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Ask HN: Best isolating headphones for hacking?
47 points by sveme on Nov 20, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 78 comments
On my new job I'm sitting in a room with eight others, including some guys that have a near constant flow of visitors. Behind me is a kitchen area where chatty experimentalists seem to be cooking and talking all day. Ask HN: what are the best non in-ear headphones that isolate you from your surroundings even when you're not listening to music?



The bible for purchasing headphones is here: http://www.head-fi.org/a/headphone-buying-guide

I personally dropped $38 on the Superlux HD668b Evo, and could not be more pleased. They are semi-open, so not as closed, but they're still pretty isolating - I can't hear anyone unless they're yelling into my ear. And the sound quality to price ratio is astounding. They are far superior to the pair of Bose on-ear headphones I had a while back.


Great link. The money quote is probably

>Things to avoid In general it's best to avoid products made by Skullcandy, Bose, Beats, or Monster unless otherwise specified in this thread. These companies spend a lot of money on advertising and looks rather than quality. That isn't to say these companies haven't put out headphones worth buying, the Monster Turbine Coppers are actually fantastic IEMs, it's just that a lot of the time you're paying a premium for the name.

While surfing the previous amazon link I actually fell in love with the Sennheiser HD800 - though I'm pretty certain my employer won't shell out 1500$ for those...


Being semi-open, don't the headphones leak sound to whomever is around you?


I have the Superlux HD681, which are pretty close to the HD668. They sound great. The amount of sound they leak is modest, but they are definitely not great as far as isolation goes. In general, I'd go with in-ears if isolation is important to you. If you can't tolerate in-ears, a good pair of closed headphones like the ATH-M50 will do well, but you'll have to pay more $ for the same sound quality (at least in my experience).

For some extremely comprehensive comparisons, see http://www.head-fi.org/t/478568/ (in-ears) and http://www.head-fi.org/t/433318/ (portable headphones).


I have a bunch of expensive headphones (Bose QC2, multiple inner ear), and the best solution I've found costs $28 and allows me to listen to music comfortably on a Mac at 0.5 tick!

I use a pair of earphones[0] covered by industrial ear muffs[1]. For comfort reasons, it's important that the earphones are not pressured by the surrounding ear muffs. I haven't found any inner ear headphones that meet this constraint. Sometimes I'll swap out the earphones for ear plugs for double ear protection / white noise.

I'm not a fan of open office plans, but this combo lets me tune out everything. Coworkers have gotten used to pinging me or waving to get my attention.

Edit: Drowning out distractions by turning up the volume leads to hearing damage. A better alternative is to eliminate ever hearing external noises. However to prevent incoming noise, ear muffs create a tight seal around your ears. My wife is uncomfortable with the pressure for extended periods of time. I wear them hours daily, and especially love them for sleeping on planes.

[0]: JBuds J2 affiliate link (the white color is $7):

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001GS8FZC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?...

JBuds J2 non-affiliate link:

http://www.amazon.com/Premium-Noise-Isolating-Earbuds-Headph...

[1]: 3M Pelter H10A Optime 105 affiliate link:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00009LI4K/ref=as_li_ss_tl?...

3M Pelter H10A Optime 105 non-affiliate link:

http://www.amazon.com/3M-Peltor-H10A-Optime-Earmuff/dp/B0000...


I have those exact earmuffs and have used them for the last 4 years. (I bought them because they had the best dB rating (31, IIRC) I could find within a reasonable price range.) They definitely do eliminate surrounding sound very well. I wear them when I want to isolate myself from my environment and focus on something.

I'll echo that that they aren't as comfortable as headphones. Headphones typically try to be light and have a soft fit around the head. These are a little heavy and definitely a slightly tighter fit, like you said. If comfort is extremely important, I'm not sure they'll be appreciated for extended periods of time. I rarely wear them for longer than 20 or 30 minutes.


I do the reverse setup: I use these earplugs [0] (or similar) and then put sennheiser hd280 (or whatever over-the-ear headphones $EMPLOYER gave me) over them. The former claim 20dB reduction, and I guess that the latter give another ~3dB.

I can take the earplugs onto airplanes a bit easier than earmuffs, but if I were to sit nearer to the coworker with the model M, I might switch to earbuds-under-earmuffs.

[0] http://amzn.com/B0015WNZ9K


Yeah, I bought the same exact set of ear protectors and ended up not using them at all - either my ears are of a weird shape or my tolerance for something pressing at antihelix is lower than average.

So keep in mind when buying these that if you have large or 'stick out' ears the protector might be very uncomfortable. Perhaps going to an industrial safety and trying them on (with your earplugs on! that's important as any pressure on the earplug is bad) is your best bet.


I do something similar when flying - a pair of Klipsch S4i's and a cheap pair of active noise-cancelling over-ear headphones on top (I personally use a pair of able planets I picked up on Groupon). It shuts out engine noises and I don't need to shell out a bunch of money and sacrifice portability if I only want to listen to music on the go.


Nice idea.

30dB isolation is about what is claimed from some DJ style headphones. I use a pair of old BeyerDynamics that claim 20dB isolation and that seems a good compromise between peripheral awareness and isolation for my particular setting.


"Coworkers have gotten used to pinging me or waving to get my attention" . One of my coworker is just like you. We have to ping him to have small discussions.


This is a conscious culture decision for my workplace.

We ping / discuss topics over IRC even though most of my team is within talking distance. This provides (remote employees|other teams|working from home people) a chance to provide input, logging for reference, and is more multi-tasking friendly (semi-asynchronous communication). However if it feels like a lot of back and forth, we'll discuss in person or via Google Hangouts.

You know how engineers complain about being distracted by people asking random questions throughout the day? We have an email / IRC first culture which minimizes distractions as much as possible.


Then it works. Case closed.


I recently bought a high-end pair of industrial noise reduction earmuffs [1] and a jar of cheap foam earplugs [2].

For me, the combination has been great. I work in an open-plan office that I generally like, but some fiend put a chunk of common space in the middle, and people end up doing large meetings or small parties there, right next to my desk.

The high-end earmuffs, which were only $30, are much more comfortable to wear than the earmuffs I had worn previously. Several hours is no problem. And the combined noise reduction of the plugs and the muffs is amazing.

[1] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CPCHBCQ/

[2] http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001J4HB1C/


I'll be looking at a pair of the ear protectors as we call them in the UK.

Can you not swap your desk with someone who is on manager schedule and nearer the edge of the room? I got myself moved away from the door and network printer in a large open plan office. I'm now over by the back wall. Much less travelled area.


I use a pair of Bose active noise cancelling headphones (Quiet Comfort 15, over ear). I work in an open plan office with many people using the phone or talking across the room. I'm fairly distracted by this and these help, but it doesn't exactly silence outside noise. In fact, for some people their voices seem more pronounced when the noise cancelling is on. However they're pretty good quality, comfortable to wear and can truly deaden the sound of air conditioning and keyboards.

Major downside is that you have to turn on noise cancelling to listen to music - which is powered by a single AAA battery.


I second these and also recommend the new QC20's. Neither offer the best sound quality, but hands down the best noise canceling capabilities. The QC20's are in-ear and much more wearable outside of the office.


I've been thinking about switching back to in-ear buds - are they any better at blocking out voices? Also does that battery pack(?) on the QC20s get in the way much?


Sennheiser HD-380 Pro headphones have excellent isolation and are circumaural (enclose your ears, rather than sitting on your earlobes) which makes them very comfortable for long sessions. They also sound great. Only downside is they're not that portable, but if you just need headphones for your desk then I highly recommend them.


+1 for these too, I've had mine for over a year now. At first they were a little un-comfortable on my ears in terms of listening but they're now perfect.

The best part is that you can get any spare part for them from http://spares.sennheiser.co.uk/pro-audio-headphones/hd-380-p... . You could probably build a pair of headphones from the spares site alone.


I concur. I've got a pair of HD-380 Pros at my home workstation and a pair of HD-280 Pros at my office workstation. Both are comfortable with good isolation (considering these are not actively noise-canceling) and very good fidelity for the price.

I've used a few other brands in this price range (beyond $100 but not in the stratosphere of audiophile-grade headphones), and I feel the Sennheiser Pro line is unrivaled in this "prosumer" bracket.


Another vote for the HD-380 Pros. They aren't the most comfortable to wear for long sessions for me though but I do like everything else about them.


+1 for the HD 380 Pro. Although they're large, can be folded and come with a solid case.


I've worn headphones at work for years. I started when I worked in bullpens in the middle of cubicle farms, and continued when I shared offices next to break rooms or conference rooms.

I've gone with fairly cheap, over-the-ear solutions. I'm not an audiophile, though I can detect poor quality encoding and have had my share of "wow" moments when I've heard something subtle in a good recording. In short, I consider myself an "average" consumer in this regard.

Currently, I have a pair of Sony MDR-XD100s which you can get at Amazon for about $33. They're quite comfortable, the sound quality is decent, and the cord is nice and long if you need to roll back from your desk to get something. If you're looking for at least a starter set of headphones, I would recommend these. If they don't meet your expectations, you can always move up to the more expensive solutions.


Using foam earplugs along with an ordinary set of headphones playing white noise (or rather brown—not as harsh) has changed my life. Combining the two was the critical factor; neither worked very well by itself.

I keep the volume at the lowest level that still eliminates outside distraction. Normally that is very low. If there's something particularly noisy going on, I just turn it up a bit.

I used to feel extremely vulnerable to ambient noise and get thrown off by it many times a day. I basically never have that problem any more. Curiously, after using this solution for a few months I found that I didn't need it as often. Frequently it's enough to just remember that it's available if I need it.

(Earphones covered by industrial earmuffs sounds like kind of the same solution, just inverted.)


You have two real options here:

In Ear: On in ear, you should spent the extra money for custom ear molds. This will allow for all day comfort: http://www.sensaphonics.com/

If the headphones you are considering are not on this list, then I would not consider them. I like shure, but you can also get etymotic research.

Over Ear: Beyer Dynamic DT 770. Velour ear pads (for all day comfort and isolation)

I have owned: Shure E2C, E4C with custom molds, Shure 840, Beyer Dynamic DT 770, Bose TriPort (previous lightweight champion, but lacking on sound)

I have tested extensively: Audio Technica m50 (more base response), beats (too much bass), All kinds of sennheiser under $150, and various other brands under $200.


I second the recommendation for Beyerdynamic's DT-770. They are standard equipment in recording studios because of their superb sound, good isolation (they are what's called a closed design) and ruggedness. You can also get a lot of replacement parts, should they break (I doubt that they will in normal office use). I wear glasses and the "part of the glasses that goes to the ear" [what's that called?] fits below the earpads easily.

One word of caution though: They are available with three distinct impedances (32Ω, 80Ω, 250Ω), and for usage with notebooks or an iPad I recommend the 32Ω version which is suitable for devices that have limited voltage available.

I own the 250Ω version and for comfortable listening levels on my mobile phone (Samsung G S2) I have to crank up the volume all to the maximum. Of course that could also be considered a hearing-saving pressure level limit ;-).


I use Ultimate Ears Triple-Fi 10, which have apparently been replaced with the UE 900[1]. They have great isolation with Comply Foam and surprising quality for IEMs. The replaceable cord is also a great feature, so when it inevitably gets a kink that kills stereo, you can replace it without spending $$$ on a new pair. The only problem I've had is that one of them has gotten loose where the cord connects so it sometimes falls off, but usually they're good through the day. This may have been fixed in the newer version.

1. http://ue.logitech.com/en-us/product/ue900


They're $400 but I've found that these snoring earplugs - http://www.earplugstore.com/snproinwhnom.html - plus any kind of over the ear hearing protection/headphones for shooting - do the trick and can fight almost anything. For me it's airplanes that I usually need them for. The most common thing I use them to fight is loud flight attendants, esp if you are sitting at the front or the back of the plane.


It seems like there's a lot of high-end kit flying around this thread. I'm sure everybody's recommendations are quite good, but this isn't a problem on which you need to spend a ton of cash to solve.

When I had this problem I went to Best Buy and picked up a $12 pair of earbuds which used memory foam instead of silicone. They might've been skull-candy brand? They came with three sizes of memory foam. For me the medium-sized one made the best seal, but wasn't so tight that they were uncomfortable to wear for a full 8-hour coding session.

Personally I work best when I listen to music which I can easily tune out. Sometimes that's music without lyrics (techno, classical guitar, or other random stuff like Explosions in the Sky or The Section Quartet), sometimes it's catchy upbeat pop songs which I've heard a million times. If you don't want to listen to music, download a white (or pink) noise generator. Between the seal formed by the memory foam buds and the white noise (which your brain will very quickly tune out for you) you won't hear a thing.

Another tip: I also find that if my screen is in a position where it faces the crowd, it negates some of the benefit of wearing headphones since I can't tell who's looking over my shoulder as easily. It's not that I usually have things on my screen which I feel I need to hide, more that I'm kind of a privacy nut. This would probably still be the case even if I were to get one of those privacy filters, just because I'd periodically feel the need to look over my shoulder to see who's there. Maybe one of those C.H.I.M.P. mirrors from Think Geek would solve that, however.


I've taken a pair of earbuds and replace the foam with actual earplugs. Does wonders, especially on airplanes. They can be a bit awkward to get in and out, but great if you plan on settling in.


I'm trying out loud white noise in a moderately loud environment. For about 30 minutes I"m able to concentrate. Not sure how long this will last though.


This can be dangerous, white noise is hard to modulate volume wise, and does the exact same amount of hearing damage as playing death metal or (insert type of music here).


I did not know that. Thank you.



I use fairly high-end Sennheisers with semi-open backs and big ear cups at home. I find closed backs too isolating in most work environments, and these are not actively anti-noise, so these won't work without music playing. They are also too big and too expensive to carry around.

When traveling or at customer sites, I use MEElectronics IEMs. These are reasonably priced, so I'm not worried about breaking or losing them. They are great on airplanes. They are small and often go unnoticed. The over-the-ear memory-wire configuration stays securely in my ears. I also use Comply foam tips and keep some extras with me in case the headphones end up on the airplane floor or some other place I don't want in my ears.


The company that I work for purchased these for me a few days ago: http://www.amazon.com/Bose%C2%AE-QuietComfort%C2%AE-Acoustic...

I'm pretty happy with them. I'm fairly easily distracted by noises: Heavy walking noises, talking, laughing, phones ringing, folks rustling potato chip bags... It can all mess up my concentration if it comes at an inopportune moment. I'm the only programmer here so most of the folks here do not understand how easy it can be to derail someone that's coding when you catch them in the middle of a thought.

Anyway, now I feel like I work in 'silence.' I have my music playing at a much lower volume than I used to and cannot hear the office antics.

These specific headphones fit over and around ear (they provide a fairly good seal which muffles out a decent amount of sound even when they're not turned on.) Once turned on, most noises disappear. Sometimes I can still hear voices but they sound like they're very far away. A little music at low volume tends to filter out the remainder of the "very far away" voices.

The battery life is about 36 hours of active use time. The headphones have a switch on the side to turn them off. Music cannot be played through the headphones when they are 'off.' The headset takes 1 AAA battery, so I just keep some rechargeable batteries on the shelf behind me.

These have their pros/cons like pretty much anything.

My apologies for rambling. :)

OH! I will add, if you have these things on your head and switched 'on' but do not have any sound playing.... you'll feel... odd initially. I felt slightly disoriented when I first put them on my head sans music. I guess it was a mild sensory deprivation thing.

edit

Also, if you just happen to not like Bose, check out the amazon link anyway. The top most customer review compares the headphones to similar models from two other brands and lists pro/cons of those models as well.


I owned a pair as well until I left them in the seatback on a flight. I was given them as a gift and really enjoyed them - the quality and isolation provided by the noise cancelation was very good considering the price range.

I will say that it is somewhat inconvenient to have to enable the noise cancelation in order to use at all. There are some instances when I prefer to have some external awareness, and this didn't really accommodate that need.

Overall, I think these are a great option for someone looking for a pair without significant tradeoffs and with limited time to research. That said, there are definitely pairs with better quality out there. If you have the time I highly recommend reading reviews on Head-Fi prior to purchasing.


I have a pair of these also. I wear them most of the day in the office. The noise canceling feature is great, but I also can't emphasize the importance of the "over-the-ear" ear cups vs. "on-the-ear" enough. Over-the-ear makes a huge difference if you are looking for isolation.

EDIT: forgot to mention one minor annoyance I have with over-the-ear headphones is how some ear cups fit over my glasses. With these Bose it's not much of an issue since the ear cups are soft enough, but has been much more annoying with other headphones. Something to be aware of, at least.


The glasses angle is something that I had not considered. The QC15s fit nice and snug around your entire ear (not in an uncomfortable way) so glasses could potentially be an issue. They are fairly soft, though, so I suppose it could be worse.


Thanks, that is really helpful. As I will have to block out constant babbling, passive noise blocking is probably the most important factor. That is a really helpful overview in that amazon link. Sounds like I should explore the sennheiser line-up in more detail. PS: someone just opened up a package of crisps/chips and is now munching on them. Wonder how active noise cancellation would fare with that.


Does anyone know if noise-cancelling headphones are bad for your hearing? By creating a wave that's out of phase with ambient noise, isn't that just as "loud" as the noise around you?


I can not speak scientifically about what you're asking, but I can theorize. The headphones that I have cover the entire ear and have quite a bit of padding. Simply having them on your head lowers the volume of ambient noise by a pretty good bit. I suspect that the engineers that designed the headphones took the dampening properties of the physical object into account and adjust the out of phase volume to compensate. I haven't felt any kind of discomfort or pain that is typically associated with loud noises.

They seal well enough that sometimes I swear I can feel a quick pressure change if I remove the headphones quickly enough. That bit could just be my imagination, though.


I also have a pair of QC15. It is amazing, but for some reason, I cannot use it while I am wearing glass. so most of time, I work without wearing glass (Although it is hard for me to see my code clearly).


I also have a set of these, they work great!


I don't own a pair myself due to their cost, but I've known a few people who swear by them.


I also have a pair of the Bose QC15s. They're fantastic for my open-plan office. Even very quiet music, when combined with their noise cancellation, will silence nearly all background noise.


I use Bose QuietComfort 15 (noise cancelling). Link: http://www.amazon.com/Bose%C2%AE-QuietComfort%C2%AE-Acoustic...

I got a pair for my wife and I used them constantly, so I got a pair of my own. I absolutely love them. I often use them just for the noise cancelling (i.e. when travelling) without any music playing.

I'm not an audiophile and haven't tried every pair out there, but I'm very happy with these. If you're married these really come in handy. If you don't get it, you will.


I'm deaf, so I don't have quite the same needs in headphones that most people do. That said, I do sometimes like to listen to music and need isolating headphones (so they don't leak sound and annoy my coworkers) that fit comfortably over a behind the ear hearing aid.

Accordingly, I've been using a set of Beyerdynamic DT-770 Pro over-the-ear headphones and I've been really happy with them. I have to adjust them a bit funny to fit over the hearing aid without causing feedback, but they're generally pretty comfortable.

They're a bit more expensive at around $175 to $200 depending on where you shop, but might be worth a look.


I'm very happy with the Bang & Olufsen H6 (http://beoplay.com/Products/BeoplayH6). They're the only headphones that I've had that actually feel like they're worth the money I paid for them, unlike the Bose headphones I've had which felt somewhat cheap. They're not going to be the best for cancelling out noise (although they helped me a lot at my last job, which was an open-plan office) but if you're after a pair of premium headphones, I wouldn't recommend anything else.


I'm not a fan of over the ear cans, so I've gone with in ear monitors (IEMs). Specifically, Westone 4Rs which are spendy. I've used Westone UM2s as well as assorted Shure models. In all cases, the tips matter for proper fit and noise isolation - almost all will ship with different types and sizes. That said, not everyone likes having something in their ear canal.

A discussion on tips -- http://www.avforums.com/threads/iem-tip-comparison.1690650/


I used to use a pair of in-ear monitors, a Shure SE210 set. The problem was that, after a few months of continuous daily use, I started to suffer inner ear impactions. Not fun at all.

I still have them, but I save them for travel now due to their size vs. sound quality. Otherwise, at the office, I use a $20 pair of Sennheiser over-the-ears that does okay (but I don't care if something happens to them), and at home, my Shure SRH440 are a great middle ground between quality and price.


I am huge fan of Bose headphones, I work in a very crowded environment and these headphones pretty much save my day. It has a great sound quality and is comfortable to wear all day long.

It is a little expensive but worth the money in my opinion.

http://www.bose.com/controller?url=/shop_online/headphones/n...


If you don't mind having to get an inner ear mold made and spending ~$700 the Sensaphonics 2X-S are awesome. Since they are molded to your inner ear they block out near 100% of sound without using audio noise reduction. The sound quality is pretty top notch as well, their usual purpose is as in ear monitors for musicians on stage.

http://www.sensaphonics.com/?p=328


I bought a pair of 1964 Ears quad-driver in-ear monitors for my band, and I ended up using them EVERYWHERE - when at work (open-plan office, ugh), when traveling (plane, motorcycle, etc), even when mowing the lawn. They're incredible, with the best sound quality I've personally ever experienced. All the other noise just... goes away, and I don't pick up anything that doesn't come through the IEMs.


so they are worth the $525 USD? I am looking for a solution that deadens everything so I can work and maybe sleep better at night too.

Did you send them custom ear molds, etc?


IMHO, worth the money and then some. I occasionally sleep in mine, they are quite comfortable (I got the 'soft tip' additions because I do some singing too). They do require the custom ear molds, but I got those for $10 at a nearby audiologist.


Check out www.reddit.com/r/headphones

They were helpful when I was looking and have a weekly stickied thread where you can ask for recommendations (just fill out the simple form).

You'll need closed or IEMs. I had a pair of Sennheiser Momentums which were comfortable and sounded good but work from home so have since changed to the open HD-650s. Best of luck! You'll probably want something that doesn't need a DAC/Amp.


Sennheiser HD-280 Pros. Run about $90 on Amazon ( http://www.amazon.com/Sennheiser-HD-280-Pro-Headphones/dp/B0... )

With music playing through them, you'll never hear the darkness creeping in.

Without music playing through them, the screams in your head will be louder than they've ever been before.

Highly recommended.


Shure 315s will block out most things, one thing you need to watch out for is that most IEMs are a pain to put in/take off. So if people are prone to ask you questions and you keep having to take them off that could be a problem.

For this reason I've been using the new style Apple headphone recently, they off some noise isolation but are a lot easier to take off.


A couple of coworkers have these: http://www.asus.com/ROG_ROG/Vulcan_ANC/ They're really quite impressive considering the lowish price. Apparently there's a new version, the Vulcan Pro... probably has the same noise cancellation circuitry.


Disclaimer: This is not what you have asked for.

If you do regular meditation ( Seven Pranayams ), then you can concentrate on your work easily. Little chat and your surrounding will not be able to disturb you any more. That may sound unbelievable but I do this and I know this is one of the many benefits I got from meditation.


I use Sennheiser HD25s - not noise cancelling, but if I have music on I can hear absolutely nothing going on around me.

It's actually a little bit spooky (and often makes me jump) if I'm working and someone comes into the room behind me then comes into my field of vision, or someone taps me on the shoulder...


Commented here in the past on this subject, I think the best solution is a combination of headphones and two other things: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4802700


Really, by far the best solution is IEMs. But, if you must got with active noise cancellation, the PSB M4U 2 is about the only decent one of I have auditioned... most active noise cancellation phones absolutely sound like muddy crap.


Here's a good write-up on The Wire Cutter: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/best-noise-canceling-headph...


Sennheiser's HD25-1? You can browse reviews at headphonereviews.org .


i have these, and they're great (sound good and have reasonable isolation; they're also pretty much indestructible, and reasonably efficient, so perfect for travelling) BUT they're not active noise cancelling. if you care more about peace than music quality you probably want something active (and if you care more about music than peace you may want something open - these are a compromise, which is a good thing when that's what you want, but be aware of that).

tl;dr - if you're willing to give up some isolation (compared to active) for better music, these sound good, last forever, and won't bother coworkers.


Thanks to everyone for their input, lot's of great feedback from people that are in a similar situation and have found solutions to that issue. That's what I like about HN.


Sony MDR-1R came 'free' with the Xperia Z phone. Lovely sound, very comfortable and good isolation. If you can find some, might be worth an audition.


I've bought an expensive pair ($100) and a cheap pair ($20), both have a nice fit. I didn't really see a difference between them.


I use the Etymotic HF3s with Comply tips.

"The world is dead to me" - sums it up nicely :P


Etymotic hf5: 35-42 dB isolation + good frequency response and accuracy


ER-4 with custom molds here. Customs give you almost complete isolation but there is a warming-up period. They actually hurt for the first week or two that you wear them. Recommended if you can put them in and keep them in but not if you must be interrupted regularly.

One more thing to be aware of with Etymotic products: the microphonics. Lots of noise from the cable hitting stuff. It looks super dorky but the cable clip fixes a lot of that.


Another etymotic ER-4S user here. They lasted two years and, when they broke, they were 3 weeks out of warranty. Etymotic replaced them for free - good customer service.


+1 happy with my ER-4S, but they are probably not worth it compared to those (which weren't available at the time).


Shure 425's. Lovely sound


Shure SE215s




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