Best Noise-Canceling Headphones

Whether we use them to listen to music or talk on the phone, we love our headphones. Sales topped $600 million last year. Consumer Reports tests several different types.

Consumer reports tested 10 headphones with active noise-canceling in a sealed and soundproof room called an anechoic chamber.

A specially designed mannequin measures how well each headphone reduces noise and how good the music sounds.

Testers also evaluated noise reduction and sound quality, but Consumer Reports says choosing a pair of headphones isn't that simple.

"There are different types of headphones, different shapes, different sizes, and of course, price. So you want to consider all those things," said Consumer Reports Rich Sullin.

A pair from Bose is an over-the-ear type that surrounds the entire ear. This design helps seal out noise. And Consumer Reports' tests show they do a great job of reducing it, too. But at almost $300, they're pricey.

Less expensive-headphones that sit on top of your ear. The Sony MDR-NC40 performed well in tests. The design lets in a bit more outside noise.

Tests shows insert-style headphones can offer the best of both worlds.

They fit in the ear canal so they naturally block off sound.

"However, a lot of people just don't like having something placed in their ear." said Sullin. "But if that doesn't bother you, they are a good option."

Another plus-they're relatively small so you can take them anywhere.

Testers recommend the Panasonic RP-HC55 insert headphones. At $60, they're a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

Consumer Reports also tested conventional headphones and top rated the Senheiser PX100 for $45.


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