Audio

Coby CV-E195 Noise Canceling Headphones

At $20, these are going to some of the cheapest noise canceling ear buds you can buy. If you were considering picking up a cheap pair, don't. They do practically nothing for canceling airplane engine noise. In fact, I would argue they make engine noise worse by adding to it a high-pitched hum -- even when there is audio input. They are cheaply made and the control box is unnecessarily large.

Panasonic RP-HC30 Noise Canceling Headphones

The Panasonic RP-HC30 noise cancelling earphones remove some of the persisten background noise from your environment.  The $40 RP-HC30 ear buds are not as good as $400 over-ear headphones, but they do work well and they easily fit in a pocket or carry-on. Where more expensive over-ear headphones block out virtually all airplane engine noise these ear buds mostly take the edge off of the droning of the engines.

When first using the RP-HC30 on a flight it was disappointing how little engine noise it seemed to block; seeming to old make the engine noise sound 'different'. After being removed thirty min into the flight it became obvious how much engine noise was actually being reduced. Although "Reducing outside noise by 75%" does not make an immediate difference, it makes a huge difference over time.

Structurally the device is well built and very compact. The oddly shaped ear buds fit nicely in the ear canal and offer excellent sound quality (including bass). There is virtually no hiss when noise reduction is enabled and even then it is only noticeable if there is no audio input.

Thanks to the compact size, decent sound quality and ability to make flights more pleasant, the Panasonic RP-HC30 Noise Canceling Ear Buds are now a permanent addition to the carry-on bag.

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