Headphone serenity

Our road warrior puts 5 noise-canceling headphones to the test.

1 of 5
Creative Aurvana X-Fi
Creative Aurvana X-Fi
There isn't a lot of silence in my job. As the founder and CEO of MindTouch, an enterprise software company based in sunny San Diego, I fly about once a week for meetings and speaking engagements.

I often spot fellow road warriors wearing headphones that play audio and also broadcast a white noise signal at the same frequency as nearby sounds, canceling out most of them. (If it works, you're not supposed to hear the white noise.) Many of my employees also enjoy the quiet these headphones confer in the office. But noise-canceling headphones skew bulky and expensive, particularly when compared with the low-cost earbuds that come with most smartphones and MP3 players.

After I plugged five of the latest noise-canceling headphones into my iPhone over three weeks, my opinion of this gadget category changed -- but just barely.

The first headset I tried was the Creative Aurvana X-Fi ($300). I flipped the power switch and was filled with a sense of peace as the clattering of keyboards and the obnoxious whirring of my office's HVAC faded away. The design was the most appealing and impressive of all five headphone sets mostly because of the futuristic control buttons. That's no small feat, considering that competitors Bose and Sennheiser are both famous for their sleek designs.

The Creative Aurvana features a complicated control panel adorned with glowing buttons and inscrutable acronyms. Younger or geekier users might find this appealing, but I played with the controls and didn't notice a significant difference in sound. One of my audiophile co-workers swore he detected white noise, but I did not, nor did others I tasked with detecting the noise.

NEXT: Genius GHP-04NC
Email | Print | Share  |  RSS
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
LAST UPDATE: Jul 23 2009 | 2:16 PM ET
Sponsored by
More Galleries
Rebirth of America's dead factories Defunct factories around the country are in high demand as U.S. production once again revs up. More
7 hot businesses to start now It's hard to predict what businesses will take off, but these startup ideas have been drawing tons of interest from entrepreneurs and their customers on Thumbtack.com. More
How will a minimum wage hike hit businesses? Thirteen states increased the minimum wage on Jan. 1, and President Obama supports raising the federal rate to $10.10. 4 small business owners weigh in on how an increase would affect them. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.