May 24, 2018

Looking for noise canceling IEMs for audio-books on the subway

Hey everyone,
I take the subway to work everyday and I usually listen to audiobooks on the train, but sometimes the train gets really loud. I'm currently using Sennheiser CX 300 II, which has sound quality that I like, but it isn't insulating enough to block out the noise on the train.
Does anyone here have any recommendations <$300?

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I have a bose ANC headphone, and that's effective at drowning out jet drones on a flight... but voices and other higher pitch noises (spoon on plates, serving noises) still make it through.
My UE triplefi IEMs with comply tips are not ANC but they block out everything so much better, and my sound quality does not take a hit like my bose ANC.
Just use some Comply foam tips, they block almost twice as much as plastic tips from my experience. They have different models for different intended uses.

The sound will change a little (boost in bass, drop in treble) but if that bothers just find an IEM that has foam tips packaged together such as westones or shures. That way you can be sure the IEMs are tuned with the foam tips in mind.
If you want isolation and good sound quality look to Etymotic Research IEMs... the ER3XR specifically.
With that budget, may as well go for the Bose QC 20 or 30. They're top of the line on the noise cancelling side, and there's not a huge number of IEMs with active noise cancelling. I'm not a big fan of Bose sound quality, but their ANC is top notch.
Awesome, thanks for the suggestion! Do you know how these are for exercising? Sometimes when I run with my current earbuds the sound gets a bit messed up by me jostling them too much.
The QC 20 is probably a better bet for exercise, since the 30 is a neckband style (but i could see that as a matter of preference). I haven't owned that particular model, but I have used the soundsport, which has a similar structure and it is pretty secure when moving around.

The only thing to be aware of is that every ANC IEM (that I know of at least) has a "box" on the cable for power. It might not be the best match for exercise. Your budget gives you some good options though. For example, you could get the qc20 at list and still have enough left over for something like the MEE M6 pro, which is what I use for exercise or other "hard work" scenarios.

I know you asked specifically about IEMs, so I won't belabor it, but if you went over-ear, you open up even more options for yourself. I get, though, that IEMs are the solution for a lot of use cases, and in my opinion are pretty hard to beat for exercise.
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