Travel — especially long-haul travel and even longer layovers — can be a special kind of hell. Aside from free booze, a good pair of headphones can mean the difference between surviving a flight and succumbing to felonious air rage. Choosing the right pair can seem daunting. We’re here to help with a roundup of the best travel-friendly headphones that balance price, comfort, audio quality, and battery life.
RHA may not be as well-known as the likes of Sony or Bose, but it should be. The Glasgow-based company manufacturers some of the best wireless headphones and earphones for travelers. Building on its popular T20 headphones, the new T20 Wireless are no exception. DualCoil drivers promise fully immersive audio with customizable treble and bass boost. Detachable stainless-steel housings ensure they’re durable and ultra-portable for travel. The lithium-ion battery is good for 12 hours of wireless playtime, and Comply Foam ear tips promise a comfortable fit for the duration of even long-haul flights. That design also ensures a level of noise-isolation to boot.
One could argue that Bose defined the noise-canceling headphones niche. These days, the brand has plenty of competition, but it still makes some of the most innovative and best-sounding cans in the world. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are the company’s all-new flagship product with plenty of high-tech features. They, of course, promise industry-leading audio and call quality. Travelers will love the incredible 20-hour battery life (perfect for the longest of long-haul flights) and 11 distinct levels of noise cancellation to customize the listening experience to any environment. The included cord also means you can keep the music going in the unlikely event your flight outlasts the batteries.
In keeping with their atomic-inspired brand, all of Periodic Audio’s headphones are named after elements on the periodic table. Its penultimate Be (as in “beryllium”) earbuds feel minimal and pared-down compared to their flashier competition. There is, for example, no inline microphone, volume rocker, or play/pause control. Periodic instead focuses first and foremost on amazing audio quality. In that respect, beryllium-based drivers deliver, which is why some of the world’s premier audio manufacturers (Revel, Paradigm, and TAD) rely on the material. Second, Periodic takes an almost obsessive approach to designing its ear tips. While it might seem trivial, a proper in-ear fit translates to better audio quality, improved noise isolation, and increased comfort — three essential aspects of travel-friendly headphones. What’s more, the lack of wireless functionality means battery life is never an issue.
For mobile professionals and digital nomads, Jabra’s catalog delivers audio products with all the bells and whistles. Its Evolve 65t are truly wire-free (versus wireless) earbuds that are lightweight, durable, compact, and built for professional, crystal-clear call quality. They’re Skype for Business Certified, and each bud packs four microphones to eliminate unwanted background noise. Given their diminutive size, the five-hour battery life is impressive. The included charging case promises a total run time of 15 hours to keep you covered for (most of) your next long-haul flight. The 65t can also simultaneously connect to two devices so you can talk or listen from both your smartphone and laptop on the go.
V-MODA has long specialized in ear-popping audio products that cost substantially less than its better known, brand-name counterparts. The new Crossfade M-100 Master headphones build on the success of the wildly popular Crossfade M-100 predecessor. V-MODA co-engineered the new cans alongside Roland to guarantee sound quality that’s exactly as the legendary Japanese manufacturer’s sound engineers intended. The redesigned memory foam ear cushions and near-bulletproof SteelFlex 100% vegan leather headband are comfortable and durable. A proprietary CliqFold hinge allows for a compact footprint when folded meaning they take up little space in your messenger bag. The Crossfade M-100 Master headphones can also be personalized with custom full-color or laser-engraved shields.
Professional music studios throughout the world rely on Germany’s Sennheiser for its legendary headphones. For years, the company has made that same quality available to the general public. But, it wasn’t until this year that it finally delivered a pair of audiophile-quality, wireless in-ear headphones. The curiously named IE 80S BT promise premium, dynamic Bluetooth audio with hi-res codec support and the ability to customize the listening experience through a dedicated wireless app. The six-hour playtime will go the distance for most Trans-Atlantic flights, while memory foam earbuds ensure they’ll be comfortable along the way.
If you’re looking for even more durable, runner-friendly headphones with sweat- and water-resistance, check out the best wireless headphones for running.
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