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One of the best travel hacks for nearly every traveler is to have a great set of noise cancelling headphones in your carryon bag. Traveling with the right set makes a tremendous difference on any trip. And I just discovered the best wireless noise cancelling headphones I’ve ever tried!
I like small ones so they don’t take up too much space in my bag. Too many are impractical for most travelers to carry…
For years, I swore by Bose QC20’s. They were tiny, but had a wire to connect them to your device. Unfortunately, wired headphones are a thing of the past and the company stopped manufacturing them.
The other day, my final set of QC20’s finally died on a flight from Fort Myers to Charlotte. When I landed at CLT, I popped into an electronics store and picked up a set of Bose Quiet Comfort Earbuds II.
They’re great! In the interest of full disclosure, Amazon has them at a much lower price than I paid in an airport…
The only downside is the risk of losing one of the two earbuds. The nice part about wired headphones is that it’s tough to lose them when you’re tangled up in the wire!
But that’s not the best part. The fact is the Earbuds II actually work BETTER than the old QC20’s!
Also, you may want to grab one of these AirFly bluetooth transmitters to use the headphones with an airline’s inflight entertainment!
What are your favorite noise cancelling headphones? Leave a comment below and let us know!
If you’re interested in picking up a set, please consider clicking the links in this post. They’ll take you over to Amazon. Your price will be the same and our YouTube channel will earn a small commission to help us continue to create solid content for you to enjoy (on your new noise cancelling headphones)! For more information, head over here!
My requirements are somewhat more complex than others but last Xmas I got a pair of Sony WXH-1004s & they were, quite literally, life changing for me, and here’s why…..
Due to refusal for a ‘day-op’ during the coof to address a particularly nasty infection in one ear and it taking them 19 months to even see me, let alone operate, I was left “Clinically Deaf”. By the time I was seen it required typing on my phone to communicate & after extensive testing it was found I had 3-7% hearing remaining in my ( previously infected) left ear & 28-32% in my right ( which had become irreparably damaged due to over stressing as my brain tried to compensate for the left). both with a margin of error of 5%.. Now with specially moulded hearing aids & a chip in my left side I retain a small amount of hearing although I do have to pair that with the ability to lip read if having a conversation.
As my hearing aids have to be external due to the amount of work they have to undertake/ sound field they need to take in this instantly made all my headphones useless as the cups being even near my aids caused the worst feedback loop you could imagine. You all know that sound when a mic feeds back and you get that screeching sound. Now imagine that feed directly into your skull. Not fun I promise you!
So I had to find headphones that were ‘around ear’ that could space far enough away but also that could effectively eliminate background noise as any that bled through would get picked up by my aids and cancel out the music to a large degree.
I spent 6 months researching & like Jeb thought Bose were the way to go but the more reviews and articles I read the more I learnt that Sony’s premium line did a much better job on the ANC side. Of course if they didn’t fit as I needed it would count for nothing. Fortunately they did, woohoo!
Even better as I got to learn how they work the software in them & the accompanying app was also learning. It knows where I am. How I’m traveling ( walking, running, public transport, rail, all that stuff) and it learns and adapts via my own feedback. Even more importantly. It measures your ears & focusses sound optimally & after some tinkering with positioning on my head it factored in my hearing aids, which sit on the rear of my ears, as part of the shape. Of course it doesn’t fire the sound at them but it’s directing sound in such a way that the sound is infinitely better than when I 1st put them on.
In the air, just OMG! They have a pass through mode activated simply by me talking when I have them on. It automatically pauses whatever is playing and focuses in on vocal/ dialogue sound only meaning with them on I can actually hear CC better than with them off. I have a marker on file with BA which alerts crew about my disability on every flight & I take the time to explain that I can hear better with my headphones on than off & to simply just talk to me, give it 10 seconds or so then chat as they would to any other pax. Without them I would always struggle as my aids would increase the background engine noise even more. To the point I’d often have to rely on my partner acting as a go-between but now I can converse normally which avoids the ‘shame’ and embarrassment I was pluaged by.
Whilst I appreciate there’s gonna be a very small number, if any, of readers put there in a similar boat ( & appreciating that it’s a highly personalized experience for us all). I cannot speak highly enough of these headphones. Also unlike the newer 1005s these still fold and have a really durable & sensible sized travel case.
Jen, what about connecting to IFE. I have seen wireless adapters that plug into headphone jacks on aircraft, but I’m worried about forgetting them when I leave. Wired ones (I also have the QC20’s) don’t have that problem
I agree that’s a HUGE advantage of the QC20’s! After leaving things behind in my seats a time (or three), I make a vigorous check throughout the seat, pockets, and cubbies before getting off. That’s saved me a few times.
I bought a set of Beats Studio3 wireless headphones. I was dissatisfied with the quality of the noise cancellation, and the ear pads are ridiculously uncomfortable. The next week, I bought Bose QuietComfort 45’s and they are MUCH better. Noise cancellation that works well, ear pads that are very comfortable. I’m never buying another pair of Beats again.
I’ve never experienced anything like Bose 700. For flights over the ear headphones have no comparison!
Sony wh-1000xm4 for me!
The Bose you have are mediocre at best. Airpods pro sound a lot better and are the choice by many who travel. Regarding actual headphones, the market is big from luxurious brands such as Bang & Olufsen for arguably the best sounds you can hear to Bower’s and Wilkins and Apple’s own hifi airpods max. If size is an issue: Airpods pro and for actual headphones if you have the money: Airpods max or Bang & Olufsen H95.
Not surprising that Bose makes the best aviation noise cancelling headphones in the world given that they were the first company to produce such things.
I love my AirPods Pro! They have noise cancellation and transparency, allowing you to hear everything around you. United is starting to allow Bluetooth headphone connection on their jets and Delta is testing this new technology. The sound quality is amazing and they connect to the find my network on iPhone so you can find and track the buds and case which is super handy!
Jeb: I also use QC20’s and have 2 extra pairs. I also have Bose QCII ear buds and they have great noise cancelling. But how do you use them to watch inflight movies..?? I not ware of how to use them to watch a movie on the plane system.
If you want to use QC20 you can probably find them on eBay….
They make a BlueTooth adapter (on brand is AirFly) that plugs in to the aircraft’s IFE, then connects to your earbuds.
Big fan and also a big fan of Bose. I mean a huge fan of Bose!!! I have had every set of headphones and earbuds they have offered and even spent the extra money to have the wired ones too like you. I converted to to the new earbuds a few months ago. What amazing sound, amazing noise cancelling but… buttttt I gotta be honest, the microphone, let’s say… needs a lot of work. Everyone I talked to on them complained they couldn’t hear me and all the noises around me seemed to be amplified. I had to buy a set of AirPod Pros to talk on while I travel but the sound and noise concealing on them is not even in the same zip code as the Bose though.