Headsets that Don’t Require a Second Thought

Headsets that Don’t Require a Second Thought

By Gary Funk

If you’re a frequent flyer or you spend your time at an airport, you eventually get tired of the constant noise produced by piston and turbine engines. This noise can cause you to become tired, and according to your spouse and co-workers, overly irritable. Pilots have solved this problem by using high-end active noise reduction (ANR) headsets. When you own an aircraft worth more than most houses, spending $1000 on a headset doesn’t require a second thought.

ANR-active noise reduction-headphones electronically reduce the irritating, anxiety-provoking, background noise by coupling low frequency noise wave with an exact mirror (opposite) wave. By creating an equal but opposite wave, the unwanted sound is effectively cancelled before it reaches your ear.

For those that just want to listen to music, watch a DVD in relative comfort or just block out unwanted noise, you will find a selection of ANR headphones–and a price range to match–at almost any electronics store. The selection is such that it’s almost impossible to determine which work and how much is marketing hype. We’ve found two units that will make you happy.

NoiseBuster NB-FX

The open-back design of the NoiseBuster is comfortable for the wearer and folds for portability.

The open-back design of the NoiseBuster is comfortable for the wearer and folds for portability.

The NoiseBuster NB-FX from Pro Tech Communications claims to deliver nearly 20db of active noise reduction between 20Hz and 1200Hz making it one of the highest performing consumer products of its price range on the market. Pro Tech supports this claim by a comparison with three unnamed competitors in the price range of $69.00 to $99.00. This has made NoiseBuster a very sought after brand in the ANR headphone category.

One look at the NB-FX and you notice it looks very much like the Plane Quiet NC-6. While these similar appearing units are made by the same supplier in China, Pro Tech states that, “We have modified the electronics to achieve much better sound quality and active noise reduction performance than the others that look similar to ours. We would definitely go up against Plane Quiet any day.” The NB-FX offers a nicer headband and the ear cups are thicker and better padded.

A nice feature of the NoiseBuster is the audio play-through. If the battery dies and you don’t have a spare, you can still use the headphones without the benefit of the noise reduction. The light weight and padded ear cups make the NoiseBuster NB-FX very comfortable to wear. Its fold-up design makes it easy to carry and store and is ideal for use on long flights. The NB-FX uses a single AAA battery and battery life is estimated at 40 hours; the battery indicator becomes dimmer as the battery weakens.

According to Pro Tech president Richard Hennessey, the product is unmatched by the competition. “There is no other ANR headphone on the market today that can deliver the level of active noise reduction or acoustic performance that is offered by the NoiseBuster NB-FX. Consumers may think they’ve seen this type of product before but in this case hearing–not seeing–is believing. And when you consider our very reasonable price point, the product is simply a tremendous value.”

The power switch is located on the back of the right ear cup and is easy to reach. A red LED just above the switch will remind you to turn off the power when not in use. One drawback is the non-detachable split ‘Y’ cable leading to each ear cup. This type of setup is very annoying when trying to pull the headphones off with one hand.

Weighing in at only 5.4 ounces with battery, the NoiseBuster headphones are a great deal at $69.00. The headphone comes with a travel pouch for storage, dual-prong airline adapter and AAA battery. It comes with only a 90 day warranty. We highly recommend the NoiseBuster for those that are looking for a low priced unit.

For more information about Pro Tech Communications, visit [].

QuiteComfort 2

The hinges on the NoiseBuster allow it to be folded for easy storage.

The hinges on the NoiseBuster allow it to be folded for easy storage.

Commercial pilots have had the pleasure of wearing headsets from Bose Corporation for nearly 10 years and military pilots for almost 20 years. Bose has been the leading pioneer in acoustic noise canceling headphones. If you have ever worn a Bose headset, you know the quality and comfort is second to none. Pity the poor soul that put the wrong headset in a Bell 206B III Jet Ranger.

A good feature of the QuiteComfort 2 is that the headphones can be worn to offer hearing protection from low frequency noise by removing the detachable cable. This is great for taking pictures on the flight-line at an air show or paddock area at an open-wheel race.

The connecting cable is relatively easy to plug in or out of the headphones, even when wearing them. The downside is the connecting cable uses a unique type of plug, if break or lose the supplied connector; you won’t be using the headphones for listening until you receive a replacement from the Bose. The connector contains an easy to use input level switch which is a great feature.

The QuiteComfort 2 uses a single AAA battery which is nicely hidden inside the right ear cup. Battery life is estimated at 35 hours; the battery indicator flashes when approximately 5 hours are remaining. The lay-flat fold up design of the ear cups allow for easy storage in a briefcase or its own carrying case.

“We set new standards when developing the QuiteComfort 2 headphones,” said Steve Kingsbury, general manager of the Bose Noise Reduction Technology Group. “Our design goals were clear. We would not compromise the noise reduction or comfort of the original, we would apply technology to improve audio performance, and we would make accessing instant quiet and high-quality sound even easier. This fusion of benefits is simply unavailable from other headphones.”

The power switch is located on the right ear cup with the power LED just above the switch. Cord interference is reduced by a single cable that fits into the left ear cup and is fully detachable. One drawback is the lack of audio play-through preventing the use of the headphones if the battery is dead. At six feet, the cable is too long for most use especially when you consider the package includes a five-foot extension cable.

At only 6.9 ounces with battery and cable, the QuiteComfort 2 sells for $299.00.The headphone comes with its own hard-shell case, five-foot extension cable, a 1/8″-to-1/4″ inch plug adapter, a dual-prong airline adapter and AAA battery. It comes with a one year warranty, and a 30 day money back guarantee. The Bose QuiteComfort 2 is the single most comfortable and the best performing headphones we have ever found and well worth the price.

For more information about Bose Corporation, visit [].