The best travel headphones

The top noise cancelling travel headphones.

Bose is the standout manufacturer of noise cancelling headphones. They were the first and remain the best. Their evolution into in-ear and Bluetooth models continues their legacy of quality products focusing on their core proposition – to cancel out that noise. Whilst not cheap, they are the best.

Simple verdict on Bose Headphones

  • My choice for sound quality: Bose Over Ear
  • My all round favourite: Bose In Ear wins for portability and all round performance
  • The Bose Wireless hasn’t quite cracked the wireless challenge

What are noise cancelling headphones?

Noise cancelling technology uses “white noise” to mitigate the aircraft roar. Termed ‘active’ noise cancelling, the headphones read the background noise around you, mimic it and then play it back at a different sound wave rate. This effectively cancels out the intrusive sound waves.

On most planes (although the newer aluminium aircraft are designed to be quieter) the roar reminds me of the rushing torrent of a powerful waterfall or a stadium crowd. It is ceaseless and complete. Some ignore or absorb it. Not me. I’ve never been able to put it to the back of my mind.

As they will demo in store, the noise cancelling technology really does work, and it massively reduces plane noise. However, they are short of perfection. Some sounds remain. In fact, the reduction in certain sounds amplifies others. As I type this I can, with almost precision clarity, hear the plates in the galley clashing together. The odd voice three rows back hits almost exactly the right pitch to sound like they are addressing just me.

Also be aware that the in ear version of noise cancelling headphones can make it difficult for some people to sleep on their side (i.e. on your ear). Still, for portability, these are the smallest, and when packing room is at a premium, size really does matter.



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