13 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Best noise cancelling headphones
When you put on a pair of headphones, do you hope for total and complete noise isolation so you can listen to your audio without distraction? Are you looking for the best way to drown out the noises of loud, busy environments while still being able to travel and work with convenience? If you’re looking for headphones that reduce background noise, you’re going to need to find the best noise-cancelling headphones with high-quality performance and a comfortable design.

How to Choose the Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Why choose noise-cancelling headphones over other types of headphones? A reliable pair of noise-cancelling headphones can be a great investment that will bring you years of enjoyment, no matter what type of lifestyle you have.

  • Work: If you’re someone who frequently travels for work, there’s a good chance that you’ll need a pair of noise-cancelling headphones that can help you focus and be more productive, even in crowded or loud environments.
  • Music: Whether you’re musicians or you just enjoy listening to your favorite tunes undisturbed, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones can bring out the sound of your music while minimizing the annoying noises from the world around you.
  • TV and Movies: Whether you’re on a plane or in the comfort of your own home, having noise cancelling headphones can make your movie and TV watching experiences much more enjoyable and captivating – no more having to rewind to figure out what the characters are whispering about!
  • Gaming: For a truly immersive gaming experience, you’ll need the best noise-cancelling headphones with microphone capabilities and great battery life so you can get the most out of your games without having to turn down the volume.

If you’re wondering how to choose the right noise-cancelling headphones for your needs, you’ll need to consider price, comfort, connectivity and overall quality.

Comfort, Features and Extras

Comfort: Wearing uncomfortable or ill-fitted headphones can lead to listening fatigue, rending you sore after wearing the headphones for too long. When using a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, you want them to be comfortable enough to wear for extended amounts of time. The cups need to be well ventilated with breathable material so that you don’t get sweaty ears. Depending on their form factor (in-ear, over-ear or on-ear), weight and shape may also be an important factor in overall comfort as well as portability.

Features: A popular and very useful feature, particularly for people with busy lifestyles, is quick charging. The best noise-cancelling headphones will only need to be charged for short periods of time, such as 5 to 10 minutes. Other features may include an inbuilt microphone to make or take calls and downloadable smartphone applications that you can use to enhance listening. Finally, the best noise canceling headphones will have practical and easy-to-navigate touch controls to quickly play, pause and skip your listening material.

Extras: The best noise-cancelling headphones should come with some extras, including a high-quality carrying case to store your headphones while you travel. Not only will a compact carrying case make your headphones more portable, but it can also help extend the overall lifespan of your headphones by helping to reduce wear and tear. While not always necessary, many quality headphones also come with various cables and adapters, such as airplane adapters, for added convenience.

Sound Quality

What exactly makes a pair of headphones “noise-cancelling”? Noise-cancelling headphones are headphones specifically designed to reduce or eliminate ambient or background noises. The sound quality of noise-cancelling headphones can be the same as other types of headphones, with a focus on active noise control (commonly referred to as ANC). As part of this active noise control feature, some noise-cancelling headphones produce a static-like noise while they’re turned on. This will generally be most noticeable when no audio or music is playing, but the impact on overall sound quality can vary. Generally, the best noise-cancelling headphones will have noise isolation features that far outweigh the idle white noise that ANC can produce.

One of the biggest advantages to noise-cancelling headphones is the fact that you don’t have to turn them up to ultra-high volume in order to drown out background noises. This can potentially improve the sound quality of the audio you’re listening to while dueling reducing the possibility of damaging your hearing. Without the need for constantly having your headphones turned up to the highest volume, you can experience health benefits by opting for noise cancelling headphones over other alternatives.

Battery Life and Connectivity

When it comes to buying wireless devices, the battery life of noise-cancelling headphones is often one of the top features to consider. Without a power running to your wireless headphones, there would be no ANC.

The best noise-cancelling headphones will have a battery life of 10 to 20 hours. Some high-end devices can even have upwards of 30 hours of wireless streaming before needing a charge. If you plan on using your noise-cancelling headphones frequently, you’re going to want to look for headphones that are rechargeable or capable of being used while wired.

Most ANC headphones are wireless and connect via either Bluetooth or Near Field Communication (or “NFC” for short). Of the two, Bluetooth is more readily available on the vast majority of devices, such as smartphones, TVs, laptops and tablets. Bluetooth also has a much larger range of connectivity with paired devices compared with NFC.

When it comes to making your headphones run as long as possible, NFC uses up a lot less battery life and may help extend how long you can listen to your audio. Unfortunately, NFC is much slower than Bluetooth; it may also have difficulty playing larger files, such as high-quality music files. Many of noise-cancelling headphones can have both Bluetooth and NFC functionality so you can use your headphones according to what works best for your preferences.

Active and Passive Noise Cancelling

If you’re looking at the world of noise-cancelling headphones, you’ll need to investigate passive and active noise-cancelling. These are the two types of noise cancellations that headphones use to isolate sounds.

Passive noise cancellation works by blocking out noise from the outside world through the actual, physical design and material of the headphones. Most of the time, the “donut” or headphone cup is completely enclosed.

Active noise cancellation uses electronic technology to cancel out the noises around you. The headphones detect the sounds around you using a microphone on the inside of the cup. It then produces its own sound wave which is exactly opposite of the noise that the microphone picks up. This is then sent to the headphone’s speaker where the noise isolation actually takes place.

Active: Active noise cancellation requires power to work. If you turn off or unplug the headphones (essentially removing the battery or power), then the ANC will no longer function. You will only have the passive noise cancellation to help block out the noise.

Passive: Passive headphones will usually cost less than ANC headphones, but their effectiveness depends entirely on the materials that are used in the construction of the headphones as well as the design of the cups.

Which One is Better: While the active noise cancellation feature comes at a premium price point, ANC headphones work much more efficiently at cancelling out noise than passive headphones. Additionally, they do not have to be playing audio to have the ANC. This means you could use your noise-cancelling headphones to block out sounds from the world around you in different scenarios, like a busy workplace or on an aircraft, without listening to actual audio. It all comes down to your needs for noise cancellation and how much you’d like to spend; investing in a quality pair of noise-cancelling headphones is likely the better choice if you consistently use headphones on a day-to-day basis.

13 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones of 2018

Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II

The Best Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones

bose quietcomfort 35 series ii
The second installment of Bose QuietComfort 35 wireless headphones are built with a dual-microphone system so you can use them to make calls or talk to your teammates in a game without being distracted by the noises around you. These high-quality headphones are also optimized for balanced audio performance, meaning you can have them at any volume and still enjoy noise cancellation and crystal clear sound.

Specs

  • Form Factor: Over-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and NFC
  • Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
Pros:

  • Multi-device pairing capabilities
  • Long battery life when wired
  • Very quiet, effective noise-cancelling
Cons:

  • Not sweat and weather resistant
  • Cannot change batteries (must remember to charge)

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Sony MDR1000X/B

Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones with Easy Controls

Sony MDR1000X/B Bluetooth Headphones
The Sony MDR1000X/B Bluetooth headphones feature high resolution audio with a functional touch sensor control panel. These headphones are great for people with busy lifestyles who may need to go from noise cancellation to real world conversations with the instant touch of a button.

Specs

  • Form Factor: Over-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and NFC
  • Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
Pros:

  • Convenient Quick Attention feature for staying alert to the world around you
  • Hi-Fi quality audio
  • Built with easy touch control and compact portability
Cons:

  • Cannot connect to 2 devices at once, difficult to toggle between devices
  • Needs to be fine-tuned to your needs
  • Low-quality headband build

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Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2

Noise-Cancelling Headphones with Wireless Freedom

Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless Headphones
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 noise-cancelling headphones are optimized for balanced audio that you can enjoy from up to 330 feet away from a connected device. You can also take these headphones with you and listen to music or watch movies on the go with the travel case and swivel flat ear cup feature.

Specs

  • Form Factor: Over-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and NFC
  • Battery Life: 24 hours
Pros:

  • 24 hour streaming capabilities
  • Long range connectivity
  • Switchable ANC feature
Cons:

  • Not ideal for gym use
  • No color options
  • Connectivity issues frequently reported

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Sennheiser PXC 550

Great Noise Isolating Headphones with Bluetooth 4.2

Sennheiser PXC 550 Bluetooth Headphones
The Sennheiser PXC 550 Bluetooth headphones come with adaptive NoiseGard noise cancellation so you can have full control over your sound quality based on your environment. These headphones also have a triple microphone array, making them a great choice for business workers and gamers in need of reliable communication technology.

Specs

  • Form Factor: Over-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Battery Life: 30 hours
Pros:

  • Excellent battery life
  • Easy-access user control features
  • Lightweight and collapsible
Cons:

  • Could be louder
  • Customizable EQ settings and touchpad controls can be hard to get used to
  • Headband may be tight fitting

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Sony H.ear

Good Over-Ear Noise-Cancelling Headphones with Color Options

sony h.ear
The Sony H.ear wireless noise-cancelling headphones feature Beat Response Control technology to help adjust noise cancellation according to the surrounding environment. These stylish, music-optimized headphones come in Bordeaux pink, charcoal black, cinnabar red, lime yellow and viridian blue.

Specs

  • Form Factor: Over-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and NFC
  • Battery Life: Up to 20 hours
Pros:

  • Stylish design with lots of color options
  • Hands-free, Hi-Res audio and calling
  • Adjustable headband for long-term listening comfort
Cons:

  • Lacking touch controls
  • Limited device connectivity
  • May become hot to wear after extended periods

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AKG N60 NC

The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under 200 Dollars

akg n60 nc
The AKG N60 NC noise-cancelling headphones are constructed with a unique design made with quality materials, including memory foam and leather, for added elegance. With 30 hour battery life and a 3D-Axis folding mechanism, these noise-cancelling headphones are designed especially for travelers.

Specs

  • Form Factor: On-Ear
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Battery Life: Up to 30 hours
Pros:

  • Affordable compared to noise cancelling alternatives
  • Portable with easy storage
  • Great battery life and passive mode function
Cons:

  • Bass is lacking
  • May be uncomfortable after a couple hours
  • Not wireless

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Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8

Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Style

bang olufsen beoplay h8
The Bang & Olufsen BeoPlay H8 headphones have a unique volume adjustment feature; all you have to do is turn the right ear cup clockwise or counter-clockwise. These on-ear Bluetooth headphones also come in a range of colors, including black, natural and grey hazel.

Specs

  • Form Factor: On-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Battery Life: Up to 14 hours
Pros:

  • Easy-access touch interface
  • Portable, lightweight construction
  • Stylish design with premium materials
Cons:

  • Average/poor battery life when wireless
  • Touch controls can take some getting used to
  • On-ear form factor can become uncomfortable

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Sony MDR-ZX770BN

The Best Budget Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Convenience

sony mdr-zx770bn
The Sony MDR-ZX770BN noise-cancelling headphones are optimized for convenient connectivity; they have a 4-way Bluetooth usage and they can quickly connect with other devices using one-touch paring with NFC. They can also be recharged or used in passive mode, making them a good option for travelers and commuters.

Specs

  • Form Factor: On-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and NFC
  • Battery Life: Up to 13 hours
Pros:

  • Easy passive mode to avoid battery usage
  • Comfortable to wear for longer periods
  • Practical control buttons
Cons:

  • Poor battery life
  • Older Bluetooth version
  • Aesthetics may not suit everyone

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Sennheiser Momentum 2.0

Great Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones for Device Pairing

sennheiser momentum 2
The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 wireless noise cancellation headphones are built with leather-covered memory foam ear cups and a foldable headband for compact storage. These headphones are a good choice if you’re looking to connect to multiple devices; you can pair with any NFC-enabled device at just one touch.

Specs

  • Form Factor: On-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and NFC
  • Battery Life: Up to 22 hours
Pros:

  • Up to 8 devices on the pairing list
  • Great wireless battery life
  • Dual microphones for improved voice quality
Cons:

  • Not water or sweat resistant (not ideal for running)
  • On-ear form factor may be uncomfortable for some
  • Pairing features may seem complicated

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Samsung Level On Pro

Good Budget Noise-Cancelling Headphones

samsung level on pro
The Samsung Level On PRO wireless noise-cancelling headphones come with Ultra High Quality Audio (UHQA) and a wider frequency range for improved audio quality. These headphones can have 10 hours of play and 200 hours of standby battery life, making them great for gamers and music enthusiasts.

Specs

  • Form Factor: On-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
Pros:

  • Several controls, including talk-in mode for managing ambient noise
  • Foldable frame
  • Samsung App provides additional features
Cons:

  • Complex touch controls
  • UHQ Audio only works on Samsung devices
  • Build quality is lacking

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Bose QuietControl 30

The Best In Ear Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Bose QuietControl 30
The Bose QuietControl 30 wireless headphones are uniquely in-ear as well as noise-cancelling, making them a great option if you require maximum portability. Not only are they extremely lightweight and easy to wear, you can also use them for up to 10 hours with the ability to control noise cancellation levels as you see fit.

Specs

  • Form Factor: In-Ear
  • Connectivity: Bluetooth and NFC
  • Battery Life: Up to 10 hours
Pros:

  • Designed for all-day comfort and portability
  • Includes three ear tip sizes
  • Manageable noise cancellation
Cons:

  • If ear fit is not correct, audio quality will suffer
  • Battery life is average
  • Not useable while charging

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Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B

The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones Under 100 Dollars

audio-technica ath-anc7b
The Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint headphones are wired yet affordable, making them a great choice for travelers or music lovers on a budget. They are designed for noise-cancelling (up to 90%) without the worry of unstable wireless connectivity.

Specs

  • Form Factor: Over-Ear
  • Connectivity: Wired
  • Battery Life: Up to 40 hours
Pros:

  • Optimized for travel (comes with airline adapter)
  • Simple and affordable
  • Balanced sound quality
Cons:

  • Not wireless
  • Requires AAA battery to power ANC
  • No microphone

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Beats Studio 3

Good Active Noise-Cancelling Headphones for Apple Users

beats studio 3
The Beats Studio 3 wireless headphones can be calibrated so that the level of clarity and range is adjusted to your preferred listening experience. These pure ANC headphones also come in four stylish colors: matte black, blue, red and white.

Specs

  • Form Factor: Over-Ear
  • Connectivity: Apple W1 Bluetooth
  • Battery Life: Up to 22 hours
Pros:

  • Great battery life with quick-charge capabilities
  • Real-time audio calibration
  • Extended range Class 1 Bluetooth connectivity
Cons:

  • Very expensive
  • Not optimized for outdoor use
  • Limited to Apple devices

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Immerse Yourself in Your Devices with the Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

Whether you’re listening to music on a busy train or playing a multiplayer game online in your dorm room, you’re going to want the best noise-cancelling headphones so you can enjoy your music and audio without interference.

If you’re searching for high-end wireless noise-cancelling headphones with good controls and battery life:
Bose QuietComfort 35: These top-of-the-line wireless noise-cancelling headphones stand out with their supreme audio performance.
Beats Studio3: These high-end wireless headphones come with real-time audio calibration and a stylish appearance.
Sennheiser PXC 550: If you plan on using your noise-cancelling headphones for calls or chatting, these headphones are a great option with triple microphone capabilities.

If you’re looking for something mid-range with a few convenient features:

Sony H.ear: If you’re a music lover with style, these noise-cancelling headphones come with a Beat Response Control feature that likely won’t disappoint.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2: For comfortable streaming and wireless freedom, these noise-cancelling headphones are worth consideration.
AKG N60: These highly portable noise-canceling headphones come with a generous 30 hours of battery life.

If you want affordable yet efficient:
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC7B. If you’re willing to give up wireless, these noise-cancelling wired headphones will probably get the job done when it comes to reducing environmental noise.
Samsung Level On PRO. If you prefer button-free controls and you’re a Samsung user, these noise-cancelling headphones are definitely worth looking at.
Sony MDR-ZX77oBN. While these aren’t exactly cheap, they come with great Bluetooth connectivity features and a comfortable “swiveling” design.

Purchasing a pair of noise cancelling headphones, earbuds or the best MP3 player can be an intimidating investment. Choose wisely and balance your wants for style with your needs for function!

2 Comments

  1. hetvi mistry October 24, 2017

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