Yet another headphone thread

I love the ATH-M50x, and they were my travel headphones for years. I usually prefer open back headphones, but I bought the M50x's because I needed some noise isolation for noisy airports, plane rides, etc.

I switched to the Anker Q30 for my travel headphones for convenience and noise cancellation, but even without noise cancellation, the ATH-M50x's provided noise isolation good enough that it delayed my switch to noise cancelling for years (and even there, it was mostly switching to iPhone and no longer having a headphone jack that pushed me over the edge).

I wouldn't call them overkill. You're going to get the audio quality you pay for with the M50x's.

But if you want good noise cancelling headphones without spending $300 on it, I continue to flog the Q30's as exceptional budget options.

Woot! has refurbished whatchamacallit-XM4s closed-back ANC over-ear headphones for like half of their MSRP. It's not factory refurbished, but they do come with the 3.5mm cable.

Noise cancelling is usually designed NOT to filter out vocal frequencies though, and that's the explicit use case. So my advice is don't pay the premium for noise cancelling.

I was looking at earbuds too. Generally I usually hate how they sound but yeah the noise isolation could be good I guess. Any recommended pairs? I’d like to spend below $100 but I don’t really have a budget here and would go higher if it was a good combination of features and sound quality which is why I was willing to consider the ATH-M50x.

Those Soundcore Q30 dropped price on Amazon Canada recently. Price is certainly nicer than the ATH-M50x. Maybe I’ll try those for now. If they work for this use case great and if not I’ll use them with my phone and find something else for this use case.

I have a pair of MPOW Air I’m trying right now (wired mode). Their isolation is not bad but they don’t sound great and they aren’t that comfortable over long sessions. It’s so weird switching from open back to closed back. Everything sounds off.

I have some cheaper ANC Bluetooth ones and yeah I’ve noticed they don’t block voices much at all. Almost the opposite.

pandasuit wrote:

I have some cheaper ANC Bluetooth ones and yeah I’ve noticed they don’t block voices much at all. Almost the opposite.

That's partly by design, and partly a limitation of the technology. ANC works by feeding back the inverse of the frequencies you just heard, which means it's real good at cancelling stable frequencies (like engine noise on an airplane), but useless at cancelling constantly changing frequencies (like speech).

I picked up the Soundcore Q30. With ANC on they actually block voices surprisingly well but unfortunately the moment you plug an analog cable in they turn off all ANC and power down and refuse to power back up. ANC only works when wireless. Apparently they used to support ANC when wired but that was removed in a recent firmware update which mine have and people claim Anker support has said that feature is not coming back.

Going to try them wired for a while longer to see if passive noise isolation is good enough for them to they do well in this noisy environment. If not I'll start using them as my primary wireless set for my phone.

My Bose QC II did the same thing when I plugged them in on the plane. I wasn't sure if it was user error but now I'm guessing it is probably a firmware / hardware limitation.

ccoates wrote:

Are earbuds on the table? (I prefer not having things in my ears but in terms of noise isolation it's hard to beat a good seal with decent tips) What's your price range?

After I realized the Soundcore Q30 were not going to allow ANC when wired and their passive noise isolation is just ok I dug out some of my old earbuds and yes those had way way better noise isolation. They sound terrible but they solve the core issue.

Now I wonder what “good sounding” earbuds cost and whether “good sounding” for earbuds is actually good. RTINGS claims the Turtle Beach Battle Buds are “good” for gaming but they also call them “ muddy and dark sounding”. They are pretty affordable tho. Their higher recommended options are over double the price and they say those still don’t sound amazing.

I think personal preference is going to vary wildly, but I have a set of Audio Technica LS200is that I like the sound of. I'm not sure you can still buy those, however (sometimes they discontinue a line, like the IM02s before that.)

I prefer not to have anything in my ears, but when I need noise isolation over ANC or I'm traveling and every bit of space counts it's hard to beat a decent part of earbuds/in-ear monitors for portability.

Looking at what's currently available from Audio Technica, the "ATH-E50 Professional In-Ear Studio Monitor Headphones" seem like they might be targeting about that same quality/price range (MSRP about $200).

I haven't personally tried them, but if you're able to test them out the Shure Aonic 3 or 4 are in the $200-300 range as well. Or the Etymotic Research ER4SR.

In the $100 range:

Audio-Technica ATH-E40
Shure AONIC 215
Etymotic Research ER3SE

Edit:

Depending how you feel about Wirecutter picks, they actually just updated their wired earbud reccs:

https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/r...

pandasuit wrote:
ccoates wrote:

Are earbuds on the table? (I prefer not having things in my ears but in terms of noise isolation it's hard to beat a good seal with decent tips) What's your price range?

After I realized the Soundcore Q30 were not going to allow ANC when wired and their passive noise isolation is just ok I dug out some of my old earbuds and yes those had way way better noise isolation. They sound terrible but they solve the core issue.

Now I wonder what “good sounding” earbuds cost and whether “good sounding” for earbuds is actually good. RTINGS claims the Turtle Beach Battle Buds are “good” for gaming but they also call them “ muddy and dark sounding”. They are pretty affordable tho. Their higher recommended options are over double the price and they say those still don’t sound amazing.

I haven't been in the wired game in a while but the wireless options are stepping up their game. Samsung, Jabra, and Sony have some pretty good offerings. They aren't cheap though.

I'm not seeing those Moondrop Aria's to buy online in Canada