I need a pair of noise reducing earphones (you know, the small ones, that you put inside your ear) what will work with my PC and that I can carry around with me to work and back.

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    What is your budget for this? – jtimberman Aug 24 '09 at 23:59
  • I'm willing to settle to any reasonable price. The background noise of all kinds at work is driving me nuts. – Rook Aug 25 '09 at 0:00
  • i hope by background noise you don't mean customers talking to you. :) – Molly7244 Aug 25 '09 at 0:22
  • @Molly - if I could find a model that suffocates them also, I'd buy it without thinking :-) – Rook Aug 25 '09 at 0:43
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11 Answers 11


I use Audio-Technica (these). We went through a major expansion last year with brick chiseling, hammering, drilling and who knows what else, and never had a problem. Just as good (if not better) than their Bose counterparts, and a lot less in price.

I have also used these earbuds , not so much at work, but are very nice mowing the lawn as they also double as ear plugs.

I should note, both I can listen to at my normal volumes and feel like I am in a quiet room.

  • I like the second ones, and the reviews they got ... just placed an order. Appreciate (and all others, of course) the suggestion. – Rook Aug 25 '09 at 1:56

What you want is headphones that offer good noise isolation. The best type of headphone for noise isolation are called "in-ear monitors", sometimes called "ear canal headphones." These are basically like earplugs with speakers built in. These go inside your ear canal and seal out sound from outside.

Note that this is different than iPod-style headphones which are called earbuds and actually sit outside your ear canal.

If you value high fidelity and have a big budget, look at headphones from Shure and Ultimate Ears (my personal favorite). If you have less of a budget but still want good sound, check out the Etymotics ER-6i.

Also, if you just want to block out the background sounds, you might just want to think about getting some earplugs. You can get "high-fidelity" or "musician's" earplugs that reduce all frequencies equally so it's like "turning down the volume", like these from Etymotics. Of course, the regular foamy earplugs will work just fine.

Pretty much any headphone that can be used with an iPod can also be used with a computer. IEMs are generally very efficient and should work fine on a computer. Sealed headphones also work for isolating background noise, but are not as portable and not as effective at reducing sound. Note that some more expensive sealed headphones are "high impedance" and may require a separate amplifier and will not sound good straight out of your computer.

  • +1 for Etymotic ER-6I. Shure are also very good. They sound great, and because they are in-ear, they block out a lot of noise. With In-ear monitors, you don't have to risk hearing damage by listening to your music very loud to block out background noise. – Jason Sundram Aug 25 '09 at 5:41

They're headphones, not earbuds, but I had a pair of Sennheiser PXC-250 noise-cancelling headphones. The sound quality was excellent, and the noise cancelling was quite good. Just enough to drown out most background noise, without making me totally deaf to the world.


Personally I use the $19 Philips - Virtual Surround Sound Ear Bud. I have one pair on my laptop and I have a second pair for on the go. I even use them while Mowing the lawn and they still sound great.


It's hard to say without knowing your budget, but Skullcandy Smokin' Buds are easily the best sub-$30 headphones out there. If you're looking for something more high-end, you might want to look elsewhere, but these are excellent for the price.


look for some silicone earbuds or silicone addons for the earbuds you already have. they enhance the sound quality and greatly reduce background noise.

i'm using AcoustiBuds myself.


I've heard nothing but great things about Etymotic. The Etymotic hf5 are going to be the next pair of canalphones I get, if I don't get their iPhone headset.


I also have Sennheiser PXC-250s that I like a lot, but I don't think that noise reducing headphones do what you think they do. They're best at canceling noise that's a strong, steady noise -- such as the engine noise on an airplane or a lawn mower.

The key is what you have in your headphones. I've used the sounds on iserenity.com more than a few times.

  • Classical music at very low volume :-) I have the door in between me and the vermins (customers), so I believe this will work. – Rook Aug 25 '09 at 1:14
  • If you've got a door, then use some small speakers rather than headphones. In the long term, this will be better for the health of your ears. – Doug Harris Aug 25 '09 at 1:28
  • @Doug - the goal is to not hear the sounds in the background. Speakers cannot help with that. Music in here is just an additional element. – Rook Aug 25 '09 at 1:36

The Audéo PFE are pretty much the best you can get for the price at the moment. Working in the hearing system industry, I know what I speak of and I really enjoy them. The noise reduction is state of the art, and it comes with a lot of spare parts.

If you use them for your PC, you have to be careful tough. The cabel has a normal length, but not a especially long one.


EarphoneSolutions.com is where I got mine. Depending on your budget, style and other factors - I am sure you can find something here and they claim to have the lowest prices which wont be beat though I havent tested that claim out.

I ended up with the SuperFi 5's from Ultimate Ears and my God - they are fantastic. I got mine 3 years ago and the price hasnt really changed much. They are maybe 25 dollars (US) cheaper.


I've had good experience with a little know brand "SoundMAGIC" from China. After seeing excited reviews by audiophiles I bought my Sound Magic PL30 Professional in Ear Earphones for $22 and enjoyed the good quality earphones.

They really are a tight fit, and cancel enough noise to keep you in your zone.

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