Whoever travels a lot and, like me, likes to listen to music on the road relies on good headphones. Since the engine noise on airplanes always bothers me, I use headphones with noise cancelation, which filters out the surrounding sounds so that you hear nothing but the music.
I came across noise-canceling technology by sheer coincidence. On one flight, as I was looking through the duty-free in-flight catalogue, my workmate iFrick pointed out Bose’s cool headphones and raved about them – which is why I immediately started looking at noise-canceling headphones.
For my test, I chose the following headphones, which Brack.ch and Samsung kindly provided for testing:
Bose QuietComfort On-Ear headphones / Price: CHF 269
Beats Studio Wireless by Dr. Dre / Price: CHF 278
Bose QuietComfort In-Ear headphones / Price: CHF 303
Samsung Level On Wireless PRO / Price: CHF 149
Evaluation Criteria for the Headphones
Since price, wearability, and battery life are as important to us as noise canceling, they play a role in our testing and factor into our rating.
As far as price goes, the Samsung Level PRO is clearly in first place. At CHF 149, it’s the cheapest. After that comes the Bose On-Ear at CHF 269.- and the Beats by Dr. Dre at CHF 279.-. Only the Bose In-Ear at CHF 303.- is pretty expensive for its small size. At those prices, all of the headphones come with a bag for storage and an audio cable. With the Samsung Level PRO, the Beats, and the Bose In-Ear, there’s also a micro USB cable for charging the battery.
Except for the Bose On-Ear headphones (replaceable battery), all the headphones have internal batteries that can be charged via USB cable. During the test, I realized that the Beats by Dr. Dre was already empty after 1½ days. The Bose On-Ear never needed charging throughout our 2-month trip. The Samsung and Bose In-Ear held up for a good week without having to be charged.
The Bose headphones were the most comfortable for my ears, with the Bose In-Ear following close behind and after that the Beats and the Samsung. But the advantage of the Samsung headphones over the others is that you don’t need an audio cable, since the connection to the playback device is via Bluetooth.
For the test, we naturally took all the headphones on the plane, in addition to testing them on the trolley, on the street, and in the city. Bose’s headphones stood out in a big way there as well, closely followed by the Samsung PRO. In my opinion, the Beats filtered practically no noise at all.
For me, the Bose On-Ear is very clearly in first place, since wearability, noise canceling, and battery life are obvious benefits. In second place is the Samsung Level On in spite of the lack of comfort in terms of wearability, its advantages being great battery life and no need for a cable. The Bose In-Ear has as somewhat chunky battery, but it’s still comfortable and perfect for jogging. The Beats takes last place because of its expensive price tag, bad battery, and practically no noise cancelation.