The iGo Premium Noise Canceling Headphones are designed to give you peace and quiet, even in noisy environments. They look very similar to those “old-style” headphones that I remember from my younger days because they completely cover the ear; I’ve become so accustomed to seeing nothing but earbuds due to the iPod revolution that I’d forgotten how much more comfortable and convenient these over-ear headphones can be. Of course the over-ear design helps to block out ambient noise, but I also loved the fact that I didn’t ever have to fiddle with them–they just stayed comfortably in place. That’s a very big positive for me, because I simply hate the way most earbuds keep falling out of my ear at random times. I’m not talking about long jogs either, but when I’m just sitting in a chair reading a book! The iGo headphones are fully adjustable and have plenty of cushioning in the ear cups and under the headband and are very comfortable. They also fold for travel and storage, making them the ideal companion for plane trips.
Of course these aren’t regular headphones, so there are several features to point out. The controls are on the left side, as are the batteries–two AAA batteries are required to power the noise-canceling feature, and the first set is included with your purchase. If the batteries run out you can still use the headphones as normal, but without the noise canceling feature. The headphone jack is at the bottom of the ear cup; you can remove it if you just want the noise canceling effect, or you can plug it in and use it with any device with a standard headphone jack such as MP3 players, DVD players, portable gaming consoles, laptops, etc. A small green power LED lets you know when the headphones are on, so you won’t forget to turn them off and waste battery power when you’re not using them. Just below is the on-off switch and the volume control. The power switch and the volume control protrude just enough to make each one easy to manipulate when you’re actually wearing the headphones, saving you from the annoyance of having to take them off because you can’t do what you want without visual feedback.
I tested the headphones in a variety of situations, from air travel to a noisy office and at home, and found that they performed very well indeed. While I can’t compare them directly with the BOSE noise-canceling headphones (I’m not that rich!) I can say that they performed exactly as I expected and even better in some instances. My last couple of business trips were definitely more pleasant than usual, because with the iGo headphones the horrific drone of jet engines was strongly minimized, as was the chatter of all the passengers surrounding me. I can’t say that I heard perfect silence–I don’t believe that even BOSE makes that claim for their $300 headphones–but the volume of those unwanted noises was so low that it was much easier for me to ignore them. The same is true in other situations, such as the office where I am surrounded by computers and people to an extent that I often find it hard to concentrate, and at home when it seems that every neighbor is mowing their grass and running a leaf blower at the same time, about 7AM on Saturday morning.
If I just want peace and quiet, what I hear when I switch on the noise canceling feature is almost nothing; it’s hard to describe but is like a low whooshing sound, like what you might notice on a windy day when you stand outside. Those computers and lawn mowers aren’t completely gone, but the improvement is huge. Things get even better though when you actually listen to music or plug in to a Sony PSP or Nintendo DS–the music and sound effects are so much clearer it’s very much akin to the effect you get when you see the symphony live instead of listening to a CD. Everything sounds new and different, even if you have the piece memorized; and everything is just richer. Even if you’re not trying to avoid a noisy environment, these headphones would be a nice pick for someone who really appreciates music and wants the best possible experience for their listening pleasure.
The iGo Premium Noise Canceling Headphones are well worth the price at $89.99. While the BOSE headphones are likely better in some way, there’s also no way that I’ll ever pay $300 for them, and the iGo headphones meet my needs even better than I thought they would. They fold for travel, are lightweight, make my music and games sound better, and most importantly allow me to concentrate when I need to, free of distractions. They’ve earned a permanent place in my travel arsenal, but I also use them often at home and at the office. You can get a pair for yourself at the iGo online store; you’ll get the headphones, detachable cable, adapter for airplane entertainment systems, and a drawstring travel bag.