Looking for USB-powered, NON-wireless, noise-cancelling headphones
October 23, 2015 3:00 AM   Subscribe

My google-fu is failing me. I have a set of Bose headphones that I love, but I HATE the fact that they require replacement batteries, which I always forget or lose at just the wrong moment. Help me find a new set of headphones!

I'm looking for headphones that are:

- Over the ear and comfy
- Noise-canceling, especially if better than Bose
- USB-powered, and don't require you to carry batteries with you
- NOT wireless. I really don't like transmitting stuff to my headphones without wires. It creeps me out.

Price is not really an object. Hundreds of dollars or more is ok.

Really good audio quality is a plus, but good noise-canceling technology is the most important thing. I use them at work and need to be able to tune everything out. Bonus points if they do a better job of canceling voices than the Bose, which filters out background sounds but lets voices come through.
posted by 3491again to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Shure. Pretty pricy but exactly what you want.
posted by deathpanels at 5:52 AM on October 23, 2015

which model? shure make a lot of headphones. which one has usb powered noise cancelling?
posted by andrewcooke at 6:53 AM on October 23, 2015

As far as I know Shure does not make anything like what you're looking for. They don't make active noise cancelling headphones (which use microphones to listen to outside noise & generate an opposite sound wave to 'cancel' it). Shure does make sound *isolating* earphones which work by forming a seal with your ear canal to block outside noise. But again, that's not what you asked for. Bose is the state of the art for active noise cancellation so anything else will be a step down. I have not tried them but the Harmon Kardon NC appear to be exactly what you're looking for with some decent reviews.
posted by mattholomew at 7:11 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have these headphones, and they meet all your criteria. I love them, but don't take my word for it -- they are the highest rated noise-cancelling headphones of all of those tested by Consumer Reports, including Bose, and are considered a "CR Best Buy" (excellent quality for the price). Plus they come with a nice big picture of 50 Cent wearing them, so you can feel cool.
posted by pH Indicating Socks at 7:13 AM on October 23, 2015

Bose Quietcomfort 20 have a rechargeable battery that can be recharged via USB. So they might be functionally equivalent to what you are looking for. (It is unclear from the description whether you can continue to use the headphones while charging via USB, though.) Link.
posted by flug at 7:24 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Outside the specifications of the question, however:

I had the _exact_ same problem and grabbed some AAA nicads and a charger. One top drawer bin has charged and one has discharged ones.

This kit is probably what I'd buy now. I have 6 AAA in the rotation, but that's pretty much overkill.
posted by All Out of Lulz at 7:31 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'll second the Eneloop suggestion. I've gradually switched nearly all my batteries to them, including those for my camera's flash -- an application that, for years, was just beyond the ken of consumer rechargeables.

I keep several more AA and AAA than I need, so that there's always a few charged and ready when something needs power.
posted by uberchet at 8:42 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

I love my AKG K490NC headphones, but they are on-ear, not over-ear. Otherwise they check all your boxes, so on the strength of my experience with them, I would recommend you take a look at AKG. (over-ear headphones are here)
posted by misterbrandt at 9:30 AM on October 23, 2015

Having tried many over the ear noise canceling headphones, I find the Bose QuietComfort 25 ones to be the best combination of comfort/noise cancellation, and acceptable sound quality. I think the Parrot Zik 2 have better sound and better noise cancellation (partly because of the passive blocking from the leather like and foam ear pads). The Parrot Zik 2's charge over USB, can be operated in wired and wireless mode. They however require an iOS/Android app to change settings (like the wired vs wireless mode). PSB M4U 2: have good noise canceling, better sound quality than the Bose, but uses AAA batteries. Samsung Level Over are interesting looking, USB charged, wired or wireless, noise cancellation. Listening to them in the store and they seemed worth of another look if I weren't happy with my Parrot Zik 2s.

All that said, I only bother with noise canceling headphones in datacenters and on planes, i.e. places with droning noise. In offices, I find good noise isolating headphones to be more effective. Headphones like Oppo PM-3 are pretty effective at eliminating background noise without any active cancellation. I find them more useful in an office with talking than noise cancelling headphones.
posted by fief at 1:19 PM on November 1, 2015

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