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Whats the best brand Noise Cancelling Headphones for Air Travel


I have really sensitive hearing caused by a head injury, I am after the best noise cancelling headphones I can get for Air travel and also to mute as much as possible children and baby noises.

I have read the Choice test on Noise Cancelling Headphones however they didn’t test the Bose QC 30 earbuds.

Could you also tell me if the brand you use can cancel out noise without having to have any music on.

thanks Meg


The QC20 were rated best over the QC30 in this test.

Addendum The ability to cancel Baby cries and similar were not rated highly for any NC earbuds or headphones as they work better with low frequency sounds and are less effective with the higher frequency sounds such as baby cries. The full surround the ear types probably do a slightly better job here as they do provide a bit more passive noise reduction than ear buds or on the ear types.


Just another thought; over the ear headphones may be best at cutting noise but I have found they prevent me from going to sleep. And sleep is the best way to pass the interminable hours on long-haul flights!


I have th Bose quiet comfort because on-ear headphones give me headaches. They have excellent noise cancelling.


My husband and I both have Bose QC around ear headphones and love them. I can’t stand wearing in-ear buds as I find them very uncomfortable and painful for my ears. My husband mainly uses his when doing noisy jobs like mowing the lawn. He listens to music of his choice and finds it really quietens the machinery noises.

I have used mine on their own (without listening to any sound source) when travelling and sharing a room with a friend who snores. I removed the cord (very easy) turned on the noise cancelling and slept in them. They have really soft cushioning around the ears and I found them comfortable to sleep in. I don’t think I could have shared a room without them.

We recently bought a Bose wireless headsets for our sons birthday and while they suit his needs I don’t find the noise cancelling nearly as good as ours.


Forgot to mention that they have an adaptor included with them that plugs straight in to the airline entertainment system. So good to use them while flying. Very comfortable and really blocks out the noises around you


I’m a big fan of Sennheiser products though admittedly haven’t had their “noise cancelling” headphones. Do get “over” ear, not “on” ear. Though they’re uglier cause they’re bigger, they work better in my view.



Very happy with my Bose QC25 headphones. They won’t totally shut out a baby’s crying, although they will deaden it a bit. Got to test that last Sunday when stuck next to an unhappy baby on a Sydney-Bathurst train. The headphoenes do deaden high-pitched sounds to some extent. Many crickets here since the heavy rains. I can sit on my verandah and listen to music with only a small amount of cricket chirping penetrating. I use the headphones on the train without music sometimes, as a lot of local people don’t seem to understand the meaning of “quiet carriage”. They certainly drown out the worst of the noise.


Could I enquire the approx cost of these QC’s please?


RRP is around $400 so they’re not cheap but we got ours on sale at $329. Myer had the best price at the time but it pays to shop around. I think there’s a new model available now but places like JB hi fi have the different models on display connected up so you can try them out and see which ones suit you best. There are a number of reviews on line too if you google Bose.


Providing they haven’t gone underwater in the current floods Palings in Lismore sell QC25s at $337 and have facilities for purchase via the web. Same price whether for connection to an Android or an Apple device.


I travel interstate frequently (pretty much weekly) and I prefer in-ear monitors to my Bose over-ear headphones. Arguably they do not cancel as much noise however I find them easier to live with. Particularly when I want to sleep as the over-ear headphones limit how much you can comfortably bend your head. I find my ears “sweat” with my Bose headphones after prolonged use.


I have a pair of Parrot Ziks that are pretty decent at cutting down on outside noise. They have active filtering whether or not you are playing music.

For the office, when conversations around me are too loud I slip on some passive noise cancellation, with a pair of orange worksite-type noise protectors.

Either way, these things heat up the ears.

Finally, for the bedroom I sometimes use earplugs. They are Disposable Howard Leight MAX-1 NRR33, allegedly. And no, I do not intend by mentioning this to imply that my wife is loud in bed. (Okay - she snores… and doesn’t read this forum.)


I bought a set of Audio Technica ANC33iS Noise cancelling earphones online at Store DJ for $78 with free delivery, after they were recommended by Tech-Life computer magazine. I used them for a flight to Rome, via Dubai late last year. I was very happy with them as I suffer from Tinnitus and didn’t want to further damage my hearing. We went on an A380 Airbus, and in my view they are a very quiet plane, compared to other types.
Fortunately there was not a lot of noise coming from crying children, but it effectively reduced their noise, and reduced the engine and background noise too. These NC earphones are in-ear buds, and yes, they do cancel the noise when there is no input from say your MP3 player. They come with an aircraft adaptor and have an active electronic noise cancelling module in the cord, which also acts as a volume control.
I hope this may be of some help to you, and no, I don’t have any association with either the manufacturing company or the online retailer.


We’ve updated our headphones review with the latest results and equipment.


We bought some JBL E65BTNC (not tested) from JBHiFi on sale and are very pleased with them. Ticks our boxes for cost, quality, NC, and sound quality. Also works well as a PC headset for chats. Of course we are making the comments against one product not comparing it against ‘them’, but.

Buying headphones for decades taught the reality for most of us is not absolute goodness, it is whether it ticks our boxes for what it delivers at a price we are happy to pay.


We have two items on the list - I need add reviews… :wink:
The Sony WH-1000X-M2 states wireless only. This is an error. The headphones do have a 3.5mm socket and include a cable, one end with a right angle plug for the headphones end.
The Bose QC20 (android version) we have owned for a few years & just returned from that long flight with these in my ears for the duration. The Choice review mentions in bad points “poor comfort”. Several of the reviews say the opposite & my experience is these are one of the most comfortable in ear I have ever used. Clearly depends on the shape of your ears, however this review point seems misleading. If it wasn’t for the clunky battery module I’d use them everyday as my only in-ear pair.


Thanks for adding your experience @Kanga2, much appreciated. Comfort is definitely subjective, so it’s good to hear from consumers on this factor. Glad the Bose QC20s are working out for you in that department at least, hopefully some smaller batteries will be developed in the future. I’ll be sure to pass on your feedback about the 3.5mm jack too. :thumbsup:

Here’s our updated noise cancelling headphones review (member content) for those interested.


I’m about to embark on a number of lengthy flights and wanted to get some good headphones (not earbud type which are annoying to wear) to: Eliminate screaming child noise, reduce engine droning noise, avoid the tinny sound of airline ear pieces and, that work all the time. I’ve read the reviews that put the Sony as the best, but two contributors aren’t that rapt (and for pretty valid reasons I would suggest), and they are $500 a go. The Sennheiser gets a reasonable rating. The assessment of the Bose was relatively poor. I don’t know that I am much further advanced - suck it and see I guess.


Across the family we have a Bose over ear, Sony over ear and I have a Sennheiser on ear set of noise cancelling with remote battery pack.

We have all used in ear previously and given them up after a while due to discomfort when used for longer periods, cleaning issues and the need for their own power box.

The over ear designs are collectively in our experience the most effective in blocking out background noise when combined with the noise cancelling feature. Obviously others seem to be accustomed to or comfortable with in ear devices. Several of this style have good Choice reviews as well.

Some of the larger electrical retailers should have samples of each brand to trial in the typical noise laden shop environment. Bose would over time have been by far the most popular with my traveling companions who flew at least weekly for work.