I have always been a minimalist when it comes to packing. When you go strictly carry-on you want to maximize every square inch you have for the essentials. Ear buds have always served that purpose well. They weigh next to nothing, take up no space at all and have always worked fairly good for me. Having taken so many 12 plus hour flights recently I began to rethink if the added bulk of noise cancelling headphones would be worth the benefits.
I got to test the perks on a 17 hour flight to Taiwan using an inexpensive pair from JVC. Coming in at the low price of $40 I am sure they may not impress an audiophile but I was looking for function at a price that was reasonable for a traveling pair. So what are they and how do they work anyway? First off they muffle sound by blocking sound to the ear canal. Second they emit low sound, a sort of “hiss” that cancels out other ambient noises. (some people find that the sound emitted can be annoying, I didn’t find that to be the case) This pair from JVC sat “on ear” as opposed to “over ear” meaning they don’t fully cover your entire ear. Its noise cancelling function has a power switch and then enables you to toggle between low or wide band. This function is powered by one AAA battery conveniently hidden in the ear piece.
The Test: I slipped them on my ears and they definitely felt very comfortable with ample cushioning. The sound quality seemed great to this layman. After all the PA announcements were done I powered them up. I switched back and forth between the low and wide mode to find a personal preference. It doesn’t eliminate all noise but I pulled them on and off my ears several times and was amazed at just how much a difference they made. Needless to say I slept a solid 6 hours straight with the help of these. They fold flat making them much less space consuming. They come with a dual prong adapter making them work on just about any airline and even comes with a carry pouch. Overall I thought they worked great and at price that makes those unsure of spending the money an easy option on the wallet.