As you may be able to gather from some of my posts here, I spend a lot of time on airplanes. Last year, I used some of my American Express Rewards points to get a pair of Bose Quiet Comfort 2 headphones (I couldn’t justify paying $300 in cash for them, but using my Rewards points was painless). The Bose headphones are very nice - they’re the Escalade of noise-cancelling headphones.
Unfortunately, the Bose headphones are so bulky (even when they are folded) that I don’t really bring them along any more except when I travel on international flights. As a result, I’ve been listening to my iPod and my laptop using the headphones that come with the iPod. They’re very good, but they just weren’t doing the trick for me on planes - particularly when listening to the audiobooks I download from my subscription to Audible.
Well, I just finished a round trip to NYC with my latest headphones, and I love them. They’re Sony’s MDR-EX71 earbuds. They don’t have active noise cancelling, but they have very comfortable rubber ear pieces (three sizes are included) that allow them to block out most of the ambient noise, including the racket on a plane. They sound great, come with a tiny case (not shown in the picture) to hold the extension cord and extra ear pieces, and have a cool little sleeve (looks like a capsule in the photo) to help you store them in a laptop bag without messing up or losing the rubber earpieces. The sleeve also reduces the likelihood of tangling.
The sound quality is very good, and you get a lot more bass out of these buds than the ones that come with the iPod. They sound good enough that I’ll probably put my Bose headphones up on eBay or something. I wore them continuously on a 5½ hour flight and they were comfortable the whole time.
At about $30 via Amazon, the Sony MDR-EX71’s are affordable, and they perform at least as well as other earbuds I’ve tried out that cost $150 and up. If you’re in the market for some comfortable, great sounding earbuds for travel or other places where you’d like to isolate the sounds around you, I recommend these.