Help Selecting A Mobile Headphone/IEM/True Wireless

Hey guys,

I’m back again! :sweat_smile:

This time, I’m hoping to make this a much more simple experience, but also to revisit the well for the wealth of knowledge that helped me select my ultimate daily driver setup.

This post comes out of left field for me to a degree. I had sold my Bose NC700’s planning to replace them with the soon-to-drop THX Panda. This was a no brainer for me, fit my goals very well and wasn’t worth a separate post to ask about. Well, Drop pulled the listing last night and closed new orders on the headphones. So, I’m back to the drawing board!

Here’s what I’m looking for/what my use case will be: I have a max budget of $400 (no, this isn’t going the way of my last post :unamused:) and need something that will be used for exercise, mowing the grass and occasional travel/flying.

For me the initial thoughts were Airpod Pro, Bose QCII or something lesser known/higher quality. The biggest issue I need to overcome is bluetooth versus wired (my initial thoughts are to favor bluetooth, but I know IEM’s are a thing and I am open to something that would work for this. Just honestly worried about getting tangled. Thoughts appreciated.)

Let me be clear, there are going to be something that gets used rarely or moderately at most. Most of the time they will be spent in storage and will only be used for the activities listed above. I travel a handful of times per year and like something isolating while doing so (so noice cancelling or closed back at least) and enjoy something that does a great job of masking the lawnmower.

I really would like to be able to drive these directly through my phone using a lightning adapter only (I am an iOS guy and that won’t be changing soon, so the Apple ecosystem integration of Airpod pro is valued).

Any thoughts/suggestions here guys? Also, if anyone has a pair of Panda’s they want to sell, let me know… This might be nice and simple if so!

Edit: @McLovin I think your IEM love could be helpful here. Any thoughts man?

you’ll probably find sweat to be an issue with over / on ear headphones…so I’d recommend some IEM’s with good noise isolation.

Etymotic’s ER2, 3 and 4 series are well known for how good their noise isolation is.


Looks like the Drop Panda has become available again. 3 months until this one ends so I have some time. Since this thread is open I think it’s worth my time to explore these options before pulling the trigger on something.

One line that’s caught my eye is the Moondrop line, specifically the Starfield. How do these perform for the activities I’m looking for? And I guess this conversation strays into the truly wireless/wired discussion and it’s viability. All thoughts of the members are welcome here…

Since usability is really important here, honestly I’d go Airpods Pro. Haven’t seen anything as well “usable” as that, but I could be wrong. Sounded pretty good when I auditioned them once especially for a wireless noise cancelling earphone. The features it has are so nice. I haven’t fully tested how good the noise cancelling on them are, but I hear good things. The QCII is also a great option if you want the best noise cancelling and it is really comfortable to wear on long flights. Although I don’t think the noise cancelling on the QCII is not quite as good as NC700, the QCII sounds better from what I have read and watched and still has amazing noise cancelling and comfort.

If you don’t want to go noise cancelling, I am not entirely sure about the more budget IEMs nowadays in terms of how well they isolate. Years ago the Shure SE215 or SE line or Etymotic were really good at noise isolating, but there are better sounding IEMs nowadays. You can get a cheaper IEM and get custom tips for it, but that is a lot of work and time but will produce the best in terms noise isolation without breaking the bank. I know the ThieAudio Legacy 3 is offered in custom form in Linsoul’s website for $200, but not sure how you would feel about the sound profile.

Edit: I haven’t looked too much into how good the Drop Pandas are so can’t comment on them.

On the topic of Airpod Pro, I kind of agree with you. For the price point, integration and functionality they provide, it feels like it will be difficult to truly top that. That being said, I don’t know the IEM market near well enough to come to that conclusion on my own.

On the QCII, I’ve read/watched the same things and sold the NC700 for most of the reasons you mention in your response. I like the idea of not hearing my lawn mower, but it isn’t an end all/be all kind of thing.

I guess I would summarize my thoughts this way. Noise cancelling is nice, but I would prioritize sound over NC all things considered. These are going to be used for 30-45 minutes at a time a handful of times per week for an activity or two and then for a few hours at a time through an airport/on a plane a handful of times per year. That’s all. In those experiences I want the best sound I can get for the most convenient experience possible. Convenient meaning I don’t want to have to carry some kind of pocket amp/dac or anything to power them. Just want to use my phone. Cables I could deal with if the payoff was worth it (payoff could be a cost savings/value proposition, say a Starfield, or could be a sonic improvement).

So all things considered, do you have an IEM recommendation I should consider in the $250-$400 neighborhood or would you simply go Airpod pro and call it a day?

i suggest the Sony - WH-1000XM3 if u want overear. solid stuff. great noise cancelling and most important audio quality. since the newest revision the m4 came out recently i think that you most likely will be able to find it for a nice discount too lol. I tried both the bose and sony and i think the sony is just a bit more pleasing

Just an update here guys, I’m just going to go with Airpods Pro. makes perfect sense. Thanks for the feedback from everyone!


Sweet, let me know how it is! I am interested to know how well it works with a lawn mower.

That’s one hell of a test, but I will definitely let you know! Haha.