We get a lot of people looking for headphones to use in an office environment, mainly to block out the sound of other colleagues so they can concentrate on their own work. A common misunderstanding is that Noise Cancelling Headphones are best for this purpose – this is not the case. Noise Cancelling Headphones are good for cancelling out low frequency humming such as airplane engine noise but they don’t do so well with the higher frequencies that come along with people talking while you’re trying to work.
Depending on whether you want in-ear or full size, the main quality to look for is passive sound isolation – this will essentially block out external sounds without the need of active noise cancelling. It’s worth noting that you probably won’t get complete sound isolation from a pair of earphones or headphones, they are designed mainly for sound quality – but certain models do this better than others.
For those of you on a budget, the Shure SRH240 A are extremely hard to fault. They sound great, as good as headphones going up to £100. They are also closed back and due to having leatherette earpads they also supply a good amount of isolation for the price.
These are probably the best if you want to go down the in-ear route. The Etymotic hf5 is the next step up from the mc5. They do everything their little brother does, but better. The overall sound has more body to it, clearer mids-highs and a wider sound. The isolation has also been improved with an upgraded housing design and a more durable cable.
These headphones are designed with drummers and bass players in mind, so the build quality is extremely good and so is the isolation. The sound quality is impressive, with their own S-Logic technology they deliver a wide and crisp sound with deep bass.
TOP PICK!!! The GermanMAESTRO GMP 8.35Ds are my favourite all purpose headphone. They are practically indestructible, their sound quality is stunning with a neutral sound that delivers a great punch with the lower frequencies and great levels of detail on the higher end. Most importantly (for this article) they have superb sound isolation, possibly the best I’ve experienced from a headphone.
A strong contender to the GermanMAESTROs, the Beyerdynamic Custom One Pros are stylish, comfortable and “drumroll please…” have great sound isolation. They also have superb sound and this can be customised with the use of the bass ports on the ear cups. They are also very sturdy and come with a replaceable cable.
And finally… Now if you still feel that you want active noise cancelling then this is my recommendation. The PSB M4U 2 has it all! As well as its built in active noise cancelling, it has amazing passive sound isolation. They are very comfortable and the sound quality is superb – deep bass and sparkly highs without being fatiguing. Also keep an eye out for their little brother, the PSB M4U 1. They are they same design but without the active noise cancelling, so they will also be cheaper.