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  1. #1
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    Traveling with Active Noise Canceling Headphones and Earbuds?

    I'm curious how many here travel with noise canceling headphones or noise canceling earbuds?

    I don't normally because they take up so much space in my bag, and I only use them on flights.

    But as I packed my Synik 22 for a weekend trip I realized I had just enough space to fit my Bose QC35 headphones, in their case! The one other time I've flown with my ANC headphones was a two-bag trip so I had a larger space allowance than normal. It made the flights a lot more enjoyable but was a lot of dead space in my bag as I didn't use them at all between flights.

    I also recently found out that you can buy wireless ANC in-ear earbuds, and I'm interested to give those a shot as they take up much less space in a bag.

  2. #2
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    I have a pair of Bose headphones. Instead of using their case, I stuff them into a Tom Bihn 3D organizer cube. Despite the cube being smaller than the Bose case, the headphones still take up more room than I would like in a bag. Also, if I leave them on my head for several hours, my ears start to get really warm and uncomfortable.

    On some recent trips, I've packed a pair of Jabra wireless ear buds. They only have passive noise cancellation, but most newer airplanes are relatively quiet, so that was enough for short flights. The main drawback is they are bluetooth and can't accept headphone cables. This means if I want to watch something on a seat-back screen, I have to attach a cheap bluetooth transmitter I bought on Amazon to the airplane headphone jack.

    Sony makes an ANC earbud that has received good reviews, but everything I buy from Sony breaks and performs nowhere near as well as the reviewer tricked me into believing, so I'm not going to shell out the money for these. Bose is coming out with a wireless in-ear bud with active noise cancellation soon. I may look at getting a pair as I trust Bose more than Sony.
    Last edited by NClens; 09-12-2019 at 03:33 PM.

  3. #3
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    I travel with a Bose QC35 set packed in a size A5 Ghost Whale pouch. It takes much less space than the Bose case.

  4. #4
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    I've chosen to not spend the money or space on noise cancelling and just wear ear plugs instead. I always have some with me and use them on noisy trains too.
    I like all the blues and greys...and all the happy citrus colours too! My search unicorn is the Sapphire Dyneema original Small Shop Bag...

  5. #5
    Forum Member terayon's Avatar
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    I have a pair of the Sony NC over-ear headphones (WH1000MX3, or something like that) and really like them. They are definitely bulky but I get enough use and enjoyment from them compared to ear buds that I’ll “spend” my bag space on them. (I listen to music when walking around and sitting at my desk a lot, so they’re not just for the flight.)

    I keep them in their own case as they seem better protected that way. After just about a year of use at least a few times per week they are doing just fine. I’m not particularly rough on them though.

    My biggest gripe is that switching between devices is a several-step process and is fairly annoying. It is enough that if I was doing that a lot, I’d prefer something else, maybe the Bose ones.

    There is a lot of personal preference in this choice, certainly.

  6. #6
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    I used to travel (fly) pretty regularly with my Bose QC15s in their case. I'm not usually a one-bag traveler, so I could typically find room in my carryon.

    A year or two ago, I switched to the in-ear Bose QC20s. This was based partially on recommendations I'd seen in this forum and partially by my desire to carry something with a smaller form factor. The QC20s, in their padded case, fit perfectly in a small ghost whale.

    I do still carry my QC15s back and forth to work when I'm not traveling. I realized that the in-ear headphones were too effective and I had several people walk into my office and startle me while I was using them!

  7. #7
    Volunteer Moderator bartleby's Avatar
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    Location: Germany / Hobbies: Photography & Guitars
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    I always travel with my Bose QC25 when I use planes or trains since I really do enjoy the silence. I am much less stressed after long flights when I wear the headphones. I thought about trying the in-ear phones and would love to hear some experiences. As far as I know from tests the Bose headphones still have one of the best noise cancelling although their sound is certainly not top. But since my main interest is blocking out the noise I rather accept some trade-off regarding the sound.
    ...spread joy in your neighbourhood
    current bags: Smart Alec, Guide's Pack, Guide's Edition S25, Luminary 15, Daylight Backpack, Aeronaut 45, Tri-Star, Road Buddy 36, Daylight Briefcase, Small Yeoman Duffel, bits and pieces

  8. #8
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    For travel earphones, I always advocate for those that employ passive noise isolation over active noise cancellation tech.

    They are lighter, less expensive, less complex / less prone to failure, don’t have a bulky inline battery pack, etc. Most importantly, they sound better.

    My go-to recommendation is Etymotic, an Illinois-based company that makes in-ear canalphones known for their accuracy.

    Noise isolation is rated at 98% (35 dB - 42 dB), which the company claims is the highest of any earphones or headsets on the market. They are really effective at reducing ambient noise without adding electronic NC processing.

    They fit easily in a Ghost Whale or a shirt pocket, and never need to be charged.
    Last edited by bb93fo57; 09-13-2019 at 05:52 AM.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Inkpen View Post
    I travel with a Bose QC35 set packed in a size A5 Ghost Whale pouch. It takes much less space than the Bose case.
    That was a *great* tip! I went through my pouch collection and it turns out the QC35s also fit great in a Halcyon Medium OP. I didn't even realize how much space the Bose case wasted!

    Quote Originally Posted by bb93fo57 View Post
    My go-to recommendation is Etymotic, an Illinois-based company that makes in-ear canalphones known for their accuracy.

    Noise isolation is rated at 98% (35 dB - 42 dB), which the company claims is the highest of any earphones or headsets on the market. They are really effective at reducing ambient noise without adding electronic NC processing.
    Good point. I actually have a pair of Etys and exclusively use their earplugs but at work I wear headphones for comfort and ease of removal. But it's probably not worth me buying a pair of ANC earbuds when I already have Etys. Sound quality is great too!

  10. #10
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    I use Bose QC20’s. I would prefer over-ear headphones, but they are too bulky for travel. The QC20’s take little space, sound ok, and work well. I recommend them if compact size is more important than perfect size and noise insulation.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbcamp View Post
    I use Bose QC20’s. I would prefer over-ear headphones, but they are too bulky for travel. The QC20’s take little space, sound ok, and work well. I recommend them if compact size is more important than perfect size and noise insulation.
    I have the QC20s as well. Purchased them as a refurb from the local Bose outlet (GTA). I actually prefer them over my “regular” Bose over-ear headphones. The specs say you can get 16 hours from a charge. I find I get 12-14 in reality.

  12. #12
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    After trying every possible combination, I've settled on noise isolating earbuds. They take up so much less space, but work basically the same. Also, they're stealthier to wear. Also, active noise cancelation can make me a little nauseated.

  13. #13
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    Yep, if I'm flying I always carry my Bose QC20, they are small so I can always fit them somewhere in my bag.

  14. #14
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    For years I used Shure SE215s, which are great isolating earbuds with interchangeable cables. Once the buds themselves fell apart, I bought 3 headsets to try out; the Bose QC20, QC35, and the beemunited BeMe D200 (these were on super sale so I had to give them a try).

    First, the BeMe is an isolating, wired ANC headset with no batteries; it pulls power from the lightning port to provide power for the ANC (sorry Android). You can control the ANC level and EQ via an App on the phone. Despite 4 sizes of eargels, they were still too small for my canals so ultimately couldn't compete in the end. The ANC is not as impressive as the Bose, though I couldn't tell if it was just due to the lack of a seal in the earbud. The fact that there is no battery to recharge or maintain is a great feature. I'll probably be listing these on eBay soon once I get my act together.

    So down to the final two, I tried both side by side over my travels, and settled on keeping the QC35. Despite the additional bulk, it was just overall more comfortable for long periods of time. I don't bother with a case, I just put them, folded, in the large face pocket of my WF (it shares it perfectly with a 3D mesh cube that contains my other in-flight cables, backup battery, and drink coupons). Having only used Shure in-hear isolators for the last 15 years, these were much less intrusive than I had expected them to be; they do fold relatively flat. Had they not fit so well into the WF pocket, I might have kept the QC20.

    The QC20 definitely has the best ANC of any I have ever heard, and the eargels are deceptively well isolating. But ultimately they were very hard to keep situated for a proper seal in my big ears, and I found myself adjusting them too much. The in-line battery module was certainly no help in that regard.

    QC35 has excellent battery life (I recharge mine probably 1-2x per week while using intermittently, home and office), can be used as a wired headset if the battery is dead (good for in-flight entertainment), impressive phone call performance, and leaves your lightning plug free to keep your iPhone topped off if you're binge-watching Netflix - excellent to hit the ground at 100% if you have a day of phone photography ahead of you. I still use my AirPods for walking-around tunes, so I have ample opportunity to recharge the QC35 as it shares the pocket with my backup battery.

  15. #15
    Registered User travelingmark's Avatar
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    I have a pair of QC35 and love them. It is a pain lugging them around with me, but you get used to it. I've never been a big fan of ear buds or any of the headphones that go inside your ear. The sound quality just isn't there for me. I'd rather sacrifice the room and have a good quality audio experience. It's worth it to me.

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