Every frequent traveler knows how crucial it is to find what makes you comfortable on long-distance flights. Ideally, you can doze off and sleep through most of the flight.
For a majority of people, this means finding a way to isolate yourself from the surrounding noise.
That’s probably one of the reasons for the increasing popularity of noise-canceling headphones we’ve seen over the last few years, culminating in the recent launch of Xiaomi Mi earbuds with 3.5 mm jack.
It’s probably the second most important release in the niche in the last two years, second only to the launch of Bose QuietComfort 35 back in June 2016.
A shift in technology
Noise cancellation headphones and earbuds started out as niche products but swiftly broke their way into the mainstream. The most likely reason for that are the giant leaps in the technology.
Older, soon-to-be-forgotten, “passive” sets simply relied on extra padding as a physical barrier to cancel out some of the noise. Most of the newer headsets rely on a much more advanced technology - active noise cancellation.
The difference between the two is pretty self-explanatory.
Passive noise-canceling is just a way of putting an extra barrier between you and the surrounding sounds, while the active sets are much more subtle and efficient – you can a more the difference between the two technologies here.
They “send out” frequency waves to meet and nullify the surrounding noise.
The launch of Bose QuietComfort 35 was a milestone because this was the first wireless (Bluetooth-based) set with active noise cancellation that could rival the sound quality of the classic counterparts.
What we can expect over the next few years
Like with any developing technology (and active noise cancellation still belongs to that category) top-tier products don’t come cheap.
Headphones like the Quiet Comfort 35 we mentioned will make a significant dent in your budget (currently over $300).
There are some budget-friendly sets out there, like the PAWW 3, which are the best noise-canceling headphones under $100 as per the tests conducted by thesleepstudies.com, but they can’t really rival the top-tier, more expensive sets.
You can see the comparison of PAWW 3 vs. Bose on thesleepstudies.com here.
So, as the technology improves and becomes more accessible, we’re likely to see a steady decline in prices over the next few years.
A bit more about the new release from Xiaomi
The Xiaomi Mi was launched just a few days ago in China.
If you look at the market, it’s clear that the set is meant to compete with Bose Quiet Comfort 20.
The Xiaomi Mi is an in-ear bud with a 3.5 mm jack. Its predecessor (launched last year) came with the type-C USB port.
Launching a new product on December 12 (12.12) is not accidental. Many Chinese companies do it with their more significant releases since the date is considered to be a lucky charm in Chinese culture.
The Xiaomi Mi features an acoustic system patented by the company paired with a dual dynamic structure for noise cancellation. As per Xiaomi, the combo is designed to deliver a more immersive sound.
The set is designed to suppress noise up to 20 dB, and most sounds you’ll hear on a plane are in that range.
So, it seems that long-distance flyers might find the Xiaomi Mi to be a good budget-friendly alternative to Bose Quiet Comfort 20.
Second-generation of Bose Quiet Comfort 35 - rumors about the release
As reported by theverge.com Bose included a picture of the second-generation Quiet Comfort 35 in their newsletter.
The set is yet to be launched and whether the picture included in the newsletter was an accident or an advertising stunt is secondary.
What’s important is that all the indicators of an imminent launch are there.
The main difference between the original set and the second generation will be the “action button” designed to be used with Google Assistant.
This means that the new sets will allow the user to read and send messages and answer user’s questions (the basic ones at least).
It’s yet unclear whether the added button will allow iPhone users to activate Siri or just Google Assistant for Android users.
The action button will probably be the most significant upgrade compared to the first generation since Bose has chosen to name the sets “second-generation” and instead of changing the series number.
What it all means for the frequent flyer
The news above can only be a good thing for people who prefer to be isolated from the noise and get some sleep on their flights.
The technology is improving, and the new releases are more frequent with each passing month.
It won’t be long before even the best noise-canceling headphones and earbuds are available in the lower price ranges.