5 Noise Cancelling Headphones for Autism
People on the autism spectrum usually have one or more sensory issues. Mine happens to be a sensitivity to sounds, especially bass. Because of this I’ve tried a variety of things to make life bearable ranging from soundproofing my apartment, using white noise machines or fans to sleep, and getting noise cancelling headphones as well as ear muffs and ear plugs.
Noise canceling headphones are great at cutting out low frequency sounds like the hum of a jet engine but can be less effective at the higher frequencies. Because of this, if higher frequency sounds bother you, you may have better luck using cheap ear plugs and ear muffs that you can find on Amazon. But without active noise cancellation, cutting out bass sounds will be tough so if you’re sensitive to bass, you may need to shell out some money for headphones with active noise cancellation.
1 – Sony WH-1000XM2 $350
These do an incredible job of cutting out all frequencies. While they’re close to Bose in noise cancellation, I think they actually do a better job at higher frequencies and also have a lot more features, like disabling noise cancellation of voice so you can talk to people and still block out bass.
2 – Bose Quiet Comfort 35 / 20 $250 – $330 (QC25 – $130+)
Bose is the king of noise canceling headphones, but also the priciest. They were the first to popularize noise cancelling headphones and also create professional sets for pilots. Bose also make in-ear headphones that cancel noise even better than over the ear headphones, but they may be more or less comfortable depending on your preferences. Check out the QuietComfort 20. The wired version of Bose’s over the ear headphones (QC25) are still available and sometime can be found for as low as 130 dollars on Amazon, which is a steal, considering their noise canceling is just as good as the bluetooth headphones that cost at least a hundred more. These are what I use and they’re life changing.
3 – Sennheiser PXC 550 – $300
I have owned a few pairs of Sennheiser over the years and they’re my favorite headphones. I believe they sound better than both Bose and Sony in terms of audio reproduction. Sennheiser also make noise canceling headphones that cost less than this model, but they aren’t as good.
4 – Cheap ear muffs – $15
In terms of getting rid of sound, ear muffs provide the most protection. You’ll see airport workers on the runway wearing these for that reason. You can put earbuds under them and still listen to music. They can be uncomfortable if you’re wearing glasses with thick legs though and they can hurt your head because they press very firmly against the side of your head. Because of this, they can become irritating after being worn for a while.
5 – Ear plugs – a few cents
Ear plugs are good for getting outside noise levels to go down, but they don’t do as good a job of blocking out bass. You also can’t really listen to music unless you put over the ear headphones on and that doesn’t sound so good because the plugs block out some frequencies more than others.