I’ve had a hard time finding what seem like good reviews online.
My use case is primarily for airline flights.
Can anyone make any suggestions? Any thoughts about in ear vs over ear?
Bought it just before boarding for a 7-hour flight, and it was great. Even after a dozen flights since then, I'd still recommend it anytime. Its noise cancelling is amazing (source: I've tested it in comparison with Bose QC35, everyday in the shop before going for this one).
The XM3 has been released a while ago (minor update IMHO), has good reviews and is regularly discounted. With Black Friday almost there, you should get good deals on it.
I personally don't feel the need to buy it since I have the XM2, but I could get it for my wife.
My biggest issue is you can't use the noise cancelling or the bluetooth connectivity while it's charging. You either have to wait for it to charge (which is absurdly fast. 10m will give you at least 4-6 hours) or you have to plug in an 1/8th inch audio cable.
The touch controls are kind of odd. If the headphones are tilted slightly forward or backward and you try to increase the volume, you can accidentally trigger backward or forward. It also doesn't trigger consistently. Sometimes, I have to try once or twice before it recognizes the gesture. However, Cupping the hand over the right headphone to hear what's going on around you works every time and is priceless in an office environment.
The built in microphone is terrible. Don't use it. I use either the built in microphone in my 2015 macbook pro or the Antlion ModMic Wireless.
If you live in an area where winter is a thing and like going for walks while listening to podcasts, then don't use the gestures at all. Once the temperature dips below 32F, touching the touch-sensitive controls even once will cause the headphones to switch to "ambient sound" mode, where it pipes in the sounds around you. You can't switch it off and you can barely hear the podcast. To sony's credit, this isn't permanent. You can reboot the headphones and it works perfectly again, provided you avoid those touch controls.
All that said, I don't regret my purchase in the least. They're great headphones and I'll use them until they die on me.
Concerning the microphone, yes it's terrible enough for me to avoid taking my calls with it. So whenever I have a incoming call in the middle of my music/podcast, I have to take off the XM2 and put on a tiny bluetooth earset (both connected to the phone). A bit cumbersome and not great.
For the touch controls, I live in a very hot (tropical) area, so no chance of having winter here ^^
I did some research and it turned out that while there were some differences between the two, there weren't many.
To this day I have zero regrets with getting the XM2.
1. Bose QC-15
2. Bose QC-25
3. Bose QC-35
4. Bose QC-35 ii
5. Bose 700
6. Apple AirPods Pro
Far and away my choice now is AirPods Pro. They are comfortable to wear whilst sleeping on a flight (over ear can't be worn comfortably), and the noise canceling is significantly better than the Bose.
The only downside for me is battery life (I get about 5hrs out of them).
Without it, it's hard to quiet the racing thoughts in my mind that keep me up for hours.
The Airpod Pros are good but the physical noise isolation isn't that great. The rubber tips in Etymotics are far superior. Even my Jabras had better physical noise isolation than the Airpod Pros.
My friend has the Sony WH1000XM3, so I got to play around with those. They have slightly better noise cancelation than the Bose. However, the Bose are more comfortable to me because they rest around your ear instead of on your ear like the Sony's.
I think that the comfort while sleeping/resting is a valid concern. I really like how comfortable the QC-35 II are, but you can’t rest your head against them. The Bose 700 headphones appear to have better mics as the main advantage over the QC-35 II.
Personally I like the sound of the Bose headphones better than Sony’s, but judging from online comments I think that most people prefer the more bass heavy Sony sound.
My advice to OP for over ear headphones would be the QC-35 II. Physical buttons, decent sound quality (although you can get better sound quality if you don’t need noise cancelling) and very comfortable. I can’t speak for the Apple AirPod Pros, as I’ve never used them.
> 5 minutes in the case provides around 1 hour of listening.
Together with the case Apple quotes 24h.
I understand that a lot of folks don't care about that, but to me it's a bit mind boggling the electronic waste being generated with these kind of earphones.
Also, this isn't exclusive to Apple.
I originally had Sennheiser Momentum Wireless 2. They had amazing sound, connected quickly and quite good battery life. They were however not that comfortable for long durations as the headband lacks padding.
I then bought B&O H9 which was almost as good sound quality wise but a lot more comfortable. They however ended up having problems with bluetooth and I had to switch them.
Both Sony MX3 and Bose QC35 have a way too synthetic sound to them for my taste. I then tried the third gen H9 but they did not sound as good as my old ones for some reason. I then tried the new Sennheiser Momentum 3 which sounded quite good, with really good deep bass, but it lacked some control at places and was just a very large headset.
Then finally B&W came out with the PX7 recently and once I tried those I just had to have them. Their sound is almost bar none - at least to my taste, and their noise cancelling is exceptional on par with MX3 to my ears and finally they have extremely long battery life.
So 4 weeks in or something like that, I am really loving my PX7's and would recommend giving them a listen.
The Sony have punchy sound. If you're a bass head, you are going to love them.
The application that goes with them also gives you a lot of control. However, after playing with all the settings for a few days, I found myself not touching them ever again.
For noise cancellation on airline flights, the Bose do a better job. Even after adjusting the Sony to the aircraft pressure level. Maybe the Sony are better at canceling other people's voice, but they are not as good as the Bose to cancel the noise of the aircraft engine.
The Airpods Pro also do a surprisingly good job at canceling the noise of the engine. During my last flight, I used the Airpods Pro and the Sony on top of them. Not very comfortable, but noise cancellation was amazing :)
When it comes to comfort, the Sony tend to hurt the top of my head after a while. The Bose are more comfortable.
I love the Sonys, with a couple caveats that have been mentioned: hand gestures are a gimmick (sometimes skips a track if you remove your headphones the "wrong" way), default charging cable is too short, and my number 1 pet peeve, the announcer voice (for low battery, changing NC modes) mutes the sound, and those announcements are slooooow, which means you sometimes have to skip back if you miss something you were listening to. All minor annoyances compared to the great experience of using the product, though.
Shortly after, I returned them and got Sony WH-XB900N -- after reading many reviews on both headsets. They are also lightweight, do not give me a headache, and were easy to set up / pair. The bass in them is amazing. If I'm ever distracted, throw them on, turn on some dubstep and just feel the music. It's a totally different experience. I feel much more immersed in the sound with them.
I should say that prior to purchasing either of the above, I only used the stock earbuds that come with the iphones. They weren't so compatible with the shape of my ear canal though, and my ears would start to hurt around the 30 minute mark.
I think the headaches (for me) result from pressure (clamping force), not necessarily the noise-cancelling. The Sony's and the Bose were both light enough that there isn't much of a clamping force from left to right on my head. I do not get a headache from the Sony's and did not from the Bose either.
I never felt anything.
Apart from Bose the other popular choice is Sony.
I wound not underestimate normal headphones as well.
Senheiser HD280 for example are very good with passive isolation at a really low price.
I personally use PXC 550 Wireless which can connect to two devices at the same time (a feature not always present to NR headphones)
If you want to listen to silence or audiobooks then the others have a stronger cancelling effect and will probably suit better. But if you enjoy listening to music I found the PX is more subtle, with 'just enough' NC that it does not compromise on sound quality but still removes annoying environment noise.
I have flown with them a few times now as well as the QC35 and prefer the PX. The build feels better (a little heavier) and has the same nice features like fold flat and removable cups. I think they will hold up well with travel abuse.
Airplanes are an easy problem to solve for because the engine noise is loud and of a constant tone.
The problem I need to solve for is random noises found in the workplace like people talking, printers printing, and other inconsistent tones that’s happen throughout the day.
Has anyone found a good pair of noise cancelling headphones that work in an office environment?
1. Noise cancellation works best for consistent noises
2. Noise cancellation doesn't really work for high frequencies (in headphones, at least)
Your best bet is just to get some closed-back headphones with good noise isolation, like the:
* Sennheiser HD280 Pros
* Beyerdynamic DT770 Pros.
One thing I would recommend is getting an aftermarket set of earpads, as they're far more comfortable and they do a better job of sound isolation. I just got some pads by Brainwavz because the originals wore out, but I wish I'd done it a while ago because of how much better the isolation is.
it works decently well for the low and some mid frequencies. It helps.
Probably your best bet is headphones or earphones with both noise-cancelling and good noise-isolation.
All of that to say that when I saw the details on the model 700 I smiled when I saw there was no more slide switch on the device. I’m patiently waiting for my QC-35 to die completely before buying the model 700 as a replacement.
At the time, the Beats noise cancellation was considered sub-par compared to the Bose. That may have changed.
I haven't tried the new AirPods, but I do very much like an over-the-ear form factor for long sessions. (I have "regular" AirPods, too.) Anything in or on my ear get uncomfortable after a while for me.
I have a pair of Bose QuietComfort 32 II, which are quite lightweight and absolutely love them. However before the new 700 model came out, Bose released a firmware that reduced the noise cancelling impact on the QuietComfort 32 II (although they swear that the firmware upgrade shouldn't change impact noise cancelling it was measured by independent parties and it is indeed reduced).
As a side note, I use a pair of beyerdynamics DT770 80 ohm headphones, and they have positively excellent isolation. With music on, I can't hear anything outside, and nobody can hear anything I'm hearing at all. Have you tried to see if closed, isolated headphones fit your use case? There's way more options in that space, so you're more likely to find something comfortable and with a sound signature you really like.
I couldn’t live without my Bose QCs and they go everywhere with me. You don’t realise how much noise there is in day to day life until you’ve worn some good NC headphones around for a while then forgotten to take them with you one day.
I don't know what I'm going to do when they break as they don't make spare parts for my model anymore. I tried their wireless equivalent and just wasn't that impressed with the audio quality compared to my wired ones.
Also, they detect your hearing range though some sort of auditory feedback they're sensitive to, and are really clear as a result.
Cost a few dollars more though.
I tried buying beyerdynamic headphones a couple weeks ago, but the comfort didn't compare - at all. They were too tight and the cushion wasn't nearly as soft.
I'd strongly consider comfort as one of your metrics. There are a lot of nice over-ear headphones with good sound quality, but the cushion padding and stretch of the bridge matters too. Bose uses really nice cushions. I've heard good things about Sony's as well.
There may be a few technical favours either way as far as version goes, the MX3 has an advantage when I bought them, but having tried my wife’s QC for a week they certainly do the job as well.
The hand control features/gestures on the MX suck by the way, so don’t take those as a selling point. Solely go for long term comfort.
I quite often check mixes I'm working on from home while day jobbing on them and they are not studio grade, but they are good clear revealing without too much hype in any of the frequency ranges - they are a little 'smooth' compared to studio quality, but that seems good in a set of headphones that are primarily for blocking out noise.
I replaced the ear pads for the first time this year - now good as new.
For my commute (train+tube/bus+walk) I use my Bose QC30. Full-on noise cancellation on the train/tube, then I dial it down to 50/50 on the noise passthrough when walking in London to avoid being crushed by a bus or cyclist. (And also in-ears are harder for moped based thieves to steal off your head)
Sony’s ANC is your bet if you are looking for ANC headphones. Any of their line has a good implementation.
For overly expensive ANC, you can try the AKG noise cancellation headphones. They are extremely expensive to the point i don’t recommend them
One nice feature that I found out about digging around the manual is that if you touch your whole palm to the right side (the touch control side) the sound quiets and the ambient noise is amplified, kinda like taking one ear out. It's a nice little touch.
I'm using WH-1000XM3. I bought it couple of months ago. I think it is good. But, it also depends on your music taste. I mean if you are bass-heavy, WH-1000XM3 might not be enough for you.
I am not an ANC expert and it is subjective, but they're both great, but if I had to pick one, I'd say the Sonys edge it out for sound isolation and noise-cancelling.
The QC 25s are nice, because they use a AAA battery, and not a sealed, lithium ion battery. So, with proper care, they should last a while and aren't obsoleted by a bad, sealed battery.
Although I have taken it to many flights, I recently bought the Bose QC20 wired earbuds because the QC35 are headphones and they seem to be harder to sleep in especially if you sleep on the side. I would recommend the old Bose QC20! Loving it so far. I wish Bose would update this and still keep it wired, it's great.
I compared them vs the QC35 I believe, and I loved that the noise cancelling in the Senn's were very good but also the audio quality was much better.
The QC35's had a pretty good sound, but it just lacked the "clarity" of the HD's.
The QC35s were a bit more comfortable and lightweight though, but since my primary use was the office I wasn't planning on putting on the headphones for more than 2 hours straight.
I have used the HDs for long flights and I do have to take them off after some time due to the weight and headphone cushion material.
They were also cheaper than the QC35s at the time, so all in all, for ny particular use case the HDs were fantastic. Also the battery is pretty good, especially if you use the audio cable + noise cancelling. I get several days of use that way.
Having to fold them to turn them off is just silly too.
I can’t use the modern Bose QC because they cancel so strongly that it makes me want to vomit, so apparently there’s a limit somewhere.
I haven’t had a chance to try the AirPods Pro in an airplane yet, but their noise cancelling seems equivalent to the other two so far.
The setting persists everytime you power the headphones, so if you set it once there is nothing to remember.
You can change it on the fly with the mobile app.
* QA seems lacking. Our whole team has company sponsored QC 35 ii's and one came as DOA, couple of them have suffered the same fate within a year
* Noice-cancellation is good. It's so good that I can't keep it fully on for more than 15 minutes and the lower cancellation level leaks more sound. Maybe personal problem but annoying still
* Audio quality through bluetooth is lacking. The integrated amp doesn't have the oomph for the elements and the sound sounds a bit muddy
* AQ problem can be remedied with the provided cable which is short. And what's the point of wireless headphones if it lacks on that side?
* In the plane I have bunch of other stuff with me so I don't want to reserve so much of space for the headphones
I like my own AKG NC60 sound quality, size and the noise cancellation is usually enough (although not so all encompassing as the Bose's) but AKG's problem is really bad mechanic quality. With even lightweight usage they end up breaking badly, so I'm going to need to buy a ned headphones and for that I'm looking forward for Sennheiser's and Sony's. Stay away from AKG and Bose ;)
My main gripe is that they power off after time if not connnected to a Bluetooth source, but there’s probably a fix.
I’m also not a fan of the talking command voice and find the touch controls overly sensitive (they beep if you bump them)
I hope the next gen is better.
This isn't necessarily directed at OP since he's been using Bose since 2004
For sound quality, go for B&O Beoplay h9i.
Worse ANC than Sony XM3s or Bose, but the sound is so nice. I tried Bose QC35, bought and returned Sony XM3. For flights, as others have said, bose or sonys (maybe airpods pro?). But for music listening in the office, can't recommend h9i enough.
I'm looking for a similar recommendation but with one additional requirement - minimal latency, as one of my use cases will be watching movies. Any ideas ?
Definitely over ear for flights. Combined with foam plugs you can pretty much sleep in silence on overnight flights
Sticking with Sennheiser HD25s
Mine are unbranded, but search for "JH-ANC804" and you'll find them.
I haven’t tried the Bose ones that are the consensus best, but somehow I doubt they’re 6x better.
Which other companies pay license fees for.