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What to Look for When Buying Noise Cancelling Headphones

Planes – especially packed planes – are extremely noisy places. Unfortunately, there is no way to escape the noise, unless you close yourself in the tiny, cramped bathroom, and even then you can still hear the drone of the plane’s engines and children crying. So, what is a person to do?  The best way to avoid the noise on a plane is to block it out completely. That is where noise-cancelling headphones come into the picture. Noise-cancelling headphones are designed to completely eliminate outside noise. Wear them on a plane and you won’t hear that child crying or the hum of the engine.

If you are thinking of purchasing noise-cancelling headphones, you might feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of headphones available for sale. In an effort to help make your next plane ride a quiet one, we have created a guide that will help you know which noise-cancelling headphones to purchase.

Photo credit: Tirachard Kumtanom /

Verify the Headphones are Noise Cancelling NOT Noise Isolating

When looking at headphones you will see two different phrases – noise cancelling and noise isolating. You might assume that these terms mean the same thing, but they don’t.

Noise isolating headphones are designed to muffle outside noise. It won’t eliminate outside noise.

Noise cancelling headphones are uniquely designed to eliminate outside noise. They do this by placing a miniature microphone in the headset that monitors ambient noise. When noise is detected, the electronics in the headset create a noise-cancelling wave to counteract and nullify the ambient noise. When you wear them, you will only hear occasionally loud noises such as a random scream or loud sound.

Make sure the headphones you are purchasing are noise cancelling and not noise isolating.

Think About Personal Preference for Headphone Style

Headphones come in three different styles. It is a matter of personal preference which style you choose to buy. All of the styles work the same way, so it just depends on what style you feel more comfortable wearing.

The styles of headphones available include:

  • Earbuds – tiny little earbuds placed inside your ear;
  • Ear pads – round pads that hand around the ear;
  • Full-sized headphones – circular bands that cover the entire ear.

Peace and Quiet Can Have a High Price Tag

Noise-cancelling headphones are available in a wide range of prices. It is important to remember that you get what you pay for when it comes to quality.

The higher, more expensive noise-cancelling headphones often use better technology to cancel outside sounds. This doesn’t mean the cheaper makes and models don’t work, it just means that they might not cancel out the noise completely.

If you are only travelling once a year, you may be able to use the cheaper noise cancelling headphones. If you travel a lot or you really don’t want to hear the noises around you, you may want to consider investing in a high-quality pair of noise cancelling headphones.

Research Battery Life

Noise cancelling headphones run on batteries. If the battery goes dead, you will be forced to hear all the noises around you until the battery is recharged.

Before purchasing a pair of noise cancelling headphones make sure you research the battery life. This will help you know if your headphones will be able to last your entire flight or if you will have to plug them in and power the battery up to get through an entire flight. Some new models of headphones are doing wonders with battery life, with certain models being able to push through the twenty-hour barrier, more than enough for most flights.

Noise cancelling headphones are a lifesaver for people who shudder at the thought of noisy planes filled with children crying and loud sounds. Use our guide to help you find the best headphones for your next trip.

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