Noise Canceling Headphones?

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Does anyone have experience with noise canceling headphones? I think I’m going to need some at work pretty soon before I go insane. I’m surrounded by devices with fans. While the fans are variable speed and I can hack the firmware to slow them down (and thereby quiet them down), I can’t run all my switches with low fans for too long without worrying about things like fire hazards. So I have a constant low, but audible and annoying over time, fan hum to deal with.

My previous experience with blocking out noise are those rubber jam-them-in-your-ear style. They hurt my ears pretty quickly, even with the right sized rubber thinger on them. The regular ear bud style headphones work okay, but I need my music/podcasts/French turned up loud enough that, while I stop worrying about background hum insanity, I start worrying about long-term ear damage. Plus, they start to hurt my ears after a while (though I can tolerate them much longer than the jam-them-in-your-ear-canal ones.)

I’d prefer to avoid Sony because of their recent adventures in rootkits and I’d prefer to keep it under $100 (and actually, $50 is more in my comfort zone.) I’ve seen some noise canceling headphones (Bose) that are $300! That’s a bit outlandish for me, considering that’s about the price of a new iPod.

Anyone? Experiences? Suggestions?

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