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Recommendations for headsets/headphones that block out noise

AuroraBorealis

Well-Known Member
I am considering getting myself an additional headset with its main purpose not to listen to music but to shield me from noise. Right now, I have the Sony WH-XB910N noise-cancelling headphones, and they're great, I wear them almost all the time when I'm outside, and often when I am with someone I just put them on without turning them on, so they just muffle the surrounding noise a bit, which calms me and makes me less overstimulated. They're awesome to listen to music.

However, my problem with them is that they don't give me the option to block out the noise without listening to something. The maximum "silence" they can give me through the NC function is sort of muffling the noises, but I still hear them, especially those in higher frequencies (I assume that's a feature because it makes one still hear automatic announcements, e.g. at the airport, through the NC function). Plus, turning on the NC function without listening to music creates really uncomfortable pressure on my ears and makes me feel a bit nauseated and headache-y.

So I am looking for a headset which blocks out noises completely (or almost completely), ideally without NC function so it doesn't create this pressure on my ears. Is that even possible? Do you have experiences? For now, I don't put a financial limit, I just want to see what's out there first. It doesn't need to have the option to listen to music, since it would be more of an add-on to my regular headphones.

I am aware that blocking out all noise while being outside is dangerous, so I would only use them either at home or outside at a physically safe environment. They would be a big help when approaching a meltdown.

Thank you for advice!
 
From a review of headphones this year, these came out on top for best noise cancellation:

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Ed
 
I agree with Ed, Bose is good. If you don't have a financial limit there's always Sennheiser. German performance and accuracy, but that can be very expensive.

There is also another thread or two with info about headphones here somewhere, if you do a search.
 
Thank you both! My problem is that I already have quite good NC on my current headphones, but I feel like the NC is always evaluated based on their performance while listening to music. They aren't really based on the experience if you want to put them on to block out noise without listening to something. My current ones have been rated very good for the NC, but it's not very good if I use it without music. Also, I suspect that NC in general creates this uncomfortable pressure feeling for me (which is also mentioned in the cons of the headphones above), so I was wondering if there are headsets which can block out noise efficiently without using NC. I don't know about the technicalities, so please let me know if this is not realistic.
 
It seems I will have to look at headsets intended for noise-protection on construction sites etc., they seem to be more suited to my needs.

Thanks for the help!
 
I was wondering if anyone has ever tried noise protection earmuffs, like those used for construction work.
 
The Loop earplugs are great, adjustable sound baffle thing so it doesn't make that pressure. You can't listen to music but they're very nice and rather discreet as well. My dad has a pair and I'm gonna order some here soon.
 
The Loop earplugs are great, adjustable sound baffle thing so it doesn't make that pressure. You can't listen to music but they're very nice and rather discreet as well. My dad has a pair and I'm gonna order some here soon.
I have the Loop Engage Plus earplugs, and I love them, I should use them way more. I can definitely recommend them! However, they're not enough for me when I'm really overwhelmed. They're more of a preventative thing to avoid me getting too overstimulated in the first place. When I'm already there, I need something more efficient. Also, I much prefer the feeling of over-ear headphones over in-ear plugs.
 
So I am looking for a headset which blocks out noises completely (or almost completely), ideally without NC function so it doesn't create this pressure on my ears. Is that even possible? Do you have experiences? For now, I don't put a financial limit, I just want to see what's out there first. It doesn't need to have the option to listen to music, since it would be more of an add-on to my regular headphones.

I am aware that blocking out all noise while being outside is dangerous, so I would only use them either at home or outside at a physically safe environment. They would be a big help when approaching a meltdown.

Thank you for advice!

Good questions. However consider the basis of Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) created by the likes of manufacturers like Bose and Sennheiser through "phase cancellation". ANC doesn't create silence per se, but rather that it creates frequencies that are identical yet opposite to ambient noise frequencies in question. The point is to play both frequencies back at the same time, to effectively cancel each other out. I'm assuming as well that Sony is using essentially the same technology given their product seems to compete neck-and-neck with Bose.

I don't know that I would answer your question with a categorical "no", but rather focus on the simplest technology that has inherent limits. In essence, noise-protection rather than noise-cancellation. However noise protectors are quite bulky and their effectiveness often depends on how tight their supra-aural fit remains around one's ears. And of course to pay attention to the noise-reduction-rating (NRR) on the packaging. To find something in the range of the mid-thirties is probably optimal these days.

They aren't perfect, and don't silence all sounds. However they tend to muffle everything to a level that IMO is both manageable and tolerable. The same bulky devices one would wear at a firing range, or work as a craftsman using power tools all day long.

As primitive as they are, they sound closer to what you may be looking for, but with some very different considerations compared to expensive, fragile technologically complex noise-cancelling headphones. I find them to be incredibly sturdy compared to most any audio headphones that can be so easily damaged through rough handling. And they are a fraction of the cost in comparison.

(I use them routinely whenever the landscapers come with their obnoxious leaf blowers.)

 
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It seems I will have to look at headsets intended for noise-protection on construction sites etc., they seem to be more suited to my needs.

Yes, I was thinking about that, if you just want to block out noise, you could try that hearing protection people use when working. I have several of those, but they don't completely block out all sound. Not sure if anything does, you might have to wrap your entire head in soundproofing material to achieve that. :)
 
Loops Engage don't seem to make spunds any quieter for me. Loops Experience cancel noise more, but you can still hear other people, and Loops Quiet cancel noise even more and you can't hear people in them. I like Vibes earplugs too, they're almost invisible and are like Loops Experience.
 
I have the Bose Quiet Comfort 345 and I'm pretty happy with them. Not cheap but worth the money. I also had the same problem you mention:

However, my problem with them is that they don't give me the option to block out the noise without listening to something.
If they're not connected to something you get an annoying woman telling you over and over "Device not connected".

But I found a cheat. As long as the 2.5 mm stereo pin plug is plugged in they think they're connected to something and work perfectly. They don't have to actually be connected to something, you can just cut the plug off of a cord and shove it in the hole and you're good to go.
 
I always have a pair of loops on together with my Sony NC headphones when going outside - it gives a better experience to me, and lessens the punch to the stomach I get when removing the headphones to communicate with staff in stores.
 

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