Best noise-canceling headphones(Updated November 26, 2013 2:29 AM PST)
These headphones hush ambient sounds by creating frequencies that obviate the noise at your ear. They won't eliminate everything, but the better models significantly reduce the whoosh of airplanes' air-conditioning systems and crowd chatter. Noise-canceling headphones come in all forms, from full size to ear buds, and since you no longer have to crank up the volume to overcome background noise, this type of headphone lets you listen at lower levels. You'll also hear more low-level detail in your music.
While they may not be quite as comfortable as Bose's ultrapopular QC 15 headphones, the Harman Kardon NCs offer slightly better sound and have a built-in rechargeable battery to power the active noise-cancellation circuitry.
Despite some downsides, including a high price, the Bose QuietComfort 20 offers the best noise-canceling in an in-ear headphone and should tempt frequent travelers looking for a more compact alternative to a full-size NC headphone, such as the Bose QuietComfort 15.
Although they won't satisfy audiophiles and purists, we prefer the Soul by Ludacris SL300 headphones over the competition for their sexy light-up earpieces, supreme comfort, and street-savvy noise cancellation.