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Travel Headphone options


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On Thursday I was due to fly between London and Geneva. On arrival at the airport I was informed the flight was over booked and the airline was paying €250 for folk to take the early the flight next day plus taxis hotel meal etc. having no real reason to be in Geneva that night I took the cash, went home, slept in my own bed and got to Geneva for lunch time the following day.

 

So what to spend my €250 on. I think travel headphones.

 

So without a real clue as what's good these days I looking for advise. I've always fancied the Bose noise cancelling jobs, and prefer ear bud phones for the same external noise reduction reason. Playback device will almost certainly be an iPhone or iPad, so limits me to mp3.

 

Might post on headfi too but as my forum of choice for all things audiophile I thought I'd start here.

 

Thanks in advance

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In this price range, I own the Etymotic ER4P, Bose QC15 and Sennheiser Amperior. My wife has the new Bose QC20.

Assuming you will use an iPhone, iPod or an equivalent source (not a fancy AK120 or equivalent), my advice really depends on what use you are foreseeing:

 

  1. If you want to listen mostly in quiet environments, I would suggest the Sennheise Amperior. These headphones have the best sound quality (to me) of the four ones that I listed above.
  2. If you want very good quality and top portability, you could go for the Etymotic ER4P. Personally I find that, whatever their level of quality, in-ear headphones create a sound that is not natural to me. I find it just weird to have sound generated so close to my ear. But this is purely subjective, and I must recognise that the degree of fidelity of the ER4P is very high.
  3. If you use your headphones mostly in trains or planes or places with similar kinds of noise, I would suggest the QC15 which have extremely good noise cancellation for this sort of background noise and good sound quality. But they let speech and voice get through with very little noise-level reduction, which is probably a legacy of their history that started in aeronautics.
  4. If you use your headphones mostly in quite noisy environments including conversations that you want to block out, I would suggest the Bose QC20. Their noise cancellation is unbelievably good. My wife and I were baffled when she got them.

 

I am sure that there are other good options, but these are the ones I am familiar with. By the way, I have no relationship with Bose, Etymotic or Sennheiser, except that I spent money on purchasing their products.

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I no longer travel the way I use to but I will say that the Bose Quiet Comfort headphones were a joy and a lifesaver in crowded planes and in the hotel room. While others may wish to debate the sound, I enjoyed it, the noise canceling technology was simply the best. Combine that with a comfort of fit and a listening experience that was rock solid on four hour flights and the ease and convenience of the very nice storage case and they were a definite winner for me.

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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Many thanks both.

 

I am drawn to the Bose I must admit, but only because of the noise cancelling capability. I owned Bose speakers for a couple of years, but they went when I rediscovered real audio.

 

I'll look out the other suggestions, and go audition some.

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Many thanks both.

 

I am drawn to the Bose I must admit, but only because of the noise cancelling capability. I owned Bose speakers for a couple of years, but they went when I rediscovered real audio.

 

I'll look out the other suggestions, and go audition some.

 

Just a note in that Bose are not the only headphones I am familiar with having owned AKG, Grado and currently running Sennheiser HD600's. I just think if travel and noise canceling are a key ingredient along with comfort, functionality and the sound then they are a good choice.

"If you fly a flag of hate you are no kin to me"

Ry Cooder

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I am happy with my Harman Kardon NC Premium Over-Ear Noise Canceling headphones.

 

They say they are not quite as noise canceling as the Bose but the same people said the sound quality was better. When I travel, I use the one set for both on-plane and then later in-hotel listening.

 

So finding an improved sound quality was a priority over absolute sound canceling on the flight itself. I think the priority is a personal choice.

 

Best,

John

Positive emotions enhance our musical experiences.

 

Synology DS213+ NAS -> Auralic Vega w/Linear Power Supply -> Auralic Vega DAC (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> XLR -> Auralic Taurus Pre -> XLR -> Pass Labs XA-30.5 power amplifier (on 4" maple and 4 Stillpoints) -> Hawthorne Audio Reference K2 Speakers in MTM configuration (Symposium Jr HD rollerball isolation) and Hawthorne Audio Bass Augmentation Baffles (Symposium Jr rollerball isolation) -> Bi-amped w/ two Rythmic OB plate amps) -> Extensive Room Treatments (x2 SRL Acoustics Prime 37 diffusion plus key absorption and extensive bass trapping) and Pi Audio Uberbuss' for the front end and amplification

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I travel quite a bit (usually the long international flights, followed by a couple weeks' hotel stay), so I've actually wound up with two earphones / headphones.

 

En route, I carry only a small laptop case (check two rollaboards), so space is at a premium. In addition, I found the Bose noise-reduction headphones didn't last the full 14 hours or so I need gate to gate. I eventually switched to vSonic GR07 IEMs, which I think sound great and wind up into a small case (about 2.5" across).

 

Once I get to my hotel, I have a small portable system I lay out, including my laptop or iPad (source), Meridian Explorer DAC, KEF-M500 headphones, and a foxL DASH7 Bluetooth speaker. I use the headphones and foxL interchangeably as required, but the KEFs are great because they 1) sound wonderful, 2) are very comfortable, and 3) include a mike in the cord for use on conference calls.

 

I'm sure I'll keep fine-tuning this setup, but right now I'm pretty content with the vSonics for the flights and KEFs for hotels / portable listening.

John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > Topping D90 > Topping A90 > Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed / Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server / AppleTV > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Denon X3700h > Anthem Amp for front channels > Revel F208-based 5.2.4 Atmos speaker system

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I recently picked up a set of beyerdyamic DT 1350, and at the current price (USD 170 from Amazon) they are an extraordinary value. They seal and isolate well, I find them to be quite comfortable, and for a small, on-ear closed headphone they sound great, although I think with a bit of judicious EQ (I'm going to try a 2dB/octave low-pass starting at 110 Hz - the bass is fabulous but there's a bit too much of it for my taste) they can sound even better.

 

They will fit easily in a backpack or briefcase and come with a case that seems reasonably sturdy.

 

I think Tyll's review is dead on in describing their strengths and weaknesses.

 

The Awesome Beyerdynamic DT 1350 | InnerFidelity

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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I recently picked up a set of beyerdyamic DT 1350, and at the current price (USD 170 from Amazon) they are an extraordinary value. They seal and isolate well, I find them to be quite comfortable, and for a small, on-ear closed headphone they sound great, although I think with a bit of judicious EQ (I'm going to try a 2dB/octave low-pass starting at 110 Hz - the bass is fabulous but there's a bit too much of it for my taste) they can sound even better.

 

They will fit easily in a backpack or briefcase and come with a case that seems reasonably sturdy.

 

I think Tyll's review is dead on in describing their strengths and weaknesses.

 

The Awesome Beyerdynamic DT 1350 | InnerFidelity

 

I also have the DT-1350s, and they do sound very good, but I find they hurt my ears if I wear them more than a few minutes at a time :/

 

I also find that wearing IEMs constantly hurts my ear canals, thus the need for a 2nd (on ear) headphone for long hotel stays.

 

I look forward to the day when someone creates a truly portable headphone that is also truly comfortable ;) 'Til then, the KEF-M500s are the best I've found.

 

NOTE: I also have the V-MODA M-100s (and they also sound great) for circumaural (around the ear) fit. I like them very much and have used them pretty much interchangeably with the KEFs in the past, but now have settled on the KEFs for my primary kit.

 

Either would be a good travel choice, in my opinion.

John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > Topping D90 > Topping A90 > Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed / Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server / AppleTV > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Denon X3700h > Anthem Amp for front channels > Revel F208-based 5.2.4 Atmos speaker system

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I also have the DT-1350s, and they do sound very good, but I find they hurt my ears if I wear them more than a few minutes at a time :/

 

I also find that wearing IEMs constantly hurts my ear canals, thus the need for a 2nd (on ear) headphone for long hotel stays.

 

I look forward to the day when someone creates a truly portable headphone that is also truly comfortable ;) 'Til then, the KEF-M500s are the best I've found.

 

NOTE: I also have the V-MODA M-100s (and they also sound great) for circumaural (around the ear) fit. I like them very much and have used them pretty much interchangeably with the KEFs in the past, but now have settled on the KEFs for my primary kit.

 

Either would be a good travel choice, in my opinion.

 

You're far from the first person to report comfort issues with the 1350. I guess I'm fortunate to have the right size and shape ears.

 

Have you tried custom IEMs?

Office: MacBook Pro - Audirvana Plus - Resonessence Concero - Cavailli Liquid Carbon - Sennheiser HD 800.

Travel/Portable: iPhone 7 or iPad Pro - AudioQuest Dragonfly Red - Audeze SINE or Noble Savant

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You're far from the first person to report comfort issues with the 1350. I guess I'm fortunate to have the right size and shape ears.

 

Have you tried custom IEMs?

 

Not yet.

 

I used IEMs for several years and never grew comfortable with the universal fit versions - as a last resort (i.e., before spending inordinate amounts of money on custom fit), I tried a small on-the-ear model (the DT-1350). Even with the moderate discomfort, I found them more wearable than IEMs, so I've focused on on- / over-the-ear headphones for the past couple of years, amassing a small collection :/

 

At some point, I'll probably decide to invest in some quality IEMs, but am comfortable where I've settled (with the KEF-M500s) for now.

John Walker - IT Executive

Headphone - MacMini running Roon Server > Netgear Orbi > Blue Jeans Cable Ethernet > mRendu Roon endpoint > Topping D90 > Topping A90 > Dan Clark Aeon 2 Closed / Focal Elegia

Home Theater - Mac Mini running Roon Server / AppleTV > Blue Jeans Cable HDMI > Denon X3700h > Anthem Amp for front channels > Revel F208-based 5.2.4 Atmos speaker system

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Again thanks everyone

 

Lots of things for me to research. Enjoyed reading the InnerFedility review, particularly if you have long hair!

 

I guess the versions advertised these days are the facelift version?

 

Just one question. How about the B&W P5s. I've a soft spot for all things B&W

 

Again thanks

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  • 2 years later...

When I bought my travel 'phones two years ago the consensus was that the best noise protection combined with best sound was passive isolation and good IEMs.

 

I went with that (Phonak) and wasn't disappointed.

 

Greg

p.s. I also left Bose behind when I went to real hi-fi.

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I do use a variety of headphones, depending mostly on the length of travel.

 

For regular commuting: Grado IE GR 10

Long Flights: Bose QC25

Hotel: I tend to carry a small speaker, Onkyo T3 (bluetooth), beats anything I had so far.

 

So, when travelling from Tokyo to eg. my native Switzerland, I end up with all three of them:-). This combo together with a Seagate Wireless HDD (2TB) is indespensible for any travel that takes me somewhere overnight.

I am a big fan of Grado, so looking into those might be an idea.

 

Dieter

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I got a relatively inexpensive custom IEM (JH5) and am very happy with it. While traveling it blocks almost all ambient noise (like the background noise on a plane or train) but still lets you hear a bit of what is going on around you. I prefer that to being completely cut off from my surroundings.

Main listening (small home office):

Main setup: Surge protector +_iFi  AC iPurifiers >Isol-8 Mini sub Axis Power Conditioning+Isolation>QuietPC Low Noise Server>Roon (Audiolense DRC)>Stack Audio Link II>Kii Control>Kii Three >GIK Room Treatments.

Secondary Listening: Server with Audiolense RC>RPi4 or analog>Matrix Element i Streamer/DAC (XLR)+Schiit Freya>Kii Three .

Bedroom: SBTouch to Cambridge Soundworks Desktop Setup.
Living Room/Kitchen: Ropieee (RPi3b+ with touchscreen) + Schiit Modi3E to a pair of Morel Hogtalare. 

All absolute statements about audio are false :)

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  • 1 month later...

One never knows, do one? - Fats Waller

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. - Einstein

Computer, Audirvana -> optical to EtherREGEN -> microRendu -> ISO Regen -> Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 DAC -> Spectral DMC-12 & DMA-150 -> Vandersteen 3A Signature.

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I bought the QC-35 just for airline travel based on all the positive reviews for noise cancelling. They are worth every penny for that alone but I was also pleasantly surprised that they don't sound bad either. Granted they are nowhere near as good as the similiarly price HD650 but they are quite listenable. They seem to be EQ'd to have boosted bass which takes some getting used to but I wouldn't describe them as muffled at all.

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