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JVC Noise Canceling Headphones

Earbuds and headsets, earphones and headphones -- listening has moved beyond delivering sound to also cutting out unwanted noise. You can block some sound with in-ear buds or over-ear pads, and then go further to add in active noise cancellation to dynamically sample and reduce outside noise.

The new JVC Noise Canceling Headphones (model HANC80, $59) provide a great example of the kinds of features that are now available -- over-ear but still light and comfortable, foldable design for convenient travel, and a neat switchable option between wide (airplane) and low (train / bus) modes.

The JVC headphones have a soft padded headband, with full padded earpieces to help block ambient noise. The earpieces are hinged, and fold and rotate to tuck in flat under the curve of the headband, to a collapsed size of around 6 1/4 x 4 1/2 x 1 3/4 inches and less than 6 ounces. That's a big win when you're cramming your bag for a plane flight.

The headphones are powered by one AAA battery, inserted in the left earpiece. The right earpiece then has a power light, plus the Power on/off switch and the Mode switch (Low/Wide) tucked in along the back right for convenient thumb access. The product also includes a carrying pouch and a dual-plug airplane adapter.

And how well do they work? JVC specs the headphones to provide up to 75% noise reduction. The "wide" frequency range mode is intended for use in airplanes, while the "low" mode cancels a slightly narrower and lower frequency range, such as in trains and buses. And, importantly, they still work fine as plain old headphones even without a battery.

In my testing, the JVC headphones provided a significant improvement using the "low" mode, not only in cutting out rumble on the train, but also in quieting the environment in locations like a bookstore cafe -- just making the fan noise go away.

So if you're interested in a more peaceful existence, you can check out your options in fighting noise -- snug buds that block the ears, larger earpieces that cover the entire ear, and then add active cancellation to get some of that additional ambient noise. There's no miracles here in making all the world's noise go away, but you can find significant improvements.

See more on headsets and headphones in the Portable Accessories Gallery, under Audio Headphones.

    Find the JVC Noise Canceling Headphones on Amazon.com

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