Daily gear deal – $50 off Etymotic Research HF5 noise isolating headphones

Noise isolating headphones are a travelers best friend – they are compact, easy to pack, and don’t require batteries. And affordable noise isolating headphones don’t get much better than the Etymotic Research HF5’s.

Not only do these headphones look awesome, they are available in three different colors and deliver fantastic sound quality and noise isolation.

The Etymotic Research HF5’s normally retail for $149, but Amazon is selling them for just $99.99 after you apply a $50 off coupon code. After you have added the color you want to your shopping cart, simply apply coupon code CED3JMZB during checkout.

The HF5’s come complete with a variety of earpieces, a cleaning tool, shirt clip and a carrying pouch.

Product review – Future Sonics Atrio noise isolating headphones

This product review is going to introduce you to the Future Sonics Atrio headphones, but let me open with a warning – if the idea of $200 headphones freaks you out, stop reading.

However, if you cherish silence on your flight, combined with amazing sound quality, these headphones may be just what the doctor ordered.

The Future Sonics Atrio headphones are passive noise canceling, which means they block noise by physically keeping it out of your ears. The dual flanged silicone earpieces make for a snug fit, but once you get them inserted correctly, they feel great.

Reviewing the sound quality is tricky, mainly because I am far from a audiophile, and I always considered MP3’s to sound “great”. That said – the Future Sonics really did blow my mind. Audio is unbelievably clear and crisp, and for the first time, I was able to detect the weaknesses in the quality of my music files.

The headphones come with more parts than you are probably used to. Included in the padded hard case are of course the headphones themselves, as well as several different earpieces in foam and silicone.

Included is also a cleaning tool, which is used to clean out the stuff your ears leave behind in the poor headphones. It may sound disgusting, but by keeping things clean, your audio won’t suffer from ear wax buildup.

In-ear noise isolating headphones are brilliant – you don’t need to worry about batteries, you can sleep with them on, and you don’t look funny walking down the aisle with red lights on the side of your head. On top of that, I actually find that the audio does not suffer as much, as there are no electronics trying to play tricks with your music.

The noise isolation on the Atrio headphones is rated at 26dB, which doesn’t mean that much to me – all I know is that they manage to block out almost everything that annoys me, including crying babies.

As far as the sound quality goes – don’t just take my word for it. The Future Sonics Atrio headphones are used by artists like Miley Cyrus and Steve Miller, who probably have much higher standards than what my ears are used to.

All in all, a fantastic pair of headphones, that have actually made me rethink the way I “acquire” my music – I’ve started getting rid of MP3 files I had collected that were stored in a low quality, and am even dabbling in lossless audio formats.

The Atrio headphones are available directly from Future Sonics in 4 different colors and cost $199.

Daily deal – Shure I2C-MP noise isolating headset for $39.69

My daily deal for today is for the Shure I2C-MP stereo noise isolating headphones. These headphones combine passive noise isolating headphones with a microphone. The combination means you can use them on your regular MP3 player as well as a compatible mobile phone or smartphone.

They have been tested with the Apple iPhone and the Blackberry Curve, but should work on any phone with a 3.5mm stereo headset jack. If you plan to use these headphones on the “old” iPhone, you’ll need to order a headphone adapter, thanks to the silly recessed headphone jack design.

These headphones normally retail for a little over $100, but Amazon.com has them on clearance for just $39.96. Of course, at this low price there is a slight trade-off; they do not feature a call pickup/hangup button. This means you’ll have to reach for your phone to control the call.

Despite that minor detail, under $40 for a pair of Shure noise isolating headphones is quite a bargain. The advantage of noise isolating headphones is that they are very light, and they don’t require batteries to operate.

The headphones include a personal fit-kit consisting of several different earpieces and a nice Shure carrying case.

Remember, Amazon ships their own items for free (when over $25), and Amazon Prime members can get these headphones sent with 2-day shipping for free.

Daily deal – big headphone clearance at Amazon.com

Welcome to the Gadling daily deal for Saturday. In this deal, you’ll find an assortment of noise isolating and noise canceling headphones in the Amazon headphone clearance sale.

There are some real gems to be found, including these JVC noise canceling headphones, on sale for $37.97 (were $99.95).

Almost all the headphones have a pretty decent rating of 4 stars. As always with Amazon, orders of $25 or more will ship for free and members with an Amazon Prime account can get them shipped with 2-day for free.

Personally I’m an in-ear noise isolating headphone fan, as you saw with my recent review of the Etymotic Research hf2 headphones. But as I said; there is something for everyone in the clearance aisle.

Product review – Plane Quiet Platinum noise canceling headphones

This review is quite a “scoop”; it’s the first online review of the new Plane Quiet Platinum noise canceling headphones. These headphones are developed in the USA by the “Outside the box group”, who have been around for almost 4 years, and have become quite successful in bringing affordable noise canceling products to the marketplace. The brains behind this company are David and Renee Dillinger, David was a commerical pilot and Renee a flight attendant, so they have quite a lot of experience in air travel.

The headphones arrive in one of those impossible to open plastic blister packages, so if you buy them at the airport, be sure to pack a chainsaw in your carry-on bag. Inside the package you’ll find the headphones themselves, a user guide, 2 AAA batteries, a headphone jack adapter, a 2-prong adapter, a carrying pouch and a smaller pouch for storing the various accessories.

The Plane Quiet Platinum headphones feel terrific. There is a good solid feel to every part of them. The headband is covered in real leather, just like the ear cups. Each ear piece folds 90 degrees, making it easy to store them. Each side also has a clear marking for the left and right channel, and they extend 1.5 inches, to ensure you’ll always find the perfect fit.The carrying pouch is made of nylon, and stores the headphones as well as any accessories or spare batteries you want to bring along. Inside the pouch is a strip of Velcro, for attaching the included accessories pouch. There is ample space in the pouch for an mp3 player or other media device. The total weight of the pouch with headphones, accessories pouch and a set of spare AAA batteries is a tad over 10 ounces (about 290 grams).

The audio cord is a generous 75 inches long (190 centimeters), so you’ll be able to use them in any class of air travel, plus you’ll have enough cable to get up out of your seat to let someone go to the bathroom, without having to unplug yourself and miss the only funny scene of the in-flight movie.

In the middle of the cable is the control pod. This measure about 3 inches long and houses 2 AAA batteries, as well as the power switch. With batteries installed, the control pod weighs just 1.7 ounces. The headphone cord goes in just one earpiece, so you won’t end up getting tangled in cords after a nap on the plane.

Of course, the most important part of any noise canceling product is the audio performance, and I’m pleased to say that the Plane Quiet Platinum headphones do not disappoint. The rated noise cancellation level (provided by the manufacturer) is -18dB at 150-400Hz, which is the audio range of what you’ll usually want to cancel on a flight (engine noise).

The best part of the noise canceling electronics in the Plane Quiet Platinum headphones is the lack of “hiss”. If you have ever tried some of the more popular brands (like that big brand that rhymes with “hose”), then you might have experienced a kind of hissing noise when the noise canceling feature is turned on. These headphones do not have that, in fact, when you turn the noise canceling feature on in a quiet room, there is absolutely no distortion to the music at all, it cancels out background noise, without interfering with the audio.

Volume is quite excellent, and even at the highest setting, I did not hear any loss of quality. The earpieces provide a decent bass and my music sounded nice and rich. When testing them, I used three sources; my Blackberry Curve, an iPod classic and a DVD movie on my laptop computer. If you plan to use these headphones on the old iPhone, you will need a headphone adapter since Apple, in its infinite wisdom, recessed the headphone jack.

Since the headphones use decent quality leather ear cups, they isolate the audio quite well, even when the noise canceling electronics are turned off. The advantage of keeping noise out, is that you also keep noise in, which means you won’t have to be embarrassed when you listen to Abba in the airport lounge.

By far the best part of these headphones is the price; at just $99.95 they are a steal, and a third of what other brands charge for their similar premium noise canceling headphones. The Plane Quiet Platinum headphones are available as of today, directly from the web site of the manufacturer. Shipping is free, and you can pay with all major credit cards, Paypal and even Google Checkout.

Final thoughts;
There really isn’t much I can criticize these headphones on. The price is right, the quality is great, audio is great and the package contains all the accessories you need to unpack the headphones and use them right away. The only thing I’d change, is making it easier to open the packaging, but that probably just makes me look a little petty. If you are in the market for active noise canceling headphones, then I strongly suggest the new Plane Quiet Platinum headphones.