I’m a test engineer for large tape libraries in a noisy lab. (It’s one of the best jobs in the world — making robots crash into each other at high speeds may not be the sine qua non of computer manufacture, but it’s just plain fun.)
Between the HVAC, the server farm, and the bot wars, it’s noisy. Needless to say, this affects my hearing — so much that my wife thinks my favorite phrase is “Would you say that again, honey?” After many false starts, I finally found a set of noise cancelling headphones that I can wear all day without making my ears sore, and are durable enough to last two years (so far).
With 20 test engineers in the lab using these, the bar is set pretty high. Collectively, my group has bought a lot of hearing protection, and these are the only ones that are durable, effective, and comfortable. The old adage “cheap, comfortable, effective – pick any two” applies here — Bose QuietComfort’s cost $300, but cheaper ones just don’t cut the mustard.
The signal processing in QC15s is excellent, but cheaper models come close. The real secret sauce is the comfort engineering – nobody else comes close to Bose. They are suitable for enjoying music, but that’s a secondary benefit. You can wear them for a full day, and your ears aren’t sore — that’s key.
If your employer won’t pay for these, buy them anyway. You’re worth it.