How often do you fly? If you’re someone who takes flights as often as I do, you’ll need a reliable headset. Sometimes, you want to watch a nice in-flight movie or listen to music. Other times, you need to get some sleep during those overly long overseas trips. But then again, maybe you need to shut yourself off from the din of the airplane. In any case, you’ve come to the right place. I’m about to share with you my list of top 5 best headphones for flying.
Now, you might be wondering, ‘Why is this guy focusing on the best headphones for airplane travel under $100?’ But then again, you might also wonder why I focused on good headphones for flying and not, for example, on the top earphone headset.
The reason I chose to focus on that price tag is simple. Most of the time, one of two things can happen. You can either pay a considerable amount of money for your travel headphones, or you can pay less and get a shoddy product. I’m here to let you know that there are headphones below $100 out there that work just as well as the most expensive models right now.
But before I move on to my list of the best noise cancelling headphones for travel, we need to talk about the ins and outs of headphone shopping. With this handy guide, you’ll know exactly what to look for in your traveling headphones.
Related Buying Guide: 5 Best Earbuds for Airplane Travel – A Greater Flight Experience (2019)
The Comparison Table
|1. COWIN E7 PRO||Active Noise Cancelling and a 30-hour runtime make COWIN E7 PRO the perfect headset for airplane travel.||CHECK FOR PRICE|
|2. Mpow H5||Mpow H5 is an extremely elastic airplane headset that cancels noise well and is the epitome of comfort.||CHECK FOR PRICE|
|3. Paww WaveSound 3||With a weight of 7 pounds and the ShareMe function, you and your friend will both enjoy Paww WaveSound 3 during that long flight.||CHECK FOR PRICE|
|4. TaoTronics TT-BH046||TaoTronics TT-BH046 looks simple and elegant and its performance will make any airplane trip go by quickly.||CHECK FOR PRICE|
|5. Avantree ANC032||Your flight might be long, but you can enjoy hours of music with the portable, durable Avantree ANC032 headset.||CHECK FOR PRICE|
What to Look For in the Best Headphones For Travel?
When buying headphones for traveling (or any other purpose), people usually have a fixed image of what they want in their mind. Or, to put it differently, they have a different definition for the term ‘headphones’ than you or me. Usually, that’s not much of a problem, but it’s still neat to know the different types of headsets. Even the term ‘headset’ doesn’t encompass everything.
Without further ado, let’s dig into headphone types. First of all, a set of headphones is different from a headset because headsets have visible, powerful microphones. Gamers usually peruse them because of their high-quality sound and crystal-clear voice transmission. Now, headphones can also have microphones, but they’re usually minimal. Sometimes they’ll be built into the cable or one of the headphone pieces.
But that’s not the classification of headphones you need. What you need is to know the three primary groups: in-ear headphones, on-ear headphones, and over-ear headphones.
You’ve more than likely seen these headphones everywhere. Also, you might know them by a completely different name — earphones. Each set of in-ear headphones has small pieces that fit the inside of our ears. These sets are perfect for joggers, trendy teens, music lovers on the go… They are perfect for people who need white noise to sleep but don’t want a cumbersome headset to chafe their ears and temples.
However, these headphones have one major issue. Namely, they usually break quickly after you buy them. That’s why you’re better off paying less than $100 for them.
As their name suggests, these headphones fit your ears perfectly. They don’t cover them entirely, but they are far too big to fit inside of each ear.
A decent set of on-ear headphones is perfect for people who work from home. Let’s say that you have an online teaching job or that you have to answer calls daily. On-ear headphones are light enough not to bother your ears for long periods but large enough to give you the best sound quality.
Nearly every gaming headset worth its salt is a set of over-ear headphones. With them, you can cancel all outside noise and retreat into your imaginary little world. I think that these are the best airplane headphones you can get. Each piece will envelop your ear entirely, and the sound quality will blow you away. Also, with over-ear headphones, traveling goes by in a flash.
A paragraph ago, I discussed how excellent over-ear headphones are. However, they share one major flaw with on-ear headphones. Namely, they can be too big to carry along.
Of course, I can make room in my backpack if I want to carry my favorite set of headphones with me, but why do that? Why sacrifice valuable space on something I might not even use during the flight? More importantly, a great headset can break easily, and that’s something I don’t want to happen, not even to a modest headset under $100.
However, taking earphones isn’t the best solution either. We might not break them, but we can yank their cable out or lose them on the aircraft or at the airport.
So, what’s the best solution when it comes to size? My advice is to get a set of headphones with collapsable ear-cups, if possible. They usually come with their storage bags, but you can just put them underneath your seat or in your backpack. All you have to do is collapse the cups on the inside of the headphones to save some space.
There’s one major, even crucial detail that manufacturers forget when they make cheap, crude knock-off headphones. Namely, they make them look like proper headsets, but once you put them on, you feel uncomfortable. Maybe they chafe your head or hurt your ears. They can also have earmuffs that ‘molt,’ i.e., leave fibers or foam particles on your ears or neck. That is not only disgusting but also extremely dangerous for your health and well-being.
The best travel headphones under $100 should feel comfortable. When you put a high-quality headset on, your ears should feel like they’re touching the softest material on the planet. Also, the headband should neither be too tight nor too loose. Moreover, it should also be made from soft, non-toxic material.
But it doesn’t end there. When you’re trying to find the best set of travel headphones for planes, you need to pay attention to their design and their weight. Anything too heavy can damage your ears or have adverse effects on your head and neck. The magic words are ‘lightweight,’ ‘ergonomic design,’ and ‘lots of cushioning.’
Possibly the best indicator for a great set of top traveling headphones under $100 is the way they cancel out the noise. As I stated earlier, your headset must allow you to hear only what YOU want to. However, you’re not the only person that should benefit from noise cancellation. Believe it or not, a headset with this feature can be beneficial to others around you, as well.
Lots of high-end models include some noise-canceling feature, and that includes the best headphones under $100. So, the next time you’re buying a headset, make sure to do your research and see if it has a decent noise-cancelling feature.
It might sound silly to stress the importance of sound quality in a product that, well, reproduces sound… However, many people still ignore it.
Some people are okay with essential, simple headphones that reproduce the sound. However, some music lovers out there love to add a little bass to their tracks. They want to hear the nuances in their tracks, and they can’t do that with bargain-bin products. The same goes for using headsets during phone calls or Skype chats. People we might be talking to will sound nothing like they do in real life. We might have to crank the volume up to figure out what they’re saying, which can damage our eardrums.
Luckily, a lot of headphone models out there offer crisp, clear sound quality. Some of the best headphones for air travel will reproduce sound so clearly that you’ll think you’re in a professional studio. Interestingly, there are even some wireless Bluetooth headsets that perform better than traditional wired ones.
This feature is specific to wireless headphones or headsets with certain extra features that require a battery.
Wireless headphones are usually very pricey. However, you can still get a proper headset under $100. But there’s a catch. A lot of these headsets have batteries that require charging. So, what kind of battery life should you be looking at?
Before I answer that, I should distinguish between runtime, standby time, and charge time. Runtime refers to how long the headset will work when we’re using it. In contrast, when we talk about standby time, we’re referring to how long the headset’s battery will last when it’s not in use. Finally, we need to know how long it would take to charge the battery of our headphones.
You should aim for a headset with a long runtime, long standby time, and short charge time. Any runtime beyond 10 hours is a plus, as is any charge time that’s below 3 hours. However, when it comes to standby time, you don’t have to overthink it. There are headsets out there with standby times as short as 10 hours and as long as 130 hours. Anything between these two is perfectly acceptable.
When I talk about ‘storage,’ I usually refer to individual bags or cases where you can store your headset once you’re done with it. Earphones tend to come with a small linen sack, which you can put away in your pocket. But with giant headphones, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
Of course, some of the biggest brand names sell their headsets with proper ziplock padded bags. They don’t take up too much room and, naturally, their look matches your headphones. More importantly, the padding inside them keeps the headphones safe from damage. These bags aren’t essential, however. After all, you can always put your headphones somewhere in your backpack or suitcase, and they can be just as safe. Nevertheless, these bags are a neat little bonus when you buy the best noise cancelling headphones for airplane travel.
Price Range & Brand Recognition
Don’t leave just yet, and I know that this entire list revolves around headphones under $100. I’m not about to recommend that you buy any headset above that price. If I did, you wouldn’t be here reading all of this, and I would probably use a different title.
All of that aside, why price range? You already have a set price— as long as it’s below $100, it’s okay.
Well, no, it isn’t. While I do suggest that you shop below that price, I have to advise not to go too low. Far too many headphones out there cost a little over $10, but they perform horrendously poorly. You need to find the perfect balance between getting an inexpensive product and getting a proper headset that won’t die on you or cause you harm.
But how will you know what to choose? Well, that’s where brand recognition comes in. Now, most powerful brands like Sony or Philips will not sell brand new headsets below $100. However, there are still top-tier brands out there that specifically deal with low-price headphones. These brands have years of high-quality products behind them, and they almost exclusively focus on product convenience. Your best course of action is to do proper research into the manufacturer of that inexpensive headset you like. If it checks out, you can proceed with your purchase.
Now that I’ve laid out everything you need to know about getting the best over ear headphones for travel, it’s time to move on to the list itself. I have five brands that will both work within your budget AND perform at top-notch quality. Of course, I already have a top pick, but any of these five will work for you if you happen to disagree with my choice.
Editor’s Side Note: Are you looking for studio headphones? Here is a guide on the best closed-back headphones under 200 that we dig into this year. This article talks about the features and necessary specs to look for in closed-back headphones.
My Top 5 List Of The Best Wireless Headphones For Travel In 2019
#1. COWIN E7 PROError: Unknown Link Type
COWIN has had a history of making amazing, low-price headsets. That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised to see COWIN E7 PRO on the list of the best bluetooth headphones for travel. These are some of the sleekest, most amazing-looking headphones I’ve had the pleasure to test out. Still, we all know that looks aren’t everything.
E7 PRO is a wireless over-ear headset, though it comes with a wired option. Without the wire, the headset has a runtime of an astounding 30 hours! However, COWIN themselves advise users to take them off every 2–3 hours, to be on the safe side. When I was testing them, I didn’t feel any pain or discomfort even after a solid 5-hour audiobook binge.
Active Noise Cancelling
The battery life of this headset is just icing on the cake. E7 PRO also has amazing noise cancellation features. When you turn on the feature called Active Noise Cancelling or ANC, all low-frequency sounds instantly ‘switch off.’ You won’t hear any street rumbling, engines, traffic sounds, etc. In other words, they are perfect for airplane trips.
#2. Mpow H5
With a name like Mpow, you can expect much energy from a headset. And with Mpow H5, we have a high-energy over-ear product that can stand toe-to-toe with some of the industry giants out there — interested in finding out why H5 might be the best travel noise-canceling headphones? Do read on.
The H5 is extraordinarily bendy. That’s right; this bad boy has survived a 10.000+ times Bending Test. Of course, when I was testing how elastic it was, I barely made it to 200 times before my arms got tired. The headband just kept enduring the twists!
Of course, bending and twisting aren’t as important as performance. And of course, the H5 passed that test with flying colors as well. The noise cancellation tech wasn’t as crisp as with E7 PRO, but it was still good enough to allow me to enjoy music with no outside interference. Also, the bass and treble both sounded splendid.
Headset Controls & Runtime
Just like E7 PRO, the H5 is a wireless headset with a 30-hour runtime. Moreover, all of the controls you’ll need are on the headset itself. Just flip a switch, and you’ll be cancelling outside noise, answering calls, switching songs, or adjusting the volume.
Design & Comfort
The H5 doesn’t look sleek or suave, but it has that powerful aura to it. You feel like you can cancel out the noise of the apocalypse itself. Also, the earpads are incredibly comfortable, so much so that you’ll wish to keep them on even when you’re not actively using them.
#3. Paww WaveSound 3
Like Mpow, Paww also has a powerful, energetic ring to it. However, WaveSound 3 doesn’t strike you as either powerful or energetic when you first see it. Instead, it looks stylish, almost gentlemanly. It’s certainly the chicest headset on this list. But does it have what it takes to be among the best travel headphones under 100 or not?
Elegance & Weight
WaveSound 3’s elegance is not just surface-level. At 7 ounces, it’s definitely among the lightest headsets on the market today. Its lightweight makeup is perfect for the traveler on the go since you won’t feel it at all in your suitcase.
And speaking of stuffing a headset in a suitcase, WaveSound 3 has a few fantastic portability features. Namely, you can swivel and turn the earpads and bend the headband any way you want. I tested this elasticity when I flew across the country. The headset worked perfectly both before and after I bent it all up and packed it in a bag.
#4. TaoTronics TT-BH046
TaoTronics is not a popular brand, not even among the ‘crowd’ on this list. But even ‘newcomers’ such as the TT-BH046 (TT for short) have a thing or two to offer. So what does TT has in store for us? In short — spectacular noise cancellation, rotational earpads, two types of charging, and a simple, yet neat design.
Features and Benefits
If there’s one detail that many headphone users will notice with the TT-BH046, it’s the design choice that TaoTronics went with. Namely, this headset looks almost bland. If you’re used to having a spectacular-looking headset like the E7 PRO, you might be disappointed by the TT. However, in the case of this headset, the design plays into the function. In other words, the primary function of the TT is to perform well. Looks are secondary, and sometimes the best noise-canceling headphones under 100 will look no better than ordinary, bargain-bin headsets.
Runtime & Two Charging Modes
So let’s talk about performance. The TT has a runtime of 30 hours, and you can charge it in 45 minutes. But there’s an excellent little feature hidden in there. Namely, if you charge it for only five minutes, it will work for a full 2 hours! This option is splendid for short flights, and it doesn’t consume much energy. I tried it myself on a short inter-state flight, and it worked like a charm.
The TT-BH046 has earpads that can rotate 90°, as well as an adjustable headband. The pads themselves contain soft, protein cushions for the best listening experience. Also, the headset is light and elastic enough for you to pack it up and carry it anywhere.
When it comes to noise cancellation, the TT has the capability of blocking up to 96% of outside low-frequency noise. That puts it on an equal level with every other headset on this list.
#5. Avantree ANC032
The Avantree product before you is the very definition of ‘last, but certainly not least.’ In the description of ANC032 (ANC for short), you’ll see that it’s capable of connecting to your TV, PC, Mac, PS4, and Nintendo Switch. In other words, gamers will love the ANC with its noise-cancelling prowess and massively reduced Bluetooth lag time. Of course, we are looking for the best over ear headphones under 100, so let’s see if the ANC is good enough to use on an airplane.
Design & Portability
The Avantree ANC032 is similar to the TT-BH046 when it comes to its design. It looks simple, but unlike the TT, the ANC has a hint of that high-tech charm. The earpads alone look futuristic, and they blend perfectly with the rest of the headset. Naturally, you’ll be able to swivel them at about 90°. And since they are lightweight, you can carry them around anywhere with zero issues.
But how does it cancel out the noise? The short answer is ‘quite well,’ though not as well as other products on this list. Nevertheless, if you need a headset that cancels out low-frequency sounds, you’ll love the ANC.
In terms of comfort, ANC032 is as gentle as they come. The earpads have soft cushions that envelop the ears entirely. Also, the headband can stretch well, and it doesn’t obstruct your head in any way.
Best Travel Headphones are… COWIN E7 PRO
I chose COWIN E7 PRO as my top pick for many different reasons. First of all, the 30-hour runtime had already put it ahead of at least two other products on this list. Next, it’s more durable than the Mpow and has better noise-cancelling tech than the ANC032. But ultimately, it’s the design that won me over. Every single product here has its charm, but only E7 PRO both looks AND performs like high-end, pricey models that go well beyond $100. There’s no doubt in my mind that COWIN E7 PRO is the noise cancelling headphones travel, and I cannot recommend them enough.