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looking for the Ultimate MP3 Ear headphones

2724 Views 15 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  ralphael
Just to let anyone know if they were just a bit curious (like I was) on how well does Noise cancelling ear phones work on a motorbike.

Bought a philips SHN060 noise canceling suppression ear buds ($80), and a Sony MDR-NC11a ($140) Noise Canceling Headphones for comparison.

The sony with the stem on the ear bud doesn't fit into the helmet as well as the philips. Also the philips are rated at 40-20,000hz in comparison to sony which are rated 10-22,000, the philips actually sound better. Go figure.

The Sony ones actually sounded better up until 60kph since they were a tighter fit within the helmut but the started to hurt because of the odd shape and size that presses against your ear with the helmut on.

The philips had better bass despite that the package says that they don't go lower then 40hz. Warmer tones, probably because of the lower quality. Better helmut fit because of the size and standard ear bud shape.

Apparently the more money you pay, the crisper the sound, higher the highs etc.

Bottom line on both noise canceling headphones will work up until 60kph then once you are on the highway, wind noise, engine noise makes both headphones sound like tin cans.

I am taking them back as they may be good for airplane rides, but definitely not for biking. At low idling of the bike, the music is bassy and clear, but once you start riding, the engine and wind dominates. Not worth the price of the headphones.

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Go to London Drugs (Bring your wallet) and ask to demo the Shure head phones. $149-$349. Two year warranty and they are the best things I've ever tried.... And i've tried a lot of these things all the way up to the pro series Sennheiser for $900. Billet Aluminum body and the wires are twice as thick as any out there. They block out ALL ambient sound.
Actually, ER6i-etymotic! The i model was meant for ipods and the like. Between the shure e3c and the er6i, I think the er6i has a slight edge in the bass dept, while the e3c's offer a little flatter, truer response. ER6i's can be found at Tom Lee in downtown Vancouver for about $200. They also come with xmas tree cushions, which are the best for ear fit.

Edit: One more thing. All in-ear monitors need to be inserted PROPERLY into the ear canal, or they all sound like shite! I bet the cheapies that you tried wouldn't be too bad if you inserted them correctly. It does take practice, and you just can't jam them in there.
Actually, ER6i-etymotic!
Edit: One more thing. All in-ear monitors need to be inserted PROPERLY into the ear canal, or they all sound like shite! I bet the cheapies that you tried wouldn't be too bad if you inserted them correctly. It does take practice, and you just can't jam them in there.
You are correct. Just found that out with another 3 hour ride, testing 4 earphones.

My mistake was selecting the smallest insert thinking that it had to fit into the ear canal. So after I repacked everything, I unpacked them thinking that I should try the bigger size and sure enough it sounded great.

However... noise cancellation is weird with a motorbike. Noise cancellation (for those who don't know) works by creating an inverse of the outside sound thus cancelling the noise. Have you ever heard an inverse Motorcycle engine combined with wind noise? it goes something like wuup wuup wup...

Anyways, these noise cancellation babies are going back regardless of their not too bad quality, simply for the reason that I don't think noise cancellation is for bikes. Excellent when going at slower speeds, great bass, but once you hit the highway, the inverse sound creates a weird effect.

I tried the Shures at London drugs and they didn't strike me as exceptional (again probably the improper insertion of ear plugs). I'll bring my wallet to LD and perhaps buy a pair for road testing. EC3? and maybe check at tom lees for the ER6i

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I've tried everything. This is the best sollution with the best sound and fit inside a helmet. Much discussion about this in the backposts.

I've tried everything. This is the best sollution with the best sound and fit inside a helmet. Much discussion about this in the backposts.

no offense, but I'd disagree.

the problem is that riding is typically a noisy situation... if you add a music/sound delivery system that's simply meant to overcome the existing noise, you are damaging your hearing even more than just riding.

granted, that if you use earplugs, then add in your desired music/sound at a high enough volume to hear it well, the newly created volume differential is preferable to not using earplugs at all, but I don't think it's good enough.

what you'd really want to do is to have the sound delivered directly to your ears, inside the device that you're using to block out the sounds you don't want.

this would basically limit your options to earplugs with built-in headphones and earplugs with headphone adapter units.
(there are products available that fit that description)

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Just earplugs for me thanks!
Thanks for your feedback but as I mentioned - I tried everything, including $300 Sure earplug headphones. The problem with the earplug units is that they slide out of your ears when you put your helmet on and never seem to fit right once the helmet is on.

Also, the sound quality is surprisingly good from the helmet speakers I posted above. Actually, better quality sound than the plugs, IMO.

Another problem with the plugs is that with the rubber plugs, they have the danger of dislodging from the speaker and sliding in to your ear canal. I know, it happened to me and I had to visit the doctor to have them removed.

The sollution with the X-Pro's is to wear ear plugs with them. Buy low decible ear plugs if you like. This cuts down on the ambient noise and since the X-Pro's really belt out the sound, you can hear your music just fine. It's good to about 240KPH with an aftermarket pipe. Don't ask me how I know this.

Again, I've tried both in a variety of real world riding situations from city to highway and the earplug route just doesn't compare to the X-Pro speaker system.
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my 40 dollar Koss expanding foam ear phones still work great, and sound pretty good for the price.
Have 'em.

Love 'em.

Get 'em.
So after looking at the helmet speakers on the net, I found an article on how one person took a Radio Shack headphone and took it apart to make a helmet speaker.

Thus pique, I took a look at my old Sennheiser HD400 that had lying around and pried it open.... :coffee

Here are the results of my prying :laughing I figure if I cut off the nubs at the back, cover them with a bit of foam and velcro strip it at the back it should fit into my helmet nicely.
Just earplugs for me thanks!
i'm with him and Cory!!
yeah I just mounted the head phones as above, carved a bit into the helmet , fit em snug in the foam, with the helmet on the nice soft foam of the headphones rest right at my ear blocking any unwanted sounds

sounds great and best of all, no sore ears, or having to take care pulling my helmet over some ear buds knocking them loose

I dont care how comfortable, anything sticking in your ear is going to hurt after an hour of a helemet pressing against it

best of all 14.99 at london drugs
I have etymotic ER6i's, and I love them! Best sound, use them everywhere, great on airplanes too....plus that pimp white ipod look..
Well I accidentally destroyed the sennheisers in the pic above by forcing one plug into its socket and accidentally breaking the flimsy contact wire to the speaker.

So I went out headphone shopping again and bought both the sennheiser PX100 and PXC 250 (test purposes) figuring that if I remove all the outer layers I could get them down to 1 cm thick (which is the same thickness as those advertised for helmet insertion).


After stripping the pad, the headband, the nub at the back of the headphones, surprisingly they do measure <1 cm thick. However after careful placement of the ear phones into the helmet behind the ear padding, I found that my ears folded up when putting on my helmet; thus making my ears uncomfortable and hurt like hell when removing my helmet.

After reading through numerous threads on the net, I decided to cut into the styrofoam in the helmet. With the speakers almost flush with the styrofoam, I found that the speakers sounded surprisingly good.

Test results:
The pxc 250 are again the high end noise reduction headphones costing $250. In addition, the volume of the pxc 250 are very low which prompted me to purchase a small battery operated pocket amp from Future shop. With wires dangling from helmet to amp, to noise cancelling battery pack, to mp3 player, I headed out for a 3 hour ride.

Since the microphone for noise pickup is located behind the speakers (which are buried in styrofoam), the noise cancellation is not effective at all. In fact the noise cancelling mic probably picked up the music and probably canceled out the music as well (causing the lower volume).

The px 100 is the best price and quality in sound. Although not as good as an ear bud that isolates you from the world, the px100 buried into the helmet gives a very good headphone type quality sound.

The px 100 was the winner and the pxc250 and the amp was returned promptly. With all wires tucked in neatly into the helmet, the only thing protruding is the connector plug.

If anyone is interested, I can post up this mod to the helmet.

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