What are they? The ideal gift for audiophiles and frequent travellers, Bose's QuietComfort 3 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones are a more compact version of the brand's award-winning predecessors, the QuietComfort 2. Designed to reduce annoying background noise when travelling and listening to music, QC3s have a smaller on-ear design that delivers the same audio quality and noise reduction of much larger, around-ear headphones. How do they work? Soft leather headphone cushions use 'memory foam' to conform to the ear, automatically creating a snug acoustic seal. A rechargeable lithium-ion battery lasts for about 20 hours. A single cable connects to MP3, DVD and CD players and in-flight entertainment systems. Why do I need them? Some studies show that even low-grade background noise, such as that from an aircraft engine, can cause fatigue and stress. Many people also damage their hearing by playing their music at a much higher volume than normal to compensate for background noise. Even when not in noise-cancellation mode, these headphones provide exceptional audio quality. Anything else? The headphones come with a dual plug adaptor, a home stereo adaptor and an extension cord for use in various environments, and are comfortable enough to wear while sleeping. And the downside? At HK$3,480, QC3 headphones are even more expensive than their costly predecessors. They do not use standard AAA batteries, but at least their lithium-ion version is more environmentally friendly. Where can I find them? QC3 headphones are available from shop 323B, Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui (tel: 2688 6887) and shop 805, Times Square, Causeway Bay (tel: 2836 3181). See www.bose.com for more information.