The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones Four models that let in high fidelity instead of jet-engine thrum.
(Business 2.0) – Small Package
Even with the tiny external case needed to house its noise- reduction circuitry, Panasonic's RP-HC50 earbuds easily stow in a corner of your carry-on. Between business trips, the case clips securely to a belt or waistband for treadmill duty. $39.95; www.panasonic.com.
Sony's MDR-NC11 headphones are a testament to well-considered design. The separate battery compartment performs double duty as a remote volume control, and the lightweight earbuds stay firmly put and provide cleaner highs and lows than the Panasonic's. $149.99; www.sonystyle.com.
Slip on Bose's QuietComfort 2 and you'll change your mind about the stiff price. The one-piece, earmuff-style unit--which has its noise-canceling circuitry built right in--provides a rich sound that's remarkably reminiscent of the company's high-end home stereo speakers. $299; www.bose.com.
The Etymotic ER-6 Isolator is an entirely different breed: noise-canceling headphones without the fancy noise-canceling technology. The trick lies in the highly malleable silicone earbud cushions; their perfect fit seals out the background noise that other headphones must work to cancel. $139; www.etymotic.com. --DAN KOEPPEL