Quiet Comfort

airplane vs. headphones

That’s me on JetBlue Flight 481 to Long Beach, wearing my noise canceling headphones. Sandee saw me wanting them, so she was especially happy to make them a Christmas present to me. And, with all the flying I’ve been doing lately, I was especially happy to have them.

I wanted the QuietComfort 2s not just because I like big, old skool, over-the-ear headphones (I don’t, actually), but because I really wanted the extra noise reduction that design offers. I had tried the QuietComfort 3s in a Bose store and wasn’t convinced they were better. Smaller, yes, but still large enough that I can’t lean my head against the window without knocking them off my ear. That, and I really didn’t want to have to carry yet another charger when I travel — the 2s take a single AAA battery (so carrying extra or finding more is easy), the 3s take a custom rechargeable battery. Still, if the 3’s electronics are really better, I’d like to see them applied to the OTE design to get even more noise reduction.

As it is, however, I’m quite pleased. Listening without music, headphones do a good job of quieting the drone of the plane, and with a bit of music, it largely disappears. And unlike with my iPod earbuds, which I had to run at full or nearly full volume, I can now listen — and hear the music — at volumes from the lower half of the range. What I didn’t like, however, was how bulky they are compared to my old earbuds. Sleeping required new attention to where I was leaning my head; tip my against the window or fuselage and not only would I rick knocking the headphones off my head, but the vibration would suddenly be amplified by the noise canceling hardware.