It’s a noisy world out there. Doctors are not kidding when they warn that too many decibels can wreck your hearing, but you might not always be able to avoid environments with too much sound. Take it from somebody who knows, earplugs will not always be enough and they will fall out of your ears, which means that they might not do you any kind of good at all. That means you need a way to protect ears that don’t really care about whether they’re coming from that jackhammer in a construction zone or that rocking drum beat at a loud concert. If you have to shout to be heard and getting out of here is not an option, you need noise canceling headphones. The headphones really don’t look that dorky, honest. They just look like you’re more interested in listening to the awesome music that only you can hear than you are in looking dumb because your ears have been damaged to the point where you can no longer hear the conversation. Besides, headphones and ear buds like these selections can be pretty danged stylish these days.

Decibel Levels and Ear Safety

Bose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Headphones

One of the selling points of the Bose QuietComfort 35 is that you can connect it to your phone to make phone calls more clear even when you’re in the middle of a crowd or are out and about on a windy day. While cell phone etiquette still applies, now you won’t be asking the person on the other end of the line to repeat himself just because you’re in a noisy environment. The materials are lightweight for more comfortable wearing and you can get up to 40 hours of battery life when you’ve got the wire hooked up to your phone. It’s Bose, so you know this one’s going to deliver when it comes to canceling loud or annoying sound. Yes, it’s a few hundred bucks, but if you really care about buying a good set of noise canceling headphones, you won’t let the cost scare you off because “good” and “cheap” are rarely used in the same sentence when it comes to finding a quality set of headphones that’ll protect your hearing when you’re up there mixing sound for a rocking band. As far as sound quality goes, these Bose headphones can deliver an impressive bass without sacrificing the midrange or treble and can handle a prominent lead drum without a lot of vibration. The 35 is basically the same design as the 25 with some wireless controls added to the right earcup, so if you already have the 25 and are thinking about upgrading, you already know how this is going to feel on your head. They’re comfortable (thank heavens for memory foam) and you can drop them from a height of about four feet without breaking them. That’s pretty good for a set of headphones.

Bose QuietComfort 20 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

Slight caveat emptor here: Pay close attention to what you’re buying because there’s a version for Apple devices and a version for Samsung and Android devices. A lot of returns on this product happen because somebody didn’t realize that there are two versions and they bought the one that doesn’t work with their iPod. Otherwise, you might think of this as the lightweight version of the Bose QuietComfort headphone lineup. It comes with Stay Hear tips in three sizes so you won’t have to kill your ears with something that’s too big or too small just to get them to stay stable. This set isn’t going to fool you into thinking that you’re listening into a live performance at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but the sound cancellation feature is good at blocking out engine sounds and noise from nearby passengers on an airplane flight. They’re comfortable even for people who don’t like earbuds very much. The battery lasts for quite a while, so it won’t go dead on you if you heed the three-hour battery life warning and don’t forget to charge it overnight. They’re basically glorified earbuds, so don’t expect them to be perfect. However, if you like to travel light with earbuds that you can just wind up and stick anywhere when you’re done with them, this is a good pair to keep in your rear pocket.

BÖHM Bluetooth Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones with Inline Microphone

Prepare to be stylish with the BOHM Bluetooth Headphones, which come in two color options and looks sleek enough that it could pass for a more expensive set if it didn’t have the “BOHM” logo on the earpieces. Talk on the phone in a crowded place without having to worry about hearing what the other person is saying or whether they can understand you. One feature to note here is that you can turn the noise cancellation on and off with a button in the middle of the ear piece, so check to make sure it’s not turned off if you don’t think the noise cancellation is working as it should. The Bluetooth works good although you shouldn’t count on a range of much more than 40 feet, especially if you’re going into rooms other than the one with the device you want the headset to connect to. It’s comfortable enough to wear during a long phone call without your ears hurting, though very few people like to wear this one for much longer than two hours at a time. Even when using Bluetooth, the charge lasts for a long time and recharging only take a few hours. What people say about this model is that it’s not Bose, but it’s not bad, especially for a noise canceling headphone in the under-$100 price range.

Naztech i9BT Over-Ear Active Noise Cancelling Headphones

This model uses active noise cancellation technology to remove a claimed 90% of ambient sound from the listening environment. As a sound tech noted, it’s not for people who are “sound snobs” and want Boston Symphony Orchestra-level sound for their highly cerebral music. However, if you care more about blocking out most of the annoying ambient sound you might encounter in your daily life more than you care about the music, you might be okay with that. It’ll cancel out any sound in the mid-bass and below, so it’ll block the airplane engine but not the safety demonstration. It does have Bluetooth that works very well once it’s connected to the device you want it to, but the controls are pretty much worthless if you’re in an environment where you need to wear gloves. Some customers LOVED this pair, though, apparently mostly because it doesn’t cost as much as Bose and they were quite happy with the quality they got for the money. They’re comfortable and if you’re one of those people who hates low-pitched droning engine sound, you’re going to like this headset.

Sony Wireless Noise Reduction Stereo Headphones

This selection from Sony is wireless, lightweight, comfortable and has a long battery life. Leave them on the charger overnight and they’ll be recharged when you wake up. Then just don’t worry about the charge while you bop to your favorite music. It’ll connect to pretty much any device you like. You can even watch TV with this on without bothering anybody else if their taste in television shows are different from yours. (Trust me, not everybody loves Raymond, especially when they need to get a good night’s sleep because it’s going to be a long day for them tomorrow. This headset can literally save your relationship with family who should not be expected to sacrifice sleep just so you can watch your show.) You can even connect multiple headsets to the stand if you want to watch TV with your significant other without waking up the kids whom you just got to sleep. A lot of people who tried both this and a comparable Sennheiser model said that this version pretty much knocks it out of the park.

Noise Cancelling Headphones on eBay

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