancelling headphones on eBay for $100. If you check out eBay today, you can find them for as little as $40 or even the next model up (QC25) for around $150.
Still, you’re taking your chances when you buy second-hand electrical equipment online. And then there’s the added ‘ick’ factor of something being on someone’s ears so close to their mouth. It obviously didn’t bother me, but it may bother some people.
You don’t have to go super high-end to enjoy the benefits of noise-cancelling headphones. In fact, you can get reportedly decent headphones or earphones for under $100.
The Audio Technica QuietPoint Active Noise-Cancelling In-Ear Headphones block out around 90 per cent of background noise, which is about as good as it gets with this technology. And with a price point of $79.95 – they’re a bargain.
Audio Technica is well known for producing exceptionally high-quality sound equipment, so although I haven’t personally tested these out, I can vouch for the brand itself – and the fact that Bose equivalents cost around $300 makes the AT versions an absolute steal.
Another company that has a good reputation for sound is Sony, so its entry-level On Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones should also be considered.
The 30mm drivers deliver decent sound and feature 95 per cent ambient noise reduction. The real kicker is the foldable compact design, as well as the 80 hours of battery life, so you can enjoy high-quality audio without distractions either from outside noise or having to change batteries.
They’re usually around $130, but shop around and you’ll pick up a pair for as little as $59.
Do you have noise-cancelling headphones? Do you know of any budget versions you can recommend to our members?
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