Active noise-canceling headphones can be a sanity saver in noisy planes, trains, or offices, but their high price has kept them out of reach for many of us. The iTouchless Pure-Ear active noise-canceling headphones ($129) offer an affordable active noise-canceling headphone option for those seeking sonic refuge on a budget.
Cosmetically, the iTouchless Pure-Ear headphones look and feel like average over-ear headphones that aspire to pass for a pair of Bose QuietComfort 2. The small earcups and shallow padding on the iTouchless Pure-Ear headphones make them more of an on-ear design, offering less passive sound isolation than true over-ear headphones, such as the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7 QuietPoint. We like how the iTouchless Pure-Ear headphones can fold up into a compact ball for easy storage, although many competitors opt for a flat-folding design.
The iTouchless Pure-Ear headphones include such niceties as a removable headphone cable, iPhone cable adapter, and on-ear volume control, that are great to have. The ability to operate the iTouchless Pure-Ear's active noise-canceling feature without a cumbersome headphone cable connected is a notable advantage if you're just looking for a way to block out background noise.
Unfortunately, when it comes to sound quality or effectiveness of sound isolation, the iTouchless Pure-Ear headphones come up short on both counts. The 40mm neodymium drivers concealed within each earcup of the headphones offer a double serving of low-end thump, but skimp on high-frequency detail. Bass-heavy electronic music such as hip-hop and techno shine, while music requiring acoustic detail--such as rock, jazz, folk, and classical--come off as muffled and lackluster.