Shure E2c

How do noise-cancelling headphones of the in-ear variety stack up to more traditional worn over the ear style? The AP's Peter Svensson had a look at a selection on both sides of the tracks and put them through their noise-cancelling paces on the New York City subway. He check out the Shure e4c ($299) and e2c ($109) and the Etymotic 6i ($149) in the in-canal department, and the Bose QuietComfort 2 ($299) and Koss QzPro ($59) on the over-the-ear side. All the phones did a comparable job at dampening the rumbling noise from the subway, but the Shure E4c and Etymotic canal phones were the hands down winners in the middle and high noise ranges (where conversation tends to fall) — the E2c didn't fare nearly as well. Overall the recommendation is to go with the in-ear phones, with one very specific caveat: mind your ear wax. The E4c's actually ship with an ear wax remover for cleaning the part of the phones' canal that tends to get plugged. And, um, you really want to avoid that awkward moment of removing your earbuds to have a conversation and revealing an unsightly glob of ear wax, so like, keep those canals clean, dig? This has been a public health announcement, and we now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

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In-ear headphones reviewed, with an eye on your ear wax