Sound Canceling Headphones
The peace of mind to frequent flyers
Sound canceling headphones are closed designs, made to seal over the ear and use the drivers sound output to cancel out any outside ambient sounds from around the listener. These are of particular use to travelers- trans continental air passengers know all too well the difficulty of getting rest on a flight with the constant hum of a jet engine in close proximity. Sound canceling headphones can easily negate approximately ten decibels of sound around the listener. The cancellation of ambient noise means the weary traveler is enveloped in his own sensory isolation and able to escape into music, audio-books or even a recording of an engine's hum if that's what they wish to lull them off to sleep.
By creating sensory isolation the working traveler's mind is cleared and often able to think clearly when working and make better decisions. Although some noise is cancelled, noise cancellation is never 100% so there is really no danger in missing emergency or warning situations. In fact you can still hear someone next to you call your name or hear an alarm. But, even still, sound cancellation isn't a good idea for walking down the street.
Closed designed headphones are any head phones where the drivers are meant to fire directly into the ear of the listener and some effort is made to prevent sound from leaking outside the ear cup. Generally these are an over the ear style headphone and very good at enclosing the listener in sound. However not all closed style headphones are sound canceling, but they're the next best thing. Closed headphones, including any sound canceling headphone, will keep your music from disturbing people around you. The opposite of a closed design headphone is appropriately enough referred to as an open design.
Open headphones make no effort to enclose the driver so leaky sound is inevitable. The advantage to open style headphones is usually a superior bass extension depending on the individual headphone. This is why many expensive headphones are made in the open style, because they're very good at providing wide dynamic range. But any open style is going to be the very opposite of sound canceling, people around you can hear your music almost as clearly as you do, and vice versa. You'll be part of any sounds that can penetrate your ear's wall of music from the open headphone's driver.
There are different brands of sound canceling headphones. Quite simply, Bose makes a good sound canceling headphone called the QuiteComfort2. However, the Bose headphones have been criticized for being overpriced for what you get. Indeed there are some very good sound canceling headphones on the market that compare favorably to Bose that cost half the price. Sennheiser makes the PXC 250 and PXC 300; two models of sound canceling headphones priced at less than half what you'll pay for Bose. Many audiophiles say they provide greater frequency response that makes for a better sounding headphone than the Bose.