In a recent post, we discussed the features you should look for when shopping for the perfect headphones for air travel. That post assumed that you want to enjoy a wide spectrum of audio entertainment at 30,000 feet, but what if your needs are a little more specific? What if you mostly consume audiobooks and/or podcasts when flying? Your needs are probably a bit different.
For one thing, you likely don’t much care to dedicate even a modest amount of your carry-on space to larger over-ear or on-ear headphones. So, in this post, we’ll be focusing purely on smaller, more portable earphones that can easily be stashed in your pocket or simply left dangling around your neck when you’re done listening or sprinting to make your next connection.
In terms of key features to keep an eye out for, you’ll find that some remain the same, while others are considerably different. So, with no further ado, let’s jump right into those key features you need to keep in mind when shopping for a good set of earphones to keep the dulcet tones of Jim Dale or Roman Mars flowing to your ears on your next flight.
Noise cancelation is still a top priority
When most people think “noise cancelation,” they likely think of larger over- or on-ear headphones. But many earphones these days also feature sophisticated technology designed to sample the noise around you and block out most of the droning engine noise before it reaches your ears. You might not be inclined to think that’s not as important when listening to podcasts or audiobooks, but it is. That’s because most spoken-word entertainment doesn’t feature much in the way of dynamic range—in other words, there’s little variation in overall loudness. So, without noise cancelation, you might find yourself turning the volume way up on Me Talk Pretty One Day or Hardcore History just to hear it over the roar. That’s a recipe for hearing loss.
The good news is, active noise cancellation doesn’t make for a prohibitively expensive earphone the way it once did. You can find it on models as affordable as Phiaton’s wireless BT 330 NC with noise cancellation, Everplay-X, foldable design and convenient controls or the $69.99 BT 120 NC, which also features Bluetooth wireless connectivity and handy in-line controls. Speaking of which…
Look for easily accessible controls
It’s one thing to miss a few beats of your favorite song due to an in-flight announcement or the arrival of the drink cart. When you’re listening to a good audiobook or podcast, though, you don’t want to miss a moment of it. That’s why good audio playback controls are almost more crucial in this case than in general. You need that pause/play button to be instantly accessible.
That’s part of the appeal of an earphone like the BT 100 NC, which features full in-line musical controls that allow you to take charge of your songs and calls without having to find your device.
Neckband headphones help stave off pocket-patting panic
If you fly with any regularity at all, you’ve no doubt experienced the following at some point: you’re deboarding the plane, anxious to make your connecting flight, when out of nowhere a sudden self-doubt strikes you in the pit of the stomach. Did you remember to bring your earphones with you? You didn’t put them in your carry-on, did you? Did you leave them in the pocket of the seat in front of you? Did you put them in your own pocket?
With a good neckband earphone like the BT 150 NC, you can leave that worry at home. With its comfy collar neckband and retractable cables, the BT 150 NC requires nothing more than a gentle tug when you’re ready to stow your earphones away. And they’re right there waiting for you around your neck when you’re ready to commence listening again. Plus, they feature all the niceties (and necessities) mentioned above, including world-class active noise cancelation and a slick combination of touch-sensitive controls and buttons for chapter shipping, volume control, play/pause, and more.
By Dennis Burger