The Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for Travel: Sony Premium Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones

May 15, 2018

Within the last year I made a pretty major purchase (for me): high-quality noise cancelling headphones with Bluetooth.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will make a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

I like having decent quality electronics, but under different circumstances I might have tried some less expensive headphones than what I ended up buying. A perfect storm of circumstances led me to this splurge:

  • My husband had bought himself some noise-cancelling headphones (Bose QuietComfort 35) a few months before I bought mine. He has a noisy cubicle environment at his work, and he said they really helped him focus. I too work in a noisy cubicle work environment, and I wanted to see whether noise canceling headphones would help. Plus I was jealous that he could be working on a project at home and totally tune out me and the children. πŸ™‚ Joking. Kind of.
  • I had two flights to California within a week of each other coming up. It seemed like it might be nice to try noise-cancelling headphones on those trips. I’ve flown on enough noisy coach flights with upset toddlers to know that it puts me on edge, even though I completely empathize with the parents.
  • I adore listening to audiobooks and podcasts. I’d been using an inexpensive pair of Kinivo Bluetooth headphones that work just fine, but since I find myself using headphones a lot, I felt for me like an investment in good headphones might be a worthwhile investment. I’d get the per-use cost of a nice pair down pretty quickly.
  • I won one of the fantasy football leagues I play in, so I had a couple hundred dollars in winnings that I thought would be fun to invest in something nice.

After much deliberation and reading of reviews, I chose to get the Sony Premium Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones. In this post I will give a very low-tech explanation of why I chose them. If you want more detailed technical specifications, I would suggest reading up on specs on Amazon. My biggest piece of advice, whether you are technically inclined or not, is to read as many reviews as possible, both from “experts” and especially from customers. As a non-techie, I found these reviews so insightful and helpful in my decision-making process.

 

My Choice: Sony Premium Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones

Here are some features I liked about the Sony Premium headphones.

Noise cancelling: Well, duh. The noise cancelling on these headphones works extremely well, especially if you press and hold the optimizer button for two seconds after turning them on. Very often at work I wear them just to use noise cancelling, not even listening to anything. Now that I have these headphones, I am very aware of how loud our HVAC is in our office building.

On my first flight using these headphones, there was a loud, unhappy baby right across the aisle from me. I definitely heard him, but it didn’t put me on edge at all. I was able to focus on my audiobook without much distraction. A few colleagues were on the same flight, and afterward they said how sorry they were that I was in such a noisy seat. I was actually a little surprised…I didn’t realize how disruptive the child’s noise had been. That’s how great these things are.Β 

Sound: They have great sound. Obviously high-end headphones should, and they do. I am not an audiophile to give you specifics. I just know the quality is fantastic to my untrained ears.

Bluetooth: There are plenty of corded noise cancelling headphone options. But if you’ve ever worn corded headphones while doing household chores, you know that the cord is a major pain. It gets caught in the dishwasher rack or in the pile of laundry you are transferring from the washer to the dryer. I switched to Bluetooth headphones several years ago, and I will never go back.

Color: These headphones come in black and this grey/beige color in the photo. I opted for the grey/beige. I liked that the color was different yet subtle. I didn’t want black headphones for some reason, but since I’m wearing them at work I didn’t want anything too crazy color-wise.

Size and feel: I saw reviews for noise canceling ear buds, but I am not a fan of ear buds. The cushioning on the earphones and the band is so soft and comfortable on these. I just love how they feel.

Touch function: This set of headphones doesn’t make you search for a button to adjust volume, play/pause and skipping tracks. You can adjust all of these by simple swipes or taps on the right earpiece. It’s not perfect, but it works pretty darn well.

Option to hear ambient noise: There is an optional setting that uses an external microphone to pick up notable sounds while you are in noise cancelling mode. I think the idea here is that, if you’re sitting at an airport gate, for instance, you won’t miss the boarding announcement. I have never used it, but I can see the appeal and like that I have the option.

 

Minor Drawbacks

I really do love these headphones, but they are not perfect.

Price: These are not inexpensive headphones. At the writing of this post they are about $350 US, which is about the same as what I spent on them a year ago. If you feel like you can justify an investment in high-quality Bluetooth noise-cancelling headphone, then I definitely recommend these.

Transitioning between Bluetooth devices: This was a downside about the Sony headphones that I knew going into this purchase from reading reviews. Some Bluetooth headphones are seamless if you switch what device you’re listening on (say, going from listening on a smartphone to your tablet, for instance). On those seamless devices you can just start playing the other device, and the headphones will adjust to the right device automatically.

These Sony headphones cannot do that. If you are actively listening on a device and want to switch to another paired device, you have to turn off the Bluetooth connection with the first device, then turn on the connection with the second device. I rarely switch between devices, so this has only happened to me two or three times. I will say, though, that when I have had to switch devices, it was kind of a pain. If you switch between devices during a single listening session, know that these headphones will be somewhat annoying.

My vanity: This is a silly thing, but having the band across the top of my head messes up my hair. Also, the larger earpieces mess up the hair on the side of my head. But I knew that going in, and I still think the trade-off is worth it. There’s a reason I’m not running a fashion or hair style blog. πŸ™‚

Other options: There are definitely other options out there for noise-cancelling headphones that will cost less. My husband has the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones in silver, and in all fairness they are also great while being slightly less expensive. They may be a little simpler to use than my Sony headphones. Honestly, if Bose had another color I liked I might have considered them, but I only liked the silver. I know it’s kind of a lame excuse, but I didn’t want headphones that looked the same as my husband’s.

Also, our son has some Beats Studio headphones. They were definitely less expensive, and I think they work well enough (though I will say that the first pair we ordered him, which arrived just in time for his birthday, were completely dead on arrival, so we had to re-order). I feel personally that Beats headphones on a forty-something adult might look funny. I don’t know why I feel that way. I have no evidence to support it.

All of this is to say that you should definitely shop around to get the ones that meet your needs.

 

I hope this post has helped give you a non-techie perspective on some fantastic noise cancelling headphones. I love mine and use them at least four days a week. I like the look and feel. And I cannot imagine taking another long flight without them. Happy travels (with a LOT less background noise)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 Comments

  • Reply
    Melina
    May 16, 2018 at 11:03 am

    3 members of my family actually have these headphones, and they live for them! I have a pair of old bose ones, and have considered switching to these! People are constantly talking about bose and beats, but I feel like Sony doesn’t get as much credit as they should. Great post xx

    Melina | http://www.melinaelisa.com

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 16, 2018 at 2:34 pm

      Thanks! Yes, Sony seems kind of under-the-radar, but the reviews are great. I’m pleased with my decision.

  • Reply
    john
    May 16, 2018 at 2:10 pm

    You know what, I was trying to source for exactly the same type of headphone. I had problem at my office where everyone is calling everyone’s else. It is super hard to concentrate. Now that I find your review, it entice me to buy one now!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 16, 2018 at 2:33 pm

      I hope they work for you! I love mine. Game changing.

  • Reply
    Emily Kurek
    May 16, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    I have beats and my husband has these, I am ALWAYS borrowing his headphones! Life changing for sure!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 16, 2018 at 6:28 pm

      They keep me sane at my daughter’s guitar lessons. I am here at the music store where there are two guitars, a drummer, and a trumpet playing. I can kind of hear them, but they aren’t grating on me. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Crysta Parkinson
    May 16, 2018 at 5:30 pm

    Great recommendation, thanks for sharing! A pair of these headphones has been on my list for a while, it might be time to pull the trigger and invest in a pair!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 16, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      I am wearing them right now at my daughter’s guitar lesson at a music store. There is another guitar, a trumpet, and a drummer playing, and I can hear them but they aren’t sending me over the edge. I am peacefully checking my laptop. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Rachel
    May 16, 2018 at 8:59 pm

    Noise cancelling headphones are awesome! I have a pair of Bose I use all the time and am totally loving the Bluetooth (no wires – yay)!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 16, 2018 at 9:38 pm

      Bose are very nice headphones! I will NEVER go back to wires on my headphones. EVER. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    Sheree Ho
    May 17, 2018 at 1:18 am

    Thank you for writing this super through review on the Sony headphones. How would you compare them to Beats or Bose?

    xo Sheree
    PoshClassyMom.com

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 17, 2018 at 6:34 am

      Well, I’m not an expert, but my understanding is that the Bose and Sony models I mention are better than Beats for sound and noise canceling. Between Bose and Sony, my understanding is that Sony has more features, but Bose is simpler out of the box. Both Bose and Sony are great quality overall.

  • Reply
    Angela
    May 17, 2018 at 6:30 am

    Oh, this is perfect timing. I was just looking into this last night and I’ll definitely check these ones out!

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 17, 2018 at 6:32 am

      Good to hear it was helpful! Feel free to use my link. πŸ™‚

  • Reply
    alison netzer
    May 17, 2018 at 9:05 am

    I can’t live without my noise canceling headphones. I do own the Bose, and love them.

    • Reply
      Kristie
      May 17, 2018 at 1:47 pm

      My husband loves his Bose as well. They work really well!

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