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Best Noise Cancelling Headphones - Closed and IEM?

ahofer

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I didn’t see a thread for this, but what are the best noise- cancelling headphones? I use a few pairs on the subway and in planes (unfortunately I am in those a lot). Forum thoughts?
 
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ahofer

ahofer

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Have you considered active noise cancellation? I find it more or less essential for buses, trains, planes now as it kills the low frequencies and rumble from engine noise. Very happy with my AirPod Pro 2 here.
Edited - that’s actually what I meant, sorry. I have heard the new Airpods are good.

I use some Bose bluetooth noise-cancelling IEMs now, plus a Bose wired pair that you can plug into a plane headphone jack.
 

Jimbob54

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For passive NC you can't beat the etymotic er series. The ear drill fit isn't for everyone.
 

Zensō

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I’m in the Apple ecosystem, so AirPods Max and AirPods Pro 2 work well for me. The ANC on both seems on par with the Sony and Sennheiser models I’ve tried, and the sound quality is not bad at all. Of course, other brands will likely be better for those not using Apple devices as a source.

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Dunring

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The Sennheiser HD450 has the best noise cancellation and also isolation of any of the dozen I've had. I wouldn't even use them outside since it sealed sound off so well.
The Sennheiser Momentum 2 or 3 IEM are the best combination of really nice sound quality and noise cancelling I've heard. The HD450 will really seal out the sounds though.
 

digitalfrost

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IEMs have very good noise isolation if the fit is perfect. From my personal experience, I would rather go for something like Sony WH-1000XM5 if noise isolation is paramount. Even IEMs with ANC do not come close. At least for me it's hard to have a consistent seal with IEMs and over-ears with ANC just always work.
 

markanini

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There's nothing definitive about how well these graphics represent real world use. Because, no standardized metric for for ANC performance exists.

OTOH Harmans model for FR produces a numerical score that has been verified to have some predictive power. Yet you have criticized it: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...y-mdr-z1r-headphone-review.47776/post-1724154 So why on earth are you elevating arbitrary numbers now?
 

IAtaman

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I don't know which in-ear wireless headphones has the best noise isolation, I have no arguments to make there however I wanted to say that I would not take the rankings rtings.com provide on its face value, because they need to reduce a whole lot of complexity into a single number, and as we all know very well, lots of details that might be important at times got lost when you turn a complex measurement into a single metric.

For example, lets look at Airpods Pro G2 vs TaoTronics 94, just above Airpods in the rankings:

1696084543078.png


TaoTronics score better because they attenuate treble region better according to rtings.com tests, but between 150Hz and 1.2KHz, where most of the noise in an airplane lives for example, Airpods do much better. If I am on a plane, I'd rather have the airpods despite them being lower in the rankings.

Or look at Bose vs Anker Space A40 as another example. They are 2nd and 3rd respectively, yet from 85hz to 5Khz, Bose does a better job of actively attenuating noise, as much as 13dB better below 1KHz where most of the airplane cruising noise lives.

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If I looked at those rankings, and thought ah, 2nd or 3rd, does not matter much and got the Anker to save some money, I am not sure would be happy about that decision on a 13 hour flight.
 

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markanini

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Excellent points by @IAtaman, and comparing the top ranked set in RTings table to APP2 shows that APP2 does isolate better in the lower frequencies, which matters more to the intended usage case.

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staticV3

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There's nothing definitive about how well these graphics represent real world use. Because, no standardized metric for for ANC performance exists.
Which is why I included links where you can look at and compare noise isolation graphs which shows each IEM's performance across the frequency range, as well as listen to sound recordings with non-synthetic noise.

OTOH Harmans model for FR produces a numerical score that has been verified to have some predictive power. Yet you have criticized it:
Yes, because I find its results to be highly volatile, and somewhat in conflict with other Harman research (e.g. the FR of the DCA Stealth and 800S are computed as equally preferable).
Both attributes are not shared by either of the two lists above (afaik).

So why on earth are you elevating arbitrary numbers now?
Screenshot_20230930-165653_Chrome.png

What makes you think that they're arbitrary?
 

staticV3

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@staticV3 Pay attention to the what me and @IAtaman have laid out for you in context, before picking sentences apart.
Oh please.

You made unsubstantiated claims about what "the consensus" is to which I replied with actual (albeit simplified) graphs, plus links to raw data to make your own conclusions (which you seemingly ignored).

You think I'm not well aware that one singular attenuation number won't tell the whole story? The purpose of those graphs was to put your claim into question, not to give definitive proof of one IEM's superiority.

Although making it out to be like that sure makes diverting from the "consensus" thing easy :)
 

markanini

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@staticV3
That's beside the point I made, you are clearly stonewalling, and more emotionally charged than me, which is a bad frame for quality engagement, even if there's much to correct about what you said. So I'll leave it at that.

Unless it was a mistake to assume what doesn't need to pointed out: Consensus, and numerical data on review sites don't have identical meaning. And that neither must be a better predictor of real world performance in the intended application. Maybe some people can't accept the given premise. That's why I provided additional data from RTings to substantiate the premise. If you are left with an objection make sure you followed what wrote in context first, before conflating the meaning different things, but also feel free to set my profile to ignore, if you prefer.
 
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radix

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I had the QC45, but they have become lost.... How do the Sony WH-1000XM5 compare? My main use is air travel ANC with music. Comfort and ANC performance are the most important for me, then sound quality. I am only looking for over-ear. It's also important that they pack well, which the QC45 did (they go flat). I think the 1000XM5 also go flat, though from the pictures I've seen it looks like they do not fold up as compactly as the QC45. I was perfectly happy with the QC45, but just want to check if I should try something new that that I have the "opportunity" to buy new ones.

I guess the Momentum 4 and HD450 would be other options. I don't think the momentum folds up? And the HD450 folds, but does not go flat (I'm not sure how this compares to the QC45 or Sony for packing in a backpack).

Based on SoundGuys graphs, it looks like the Sony and QC have the best ANC. I don't know how good a source of data they are.
 
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