The Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for Travel

** Editor’s Note: This article is guest written by Christy’s husband Dave in their review of Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones to be used primarily for travel. **

I love my Bose headphones.  Let me say that again.  I LOVE my Bose Headphones.

My wife and I like to travel.  Taking vacations are one of our favorite things to do.  One of our least favorite things, however, is dealing with the noisy annoying morons who always surround us on flights and in airports.  After a wonderful vacation in Hawaii (and the looooong flights that book-ended it) my wife and I decided we were ready for some serious noise cancelling headphones.

So the research began.  I did lots of Google searches and lots of review reading before deciding on the Bose QuietComfort 15.  I should say, right of the bat, that these are not cheap headphones.  They run about $300.00, but in this case, you definitely get what you pay for.  These headphones are one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.

The headphones are over the ear style.  This means that the ear portion covers your ears completely.  This can lead to your ears getting a little hot after long usage, but it never gets to a point where it is too much.  Usually it’s only once I’ve taken them off that I notice my head and ears were getting a little warm.  The ears and bar that goes over your head are both padded and very comfortable.  I should mention, however, that my wife has a slightly smaller head than I do and does find that they don’t fit her as snugly as she would like.  In fact, originally we purchased her a pair of the QuietComfort 3  from Bose that fit her much better.  However, we found that the QuietComfort 15’s blocked noise better than the other ones so she ended up trading them in.

The QuietComfort 15 works on two levels.  By themselves the headphones block quite a bit of noise.  But in additional to very good padding, they also include a microchip that produces sound waves to counter background noise.  It actively works against all constant noises, such as engines and fans.  The headphones work with 1 AAA battery that lasts for approximately 30 hours of use.  So it would be worthwhile to invest in a rechargeable battery.  Much better for the environment.

Once turned on, the difference is amazing.  Any droning noise, such as an airplane engine or fan is cut down to either nothing or close to it.  Most other noises are diminished a lot as well.  This does take a little getting used to as I found I had gotten used to background noise (like me breathing) and having it missing was a little strange at first.

One thing I did notice was that some voices actually came through more clearly with the headphones than without.  On planes, the announcements that came over the intercom were very clear when I had my headphones on because there wasn’t any airplane engine to drown it out.  All other noise, though, is basically faded to almost nothing.  Once you actually turn on your music or podcasts or whatever else you are listening to, you really don’t notice any ambient noises.  It allows you to really bury yourself in your own little world.  A MUST to have on any long flight.

One word of warning, though.  While it blocks ambient noises, this also includes anything your travel partner might be trying to say to you.  There were quite a few times when I had to take one of the headphone ears off and ask my wife to repeat herself.  But I suppose that’s what you want in noise cancelling headphones!

Bottom Line:  While expensive, the Bose QuietComfort 15 noise cancelling headphones are well worth the price.  While it won’t cancel absolutely ALL noise around you, it will cancel a significant amount and once you have your music on you won’t notice the residual.  Definitely a buy if you want to have peaceful flight among noisy annoying people.

Do you have a pair, do you feel the same way? Do you prefer another brand like Dr. Dre’s? Comment below.

Happy Travels!

3 thoughts on “The Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for Travel

  1. I own a pair as well and I concur – they are truly amazing! My only complaint is that their case takes up too much space in my briefcase when I travel – and you need the case to protect the investment. That said, I wouldn’t trade them for anything! (I own Bose MIE2’s for my cell phone and for short trips and I can’t recommend them highly enough either)

  2. Ray Raddatz says:

    I bought the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless headphones for a recent trip:

    http://en-us.sennheiser.com/momentum-wireless-headphones-with-mic

    They’re just a little bit more expensive but they’re Bluetooth so I don’t have to deal with wires and they have (IMHO) superior audio quality over the Bose cans. The one thing that noticed was that the Bose headphones seemed to block more noise. It’s not to say the Sennheiser’s don’t have excellent active noise cancellation and isolation, it’s just that it doesn’t seem to block out quite as much as the Bose.

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