Last year I bought my wife a pair of pretty high-end Sony MDR-NC50 noise canceling headphones to take on airplane (business) trips. They are amazing — pristine sound quality for your music (or anything else on your iPod) while tuning down, down, down environmental sounds like jet engines, train whooshing or even construction equipment working down the road. But they also cost an arm and a leg. I occasionally get to borrow them, but they’re really hers and she uses them quite a bit.
So facing a long plane ride to Europe and back next month, I was interested in somehow getting my hands on something similar if a bit cheaper. After checking out various low-end headsets, I settled on the Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 QuietPoint Active Noise-Canceling Headphones, which cost $120 at Amazon. They do a great job canceling outside noise though the sound quality for music etc is not quite as crisp and fantastic as the Sony headphones.
Operation couldn’t be simpler. Plop in a AAA battery, flip a switch and watch the blue noise cancelation light light up. Put the cups over your ears and tune out the world. The set came with a nice hard carrying case and the cups actually fold sideways to fit snugly. There’s also the usual complement of plug adapters for connecting to fancier stereo gear. If you have to make the trade-off to save some cash, I can recommend the Audio-Technica headphones as a better than decent option.