• What are the best headphones for travel?

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  • They should be compact or foldable and have at least decent sound quality. Noise suppression is nice but not essential. I would listen in flight, but for now most of my listening is in my hotel room at the end of the day.

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    Question by cannolo

I have been impressed enough by the value of a cheap pair I have of Sony noise-canceling headphones (model MDR-NC40) that when the first pair broke*, I bought another, and am still happy with the investment.

Right now, I see them at Amazon for about $80 (http://www.amazon.com/Sony-Ultra-Lightweight-Foldable-Canceling-Headphones/dp/B001FXXAP8 -- the reviews there are poor, but they don't match my experience); I paid more than this for my first set, and less (about $60) for them the 2nd time around, thanks to a sale at Radio Shack. I briefly saw them on sale for about $25 at a Target store as well ... so, shop around ;)

I find them comfortable even over my glasses, which is unusual. (Not as comfortable as some of the best I've tried, expensive Beyerdynamics or Sennheisers, but surprisingly good, even on long flights.) The noise reduction is good, though not the world's best. ("The world's best," frankly, is something that I must admit I don't often think is worth the marginal cost -- your mileage, and budget, may vary.)

They fold into a nice small case, which fits well either one of the small outside pockets on my Tom Bihn Checkpoint Flyer, or the smallish Jansport backpack I'm carrying on my current trip to Seattle. I think they pay for themselves in flying comfort in one trip. Use a single AAA battery, which lasts for something near 20 hours.

  • My fault -- I let them get pretty jumbled / crushed in a full pack, rather than take the few seconds it takes to pack them neatly in their case. It was a touch disappointing, but not strictly speaking the fault of the design; I'm pretty tough on headphones, and the 2d pair has been holding up well.
Answer by timothy lord

I bought Creative HN-700 headphones a couple of years ago. They are good for cancelling out noise, provide good sound, and fold up and fit into a provided pouch. I forgot to carry them in my backpack on my last trip overseas - left them in my soft sided suitcase (and MISSED having them to drown out the din!), and they survived. I use them for travel and for Skype with friends overseas when the connection is bad. They were relatively cheap (otherwise I would not have gotten them) so they were a good investment. Downside is that I have a BIG head, so the padded head band is "stressed" going over my "dome", so the crown of my head sometimes gets a little tender on long flights, but I have not yet taken them off because of discomfort! I often fall asleep with them on.

I got them to see if sound cancelling headphones were worth it. They ARE! So I suspect I will upgrade when the time comes (or my flight frequency increases).

Answer by lduvall

I would recommend Audio Technica ATH-M50 (The M50 has a coiled cord, the M50S has a straight cord). I use these at work (and occasionally on-the-go) and I love them. They are not especially small (though they do fold up in a clever way) but their combination of sound quality (very clean, neutral sound), passive noise isolation (no batteries needed), and comfort (I have a big head and the only comfort issue I have had is my ears getting a bit warm after a few hours of listening) are very impressive for their price point (I got mine new on eBay for ~$120).

[This answer was submitted by Daniel West, but didn't make it through the spam filter.--OH]

Answer by Oliver Hulland

Heh, thanks Oliver. :)

Answer by Dan West
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