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  1. Table of Contents
  2. Intro
  3. Best Headphones
    1. Alternative
  4. Best Mid-Range
    1. Alternative
  5. Best Budget
    1. Alternative
  6. All Reviews
  7. Q&A
Updated

The 6 Best Travel Headphones - Spring 2018
Reviews

Best Travel Headphones for Commuting

Music can ease the pain of daily public transportation and make flights more enjoyable. The best headphones for commuting block or cancel the ambient noise of moderately loud environments, like being in a metro, train or bus.

Travel-friendly headphones don’t leak much so other fellow commuters can’t hear what you are listening to. Since you can spend hours at a time wearing headphones, they should be comfortable and portable enough to not be cumbersome to use while traveling.

So far, we've reviewed 184 headsets and below are our recommendations for the best travel-friendly headphones.

Best Headphones for Commuting: Bose QuietComfort 35 II

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.8
Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

We've tested 184 headsets and the Bose QuietComfort 35 II are the best travel headphones so far. They're a slight improvement over the QuietComfort 35 with more control over their noise cancellation feature and Google Assistant built-in. 

Although the Sony WH-1000XM2 have slightly better noise cancellation, the more consistent overall performance and comfort level of the QC35 II make them a better headset for every day use and commuting. They sound great, they're easy-to-use, and they're one of the best noise canceling over-ear headphones that we’ve measured. However, they can be a bit leaky at high volumes and feel slightly plasticky for their price range. 

If you are a frequent traveler or have noisy daily commutes, then get the QuietComfort 35 II, they're a great travel headset that will not disappoint. 

See our review

More Isolating Alternative: Sony WH-1000XM2

Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

If noise cancellation is your main priority, then the Sony WH-1000XM2 are a great alternative to the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They have a better noise isolation performance and look a bit more premium for about the same price. They're comfortable and have a couple more features compared to the original Sony MDR-1000X, thanks to the new app support. It adds a lot of customization options that felt lacking in the previous model and they have a more consistent sound with better codec support.

They're as good as the QuietComfort 35 II for traveling and noisy commute, but they're a bit bulkier and not as comfortable or as easy-to-use.

See our review

Best Mid-Range Headphones for Commuting: Samsung Gear IconX

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.5
Commute/Travel
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What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Truly Wireless
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

For a mid-range option, we recommend the Samsung Gear IconX. They're good, truly wireless earbuds that are compact enough to fit in your pockets, which is convenient when commuting. These earbuds are also well-designed and look more premium than competing truly wireless in-ears, at a lower price point.

They block a lot of noise with their in-ear fit but do not actively cancel noise. But on the upside, they fare well in loud environments even with their passive isolation, and they have a decent battery life with excellent quick charge capability. However, they're a bit more optimized for Android and Samsung users.

See our review

Over-Ear Alternative: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Type : Over-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : Yes
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

If you want a versatile mid-range option for traveling, then consider the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. They don't isolate as well as the pricier recommendations on this list but they have a sturdy, durable design and an exciting, bass-rich sound. They also have an excellent wireless range and support multiple codecs that make them somewhat suitable for gaming and home theater as long as you have the right Bluetooth transmitter.

If noise isolation is what matters most to you, then the JBL Everest Elite 700 or the Sennheiser HD 4.50 may be a more suitable alternative since they have stronger isolation. However, the Plantronics are more durable, comfortable and have a better performance overall, which make them a great pair of travel headphones. They're also considerably cheaper.

See our review

Best Budget Headphones for Commuting: Anker SoundBuds Curve

Usage Ratings - Version 1.2
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Test Benches: test

  • 1.2: Winter 2018
  • 1.1: Summer 2017
  • 1.0: Winter 2017
  • 0.9: Winter 2016
7.0
Commute/Travel
Show Help
What it is How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
Score components:
Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The best budget headphones for travel we have tested so far are the Anker Soundbuds Curve. They do not isolate as well as the Anker Soundbuds Sport but they have a much better sound quality and a longer battery life. They're also compact enough to easily carry around on your person and bit more comfortable than typical in-ears.

They do not have as many features as the Samsung Level U Pro and you can't customize their sound with an app, but they are surprisingly cheap for a Bluetooth headset and they have a decent performance for their price point. If you don’t want to spend much for a versatile pair of wireless in-ears, then they're a great option. However, if you need a bit more isolation and do not mind a worse sound quality, consider the Soundbuds Sports instead. 

See our review

Better Sounding Alternative: Samsung U Flex

Type : In-ear
Enclosure : Closed-Back
Wireless : Yes
Noise-Cancelling : No
Mic : Yes
Transducer : Dynamic

The Samsung U Flex are also versatile and affordable wireless in-ears with great customization options as long as you have a Samsung device. They won't be as good for regular Android users and even worse on iOS devices since there is no app, but they have a well-built around-the-neck design that feels a lot more premium than their price would suggest. 

They're decently comfortable, have a great wireless range and they're easy-to-use. They're also a bit better built than the Level U Pro but not as versatile since their customization options are limited to Samsung only devices.

See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Bose QuietControl 30. Good travel headphones; portable and comfortable earbud design. Good isolation and sound quality but slightly expensive. See our review
  • Beats BeatsX. A versatile and highly portable around-the-neck design with excellent range and battery life and a well-balanced sound. Slightly limited on Android. See our review
  • Jaybird X3. Good audio quality and great passive isolation. A good alternative to the Samsung Gear IconX. See our review
  • Beoplay E8. Great truly wireless design with a premium build quality and an above-average sound quality. However, they're slightly pricey. See our review
  • Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. Versatile, with many features and a good customizable sound. Average noise cancellation. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 4.50.  An alternative to the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 with a stronger isolation but at a higher cost. See our review
  • JBL Everest Elite 700. Nice headphones for traveling: good active features, strong isolation, and great companion app. Slightly uncomfortable and more expensive than the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. See our review
  • Parrot Zik 3.0. Excellent build quality and versatile active features. Mediocre battery life and a bit tight on the head. See our review
  • Beats Studio3 Wireless. A good travel-friendly headphone with a slick and comfortable design for most use cases including sports. Inconsistent adaptive noise cancellation and no passive playback like on the older model. See our review
  • Mpow Jaws. An affordable wireless around-the-neck in-ear with a decent sound. Cheap build quality may be a deal breaker for some. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best travel headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).

If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for headphones that are good for traveling. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference and listening habits will matter more in your selection, especially if you listen to audio at high enough volumes to drown the ambient noise of your commute.

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Questions & Answers

5 ANSWERED QUESTIONS
4
I noticed your commuting headphones are largely noise-isolating. However, I find that when commuting I need to be able to hear some of what is going on around me. Therefore I need headphones that give me detail without having to be too loud, but that don't completely isolate me. They also need to be able to be driven by a phone rather than a high end DAC. I currently use 1st generation Sennheiser Momentums and am very happy with everything except the ear cup size. Are there any phones you can recommend along these lines?

At the moment our Commute score favors headphones that can achieve the most amount of noise-cancelling. We agree that this may not be the choice for everyone and are thinking of ways to improve this.

We find the Bose SoundLink/SoundTrue over-ears perform similarly to the Momentums, but with more comfortable ear cups. They tend to be a bit leaky though. The Audio Technica ATH-M50x is also a great sounding headphone, but not as comfortable as the Bose.

2
Can you compare and contrast the Bose QC35, the Sony MDR 1000X, and the Parrot Zik 3.0? I am especially interested in which one has the best microphone for use in noisy environments. 2nd priority would be the most isolation from noisy environments.
We haven't reviewed the MDR 1000X yet, and we haven't started testing microphones yet either. However, in terms of isolation, the QC35 should outperform the Zik 3.0 by a small margin, but the ANC in Zik 3.0 will most likely be more comfortable than the QC35. That's because it adapts to the environment and doesn't overly isolate in quiet environments.
0
Will you be reviewing any of the Bowers and Wilkins line of headphones? My friend swears by them for comfort and fidelity, would love to get your take!
We have just placed our order for the P7, and are planning on reviewing it sometime in July. Update: we have the review up!
0
I'm a trap producer looking for a headphone to mix and master on. What do you recommend?
We would recommend a closed-back headphones like the Audio Technica ATH-M50x. But if you want an open-back headphones, then the Beyerdyanmic DT 990 PRO would be our recommendation.
0
I bought the Bohm-B66 mainly because of cost. I would love the comfort of the Bose Quiet Comfort(they just feel so soft to me!) the main reason I'm using these ar for long plane trips but they are not often enough to spend the money for the Bose. These Bohm headphones look nice and sound just fine for what I'm looking for, but they squeeze my head!! Would you recommend something that would be relatively comfortable to maybe sleep on a plane and wireless, on or over ear(the inner ear ones give me terrible ear aches), that doesn't look cheap, but kind of is! Lol. That's a big reason I bought the Bohr. I hope that this question makes sense
We would recommend the Skullcandy Grind if you like the wireless, on-ear design of the Bohm B-66 but find them a bit too tight. The Grind are surprisingly comfortable for an on-ear, they're within the same price range of the Bohm, and they look and feel well-built.

For an over-ear recommendation, the Bose SoundTrue Around-Ear II are just below a 100$ with the same comfort level and a slightly better sound quality than the QC25 but they have no noise canceling, and they're wired.

Let us know which criteria is more important for you; wireless, noise canceling, or comfort and we can better tailor our recommendation for your needs. Lastly, most decent headphones with strong ANC for traveling are above 100$, so you may need to increase your budget if noise isolation is most important.

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