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Special Headphones Bring Respite for Weary Travelers

New Headphones Cancel Out Unwanted Noise

by Rachel L. Miller

The headphones fold up for easy storage in backpacks or carry-ons.

One moment I was sitting in a middle of a loud concourse — babies screaming, people yelling, engines roaring to life. The next moment the entire world was quiet and my music (Chantal Kreviazuk, if you care) was all I could hear.

Sony's MDR-NC20 Noise Canceling Headphones are a godsend for any traveler who values a moment's escape from constant background noise. These headphones differ from your run-of-the-mill headphones in that they feature a special switch that turns on the noise-cancelation magic. In other words, they feature the reduction of outside noise by more than 70 percent (10DB), permitting music to be heard against a quieter background using the Noise Canceler On/Off switch.

So if you still want to be able to hear your neighbor's conversation (hey, there's nothing wrong with being a little curious) or want to make sure you catch your plane's boarding announcement, you can always switch off the Noise Canceler and keep listening to your music. But if you leave that special feature engaged, be warned — you might not hear anything.

I was unfortunate enough to have seat in the back of the plane with a prime view of an engine on a flight back to Detroit. The noise was annoying, bordering on unbearable. I hooked up my headphones (they fold up, making it easy to stow away in a backpack or carry-on) to my CD player and within a minute, completely forgot that the engine was only a few feet away. I couldn't hear a single thing other than my music. It was bliss.