Headphones for travel


Mar 23, 2012
This is not really Home Theatre, but appears to be the best forum as far as which section to ask.

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling recently. I’m looking for a good pair of noise canceling headphones to take on flights, but I’m having trouble finding the right set.

What I’m looking for:
Noise canceling (I will consider noise isolation, but I wear earplugs at work and don’t want something that fits quite that tight)

Wired and Bluetooth connection. I know the next phone I get won’t have a 3.5mm, but all the in-flight consoles do and it saves my phone battery.

Prefer earbud over over-ear, as I wear glasses and they are just more portable.

Battery life isn’t a huge consideration. Neither is having a mic for phone calls. 3.5-5 hour flights are what I am targeting, and most of those fights have USB charging available.

I’d like them to sound good, but on an airplane, I know I’m never going to get audiophile sound no matter what.

Price isn’t a huge concern, but if I don’t have to spend a fortune I’d prefer not to.

I looked mainly as Bose, since they supposedly have the next NC. Briefly looked at the Bose QC30, but it doesn’t support a wired option, so I would not only have the battery of the headphones but also burn battery on my phone. The QC35 does, but over ear makes it more awkward to wear and carry.

Any suggestions? Right now I’m leaning towards the QC20, just realize it won’t have Bluetooth and deal with that later. It’s hard to swallow $250+ for a set of headphones that doesn’t outright support everything I’m looking for, so figured I’d ask.

I picked up a $10 sey of Sony noise isolating for the mean time, this isn’t an urgent purchase, but figured if I was going to spend a good chunk of cash on something decent I’d like to tick as many boxes as I can. Maybe nothing out there really does it all and it’s just a matter of tradeoffs.

Thanks for the advice in advance.


Sep 19, 2011
I own the QC20. No brainer for travel ANC in my opinion. They are really effective at silencing plane noise and if you're sitting on a flight for hours wireless is sort of irrelevant. Battery lasts for a while and I just carry around a spare USB battery packs for long flights anyway, since I have so much USB gadgetry these days, particularly when the family comes along.

QC25's, which are wired QC35's, are also on sale for $179 right now.


Supreme [H]ardness
Oct 27, 2007
Check out the Sony offerings. You can get an MDR-1000X on sale right now for $228. Personally, I like them more than the Bose QC-35s. Bose are probably slightly more comfortable, but I think the Sonys sound better and they don't have that pressurized feeling that Bose has with ANC. They have a new model out (MDR-1000XM2), but those are $350 right now. Major upgrades are better battery life (30hrs up from 20 on the older model) and the ability to use their app for some personalization.