1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

I want some noise cancelling headphones to sleep in, sound quality not important.

Discussion in 'Sound City' started by Angilion, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Angilion

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Dec 5, 2003

    Posts: 14,945

    Location: Just to the left of my PC

    This seems like a very niche request, so I'm going to ask for advice here.

    I want to be able to sleep in a moderately noisy environment (TV ~10m away on loud volume with just one interior door in between) while retaining the option of being woken up by an alarm. So straightforward noise blocking isn't a good option since it would also block the alarm unless it was very loud.

    An option I'm considering is noise cancelling headphones connected to a phone/tablet/whatever to play an alarm through the headphones. Since I'll be using them only for that purpose, sound quality isn't at all important. Being able to sleep on my side while wearing them is. The noise cancelling working well enough is. But not well enough to block a fire alarm. Just in case. Although the nearest alarm speaker is about 2m away and the noise is "flight or fight" level, so I doubt if that would be a problem.

    Having said that, if it turns out that there isn't anything to meet those requirements that is also cheap, I'd consider using them as my main headphones too. My Panasonic RP-HTX7 headphones were probably the best headphones <£50 a few years ago, but I have a lot more spare money now and I'd consider spending maybe as much as £150 if the upgrade is really significant. I don't really need noise cancelling at home (my working hours mean that I'm almost always gaming at night, so there's very little external noise anyway) but hey, new toy :) I'd prefer a cheap option though, so I don't end up carrying about a £150 pair of headphones every day (I often doze between split shifts at work and that's where I'd want the noise cancelling).
  2. Marsman


    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,319

    I think the idea of connecting a phone or tablet via cable for alarm purposes is the only way of being able to hear alarm while blocking out other noise. ANC headphones are not selective of what particular noise is blocked and what isn't.

    Good ANC headphones aren't cheap though, hence why Sony MDR 1000X and Bose QC35 are around £250-300.

    Looking at cheap ANC headphones, I do wonder how effective the ANC is when there is nothing playing through the headphones. It's one thing for ANC to be effective when sound is playing, but to work well when there is silence, I would imagine is quite another. That might be something that's only effective with the better quality ANC headphones. I've also seen some comments that some headphones ANC might only work when audio is playing.

    There are plenty of cheap ANC headphones on the jungle site, but quite a few seem to get better reviews than the Bose and Sony's, which makes me suspicious of whether so many 5* reviews and so few 1* are actually genuine reviews.

    Might be worth taking advantage of the jungle site's 30 day return and get a cheaper pair to fit your budget and try them, then send them back if they are not up to the job.
  3. skyripper

    Wise Guy

    Joined: Jul 19, 2011

    Posts: 1,701

    Sennheiser noise cancelling (havent tried the in ear version) do wonders on background noise, air con etc. without music playing.

    Thing is, unless you sleep only on your back and don't move, any headphones are going to wake you when you move and find an uncomfortable lump sticking into your head.

    Try earplugs, the snoring association do some good ones :)
  4. Angilion

    Man of Honour

    Joined: Dec 5, 2003

    Posts: 14,945

    Location: Just to the left of my PC

    That was my thought too. I suppose it would be possible to make noise cancelling headphones that are selective, but that would require a fair bit of processing power in the headphones and even if it is possible it wouldn't be commercially viable.

    Also the line I was thinking along.

    I hadn't thought of that. Something else for me to look out for.

    Another potential problem that I had thought of was driving the headphones. Some devices can't drive some headphones and I'm not at all sure a cheap phone or tablet could drive all headphones. My bargain basement media player won't drive many headphones. I only use it for audiobooks, so it doesn't matter. The headphones I use with it cost ~£10 and are rather poor quality, but fine for speech. I'm thinking that noise cancelling headphones, even at the cheap end of the market, might well have a higher requirement for what can drive them. Unfortunately, I don't know what's relevant - I know that it's an issue, but I don't know why. I need to find that out.

    A common problem. Also, how many reviewers use the kit before "reviewing" it. It seems bizarrely common for people to give a score to something they've bought before they use it.

    That's a thought, although I'd feel like I was cheating.

    They start at £150, though. At that price I'd be looking at an upgrade to my main headphones for home, not something I chuck in a bag to take to work.

    Not necessarily. I sleep (or more accurately doze) on my side with a very cheap pair of over the ear headphones on. If the padding around the ear is enough and the pillow is enough, it'll do. Perhaps it's because the pillow is soft memory foam and thus deforms around the headphone. In any case, it's not ideal but it is adequate.

    I use 3M 1100 earplugs. They're rated for 37dB SNR, which is very good for simple cheap (400 for £18!) earplugs. The problem is that if I wear one in each ear I'm not going to be woken up by an alarm clock. If I wear one in my upper ear only (I sleep on my side), then the overall noise reduction is just fine for reducing background noise enough for sleeping during the day (I work odd shifts) without blocking out an alarm clock, but that's no use at all for sleeping between split shifts at work, where the noise level is much higher. Anything that blocks the noise enough for sleeping there will also block an alarm clock (or, more accurately, reduce it to a level too low to wake me). Ideally, I want something that's very effective at blocking noise but which allows for an alarm to be played through the noise blocking. Hence my idea of noise cancelling headphones.
  5. Marsman


    Joined: Oct 18, 2009

    Posts: 10,319

    Majority of noise cancelling headphones are wireless, so that isn't a problem. You'd only run in to that as a potential issue if using wired. I suspect though that very few wired ANC headphones will require a headphone amp to drive them properly.
  6. james.miller


    Joined: Aug 17, 2003

    Posts: 16,960

    Location: Woburn Sand Dunes

    Would a watch with an alarm function work?
  7. Terminal_Boy


    Joined: Apr 13, 2013

    Posts: 5,392

    Location: La France

    The Bose QC35s are very comfortable to wear whilst sleeping, provided you sleep on your back. If you sleep on your side, you'll need to cut a hole in your pillow or the pressure around your ear will become annoying quite quickly.
  8. PapaLazaru


    Joined: Dec 23, 2009

    Posts: 17,073

    Earplugs and alarm on vibrate under the pillow inside the pillow case. Works for me
  9. vanandjuanunited


    Joined: Oct 20, 2005

    Posts: 5,129

    Earplugs and a cheap fit bit that vibrates on your arm when alarm goes off