Under Construction

Noise Canceling
2016 update:
You should never use noise-canceling while driving, riding a bike or walking in traffic or near train crossings.

Model Price Blue
on ear
CR WSJ mikeCnet
score Noise Sound quality dB canc. sound qual
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 $350.00 y over 20.5 4 y 8.8
Sony h.ear MDR-100ABN $350.00 y over 86 5 5 17.1 4.5 y 8.6
Samsung Level Over $260.00 y over 80 4 4 y
Samsung Level On $180.00 y on 8.8
Phiaton BT220 NC $160.00 y in 76 3 5
Bose QuietComfort 25 $300.00 n over 75 5 4 y 8.5
Beats by dre Studio Wireless $250.00 y over 72 4 4 8.0 3.5 y 8.3
Parrot Zik 3 $400.00 y over 69 5 4 13.1 y 8.1
Koss QZ900 $200.00 over 66 4 4 n
Band & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 $500.00 y on 64 5 4 12.0 y
Sony MDR-ZX770BN $230.00 y over 62 4 4 y 7.8
Sennheiser Momentum $400.00 y over 62 4 4 11.9 5 8.4
Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless 8.3
WSJ - Mute Your Commute: The Best Noise-Canceling Headphones - WSJ June, 2016

CR - Noise-canceling headphone Ratings | Consumer Reports (69 and above recommended)
5 = excellent; 4 = very good; 3 = good

in-ear models will cancel some noise even without noise cancelling technology.

  On long airplane flights I found in-ear headphones caused my ears to itch 
  after a couple of hours.
  On-ear models made my ear sore after a couple of hours.
  My inexpensive over-ear model also made my ear sore, but supposedly
  the better over-ear models are better.

NY Times David Pogue June 14, 2007
The "active noise reduction" technology used by these headphones generally cancels only lower frequencies. Higher ones are difficult to stifle electronically. Whatever upper-register noise cancellation you get from these headphones, therefore, comes from the seal they make with your ears, which is "passive noise reduction."
Not as good as Bose but very good for the price. All but the highest frequencies are subtracted.
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7 $132
Audio-Technica ATH-ANCI in-ear
Sony MDR-NC500D 14dB $400
Panasonic RP-HC500 $100
Earbuds, In-ear monitors (IEM):
Earbuds rest on the area outside the ear canal or may go in a little but do not rely on the ear canal to be held in pace. They are non-isolating; i.e. you can hear more outside noise.
They are better if you need to hear outside noise, for example if jogging on a road or when skiing where you need to hear someone yell "look out" before they crash into you.

In-ear models fit into and 'seal' the ear canal, much like standard earplugs.
According to HeadRoom, "These earphones can sound significantly better than traditional headphones or earbuds at the same price." These are sometimes called noise isolating, because they block more outside noise.

There are also mic'd headsets have a built in microphone for use with a smartphone.

Early iPods did not have very good amplifiers (I'm not sure of the current versions), and a headphone amplifier greatly improved the sound.
Amplifiers - Digital Analog Converters - | HeadRoom Audio
Can a portable amplifier improve an iPod's sound? | The Audiophiliac - CNET News

Consumer reports lumps these in a category called portable headphones which includes some small over the ear models.

2015 ratings:
Wireless in-ear:
Consumer Reports - Headphones Ratings (subscription required)
Polk Audio Nue Era    $90   80  (integrated microphone)
Shure SE112           $50   71
Panasonic RP-TCM125   $10   66
JBL by Harman J46BT   $80   71  ( integrated microphone)
Jabra Rox             $100      earbud (microphone)
Sol Republic Shadow Wireless  $100  c|net 4
Ratings 2011:
Stereo headphone Ratings | Consumer Reports
A sample:
Model Price Score Notes
Klipsch Image S4i in-ear $100 76 Dr. Mac | & mike
JVC HA-FX300 in-ear $55 71
Boise IE2 earbud $100 66
Sennheiser CX 215 in-ear $40 66
Sony DR-EX300iP in-ear $60 66 & mike
Ultimate Ears by Logitech MetroFi 220 in-ear $50 65
Ultimate Ears 200vi in-ear $40 60 Dr. Mac | & mike
Dr. Mac = Bob LeVitus recommendation May 2011 Links:
Best In Ear Headphones - 2011 Gear Guide | HeadRoom Audio
Stereo headphone Ratings | ConsumerReports

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last updated 22 June 2016