By Don Lindich
Week 28, 2019
Q. In July I am flying to California on a flight that is quite long, almost 7 hours with connections. I have not flown in quite a few years so I am not up to date on the whole flying experience. A friend of mine who is a frequent flyer checked my airline and flight number and told me the airplane has personal in-flight entertainment screens for watching movies and television. He also said I have to use wired headphones to get the sound. The only wired headphones I have are the $500 HIFIMAN Sundara planar-magnetic headphones. Given their expense I don’t want to take them on a plane, and they are open-back models that let sound in and out so they are probably not the best choice for an airplane anyway. I would like to get some new headphones to use with this airplane entertainment system, but don’t want to spend a lot as this trip is costing me a fortune already. What would you recommend for $150 or less?
-L.R., Castle Shannon, PA
A. Noise-cancelling headphones are especially well-suited for flying. They use electronic circuitry to actively eliminate external sounds, greatly reducing the ambient noise from the engines and your fellow passengers and allowing you to hear much more clearly. Some flyers put them on and activate the noise cancellation to create a quieter environment for relaxation, even when they are not using them for entertainment.
ZVOX soundbars and soundbases are famous for their AccuVoice feature that makes television dialogue much easier to understand. ZVOX recently expanded their product line to include headphones, the first of which is the $149 ZVOX AV50 Noise-Cancelling Headphones with AccuVoice. As you can gather by the monicker, these headphones not only have noise cancellation, they incorporate the AccuVoice feature along with it. I was told the AccuVoice implementation in the headphones is much milder than it is in the soundbar and soundbase speakers, but in the closed environment of headphones this mild implementation makes an outsized difference. The AV50 headphones are available in four colors, come with a case and can be used with a Bluetooth or wired connection.
I recently reviewed the AV50 headphones on a cross-country train trip, using them for music and movies from my iPad Pro and games from a Nintendo 2DS. They excelled in every application, and the combination of noise cancellation and AccuVoice is sort of like the peanut butter and chocolate combination of a peanut butter cup. They are completely different, but go extremely well together and compliment each other. With the noise cancellation removing outside noise and AccuVoice bringing voices and dialogue to the forefront to be heard, there are no better headphones for flying. The two features are linked so you do not get AccuVoice unless you turn on the noise cancellation. Even without these features turned on, with the AV50 you have a good pair of conventional headphones that sound excellent with music, movies, television and games. So while they excel at travel, they make excellent general purpose headphones too. Though I have not tried them with a TV yet, I imagine they will also shine for home TV viewing.
At $149 the ZVOX AV50 Noise-Cancelling Headphones with AccuVoice are a hair under your $150 limit, but through the end of July you can save $30 with the coupon code JULY30 and buy them for only $119. The code works exclusively on zvox.com.