The voices, make them stop!
April 13, 2009 4:06 PM   Subscribe

Good noise isolating headphones for work?

I'd like good noise isolating for my cubical work environment. I like ear canal buds but I can only wear them for about an hour before my ears hurt. Active noise cancellation is fine by me but in my experience it doesn't help reduce vocal chatter of my nearby coworkers. I'm not super picky (my current work cans are Sennheiser HD 201s). I've been looking at this page for ideas but I'm open to other ideas or anyone's experiences.

What would you recommend for nice, isolating sealed cans for work?
posted by chairface to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I like my HD280 Pros that are recommended there. Among the big tech cubicle farms in the Bay Area that give out headphones, I know of a few that also choose that model.. great price/performance. I use Shure E3cs (in-canal) for ultimate blocking and portability when I'm commuting, though.
posted by kcm at 4:16 PM on April 13, 2009

Previously. I've been happy with my HD280 Pros as well.
posted by harmfulray at 4:36 PM on April 13, 2009

I've had great results with wearing noise-cancelling earmuffs over decent in-ear earbud headphones. Not exactly what you asked for, but also effective, and likely to be considerably cheaper. (I have the linked ones - they're quite comfortable.)

One of my coworkers has the $300ish Bose noise-cancellation headphones (he got them used for much less) and is quite happy with them. I tried them and wasn't terribly impressed, but, worn over my favorite earplugs, my office-mate's phone meeting was completely gone.

Either way: a multi-layer approach may be best.
posted by silentbicycle at 4:46 PM on April 13, 2009

I prefer the Sony's to Sennheiser, my pair is the Sony MDR-7506, the sound quality is hard to beat, nice long coiled cord, nice gold plugs, doesn't hurt the head from long sessions, blocks out a lot of sound (ill just put them on with no music sometimes), and they survive every day being shoved in a messenger bag. I honestly used them almost every single day since I got them a year ago, zero complaints.
posted by Mach5 at 7:19 PM on April 13, 2009

I use audio-technica's over-ear headphones. The are very good.
posted by Pants! at 7:24 PM on April 13, 2009

Also using HD280s (this very moment, in fact). The desk 3m away from mine with no separators insists he can't hear anything from me.
posted by spamguy at 8:12 AM on April 14, 2009

I just got some 201's to replace my 202's and can say the 202's are better at noise isolation. You don't say why you are getting rid of the 201's. Also when I really need isolation, I get some ear plugs, sold in any drugstore, put them in, then put the earphones on over them. Works great and I can still hear my music. The earplugs are much more comfortable then in-ear phones.
posted by d4nj450n at 9:01 AM on April 14, 2009

Also, there's a wide range of alternative tips for the ear-canal buds, if you want to consider that route. (Physical blocking in the canal will always be more effective than noise-canceling circuitry, especially -- as you observed -- for rapidly changing, transient noise like talking.)

You can google for your model and see which tips are available, or if you're in the market for a new set, what I usually recommend is the Etymotic ER-6i, which comes with five very different tip options (incredible sound quality for their size and price). Their main competitor is the Shure EC5, which many people love.

For just over-the-ear isolating cans, I've been deeply impressed by the Ultrasone consumer phones like the DJ1 (sillycheesy name but outstanding German engineering).
posted by kalapierson at 7:16 PM on April 15, 2009

Response by poster: I purchased some HD280 Pros and I'm happy with them. The only drawback so far is they are sufficiently quiet & accurate that I can hear how crappy the amp is in the laptop. I have a fix for that already though so it's not a big deal.

Thanks all!
posted by chairface at 10:52 AM on April 20, 2009

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