etymotic headphones headsetsAirplanes can be noisy places thanks to the engines, several hundred people sitting around you, and those pesky crying babies. There are plenty of noise-cancelling headphones out there but they have two major drawbacks: price and size. Noise-cancelling headphones typically cost more than $200 and tend to be bulky, over-the-ear models that take up space in your luggage. That’s why I prefer in-ear headphones with in-line volume controls and microphone that I can use at home, on my commute, and when I travel.

The biggest problem with inexpensive headphones is that they have a short lifespan. I’ve gone through dozens of sub-$100 headphones that died within six months. If you have to keep buying new pairs, you’re not saving money. Even when they were covered by a warranty and replaced for free, I was left without headphones for weeks.


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Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to find a pair that will drown out the noise on the plane. After plenty of trial and (way too much) error, I can confidently recommend these headphones for both day-to-day and travel use.


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Logitech Ultimate Ears 500vi
If you’re looking for a budget-conscious set of headphones that you won’t have to replace twice a year, the Logitech Ultimate Ears 500vi get you the most bang for your buck. Billed as “noise-isolating,” they create a solid seal in your ear, deliver a crisp sound, and stand up to daily use. Unlike other headphones that retail for under $100, the 500vi feel well-made and don’t fray from constant packing and unpacking.

The Logitech Ultimate Ears 500vi cost $79.99.

Etymōtic hf3 & hf2 If you’re willing to break through that $100 ceiling, a world of reliable, durable, and high-end headphones opens up. While not technically noise-cancelling, the Etymōtic hf3 for Apple devices and hf2 for Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone handsets do a fantastic job silencing the world around you. The “3-Flange” conical earbuds create a tight seal, which allows you to listen to music at a lower, healthier volume while still keeping outside noise from disturbing you.

The hf3 cost $179 and the hf2 cost $159. That’s still less than most noise-cancelling headsets.

In the world of portable audio, the old “you get what you pay for” saying rings true. At least you can keep your ears from ringing from all of the noise on the plane by picking up a pair of these headphones before your next trip.

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