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This evening I tested some Noise Canceling Headphones (as described in my previous post ).
I first tried the ones on sale at Brookstone , they were the on the ear type so there was never a chance that I would buy them but they seemed like good ones to test. I wore them for about 10 minutes while I walked around the store looking at all the electronic stuff that’s on sale. I noticed that they were much more effective at filtering low frequencies and regular sounds. So for the Christmas music that was playing the music was mostly filtered just leaving the sound of the singing. Also I was able to talk to the guy who worked there and hear him clearly when the noise canceling was turned on – this can be considered a bug or a feature depending on your planned use. When I listened to electric fans the sound of the buffeting air was filtered just leaving the high pitched bearing noise.
It is well documented that there is a hissing sound from noise canceling headphones and sometimes a feeling of pressure. I didn’t hear any hissing but it did feel a little different when I turned on the noise canceling. After 10 minutes I didn’t feel in any way uncomfortable, so I could probably survive an entire flight while wearing such headphones. I can highly recommend the customer service at the Brookstone store in Menlo Park. The guy who was working there was totally helpful, even by US standards his customer service was really good. Sometimes when you make an unusual request (such was wanting to try the merchandise for an extended period of time) the staff aren’t particularly enthusiastic, but I had no problems at Brookstone!
After Brookstone I went to a Bose store and tried the Quiet Comfort 15 noise canceling headphones . The Bose store conveniently had a device configured to emulate the sound of a jet engine to demonstrate how the QC15 stopped that. I was quite impressed with that. I did feel that the QC15 was a little light for my taste, I would rather have something bigger and heavier with thicker padding to improve the passive resistance to sound. But I expect that many people would like it to be small and light as it’s designed for travel.
I visited a Sony store a couple of times, but no-one seemed able to serve me. I’ll go there again some time when they are less busy.
Finally I have to note that I have received a significant number of comments suggesting ear-bud type devices. I suggest that anyone who doesn’t mind wearing such things should consider ear-bud type devices. But as I can’t stand such things I will continue my search for over-ear headphones. I may end up just buying the Bose QC15, they seem to be good enough and not really expensive.