5/ Sennheiser - PX350
Why they’re good? They are pure comfort. It’s like wrapping your head in a pillow. It’s not far off the silencing a pillow would provide either, with active noise cancelling. A volume control is a nice touch too.
Why they’re not so good: You look like Princess Leia in them and sweat like Jabba The Hutt, it’s like wearing a warm hat in summer. A volume control is nice as it’s there to prevent you fumbling for your device, but this one doesn’t have touch track controls, silly when you're paying this kind of money. The sound, for the cost, really isn’t that impressive and comes out a little tinny and distant with far less bass than you would expect from larger headphones.
Gimme: £150 (RRP £250); iheadphones.com
4/ Skull Candy – Full Metal Jacket
Why they’re good? They look cool with decorative skulls and metallic wiring. They come with a free extension cable too - generous. They have a posh zip case with spare ear heads - does the giving not end.. The noise cancellation is surprisingly good considering they are not active. They are comfortable and produce great bass sound.
Why they’re not so good: They are hard to fault as passive noise cancellers, especially at such a cheap price. If it's possible, they're a little too bass heavy. Perhaps a nice iPhone control button would be another step to perfection too. Yeah, that would be nice, yeah.
Gimme: £37 (RRP £50); easyheadphoneshop.co.uk
3/ Etymotic Research Inc - hf2
Why they’re good? They feature a button that can be used for iPhone control so you don’t have to fiddle in your pocket while sitting opposite a child on the train and inevitably get arrested. One click you pause and play, two you skip forward, three and you skip back. Sorted. They have such good silencing you can hear your feet thud through your body as you walk. Good for clearing out that deep ear wax too.
Why they’re not so good: A tad on the expensive side for non-active silencing devices. Ok they are stupidly expensive for a bit of plastic, but you are paying for superior speaker sound, perfect in fact. they don't call tehm Etymotic Research Inc for not working to find the best speaker sound possible.
Gimme: £100 (RRP £150); apple.com
2/ Shure – SE102
Why they’re good? These are used by the professionals in sound at gigs, concerts and film. They are shaped to fill your ear so all sound is repelled simply by canal filling. Other than the Etymonics, few other in-ear headphones actually achieve that with an astounding silence that is complimented with a perfectly balanced sound, a booming bass and a crisp treble.
Why they’re not so good: This is the cheapest of the SE range with the top end costing £400. They are still professional and serve the layperson but if you’re looking for a bit more you may need to dig a little deeper.
Gimme: £39 (RRP £75); xomy.com
1/ Audio-Technica – ANC3
Why they’re good? You won’t hear a quieter silence unless you climb Mount Everest and, in the silence fo the summit, have your ear drums burst. These use small microphones to record background noise and then generate a counter sound wave to actively silence outside sound. You can sit on a train or bus and not hear any of the usual racket at all… don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for your stop though.
Why they’re not so good: The active sound cancelling uses a AAA battery which can run out at annoying times. Carrying a spare is just far too tech-geek. Isn’t it?
Gimme: £62 (RRP £75); superfi.co.uk