Although there are clear advantages of “over-the-ear” headphones such as the famous Bose variety (click here for a review), ”in-ear” headphones are more compact, lighter and (sometimes) less expensive.
The AKG K390NC headphones start badly by referring to this particular model as "Black Mamba", which means nothing - sticking a poisonous snake in your ears is more likely to be less noise-cancelling as life-cancelling. The headphones are connected to a box which clips to your clothes, and you need to do this because it is reasonably bulky and would drag the headphones out of your ears without it, and the clip is a little fiddly, though after a few uses I got the hang of that.
So much for the negatives: there is a lot to recommend. Firstly, there are the different adaptors allowing you to connect them directly into the in-flight entertainment system of an aircraft or simply into a laptop computer or MP3 player. They have a noise cancelling function which can be activated at the flick of a switch – this requires a AAA battery, but if the battery runs down, the earphones continue to work for listening to music. And they come with a neat leather carrying case – quite bulky, but thankfully large enough to fit an iTouch in so you don’t have to worry about carrying two things.
The headphones also work with a mobile phone, and have an in-line hands free microphone with call control function, a mute button if you want to hear surrounding noises, and I thought they were comfortable for wearing for long periods – at one point having them in for most of a ten-hour flight, though they weren’t turned on for all of that time – they act quite well as ear plugs. AKG is over 60 years old, and was mentioned by Dan Brown in the Da Vinci Code. Don’t let that put you off.
Product Details: AKG K390NC Ear canal, Active Noise Cancellation closed back, 3 silicon sleeves, comfort fit, in line volume, iPhone® compatible, in flight adaptor, extension cable, premium carrying case. Titanium
Stockists: Hard to Find Records : http://www.htfr.com/ or iheadphones http://www.iheadphones.co.uk/