Closed-back, over-the-ear (circumaural) headphones were the original noise-isolating headphones. Closed-back headphones seal your ears off from external sound, but the isolation is purely acoustic; noise-canceling headphones use electronics and do a slightly better job of blocking noise.
But there are a few downsides to that approach; noise-canceling headphones always use batteries, and on some models when the batteries run out of juice, the party's over. No more music. The noise-canceling signal puts a small amount of pressure on your eardrums, which some people find uncomfortable.
The other, bigger downside to noise-canceling headphones are their electronics, which can degrade the music's sound quality. Dollar for dollar, closed-back models block almost as much noise, and always sound better.
The closed-back Shure SRH940 is fairly light (11 ounces), and the thickly padded headband and plush velvet earpads make for headphones that are extremely comfortable to wear over long periods of time. The earcups' decorative covers appear to be metal, but there's lots of gray plastic in the design, which is why it feels so light and comfy.
Despite all the plastic, the SRH940's durability seems first-rate. It's a collapsible design with 90-degree swivel earcups for convenient storage and portability in the supplied semihard storage case.
The 42-ohm SRH940 headphones come with two detachable cables--a coiled 9.84-foot cable and a straight 8.2-foot one--and thanks to the bayonet clip mount, you never accidentally yank the cable out. The cables are terminated with 3.5mm plugs at each end, and there's a screw-on 6.3mm adapter for home use. … Read more