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Best wired in-ear noise cancelling headphones

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment

A question I receive regularly is "What in-ear noise cancelling headphone do you recommend for travel?" In 2013 my recommendation was the QC20/20i and that recommendation is still valid. The QC20/20i offers the best wired noise cancellation when comparing it to others in the same price category (and of course being wired).

From a pure noise cancellation perspective, the QC20/20i does a better noise cancellation job than my QC25 but the QC25 does an overall better job because it benefits from over-ear noise isolation. When I originally recommended it, the QC20/20i was priced at $299 but can now be bought for $199. 

Usually the next question I receive is regarding sound quality. Let me be crystal clear. I have never used a good sound cancelling (active) headphone (on or in-ear) that also offered amazing sound quality. The Bose QC20/20i is no exception. It offers amazing noise cancellation and acceptable sound reproduction. 

Size matters

I have taken  both (QC25 & QC20) on flights to test the differences and the most striking difference is overall size. Even with the origami fold of the QC25, it is massive compared to the QC20. 

I don't wear glasses but if you do, the QC20 is even more attractive because it allows you to get a good seal (not so with the QC25 and the headband).

Love at first listen

The real test is how much you use it. Several dozen readers have purchased the QC20/20i (based on emails I received) and everyone of them I contacted as a follow-up said they never leave home without it. One reader is a tech exec that travels over 350K miles a year and said "this is the most used and useful travel tool I have ever bought".

Comparing the QC20/20i to the QC30

I will be testing and reviewing the QC30 soon. Stay tuned but remember the QC30 is bluetooth and therefore it needs batteries.