Noise Cancelling

The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones in 2020

Last updated: 3 weeks ago, Sep. 6. 2020
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    Use the best noise-cancelling headphones and enjoy your music in peace.

    Comparison of Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

      RatingPrice
    (approx.)
    Battery (ANC)
    i
    Usage time of Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) in:
    Bluetooth mode
    Wired mode
    TypeFoldableMic & Controls

    Sony WH-1000XM4
    best overall
    4.4
    Review
    $350Bluetooth - 30h
    Over-ear
    Bose 700 Noise
    Cancelling Headphones

    runner-up
    4.4
    Review
    $350
    Bluetooth - 20hOver-ear
    Bowers & Wilkins PX74.3
    Review
    $350Bluetooth - 30hOver-ear
    Shure AONIC 504.2
    Review
    $400Bluetooth - 20hOver-ear
    Sony WF-1000XM3
    best true wireless
    4.0
    Review
    $200Bluetooth - 24h
    (5h per charge)
    In-ear
    Apple AirPods Pro
    true wireless alternative
    4.5
    Review
    $250Bluetooth - 24h
    (5h per charge)
    In-ear
    Bose QuietComfort 35 II
    great value
    4.6
    Review
    $350Bluetooth - 20hOver-ear
    Beats Solo Pro
    best on-ear
    4.5
    Review
    $300Bluetooth - 22h
    (ANC off - 40h)
    On-ear
    Jabra Elite 85H4.2
    Review
    $300Bluetooth - 36hOver-ear
    TaoTronics TT-BH090
    best under $100
    4.7
    Review
    $60Bluetooth - 35hOver-ear

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      It’s difficult to find the best noise-cancelling headphones for your needs with all the options.

      All brands claim their noise-canceling headphones are the best.

      But often that’s not the case.

      That’s why we created this guide to help you with your buying decision.

      Remove the unwanted ambient noise in comfort, style, and while enjoying great sound quality.

      Below you’ll find the best noise-cancelling headphones you can get today that will protect you from background noise on a plane, in the office, or anywhere else.

      Related:

      Want noise cancelling earbuds? Click here.

      Here you can find the alternative, best noise-isolating headphones.

      Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

      1. Sony WH-1000XM4 – best overall

      Sony WH-1000XM4 on a desk

      The best noise-cancelling headphones overall

      Everything about these headphones is fantastic: noise cancellation, sound quality, comfort, and a handful of smart features.

      Battery life: 30 hours
      Back design: Closed-back
      Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
      Foldable: Yes

      Why Buy These?

      Slightly improved Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones offer a very similar noise-canceling performance compared to their previous version. You can expect top-notch cancellation of almost all environmental sounds around you.

      You’re getting some new features this time around, like automatic pause/play sensor and Speak-to-chat. They all work flawlessly, and if you don’t need them, you can quickly disable them inside the Headphones Connect app.

      Housing remains practically the same as on the WH-1000XM3, with slightly slimmer earpads for better comfort. They can fit your whole ear inside, providing a non-fatiguing experience for long listening sessions. Fit is also great, without producing too much of a clamping force.

      The Bad

      At this price, microphone quality could be better.

      The Sound

      We can even recommend Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones to some audiophiles out there: the sound quality is that good. The low-end is full and punchy without losing control, while the midrange sounds balanced and natural, with a pleasant warmth. Treble provides good sparkle and detail. They’re fantastic for all kinds of music genres.

      Sony WH-1000XM4 are a no-brainer. They represent fantastic value, despite their hefty price.


      2. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 – runner up

      Bose 700 Noise Cancelling Headphones
      Bose noise-cancelling headphones with customizable cancellation

      Bose are pioneers in noise-canceling technology. Their modern wireless headphones are high fidelity and have voice control capabilities.

      Battery life: 20 hours
      Back design: Closed back
      Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
      Foldable: No

      Why Buy These?

      Bose continues to innovate. The Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 can be used with AR technology (augmented reality) for a new and exciting listening experience.

      You can also use your voice to control Alexa or Google Assistant; both are built-in the Bose 700 headphones.

      11 different settings for the active noise cancellation (ANC) means you can choose how much ambient sound can be let in. The four-microphone system is highly effective when the over-ear headphones pick up ambiance to cancel out.

      They are exceptionally comfortable, too, so you can wear them on intercontinental plane flights or long working hours in the office. Plus, the closed-back design passively isolates from external noise.

      The Bad

      The cost is a bit off-putting for some. They cost more than the competition. Also, there is no EQ control, even on the Bose app.

      The Sound

      The audio is crystal clear, the frequency response is full and detailed across bass, mids, and highs. Bose headphones 700 are going to keep demanding users happy.

      For cutting edge technology with a wonderful sound, the Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 is a great option.


      3. Bowers & Wilkins PX7

      Bowers & Wilkins PX7

      Best noise-cancelling headphones for sound

      The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 are an option to make the audiophiles drool. If you are looking for an uncompromising sound, the PX7 could be for you.

      Battery life: 30 hours
      Back design: Closed-back
      Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
      Foldable: No

      Why Buy These?

      Power and clarity make these the best noise-cancelling headphones for audiophiles. The 43mm drivers are designed by the Bower & Wilkins team, who have made award-winning speakers and headphones.

      Like a lot of modern headphones, they are adaptive. If you take an ear cup off, they will pause to let you hear.

      This pair of headphones is lightweight but still durable. The carbon fiber composite material means they are rugged and should last a long time.

      The Bad

      They can apply a bit of pressure on your ears. Over time the PX7 can cause some fatigue and discomfort.

      The Sound

      The high-quality drivers provide a rounded sound, great for everything from drum and bass to classical.

      For amazing clarity from your noise-cancelling cans, consider the Bowers & Wilkins PX7.


      4. Shure AONIC 50

      Shure Aonic 50 wireless headphones

      Best noise-cancelling headphones for build quality

      Made from premium materials, Shure AONIC are a newcomer with excellent sound performance and well-implemented active noise cancellation.

      Battery life: 20 hours
      Back design: Closed-back
      Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
      Foldable: No

      Why Buy These?

      With these headphones, you can see where your money went. Construction is if high-quality, with a metal frame and stitched leather. Thick earpads are amazingly comfortable as if you’re wearing pillows.

      Noise-canceling performance is excellent, being somewhat on pair with competition from Sony and Bose. You can, of course, also amplify the outside world with Environmental Mode.

      The battery life of 20 hours is about average for a full-sized headphone. You get a wide selection of audio codecs to choose from: SBC, AAC, aptX LL, aptX HD, and LDAC.

      The Bad

      As with many wireless headphones, call quality could be better.

      The Sound

      Targeted towards audiophiles, AONIC 50 have a neutral sound signature, with incredible clarity all-across the board. If you want to listen to your music the way producers intended to, they might be your best pick.

      No matter how demanding user you are, Shure AONIC 50 are ticking many boxes. Audiophile-grade sound, high-quality build, and great active noise-canceling.


      5. Sony WF-1000XM3 – best true wireless

      Sony WF-1000XM3 in charging case

      The earphones snap into the case and start charging automatically.

      Best noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds (see guide)

      If you’ve been waiting for solid noise cancellation earbuds, these true wireless earphones from Sony are the winning option.

      Check the review of Sony WF-1000XM3.

      Battery life: 24 hours in case (5 h per charge)
      Back design: Closed-back
      Connection: Bluetooth 4.2

      Why Buy These?

      These earbuds use the HD processor QN1e for the noise cancellation technology (the same as in WH-1000XM3). This is cutting edge in terms of noise-cancelling in earbuds.

      Bluetooth transmits clear and high-quality audio thanks to 24bit audio processing.

      The earbuds use USB-C charging and come with a one-year warranty.

      The Bad

      Slightly bulkier design to pack in all the technology.

      The Sound

      They’re a fantastic set of true wireless earbuds, even ignoring the noise cancellation. You can hear all the frequencies clearly, and the bass is pretty strong for earbuds, too. Plus you can equalize the sound to your liking with an app.

      For best wireless noise cancelling in earbuds, the Sony WF-1000XM3 are the best option on the market.



      6. Apple AirPods Pro – true wireless alternative

      Apple AirPods Pro

      The best noise-cancelling headphones in the Apple ecosystem.

      These feature-packed true wireless earbuds offer a fantastic noise-cancellation and seamless integration in the iOS/macOS system.

      Battery life: 24 hours in case (5 h per charge)
      Back design: Closed-back
      Connection: Bluetooth 5.0

      Why Buy These?

      The fully in-ear design ensures a much better seal than original AirPods, which means Apple can give more things inside the AirPods Pro version. One of them is active noise-cancellation. Its performance is excellent, being very close to what Sony can offer in the Sony WF-1000XM3.

      Besides that, you also have the option to amplify the ambient noise, automatically pause and play the music when you take one earbud out and scan your inner ear for more personalized EQ.

      You’re getting a stable connection, with seamless switching between other iOS devices. With IPX4, these earbuds are ready to hit the gym. You can listen to them for around 5 hours per charge.

      The Bad

      Not worth it if you are an Android user.

      The Sound

      AirPods Pro are tuned to sound balanced, with very little excitement in their presentation. They’re easy to listen to, regardless of the music genre, but they lack bass.

      If you’re already tied to the Apple ecosystem, AirPods Pro are the best option, with many useful features.

      Check our full Apple AirPods review.


      7. Bose QuietComfort 35 II – great value

      Bose QuietComfort 35

      Comfortable Bose noise-cancelling headphones

      If you are looking for Bose quality, plus exceptional comfort, but don’t want to pay a hefty bill for 700, the QuietComfort 35 II are a great option.

      Battery life: 20 hours
      Back design: Closed-back
      Connection: Bluetooth 4.1
      Foldable: No

      Why Buy These?

      If comfort is high up on your priorities, the beautiful padded ear cups are great for long periods of listening.

      They connect with the Bose app and can be used for revolutionary AR listening, something Bose are championing. They’re also Alexa enabled for voice control of your music or phone.

      As you would expect from Bose, they’re very high quality and well-built headphones. Plus, 20 hours of battery life is plenty for most.

      The Bad

      Even with the Bose app, you can’t control the EQ.

      The Sound

      You get a signature, crisp Bose audio with these headphones. Though the bass frequencies aren’t boosted, they’re great for listening to pop, rock, and all sorts of other genres.

      The Bose QuietComfort 35 II provide exactly what they promise; quiet comfort for a lower price (compared to what it used to be).


      8. Beats Solo Pro – best on-ear

      Beats Solo Pro
      Best noise cancellation on-ear headphones for bass

      It seems to be part of the Beats manifesto that they have to provide amazing bass, and they manage it with the Pros, even in on-ear headphones.

      Battery life: 22 hours
      Back design: Closed-back
      Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
      Foldable: Yes

      Why Buy These?

      As they fold up nicely and have a compact, on-ear design, these headphones are great for people wanting something more compact.

      These use Beats Pure ANC to adapt to the surroundings. There is also a Transparency mode that allows you to hear your surroundings.

      A 10-minute charge provides 3 hours of playback. In total, 22 hours of playback is achieved with active noise-cancelling and 40 with noise-cancellation turned off.

      These wireless headphones are stylish, but they have plenty of substance too.

      The Bad

      The active noise cancellation won’t be as good as with over-ear headphones. On-ear headphones tend to let in more noise.

      The Sound

      For on-ear headphones, the bass response will really blow you away. They give a high-fidelity and rounded sound in the mids and highs, too, but the bass is the real selling point.

      For booing low-end on-ears, the Beats Solo Pro are a good option.


      9. Jabra Elite 85H

      Jabra-Elite-85H
      Best noise-cancelling headphones for clear phone calls

      If you want the best noise-cancelling headphones for making phone calls with clarity, these could be an option.

      Battery life: 36 hours
      Back design: Closed-back
      Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
      Foldable: No

      Why Buy These?

      In total, the Jabra Elite 85H incorporate 8 different microphones. 6 of these mics give a clear sound when making voice calls.

      A fantastic 36 hours of battery life is better than competitors. There is also a fast-charge option that gives you 5 hours of listening from a 15-minute charge.

      The 85H headphones are also water-resistant, fine for exercising or walking in the rain. You don’t need to worry about moisture. For fully waterproof headphones go here.

      SmartSound Audio uses the 8 microphones to test the environment and compensate and cancel out unwanted audio.

      The Bad

      While they have good noise cancellation, they still struggle to block out some of the lower frequencies.

      Also, the charging cable is annoyingly short.

      The Sound

      Though not quite up there with the elite models on the market, the Jabra 85H has a good bass response and a well-rounded sound.  You can also control the EQ through the app to adapt to your favorite music.

      For easy and clear calls as well as excellent audio, the Jabra 85H are among the best choices.


      10. TaoTronics TT-BH090 – best under $100

      TaoTronics BT090 Bluetooth headphones

      Best noise-cancelling headphones under $100

      TaoTronics products are always offering fantastic value. TT-BH090 are no different.

      Battery life: 35 hours
      Back design: Closed-back
      Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
      Foldable: Yes

      Why Buy These?

      These over-ear headphones come with a simple design that looks classy. Earcups feel sturdy and can also fold to save up some space in your backpack.

      Earpads are incredibly plush, covered in soft pleather. They grab your ears very tightly, providing a secure fit. Their battery can last up to 35 hours, with a quick charge option that adds 2 hours of playtime in just 5 minutes.

      Active noise-canceling works great for combating low-end noises like engines or construction works. However, it does struggle a bit with human speech.

      The Bad

      Users with bigger heads might find them too small.

      The Sound

      These headphones are very smooth. You can listen to them for hours without experiencing fatigue due to sharp sound. Bass is punchy and can go fairly deep, while the warm midrange stays nice and clean. Treble works similarly, with no annoying frequency peaks whatsoever.

      If you seek something that doesn’t break your bank, TaoTronics TT-BH090 might be the perfect pick. They have a little bit of everything, and it works well. For the $60, we can’t complain much.


      In this guide, we covered the best active noise-cancelling models that tend to have higher prices. But if you are looking for the best cheap noise cancelling headphones (under $100), click here.


      Honorable Mentions

      11. Sony WH-1000XM3: (check price) Still an excellent option if you don’t mind all the latest features and only want great sound and noise-cancelling performance.

      12. Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC: (check price) These have a great sound and are customizable, but the fidelity is not as good as with alternatives.

      13. Sennheiser Momentum 3: (check price) These are high-end noise-cancelling headphones that sound great, and sit comfortably on the ears. They struggle to cancel out some high frequencies, though.

      14. TaoTronics TT-BH060: (check price) These have plenty of power and a low cost, but the cheap model lacks in audio fidelity compared to pricier options.

      15. Sennheiser HD 4.5 BTNC: (check price) This pair of headphones offers good sound and active noise cancellation under $100. However, they are a little bit smaller and can be uncomfortable for long periods of use.

      16. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2: (check price) Plantronics are compact and portable, with great bass, but the noise-cancellation could be better, and the controls are a little clunky at times.

      17. Skullcandy Crusher ANC: (check price) For bassheads who want active noise cancellation, Skullcandy Crusher ANC are the best choice.

      18. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i: (check price) Overall, for great clarity and easy controls, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i are a great option.

      19. Edifier W860NB: (check price) Edifier shows that you can get a good quality pair of headphones with excellent noise cancellation for a lower fee.

      20. AKG N60NC: (check price) AKG is a brand with a long history of headphones, microphones, and audio gear. They offer some great budget headphones, including the N60NC.

      What is Noise Cancelling

      Noise cancellation technology removes low-frequency noises while still allows talking, birds chirping, or other sudden sounds. It uses a set of microphones and electronics that create a 180-degree phase-opposite sound of noise and sends it to your ears. Before you can hear it, both sounds cancel out.

      Noise cancellation is effective at lower frequencies, like the humming of a plane engine. This makes them the first choice for travelers as they need to hear what is going on around them while enjoying the illusion of a more peaceful environment.

      You can read more about what you can expect from noise-cancelling headphones below.

      More: Is active noise cancellation better than passive noise isolation?

      How Does Noise Cancelling Work?

      Noise-cancelling headphones use microphones to record ambient noise. Then the noise signal is sent to dedicated electronics, which creates 180-degree opposite sound waves. The drivers send the new signal to your ears and before both reach the goal they cancel each other.

      Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Worth It?

      Recently headphones with noise-cancelling have become very popular, but many people don’t realize the disadvantages of noise cancellation.

      Advantages

      Cancellation of lower and some middle-frequency noises

      Noise cancellation works well enough to give you the illusion of a quieter environment, which makes listening to music much more enjoyable.

      At the same time, you can use the noise-cancelling headphones just for removing the noise without any music. Perfect for when you need to rest your head.

      Disadvantages

      Higher cost

      Noise-cancelling headphones tend to cost more, especially the higher-end ones. All the technology, microphones, and more sophisticated design cost money.

      To get decent noise-cancelling headphones, you’ll have to pay money for which you would get regular headphones with better comfort, better build quality, and especially better sound.

      Lower sound quality

      Noise-canceling technology produces the counter frequencies to negate noise, but because it’s not 100% accurate, you often hear a hissing noise when it’s turned on.

      Not to mention some of the frequencies in the original music recording will also get cancelled out, distorting the overall sound quality.

      It is an accepted fact among audiophiles that noise cancellation technology lowers the sound quality, even in the most expensive cans.

      Noise-cancellation needs power

      ANC (active noise-cancelling) technology needs power. Did you forget to charge the battery? No ANC for you.

      Sensitive to wind

      One of the known problems of ANC is strong winds. When strong winds are blowing and making sounds, your microphones pick it up and make a whole mess of the sound.

      This is why noise-cancelling headphones are not recommended for outside and are extremely frustrating in that situation.

      “Pressure” on ears

      Some, especially cheap noise cancellation headphones, can make you feel like your ears are under pressure. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. But thankfully, modern high-end models have fixed this issue.

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