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As a service to fellow travellers I felt that it was time to do a roundup of Bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones. There are some excellent chocies.

Denon  took my fancy earlier this year with a spectacularly retro styled brown and silver Globe Cruiser. It whetted my appetite and let’s say it’s the standard by which I measure all comers. It is by no means perfect but like, say, Apple products, sometimes style wins over substance and this looks fabulous (to me as a baby boomer).

Bluetooth: means it communicates with any other Bluetooth device i.e. smartphones
Noise Cancelling: Yes
Microphone: It uses dual microphones to generate “reverse” noise so means that the annoying background noise is effectively cancelled out. It can also use them for hands free phone calls and to hear what the flight attendant is saying without removing the headset.
Frequency response: 5Hz to 37kHz
Battery life: 10 hours (in theory)
Recharge: Micro USB and works while recharging (good for in-seat charging)
Audio cable: single stereo 3.5mm and dual ‘aircraft” plug (works with 3 pin sockets as well)
Controls: interesting Wheel design – easy to use
Weight: 305 grams (important for long haul)
Carry case: Folds flat to fit into 200(w) x 250(h) x 40(d) hard side, leather(ette) case with carabineer hook
Price: AU$599 but typically sells for around $500

So in summary measure all others against the Denon and if in doubt err towards this.

Klipsh Image One on-ear headphones . Klipsh is about serious sound and the demonstration was very serious indeed. They talk of lossless audio, professional grade and renowned speaker performance. It has a premium feel, nice looks (not as retro and the Denon) but regrettably they only offer noise isolation instead of noise cancelling. The latter is not sufficient reason to disqualify them and you should try to listen to Denon and Klipsh side by side at the store first.

Bluetooth: Yes
Noise Cancelling: No but offers noise-isolation
Microphone: integrated in ear phones
Frequency response: 16Hz to 23kHz
Battery life: 10 hours (in theory)
Recharge: Micro USB and works while recharging (good for in-seat charging)
Audio cable: single stereo 3.5mm
Controls: built into the ear phones and controls calls
Weight: 181 grams
Carry case: Folds flat to fit into a compact case
Price: AU$349

Other contenders

It is difficult to review every product so here are a few more that you may see at the retailer. Many of these are at this local on-line site

Sennheiser MM-550X (approx $599) – well-known brand and offer talk through function like the Denon and Klipsh. The 20 hour battery and 179 gram weight are positive features.

 

 

 

 

Parrot Zik ($499) looks very impressive and may be the ultimate choice. Designed by Philippe Starck.

 

Logitech UE 9000, Sony MDR-1R, Harman Harkar BT, Beats, Creative and Nokia Purity are all reviewed here .

There may be a range of lesser known brands like Xiao, Syllable, Gogo, Beats and Monster (but be cautious as the latter two are more likely to be knock-offs). Prices range from $60+

Mentions: (not Bluetooth but too sexy to ignore)

Scuderia Ferrari R300 appeals to rev-heads in much the same manner the retro style of the Denon appeals to baby boomers. It’s a true red, black and silver Ferrari design that will have people ‘noticing”. Unlike the Denon (ear pads tend to sit on the ears) the R300 fits over the ears offering perhaps a little better sound isolation but also a little hotter to wear. I suspect that sound quality is on a par with the Denon. Regrettably it does not have Bluetooth but I included it anyway as it has remote control cables for most smartphones

Bluetooth: No
Noise Cancelling: Yes
Microphone: No
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Battery life: 2 x AA (disposable)
Audio cable: single stereo 3.5mm, 6.3mm adaptor and dual ‘aircraft” plug
Controls: 3 button remote will control an iPhone, 1 button (play/pause) remote for others.
Weight: XXX grams
Carry case: Folds flat to fit carbon fibre (textured) case
Price: AU$432 at the Ferrari on-line store.

Bose  were probably the first in the field and they have two models – the Quiet comfort 15 (specifications below) and the Quiet comfort 3

Bluetooth: No
Noise Cancelling: Yes
Microphone: No
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Battery life: 1 x AAA (disposable) 35 hours
Audio cable: single stereo 3.5mm and dual ‘aircraft” plug
Controls: 3 button remote will control an iPhone. Optional mobile kit 1 button (play/pause) remote for others ($64.95).
Weight: 140 grams
Carry case: Folds flat to fit slim fit carry case
Price: AU$399

 

 

Klipsh Mode M40 noise cancelling  look the part with Italian “sunglass” styling. Note that the Image One above is available in a lower cost wired, non-Bluetooth version.

Bluetooth: No
Noise Cancelling: Yes
Microphone: No
Frequency response: 20-20,000Hz
Battery life: 1 x AAA (disposable) 45 hours
Audio cable: single stereo 3.5mm, 6.3mm adaptor, and dual ‘aircraft” plug
Controls: 3 button remote will control an iPhone.
Weight: XXX grams
Carry case: Folds flat to leather carry case
Price: AU$479

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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