Contact Us   Site Map
Airline Mismanagement

The new Noisebuster noise reducing headphones perform well, but essentially the same as the less expensive Plane Quiet product.

Either product is good value.

 
 
Travel Planning and Assistance
Road Warrior resources
Noise Reducing Headphones
International Cell Phone Service
GSM cell phone unlocking FAQs
Unlock Your GSM Cell Phone
Portable MP3 Players
GPS series of articles
Should you choose an iPhone or Android series
Apple iPhone review series
iPhone 3G/3GS Battery replacement
Third Rail iPhone 4/4S External Battery
Apple iPad review series
iPad/Tablet Buying Guide
Google Nexus 7 review
Netflix Streaming Video
Sharing Internet Access series
Microsoft OneNote review
T-mobile/Google G1 phone review series
Blackberry review and user tips
Palm Tungsten T3
Motorola V3 Razr cell phone review
Motorola V600 cell phone review
Nokia 3650 cell phone review
SIM Saver GSM Phone Backup and Copy Device
Clipper Gear Micro Light
Amazon's new (Sep '11) Kindles and Fire review
Review of the Kindle Fire
Amazon Kindle eBook reader review
Amazon Kindle 2 preview
Sony PRS-500 eBook reader review
Audible Digital Talking Books review
Home Security Video Monitoring
Quik Pod review
Joby Gorillapod review
Satellite Radio Service
Satellite Phone Service
All About Speech Recognition Software
2005 Best Travel Technology Awards
How to connect to the Internet when away from home/office
Bluetooth wireless networking
How to Choose a Bluetooth Headset
Logitech Squeezebox Duet
Packet 8 VoIP phone service
Sugarsynch software review
iTwin remote access device
Barracuda Spam Firewall review
Cell Phone Emergency Power Recharger series
First Class Sleeper
Roboform Password Manager review
Securikey USB Computer Protection Key review
Steripen UV Water Purifiers
ScanGaugeII OBDII review
SafeDriver review
Expandable Bags for Traveling Convenience
USB Flash Drive
Vonage VoIP phone service
Laptop Screen Privacy Filter
AViiQ Laptop Stands
Aviator Laptop Computer Stand
No Luggage Worries
Pack-a-Cone roadside safety flashing cone
Emergency Self charging Radio
Evac-U8 Emergency Escape Smoke Hood
MyTag Luggage Tags
Beware of Checked Baggage Xray Machines
SearchAlert TSA approved lock
Boostaroo Portable Amplifier and splitter
Dry Pak protective pouch
Boom Noise Canceling Headset
Ety-Com Noise Canceling Headset
Nectar Blueclip BT headset holders
Skullcandy Link Headset Mixer
Lingo Pacifica 10 language talking translator
Nexcell NiMH rechargeable battery kit
Jet Lag Causes and Cures
SuddenStop License Frame
CoolIT USB Beverage cooler
Travel ID and Document Pouches
Protect Yourself Against Document Loss
Personal Radio Service
PicoPad Wallet Notes
Times Electronic Crossword Puzzles
Slim Cam 300 micro digital camera review
Stopping Spam
BottleWise Bottle Carrier review
The End of the Internet as We Know it?
How to Book and Buy Travel
Scary, Silly and Stupid Security Stories
Airline Reviews
Airline (Mis)!Management
Miscellaneous Features
Reference Materials
About the Travel Insider
 
Search
Looking for something else? Search over two million words of free information on our site.
Custom Search
 
Free Newsletter

In addition to our feature articles, we offer you a free weekly newsletter with a mix of news and opinions on travel related topics.

 

 View Sample
Privacy Policy

 
Help this Site
Thank you for your interest in helping this site to continue to develop. Some of the information we give you here can save you thousands of dollars the next time you're arranging travel, or will substantially help the quality of your travel experiences in other, non-cash ways. Click for more information
 
Reader's Replies

If you'd like to add your own commentary, send me a note.

 

 

 

Noisebuster NB-FX Headphones

Active noise reducing headphones
 

Noisebuster is back!  After an 18 month absence, there's a new model of what was formerly my favorite noise cancelling headphones.

But they look very similar to the new Plane Quiet and all the other 'clone' model headphones out there.  Are they truly different, or are they identical?

Part 9 of a series on noise reducing headphones - click for Parts  One  Two  Three  Four  Five  Six  Seven  Eight  Nine  Ten  Eleven  Twelve  Thirteen

 

 

At $69, the new Noisebuster NB-FX noise cancelling headphones are more expensive than the previous version of Noisebuster headphones, and also more expensive than the look-alike Plane Quiet headphones ($59.95 and with a special discount for Travel Insider readers).

What extra do you get for your money?

What You Get

The Noisebuster NB-FX active noise reducing headphones come in an easily opened plastic pack, albeit of a different design to the Plane Quiet headphones.

Inside the pack are the headphones themselves, plus an AAA battery, an instruction sheet and warranty certificate, and a thin plastic carry-bag with drawstring top.  A bold sticker on the outside of the box proclaims and promises 'World's BEST Performing!' (their caps and exclamation).

There is also a double prong adapter that is needed for some types of airline audio systems.

The warranty is a measly 90 days only - a sad contrast to the lifetime warranty offered by Plane Quiet, and inadequately less than most purchasers would normally expect.

Their claim to be the world's best performing is supported by this chart that they provided :

which shows the Noisebuster headphones to offer generally broader and better noise cancelling than three unnamed competitors.

Noisebuster declined to name their three competitors.  Their strange unwillingness to name the other products tested detracts from the credibility of their results.

Battery Life

Noisebuster claim a battery life of 40 hours, but when I turned on their headphones with the supplied battery, they were dead within about 12 hours of being turned on - shorter than the Plane Quiet unit.  Noisebuster told me that the battery must have been bad, and so I did a carefully timed second test with a brand new Duracell alkaline battery, and this time got a battery life close to the 40 hours claimed.  The point at which a battery is 'dead' is rather subjective.  As the battery voltage reduces, the red LED glows more dimly but performance remains much the same.

Comparison with the Plane Quiet NC6 headphones

Externally the two different brands of noise reducing headphones look similar, but not completely identical.  PQ is in black and silver whereas NB is in black and brown.  And whereas PQ has an elastic headband, NB omits this and instead has padding on the band that goes over the head.

Both fold the same way, have the same switch and battery box and even the same cord length and provided battery.  It is an open secret that they are both made by the same Chinese manufacturer, along with several other brands of look-alike headphones.

Interestingly, both PQ and NB, while conceding that external appearances are nearly identical, claim that their unit performs the best because they've uniquely specified improved performance requirements for their respect products.

Joanna Lipper, Marketing VP for Noisebuster, says :

We chose to use the same exterior design because it was a good, workable design and we didn't want to spend the time and money creating a new design and tool.  The design is lightweight and foldable for travel and it just worked for our purposes.

However we have modified the electronics to achieve much better sound quality and active noise reduction performance than the others that look similar to ours.  We would definitely go up against Plane Quiet any day.
 

James Dabbs, Director of Operations for Plane Quiet, says this :

The Plane Quiet is, indeed, manufactured to our own specifications. The industrial design is similar, however, we have developed a strong relationship with our manufacturer that has allowed us to negotiate our own specifications for performance and stringent quality control standards.
 

So accepting these two sets of statements at face value, one would expect audibly different performance, even though the two units look the same.

Actually, there are more obvious differences in appearance than performance!  In addition to the slight difference in headband mentioned above, there is also a slight difference in the ear pads - the NoiseBuster ear pads that sit on your ear are slightly thicker and softer, and so form a slightly better seal than the Plane Quiet ear pads, which let a bit of ambient noise slip through.

The slightly different color - black and brown compared to black and silver - might seem trivial, but after almost sitting on the Noisebuster headphones in the semi-dark of a night flight, I've decided I prefer a black and silver color combination which is easier to see in semi darkness such as on a plane at night.

Plane Quiet's carry bag is thicker than the Noisebuster carry bag.  While I have not yet damaged either set of headphones while carrying them in my case, it is possible that the thicker PQ bag may be more protective.

The two companies have slightly different performance specifications.  Noisebuster says their headphones have an effective noise cancellation range between 40 - 1,200 Hz, with a maximum of 18dB reduction at 100-200 Hz, and the chart above suggests that their measured performance is actually slightly better than this.  Plane Quiet says their headphones cancel noise of 'up to 15dB across the sound spectrum' and also '15dB at 300 Hz' on their packaging and 'up to 17 decibels across the sound spectrum' on their website.

I've tested both headphones, side by side, both in my office where the major sounds are computers and air conditioning, and on airplanes.  I hoped to hear some differences between them.  The following table summarizes the results :
 

Comparison Test

Result

Hiss in a quiet environment

Identical level and sound.

Noise reducing in an office environment

Identical.

Noise reducing in an airplane

Very similar.

Noise Buster has a slightly thicker foam pad that fits very slightly better on the ear and so slightly better passively blocks out ambient noise, but active noise cancellation seemed identical.

Sound level of played music

Identical volume with noise cancellation both on and off.

Sound quality of played music

Almost identical.

Noise Buster might be very slightly brighter, but this might just be random variation within manufacturing tolerances (or my imagination!).


As you can see from this table, there is almost no difference at all between the two different sets of headphones in terms of sound performance and noise cancelling.

Cost

Noisebuster offer them for sale through their affiliated company Pro Tech Communications, at $69.  Several other companies also sell them, but no-one seems to be discounting them below the $69 list price.

Considering they have only a 90 day warranty, this makes them appreciably more expensive than the Plane Quiet NC6 headphones, which sell for $54.95 less a 5% Travel Insider discount (making a $52.20 net cost).

Summary

The new Noisebuster headphones perform well and are comfortable on long flights.

They may be very slightly better than the Plane Quiet headphones, but the performance difference - if any - is almost inaudible.

The Plane Quiet headphones remain our favorite based on their lower net price and better warranty.

If so, please donate to keep the website free and fund the addition of more articles like this. Any help is most appreciated - simply click below to securely send a contribution through a credit card and Paypal.

 

Originally published 19 Nov 2004, last update 02 Jul 2017

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
Related Articles
Noise Reducing Headphones Main Review Index and Introduction
Altec Lansing AHP712i review
Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b
Bose QuietComfort 15
Bose QuietComfort 3
Bose Corp response
Bose reader replies
Coby CV190
Koss QZ5
Noisebuster NB-FX
Phiaton PS300 NC
Plane Quiet Platinum with Solitude Technology
Solitude XCS
Sony MDR-NC11A earbud
Sony MDR-NC500D
Sony MDR-NC60

Related products
Boostaroo Headset Amplifier and 3way splitter
Skullcandy Link headset mixer

Older reviews of no longer current model headphones
Bose QuietComfort 2
Bose QuietComfort
Brookstone
Brookstone reader replies
Plane Quiet Platinum
Plane Quiet NC7
Plane Quiet NC6
Plane Quiet older models
Solitude with Linx
Solitude II
Solitude X
Noisebuster older
Noisebuster Corp response
Noisebuster reader replies
 

Your Feedback

How Would You Rate this Article

Poor
Average
Good

Was the Article Length and Coverage

Too short/simplistic
About right 
Too long/complex

Would You Like More Articles on this Subject

No
Maybe
Yes

Back to Top