Kevin Kyburz Headphones

The Perfect Travel Headphones

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

Bose QuietComfort On-Ear headphones SideBose QuietComfort On-Ear headphones Front

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.

Price

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.

 

Samsung Level On Wireless PRO SideSamsung Level On Wireless PRO Front

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.

 

Bose QuietComfort In-Ear headphones sideBose QuietComfort In-Ear headphones Front

Wearability

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.

Noise Canceling

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.

 

Beats Studio Wireless by Dr. Dre SideBeats Studio Wireless by Dr. Dre Front

Test Winners

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.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Bryan 3. August 2016 at 13:28

    Headphones are personal, so I’d expect a review to be bias to the reviewer. That said I disagree with the outcome :-). I chose between the Bose in ear and on ear, the former are best for me. The reason; I need my noise cancelling headphones mostly for sleeping when traveling, and the in ear Bose have two distinct advantages over the on ear. 1/ the seal to the ear is better and consequently already reduces noise in addition to the noise cancelling. 2/ I can lean my head in all manors of positions, which the on ear headphones would prohibit on comfort grounds or push off. I totally agree the on ear are most comfatable, they don’t clamp like many, if it weren’t for physically getting in the way, you can forget they are on.. You mention the battery for the in ear headphones, I don’t find this an issue, it’s not huge, it’s flat, and located by the plug, so even when using on the move it simply sits back to back with the iPhone it’s typically connected to.
    My additional personal observations, as good as the noise cancelling is they don’t cut out higher pitched voices, like children! Also they have poor or zero focus on the noise cancelling for the other parties when using the microphone for calls (Plantronics Bluetooth Voyegers excel at this), and that’s a great shame, reducing practicality of use in every situation.

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