The monotony of your daily commute is always made easier with your favorite jams. And yet, sometimes all it takes is a distracting noise to rudely awaken you from your daydream. While it may be almost impossible to truly escape into a state of nirvana with your favorite songs or shows without any background noises, a helpful gadget does exist to help drown out ambient sounds. What you’re looking for are the best noise cancelling headphones that can make your days more enjoyable.
You might be an avid music lover who loathes the jarring noise of traffic. For those with long commutes to and fro work, you might be making use of this alone time to binge your favorite shows or play some games. Unfortunately, the humming sound of the train can distract you from truly enjoying this sacred time alone. Or you might simply just want to escape from the noise around you while you’re working, particularly with the rise of working from home trend these days. Whether it be that you prefer in-ear, over-ear, or on-ear headphones, or if you’re looking for something stylish, or affordable noise cancelling headphones, we’ve got something for you.
Many noise cancelling headphones play a vital role to create some silence in giving you some peace on working hours. The headphones can limit unwanted sounds affecting your focus, like the sound of an airplane. However, while a pair of noise-cancelling headphones greatly reduces unchanging sounds, like the whir of a fan, they do not fully remove noise. More complex sounds with undulating frequencies such as people talking can be hard to remove completely.
Now that you know a little better about noise-cancelling headphones, let us get started on the some of the best noise cancelling headphones we’ve found for you!
Best All Around Headphones
It is impossible to start the list of best noise cancelling headphones without Sony noise cancelling headphones, WH-1000XM3. After all, it has already been voted the best noise cancelling headphone in the world for two years running. Its noise-canceling features are wonderful, and also features an all-round package to deliver a rich, musical sound.
WH1000XM3 is extremely comfortable to wear with its cushioned earbuds. It is one of the best noise cancelling headphones among many other models of Sony’s headphones. Dynamic sound quality is produced for 30-hours in a single charge. It is wireless and has built-in controls featuring a mic and a touchpad. The touch controls let you activate voice assistants and other specs, allowing you to phone calls hands-free.
These headphones are also great for travel due to its ergonomic design. This is especially if you are a frequent flyer, for its Atmospheric Pressure Optimiser can detect the air pressure in an airplane and optimize the noise-canceling function accordingly. It will give a soundproof experience for almost two days.
You can even adjust the ambient sound to listen to things you want to hear, specifically people’s voice, with the voice focus feature. For instance, if you’re in a train but don’t want to be disturbed by the train rumble over the tracks but want to hear the train announcement, this is a great feature to have. With it, you can safely listen to your music on the train without missing the next station!
Best for Audiophiles
Shure AONIC 50
Shure AONIC 50 is a premium set of over-ear headphones that focuses on delivering the best sound quality. The headset supports all the major Bluetooth codecs, which allows one to listen to only the best quality audio no matter which device they are using. Every lows, mids, and highs will be beautifully harmonized, allowing you to enjoy music to the fullest. You can also connect up to two devices at a time. So, you’ll be able to stay alert to upcoming calls on your phone even as you listen to music on your laptop as you work.
The battery life is decent at 20 hours with the noise canceling function on. And the noise canceling performance is nothing short of exceptional, especially in terms of filtering out low-frequency noises like outside traffic. However, turning on the noise-canceling feature does increase the music volume level as well.
There are no headphones more sound-centric than AONIC 50. Besides having adjustable active noise cancelation, they even have adjustable environment mode. In fact, there are 10 levels of environment mode for you to toggle. And the highest setting can actually make even a hand clap sound piercing! On the other hand, noise cancelation only has two settings, ‘normal’ or ‘max’.
The microphone however, is not able to block out background noises as well. It may even amplify high-pitched sounds, which can add noise to a phone call.
Best Over-ear Style
Master & Dynamic MW65
Made out of high-quality, light materials, MW65 is a luxurious noise cancelling headphones at a premium cost of 499 dollars. Unlike usual headphones which are made of plastic, this premium headphone is crafted with stunning anodized aluminum accents and fine leathers. With this set of headphones, you need no other accessories.
And it not only looks stylish, it also has exceptional acoustics. It delivers a perfect balance of bass, mids, and highs to your ears, making it suitable for listening to nearly all music genres, even classical music. While its active noise canceling feature may not be able to fully block out external sounds even when set on high, you will find the audio sounding even more richer and fuller with it switched on.
Its Bluetooth range is also impressive at over 20 meters, and comes with aptX support. You will also be able to connect to two devices simultaneously with these headphones. The battery also has a decent lifespan of around 20 hours with the noise-canceling function switched on. Furthermore, you only need to charge for 15 minutes to get 12 full hours of battery life, which is perfect for busy bees on the go.
If you are not the kind to sacrifice style over comfort and enjoy great music, you would love showing off these gorgeous set of headphones that will have everyone’s eyes on you.
Best In-ear Headphones
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
For those fashionistas who prefer a more discreet in-ear headphones look, Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 is made for you. Compared to the dopey-looking AirPods Pro and the chunky Sony WF-1000XM3, the design of True Wireless 2 is truly an aesthetic dream. The rounded shape adorned with shiny silver platings add a subtle flash to your ears without being too ostentatious, as can be the case with over-ear headphones.
With four different sizes of silicone ear tips, you should have no trouble finding one to fit your ears. Moreover, if you’re a runner, this pair of earbuds will be perfect to bring out for a run, being sweat-proof. The battery life is also pretty amazing, with 7 hours of juice in the earbuds and 21 hours from the charging case.
Aside from the beautiful design and long-lasting battery life, you can also expect excellent sound quality with rich, detailed sounds. Moreover, it also has a convenient auto-pause function for your music whenever you remove the earbuds from your ears. The active noise canceling performance is nothing short of superb as well, with a transparency mode for you to toggle on and off.
Excellent for Voice Calls
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Bose 700 is a premium next-gen wireless noise-cancelling headphones with a crystal-clear sound. What’s the most impressive about these headphones is that you can fully customize your desired noise cancellation effect with 11 levels. The difference between level 0 and 10 is the range of noise-canceling performance from full transparency to full noise cancellation. At level 0, the full transparency level, you will be able to hear the background sound as if you aren’t using headphones. And at the maximum level 10, the ambient sound around you is fully eliminated.
The device is lightweight and fits perfectly with its angled ear cups made of plush protein leather for long listening sessions. It is stylish and keeps you connected for up to 20 hours. The right earcup has touch sensors to let you manage phone calls without touching your phone. Its microphone system delivers crystal clear calls unlike any other headphones. A total of ten mics work together to improve the clarity of your voice while canceling the sound around you so that the caller and you can hear each other better.
In addition, you can connect Bose 700 with a Bose Soundbar 500 or 700 at once with the help of Bose SimpleSync technology. Switch on your compatible devices into pairing mode, and then open the Bose music app. From then on, you can enjoy watching a movie on-screen without disturbing someone in the room.
Best Budget Noise Cancelling Headphones
Lindy BNX-60 is a pair of great noise cancelling headphones for budget buyers. In fact, they’re easily among the best affordable noise cancelling headphones under 200.
For BNX-60’s price, they have a plethora of functions, from apt-X to Bluetooth, and of course, an active noise-canceling feature. They’re charged via USB, which make them more convenient than wireless headphones requiring AAA batteries. The battery life is not the longest however, lasting around 15 hours after a full charge with active noise-canceling and Bluetooth on. Also, it isn’t exactly the most comfortable pair of headphones to wear for extended period of time.
Despite BNX-60’s price however, you will be pleasantly surprised by the sound they deliver. While the sounds may not be fantastic, at the very least, they are well-balanced. And when it comes to noise cancelation, while they may not be able to compete with more premium competitors like Bose and Sony, they still do a decent job of nullifying external noise for the pricing.
Best for iPhone Users
Apple AirPods Pro
Apple AirPods Pro has become a great rival of Sony noise cancelling headphones over the years. If you are an iPhone user, the AirPods Pro are the best noise cancelling headphones for you, for like any Apple product, they’re made to be optimized for iPhones.
As they are made of sweat resistant material, they’re definitely great for cardio lovers and gym rats. Also, as a wireless alternative to usual earphones, you won’t feel the wire tugging as you run, which makes it much more comfortable for you. The silicone tips are also designed in three different sizes to accommodate different ears.
The headphones also feature a built-in transparency mode which can be toggled on and off. If you turn it off, you can hear the surroundings around you. The battery life of the earbuds, however, is considerably short at 4.5 hours with the active noise cancelation feature and transparency mode on. With the charging case however, the battery life gets extended to a further 19 hours.
There is an interesting feature in the Airpods Pro that allows for social bonding, Audio Sharing. Through this feature, you and your fellow Airpod Pro-user friend can actually share the same audio. With it, you can listen to songs, play a game, or watch a video together!
Best Value Noise Cancelling Headphones
Philips Audio PH805
Philips Audio PH805 is one of the best noise cancelling headphones under 200 with both good looks and functionality.
Apart from the decent price tag, PH805 has an edge over many competitors in the market. Firstly, they offer a relatively long battery life that lasts for 30 hours of playtime, and 25 hours when all features are on. Also, the headphones power up in less than two hours with rapid charging. Besides, PH805 is battery-powered for on-the-go listening sessions.
The touch controls and physical buttons on the ear cups also give you full control over the sound, be it adjusting the volume or activating Awareness Mode for you to hear the surrounding environment. They also have a built-in mic for hands-free setup. Moreover, the headphones also provide you with a digital voice assistant to assist you for an even more seamless hands-free experience.
Unlike the other noise cancelling headphones however, PH805 lacks in dynamic sound and its noise cancellation is not particularly effective. Also, they weighs heavier even when folded flat during storage.
If you are a budget Barbie who’s constantly on the lookout for a pair of gorgeous headphones that actually is worth more than what you pay for, PH 805 is for you. In terms of looks and sound quality, PH 805 is great value. Though if you are more concerned about noise cancelation, PH 805 might not be the best.
Best In-Ear Headphones
Sony WF-1000XM3 True Wireless Earbuds
If you’re not an Apple fan and looking for a pair of earbuds that are considerably less buffoonish, look no further than Sony WF-1000XM3. Aside from their simple yet sleek design, the earbuds ergonomic structure ensures a snug fit that is reasonably comfortable. The expansive range of different-sized non-slip earbuds also gives you the option to find a pair that best fit your ears.
The dual microphones in the earbuds also allow for more effective noise-cancelation, fully removing any ambient sounds around you. While the noise-canceling power may still be weak as compared to over-ear headphones, WF-1000XM3 is the best noise cancelling in-ear headphones you can find in the market right now.
If you find lugging over-ear headphones around a hassle, these pint-sized buds might just be the perfect headphones for you. The battery life of the earbuds is 6 hours with an extra 18-hour of juice from the charging case. The charging case also includes a quick charge mode of 10 minutes which gives you an additional 90 minutes of power.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones for Travel
Sennheiser PXC 550
PXC 550 is the best noise cancelling headphones you can buy at a premium. Their compact, foldable design and long battery life of 30 hours also make them among the best noise cancelling headphones for travel.
Besides the great battery life, PXC 550 has another bonus for frequent travelers. That is, you can still use the headphones even when the battery is flat, thanks to its detachable audio cable. Unfortunately, the active noise cancellation feature does not work with a flat battery. PXC 550 is really made with frequent travelers in mind though, for they even have an in-flight adapter for airplane audio systems!
They can also pair with up to eight devices at a go, which is a great convenience for technophiles with multiple gadgets. Now you no longer have to go through the hassle of pairing and unpairing devices!
And for busy business travelers who make many phone calls even while they travel, PXC 550 would be perfect for you. They not only have one built-in microphone, but three! Yes, PXC 550 features a triple-mic system that makes your phone calls sound even more crisp and clear. Furthermore, there is also a Call Enhancement mode that you can activate to further improve the quality of the sound.
All in all, if you are a frequent traveler who loves music or needs to make many phone calls, PXC 550 headphones will be perfect for you.
Most Light and Compact
SAMSUNG AKG N60NC
Samsung AKG N60NC is one of the best noise cancelling headphones for travel, being compact and light. Moreover, you can store the ear cups flat and folded within a carrying case during travels. These headphones can also be powered up via micro USB for more convenience.
The battery life depends whether the noise-canceling feature and bluetooth are switched on. If you shut down the noise-canceling feature, the headphones will last for up to 30 hours. And if both are switched on, they will last for about 15 hours. With such long battery life even with both functions on, you can definitely take a cross-continental flight plugged in to your favorite music without worrying about the juice running out!
They may not be as powerful as its fuller-sized competitors like Bose and Sony headphones, but they are pretty much the best if you are looking for light and compact headphones. For the size, the built-in mic and controls deliver pretty superior audio quality and other dynamics to your ear. Activating the passive mode still offers a good sound for you while cancelling distracting noise around. They are comfy to wear but they can tend to be rather wobbly on your ears, so these aren’t the ideal headphones for exercise.
(photo credit: Maulik Sutariya)
Best On-ear Headphones
Beats Solo Pro
While on-ear headphones can’t ever beat over-ear headphones in terms of active noise canceling, Beats Solo Pro comes pretty close. Beats Solo Pro manages to block out even low frequency sounds, which is pretty impressive for a pair of on-ear headphones.
One thing to note about on-ear headphones though, for noise cancelation to be more effective, the ear pads have to be clamped firmly over your ears to block out ambient sound. And perhaps precisely because of the great ANC performance, the ear pads actually create a significant pressure on the sides of the head, which can be a tad uncomfortable if worn for long.
Sound-wise, they have the typical bass-heavy tones of Beats headphones, but overall the sounds are balanced and clear. The battery life is reasonably long at 22 hours with noise cancelation turned on. If both noise cancelation and transparency modes are turned off, you can get up to 40 hours of juice. It also supports rapid charging, and in just 10 minutes, you will get 3 hours of battery life.
Longest Lasting Battery Life
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
While the design of BackBeat Pro 2 may not be appealing for some, they still offer some mind-blowing features, in particular, the battery life. You can totally enjoy listening to your music while on the road with these wireless headphones. With a whopping 24-hour battery life at full charge, they will last for a full day of streaming with great comfort. But that’s not all. In the idle mode, they can apparently last up to 6 months! The impressive battery life makes Pro 2 one of the best noise cancelling headphones for travel.
Moreover, compared to the original Plantronics BackBeat Pro, Pro 2 headphones are much lighter and smaller, which makes them ideal for travelers who prefer traveling light.
Their active noise cancellation may not be the best in the market, but still works reasonably well to drown out the sounds of the surrounding environment. In terms of music, Pro 2 continues to deliver their signature bass-heavy sound, which may be a little overwhelming to audiophiles, but casual listeners will find no issues with it.
Bowers & Wilkins PX7
Bowers & Wilkins PX7 is premium over-ear noise cancelling headphones that stand out in the market for their style. Besides their sleek design, they also boost high quality noise cancellation, fantastic sound quality, and long-lasting battery life. PX7’s noise cancellation ability is highly impressive, featuring 4 levels of noise cancellation, including a full-transparency mode whereby you can hear the background noise, perfect for train announcements.
On top of that, when you remove the headphones, your music is automatically paused for you, and your favorite jam continues again when you place the headphones over your ears once again. The long battery life of around 30 hours also makes them ideal for music-loving travelers. What’s more, a short 15-minute charge through their USB-C port will give you 5 hours of non-stop music to listen to.
Given PX7’s premium price tag, you might feel an obligation to treat them like delicate glass. But you’ll be happy to find that they are also extremely sturdy and can be thrown casually into your bag daily even without the hard case. One setback though is that their ear cups are not foldable, so the headphones may take up space in your bag.
Best Hybrid Headphones
Nura Nuraphone, with their in-ear out-ear design, offers a highly unique characteristic in the world of noise cancelling headphones.
On the outside, they look like any other over-ear headphones, but when you look inside of the headphones, you will notice a pair of inner earbuds poking out of the headphones. They may look strange, and even feel kind of strange when you first start wearing them. But the sound delivered does seem to be of better quality, perhaps in part due to the sound isolation with the double barriers provided with the over-ear headphones and inner ear buds.
While Nura Nuraphone has added an active noise canceling feature in their software (at no cost to the owners!), the passive noise isolation is already excellent. In fact, it is so good that it can rival some headphones with active noise canceling function.
Nura Nuraphone also boasts a sound personalization feature by measuring the sensitivity of one’s ears and adjusting the sound accordingly. This interesting function, along with the quirky design, will be reason enough for the more experimental buyers.
Choosing the Right Noise Cancelling Headphones
Choosing the right pair of headphones can be difficult, with the myriad of options out there. But hopefully with this list, we’ve helped you narrow down your options to select a pair that is most suited to your lifestyle and preference.