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Top Noise-Canceling Headphones

As anyone who has used noise-canceling headphones on a plane can doubtlessly confirm, they make the experience of flying a whole lot less unpleasant. While these sound-blockers can't do much to combat the shrieking baby in the seat next to you (or its shrieking parents, for that matter), they all but remove the low roar of the engines, the hum of the fans, and various (and usually) incessant noises coming from the other electronic devices in use around you as you fly the noisy skies. It sounds like magic, but it's actually pretty simple audio science: Basically, microphones in the headphones monitor the sound around you, and create sound waves which essentially cancel out the noise they pick up. On some flights, in business and first class, they now actually hand them out.

Most of us are economy-class-types, though, so we did our research accordingly and came up with a few options for airborne peace of mind. To boot, all of our picks cost less than the two or more months salary required to fly business class.


You see these headphones everywhere – open up any in-flight magazine and you're guaranteed an ad. But Bose does its sound quality thing well. These cans do a great job canceling ambient noises, and music sounds extremely warm and full of bass. Movie dialogue was consistently crisp and clear, and overall sound is very consistent. Unfortunately, there's one major flaw: Unlike the other models featured here, the QuietComfort 2s don't let you listen to music without the noise-canceling tech turned on. When your batteries die, well, so do your headphones. Which is kind of a bummer...especially on planes, where they don't sell replacements. Price: $299.99

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