Preferred store
Black Friday deals have started. See our list of recommended deals on headphones. Notably the Bose QuietComfort 25 - dropped by $100 on Amazon.
Updated

Our Isolation Score and Tests
Headphones

Score components:

Isolation describes a pair of headphones' ability to isolate you from the outside world. This means that the headphones should be able to block ambient noise from distracting your listening experience and also prevent audio leakage, which can be disturbing to the people around you.

In an office-like environment, well-isolated headphones will not only prevent you from hearing the surrounding chatter and noise but will also prevent your audio from disturbing colleagues. Being in an airplane or on a busy city commute are examples of loud environments that require great isolation in order to not deteriorate the audio you’re listening to.

The isolation score is based on our noise isolation and leakage tests for the headphones below.

Test result

Our tests

Noise isolation

What it is: How much outside noise is blocked out by putting the headphones on.
When it matters: If the headphones are going to be used in a noisy envinronment (airplane, subway, etc.)
Score components:

Noise isolation describes how efficient a headphone is at blocking ambient noise. A poorly isolated headphone will let a lot of noise seep into the ear cups or earbuds, which can ruin your listening experience, especially in loud environments like a busy city commute or in a plane. However, the loud sound naturally overpowers noise of lower amplitude, so listening habits affect the level of noise isolation required.

The noise isolation score dictates the level of ambient noise that will be blocked or canceled out and is assigned significantly more weight in the isolation contribution than leakage.

Learn more about this test.

Leakage

What it is: The amount of sound bleeding out of the headphones.
When it matters: When the listener doesn't want people around them (in office, recording studio, etc.) to hear what is being listened to.
Score components:

Leakage describes the amount sound that escapes the headphones. Depending on the seal achieved and the volume at which the audio is played, the escaping sound can be very distracting to the people around you.

Leakage importance will depend on listening habits and environments. A leaky headphone is fine if you do not plan to use them in public. Some headphone designs even take advantage of that to deliver a more open sound. We assigned less weight to the isolation score for leakage because its importance varies with the listener’s environment and listening habits.

Learn more about this test.

What is not included

We aren't aware of any elements important to this category that we don't cover already. If you feel there is an item missing that should be included, please let us know in the Q&A section.

Conclusion

Isolation describes a pair of headphones’ ability to block ambient noise and prevent audio leakage. Noise isolation is important in loud environments, as it will stop ambient noise from ruining your listening experience. Leakage is slightly less significant, but this depends on your environment and the people around you. The ideal isolated headphones do not allow a lot of sound to leak and efficiently cancel out the ambient noise from your surroundings.

Questions Found an error?

Let us know what is wrong in this question or in the answer.

Email:

Questions & Answers

0 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
Questions Have a question?

Before asking a question, make sure you use the search function of our website. The majority of the answers are already here.

Current estimated response time, based on # of pending questions: 4.0 business days.

:
:
A valid email is required. We answer most questions directly by email to prevent cluttering the site.