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The 10 Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds in 2021

Last updated: 1 day ago
9 min read

Create your peace & quiet with the best ANC earbuds on the market.

Rating Price Battery Noise cancelling Connection Sound signature More info
Sony WF-1000XM4 Best overall
Sony WF-1000XM4
4.4
Under $280
8 hours (ANC off) + 16h in case
Best-in-class
Bluetooth 5.2
Balanced
Apple AirPods Pro Best for Apple
Apple AirPods Pro
4.8
Under $250
5 hours + 24h in case
Best-in-class
Bluetooth 5.0
Slight mid-emphasis
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Best stability
Bose QuietComfort Earbuds
4.5
Under $260
6 hours + 12h in case
Best-in-class
Bluetooth 5.1
Balanced
4.3
Under $250
7 hours + 28h in case
Very effective
Bluetooth 5.1
V-shaped
Jabra Elite 85t Best Jabra
Jabra Elite 85t true wireless earbuds
4.3
Under $200
7 hours + 18h in case
Very effective
Bluetooth 5.1
Balanced
Master & Dynamic MW08 Best premium
Master & Dynamic MW08
4.4
Under $300
12 hours + 30h in case
Very effective
Bluetooth 5.2
V-shaped
Sony WF-SP800N Best for workout
Sony WF-SP800N true wireless earbuds
4.2
Under $130
13 hours + 13h in case
Above average
Bluetooth 5.0
Balanced
EarFun Air Pro 2 Best under $100
EarFun Air Pro 2
4.4
Under $80
6 hours (ANC on) + 27h in case
Above average
Bluetooth 5.2
V-shaped
4.5
Under $130
5 hours (ANC on) + 18h in case
Above average
Bluetooth 5.0
V-shaped
3.9
Under $180
7 hours + 21h in case
Good
Bluetooth 5.0
Balanced
Table of Contents

    The top 10 (active noise cancellation ANC) in-ear models that have the most effective technology.

    Use them for traveling or just enjoying your music in peace. These small and versatile noise cancelling earbuds are an excellent choice for all loud situations.

    Compare earphones with the most effective noise cancelling technology and choose the most fitting for your needs.

    After considering all the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market (30+) here are the top choices for 2020.

    Related:

    Best noise isolating headphones
    Best noise-canceling headphones (on & over-ear)
    Best budget noise cancelling headphones

    Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds Reviewed

    1. Sony WF-1000XM4

    1st-place Best overall
    Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds with case

    These Sony’s are the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market, deserving our top spot.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 6mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz (20-40.000Hz with LDAC)
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 8h + 16h in case (with ANC) | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 1.5h + quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless charging | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Ambient mode, 360 Audio, Speak-to-chat, EQ, DSEE Extreme
    • Audiophile-grade sound quality
    • Unique, sweatproof design
    • Great battery life
    • Excellent active noise cancellation and ambient mode
    • Feature-rich app
    • In-depth custom EQ
    • Comfortable hybrid ear tips
    • No official ear tip replacements
    • Limited touch control customization
    • Poor microphone performance in loud places
    • Too bulky to fit smaller ears

    The WF-1000XM4 are probably among the best sounding consumer true wireless earbuds, with a well-balanced and detailed response. Playing with EQ inside the app can make it even better.

    A combination of hybrid foam ear tips and already excellent Sony’s active noise cancellation works wonders. Apart from the highest frequencies, everything else gets reduced to a minimum.

    The ambient sound mode is also excellent, rivaling AirPods Pro and Momentum True Wireless 2.

    The feature-rich Sony app offers a ton of features, like DSEE Extreme upscaling, and a decent level of customizability.

    The new model have an improved design and is now much more comfortable for long listening sessions.

    Sony WF-1000XM4 review

    For the cheaper price, the predecessor is still a noise-canceling beast. Check our full review: Sony WF-1000XM3 review

    2. Apple AirPods Pro

    trophy Best for Apple
    Apple AirPods Pro white earbuds

    AirPods Pro are definitely the best noise-cancelling earbuds if you’re a fan of the iOS system.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 5h + 24h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2h + quick charge – Lightning | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: ANC, Transparency mode, Dolby Atmos
    • Sound better than original AirPods
    • In-ear fit that’s suitable for moderate exercise
    • Effective noise cancelling and isolation
    • Seamless user experience with iPhone/iOS
    • Sweatproof with IPX4 certification
    • Expensive even among premium alternatives
    • No built-in volume controls
    • Cheap lid mechanism on the charging case

    The sound quality of AirPods Pro is fairly balanced with a slight emphasis on the midrange, which might make some instruments pop out more than usual.

    You get to take advantage of the H1 chip for quick pairing and auto-connect function, which only works for iOS users.

    Also, you get the same hands-free Siri voice control, Spatial Audio, and programmable touch controls on the buds.

    For making calls, you get to use the superb built-in mic that is clear and great at reducing ambient sounds.

    On top of that, AirPods Pro are noise cancelling earbuds and do a good job at reducing sounds though some alternatives (WF-1000XM3) still have the edge over them.

    Apple AirPods Pro review

    3. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

    trophy Best stability
    Bose QuietComfort Earbuds

    Long-awaited true wireless earbuds with noise cancelling technology from Bose.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.1
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 12h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: ANC, Ambient mode, ear fin, mobile app, auto pause/play
    • Fun, energetic sound
    • Controlled bass
    • Excellent comfort and stability
    • Limited custumization in the app

    If you enjoy bass, these do a fantastic job. It’s punchy and incredibly controlled without bleeding too much in the mids, which stay nicely clean and balanced.

    Thanks to the Adaptive EQ feature, the low-end doesn’t go away when you lower the volume control.

    Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are big but also extremely comfortable for longer listening sessions.

    As expected, their noise cancellation is among the best on the market, easily competing with Sony, Apple, and Sennheiser at how successfully they combat background noises.

    Inside the app, you can tweak the earbuds based on your preferences. You can change touch controls, toggle the intensity of the noise cancellation.

    There are six hours of playtime inside the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds, with the charging case having an additional 12 hours of battery power and fast charging capabilities.

    4. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

    trophy Best Sennheiser
    Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 noise cancelling earbuds

    Sennheiser made small tweaks to an already best-sounding truly wireless earbuds, also giving them the option for active noise cancellation.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.1
    Driver size icon Driver size: 7mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 5-21.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 7h (5h with ANC) + 21h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2h + quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: ANC, Transparent Hearing, companion app, EQ
    • Refined, audiophile-grade sound with natural midrange
    • Above-average soundstage
    • Great comfort and secure fit
    • Good noise-canceling performance for truly wireless earbuds
    • Premium-feeling charging case
    • Good build quality with IPX4 water protection
    • Good overall battery life
    • Futureproof with Bluetooth 5.1
    • Useful mobile app
    • Responsive and intuitive touch controls
    • Bass could be tighter
    • No foam tips included in the box
    • Call quality could be better
    • Some audio lag when watching videos

    Earbuds have a slightly V-shaped sound profile, but with an exceptionally natural midrange. Their audio performance always sounds full-bodied and detailed, with the wide soundstage to boost your immersion.

    Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 sports slightly more ergonomic housing with improved comfort and fit than the predecessor. They’re also a fair bit smaller, which makes them less protruding.

    The battery life offers up to 7 hours on a single charge, with another 21 hours inside the charging case.

    To ensure that you can also use them while exercising, Sennheiser equipped them with an IPX4 rating of water-resistance.

    Noise reduction works great, cancelling out a lot of noise. You can also use Transparent Hearing when you want to hear your surroundings.

    Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review

    5. Jabra Elite 85t

    trophy Best Jabra
    Jabra Elite 85t noise cancelling earbuds

    This company’s latest premium noise cancelling earbuds replace a typical Jabra sound for a more balanced and detailed one.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.1
    Driver size icon Driver size: 12mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 7h + 18h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 3h + quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless charging | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: ANC, HearThru, mobile app, "find my buds" feature, multipoint support
    • Packed with extra features
    • Balanced sound
    • Qi wireless charging
    • Good noise cancelling performance
    • IPX4 is rather low compared to other Jabra's TWS models
    • Lack of aptX support

    Jabra Elite 85t have a more balanced audio performance, with an overall step up in sound quality compared to the brand’s cheaper models.

    Earbuds themselves are rather big yet keep the ergonomic shape of the lower-tier Elite Active 75t. Also, ear tips now come in different, proprietary shape, which should make them more comfortable inside your ear canal.

    Elite 85t are the first noise cancelling earbuds from Jabra, and they did a great job. They’re extremely effective at blocking background noises like a jet engine during a long flight.

    Extra features consist of changing EQ settings inside the app, supporting multipoint connection, and having a newer Bluetooth 5.1.

    6. Master & Dynamic MW08

    trophy Best premium
    Master & Dynamic MW08 earbuds

    Unique design with high-quality components: these noise cancelling earbuds might be pricey, but they’re well equipped to justify the cost.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 11mm berillium dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 12h + 30h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 1h + quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive | Water resistance: IPX5 | Features: Adaptive ANC, app, ambient listening
    • Luxurious construction
    • Good active noise cancellation
    • Excellent battery life
    • Fun, V-shaped sound
    • That can occasionally feel too bassy
    • No custom EQ

    Compared to the MW07 Plus, the MW08 have a more consumer-friendly tuning with a noticeable boost in bass and some extra sparkle on top. Still, a very detailed performance.

    Active noise cancellation is pretty good but not on the same level as Sony WF-1000XM4 or AirPods Pro. Still, it’s more than sufficient enough to block engine noise.

    Like other Master & Dynamic earbuds, the MW08 have a unique ceramic housing that screams luxury. The charging case is made of aluminum, which will surely attract some attention.

    With an IPX5 water resistant rating, you can rest assured that sweat or rain isn’t going to harm them.

    7. Sony WF-SP800N

    weights Best for workout
    Sony WF-SP800N noise canceling earbuds

    Trying to rival the Beats PowerBeats Pro, Sony made WF-SP800N with excellent battery life, IP55 water-resistance, and noise cancellation support.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 7mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 13h + 13h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2.5h + quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes, built-in | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IP55 | Features: ANC, ambient aware, EQ, ear fins, 360 Reality Audio
    • Fun sound
    • Stability for sports
    • Class-leading battery life
    • Unreliable touch controls

    Their initial sound profile is very safe and boring. However, using the app’s other sound profiles or EQ can bring these to life with punchy bass and crisper treble.

    They come with ergonomically designed housing that fits nicely inside your ears, providing necessary comfort and tight seal when performing intense workouts.

    If you do your working out in a noisy gym, there is a noise cancelling feature that helps you drown out the ambient noise.

    However, noise cancellation isn’t as effective because the earbuds lack a QN1 chip (found in WF-1000XM3 and bigger brothers).

    The companion app offers many customization and useful features, like in-depth EQ and 360 Reality Audio surround audio.

    More: Best workout headphones

    8. EarFun Air Pro 2

    dollar Best under $100
    EarFun Air Pro 2 on a rock

    These noise cancelling earbuds are a fantastic value, with great noise cancellation and fun sound.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h (ANC on) + 27h in case | Wireless range: 50ft (15m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2h + quick charging – USB-C & Qi wireless charging | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX5 | Features: Auto play/pause, wind noise reduction, touch controls
    • Okay sound quality
    • Comfortable design
    • Excellent active noise cancellation
    • Good ambient mode
    • Strong Bluetooth connection
    • Intuitive touch controls
    • Decent call quality
    • Not the best passive noise isolation
    • The bass can be sometimes overwhelming

    The new Air Pro 2 are very energetic and lively but not faithful to the original by any means. The sound should provide an enjoyable listening experience to most casual users.

    Despite their price of $80, they can block pretty much the same level of background noise as more premium models.

    Active noise cancellation is quite impressive, and it works great against the wind, too. Ambient mode is okay, but nothing to brag about.

    Moreso, the noise-cancelling earbuds are comfortable and resistant to sweat. Their Bluetooth connection is also very reliable, with an excellent range.

    Like with other EarFun earbuds, these too have fixed commands. Thankfully, they’re pretty intuitive and easy to learn. They also have a proximity sensor to automatically pause playback when you take out the buds.

    EarFun Air Pro 2 review

    Related: Best headphones under $100.

    Also see: Best bass earbuds

    9. Edifier NeoBuds Pro

    Edifier NeoBuds Pro

    With this pair of earbuds, you’re getting a decent noise cancelling performance with a great price tag.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: Dynamic & balanced armature
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 18h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 1h + quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LHDC, LDAC | Water resistance: IP54 | Features: ANC, ambient mode, Gaming mode, app
    • Powerful sound
    • Companion app with custom EQ
    • Great ANC and ambient mode performance
    • Good call quality
    • Support for LHDC & LDAC audio codecs
    • Germ-free ear tips
    • Occasional Bluetooth stutters
    • Battery with ANC is below average

    Dynamic and BA driver design outputs a convincing sound with good bass depth and detailed treble.

    On top of basic SBC and AAC Bluetooth codecs, the NeoBuds Pro also support the LHDC codec, with LDAC coming next year via firmware update.

    Active noise cancellation isn’t quite as strong as on premium models. However, it will still block most low-end frequencies and make your music sound clearer on your daily commute.

    Despite their unique design, the noise cancelling earbuds stay surprisingly comfortable, even for more extended listening sessions.

    Five hours of battery life (with ANC) and another 15 hours inside the charging case isn’t the best but should be enough for a couple of days of use.

    10. JBL Live Pro+

    JBL Live Pro+ earbuds

    Affordable true wireless noise cancelling earbuds under $150.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 11m
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 7h + 21h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2h + quick charge – USB-C & Qi charging | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Ambient Aware, TalkThru, custom EQ
    • Great sound quality (after EQ)
    • Comfortable and stable fit
    • Feature-rich companion app
    • Compact charging case
    • Good battery life with fast & Qi charging
    • Responsive touch controls
    • App experience could be better
    • Manually selecting custom EQ after every pairing is frustrating

    Live Pro+ have a U-shaped sound signature, with a boost in both sub-bass and upper treble. While they can sound a bit bright and sibilant, you can correct them inside the JBL app.

    Noise cancellation is most effective at blocking lower frequencies, which makes them a great pair for traveling. However, the Live Pro+ still struggle with human speech and higher frequencies.

    True wireless buds can boost ambient noise, but the clarity is only okay. They will do for basic awareness, but for anything else, you’ll have to put them out of your ears.

    They last more than seven hours on a single charge and have another 21 hours inside the charging case—the latter has compact design and supports Qi wireless charging.

    JBL Live Pro+ review

    Honorable Mentions

    Bose QuietComfort 20 – If you value awesome noise cancellation before good sound quality (awesome for frequent travelers), you’ll love these, even if the price is a bit steep. You get what you pay for. (Check QuietComfort 20 price)

    Sony WI-1000X – These are a great alternative to Bose neckband in-ear headphones, with similar specs and great sound quality. (Check WI-1000X price)

    EarFun Free Pro – With this pair of earbuds, you’re getting a decent noise cancelling performance with a great price tag. (EarFun Free Pro review)

    B&O Beoplay E4 – B&O’s are among the best noise cancelling earbuds right now as long as you’re willing to pay a premium price and are looking for a wired connection. (Check Beoplay E4 price)

    Edifier TWS NB – These offer a lot of value in all categories. You get Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX support for better sound quality and faster transmission, and a decent ANC. (Edifier TWS NB review)

    Phiaton BT 120 NC – Still one of the best noise cancelling earbuds under $100 you can get today. They provide satisfactory ANC, great comfort, and enjoyable sound quality. Phiaton BT 120 NC review

    TaoTronics TT-EP002 – If you’re looking for a cheap way to cancel noise with ANC in a small package, these TaoTronics earbuds are the best budget pick right now. TaoTronics TT-EP002 review

    OnePlus Buds Pro – A compelling package with excellent sound for casual users. However, as noise cancelling true wireless earbuds they don’t really have that effective noise cancellation. (Check Buds Pro price)

    More headphone guides:

    Noise Cancelling vs Noise Isolation – Is Noise Cancelling Better?

    There is a lot of misconception about noise-cancelling and noise isolation. Here we’ll explain the difference.

    Noise Cancelling

    Noise cancelling also known as active noise cancellation is a powered system that requires a microphone and a battery to function.

    The microphone picks up the surrounding sounds and sends the opposite frequency (sound waves in opposite phase) to the drivers to negate the unwanted noise.

    This works nicely for constant, low frequency sounds like the constant engine hum.

    When active noise cancelation is on it feels like you’re in a quieter place, but it does not cancel out all ambient noise.

    The sound of background chatter, loud music playback, and every other, non-constant frequencies aren’t cancelled out and you’ll still hear them.

    Usually, the combination of active noise cancellation and passive isolation offers the most effective results.

    Noise Isolation

    Passive isolation is a more basic concept, but very effective nonetheless. It uses no batteries or microphone, just simple noise blocking by isolation.

    For over-ears, the use of tight-fitting ear pads plays a crucial role in blocking out all external noise. For in-ear monitors, using double or triple-flanged earbud tips usually gives the best results.

    You can find great noise isolating earbuds here.

    Good isolating headphones will block up to 37 dB of noise which means, complete isolation from normal conversation volume, especially once you play some music.

    Passive isolation blocks all outside sounds, from neighbors to loud kids. This makes them very useful when you just want to have some peace and quiet and not be bothered by the outside world.

    On the other hand, excellent sound isolation can be dangerous in public places, like walking on the street when it’s good to know what is going on around you.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    What are the Benefits of Noise Cancelling Earbuds?

    Noise cancelling earbuds will get rid of most environmental noise with their special electronics. It’s most effective against lower sounds (like airplane hum, traffic, etc.) and less effective against higher frequency sounds (like human voices and birds chirping).

    How noise cancelling works?

    Once you press the button to activate ANC, part of the background sounds will just disappear, making the illusion of a quieter environment. It’s really surprising the first time you experience it.

    Noise-canceling earbuds are the best for traveling since traveling is often loud.

    Can Noise Cancelling Earbuds Hurt Your Ears?

    Because noise cancellation technology doesn’t emit any kind of radiation or any other kind of harmful effects, it’s perfectly safe to use noise cancelling wireless earbuds. The technology is quite basic once you understand it. It cancels out ambient noise in a perfectly harmless way.

    sleeping with headphones

    Can You Sleep with Noise Cancelling Headphones?

    Yes, you can but only if they are comfortable for you.

    Smaller noise cancellation earbuds are better for sleeping since they’re more comfortable but that’s not always the case. Additionally, if you move around a lot during sleep you might damage your headphones. For some people just getting regular earplugs works equally well.

    What Does Active Noise Cancelling Up to 95% Actually Mean? (or up to 28dB)

    All ANC ratings represent a measurement in perfect possible conditions.

    Usually, the effectiveness of noise cancelling is measured at specific, low frequency, and lower volume conditions, since this is where ANC is most effective.

    It doesn’t mean active noise cancelling headphones with 95% rated effectiveness will cancel out 95% of environmental noise. They will cancel various frequencies at different levels.

    Take the ANC ratings with a grain of salt as these don’t represent the exact behavior and effectiveness of the noise cancelling technology.

    Are AirPods Noise Cancelling?

    Basic AirPods aren’t. They do have some passive isolation but don’t have noise-cancelling (ANC). ANC is a unique technology that requires more processing power which increases costs and power consumption, and AirPods are the basic Apple true wireless earphones.

    Apple AirPods Pro do have ANC technology. These are the most expensive, premium buds which come with adaptive ANC.

    Is It Worth Getting Noise Cancelling Earbuds?

    Yes. Not only do they help you make your daily commute or airplane travel more bearable, but active noise cancelling earbuds can also protect your hearing. If you don’t hear as much ambient noise, you don’t have to crank up the volume as much.

    Is Noise Cancelling the Same as Hearing Protection

    While they might be effective at blocking surrounding noise, they’re still not a hearing protection replacement. The problem is that most ANC earbuds don’t reduce an entire frequency response. Therefore, dedicated passive noise isolation headphones can better protect your ears.