Earbuds/IEMs

The 10 Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds in 2018

Last updated: 2 months ago, Feb. 14. 2018
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    Create your peace & quiet with the best ANC earbuds on the market.

    The top 10 ANC in-ear models that have the most effective noise cancelling technology.

    Use them for traveling or just enjoying your music in peace. These small and versatile NC earbuds are a great choice for all loud situations.

    Compare earbuds with the most effective noise cancelling technology and choose the best for your needs.

    After considering all the best ANC earphones on the market (30+) here are the best choices right now.

     

    Bose QuietComfort 20

    Best noise-cancelling earbuds right now: Bose QuietComfort 20

    With best-in-class noise-cancelling technology, great comfort, and Bose sound you get a great pair of in-ear headphones. Read more…


    Bose QuietControl 30

    Best wireless Bluetooth noise-cancelling earbuds: Bose QuietControl 30

    If wireless is what you want then Bose QC30 are your best choice. Best-in-Class noise cancelling technology from Bose with great comfort and reliable Bluetooth connectivity. Read more…


    Linner NC50 ANC earbuds

    Best noise-cancelling earbuds under $100: Linner NC50

    Great value for money option that’s also wireless with effective ANC technology, Bluetooth functionality and slightly bassy sound that’s lots of fun. Read more…


    Jump to:

    Comparison of best 10

    Best picks reviewed

    Noise cancelling vs isolation

    Comparison Table: Top Noise Cancelling Earbuds

      Model
    i
    (x/5) Rating on Amazon.com

    Rating
    BatteryPrice
    i
    Very effective, Good, Above Average, Decent.

    Noise Cancelling
     Connection
    i
    Balanced-All sound ranges represented equally.

    Sound Signature
     
    BEST OVERALL
    Bose QuietComfort 20


    Bose QuietComfort 20
    4.416h$$$$$ ($200-$300)Very effective
    WiresSlight bass
    emphasis
    Review
    BEST WIRELESS
    Bose QuietControl 30 Wireless
    Bose Quietcontrol 30 Wireless3.410h$$$$$ ($200-$300)Very effectiveBluetoothBalancedReview
    BEST, RUNNER-UP
    B&O Beoplay E4 NC earbuds

    B&O Beoplay E43.920h$$$$$ ($200-$300)Very effectiveWiresBalancedReview
    BEST
    UNDER $100

    Linner NC50

    Linner NC504.29h (ANC on)
    13h (ANC off)
    $$ ($30-$80)Up to 97%BluetoothBass-emphasizedReview
    BEST VALUE
    WIRELESS

    Phiaton BT 220

    Phiaton BT 220
    NC Bluetooth
    3.9NC on 10h
    NC off 16h
    $$$$ ($120-$200)Up to 95%BluetoothBalancedReview
    BEST VALUE
    Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23


    Audio-Technica
    ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint
    3.760h
    (AAA battery)
    $$ ($30-$80)Up to 90%WiresBalancedReview
    UNDER $100, RUNNER-UP
    Cowin HE8D

    Cowin HE8D4.29h
    $$ ($30-$80)Above averageBluetoothBass-emphasizedReview
    BEST FOR
    LIGHTNING

    1MORE E1004

    1MORE E10043.9/$$$$ ($120-$200)Above average
    Wires (Apple Lightning Connection)BalancedReview
    BEST FOR
    XPERIA

    Sony MDR NC31EM

    Sony MDR-NC31EM
    (only for Sony Xperia)
    3.5No battery$$ ($30-$80)Above averageWires
    (Xperia only)
    BalancedReview
    BEST BUDGET
    TaoTronics ANC Earbuds

    TaoTronics
    ANC Earbuds
    4.315h$$ ($30-$80)GoodWiresSlight bass
    emphasis
    Review

    Related:

    Are you looking for passive noise isolation headphones?
    Take a look at best noise cancelling headphones (over-ear, on
    Most comfortable earbuds reviewed.


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      Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds Reviewed

      best overall: Bose QuietComfort 20

      black Bose QuietComfort 20 earbuds

      Bose QuietComfort 20 ($200-$300)

      Bose QuietComfort 20 are the best noise cancelling earbuds, bar none, on the market right now.

      PROS

      • Best in class noise cancelling technology
      • Very comfortable with stable fit
      • Good build quality that’s going to last
      • Perfect earbuds for travelers
      • Sound quality comparable with the best ANC headphones

      CONS

      • Pricey
      • With ANC off, sound quality takes a dive

      Some might not like Bose products, but when it comes to sound cancelling, they are the best in business.

      It’s a fact Amar Bose and his company first offered noise-cancelling headphones to the public.

      With QC 20 not only do you get the best active noise cancellation, but also very comfortable, durable and good sounding earbuds, all in one package.

      Noise Cancellation

      If you want to magically delete the background noise and just enjoy the music while still hearing higher pitched sound, Bose QuietComfort 20 are the best audio equipment for this job.

      With the combination of good passive noise isolation and best in class, active noise cancelling, you won’t find better earbuds.

      It seems noise cancelling works better even for higher frequencies than with competitive ANC (active noise cancelling) headphones. They are so good, these earbuds won’t just remove the humming sound of plane engines, but also parts of street traffic, human conversation and bird chirping.

      They don’t completely cancel these sounds, but do it better than any other earbud model out there.

      Additionally, these have a special feature called, Aware mode, which lowers the level of noise cancelling for cases when you need to hear the people around you. It works nicely and it’s as simple as pressing a button.

      Click on a button to activate it, and click again to deactivate, it works like magic.

      The battery needed for noise cancellation is unfortunately not replaceable, but has about 16 hours of battery life (USB charging), which is quite good. Since it’s a lithium ion battery it is good for about 500 full charges, after which the capacity will start to diminish.

      If you’re a heavy user, like 10 hours per day on average, you can expect a good year and a half of use out of them.TripAdvisor Award Bose QC 20

      Bose QuietComfort 20 got the Travelers’ Choice Award 2015 for being the best noise cancelling earbuds.

      Durability

      Build quality is good, even if earbuds are made of plastics.

      The silicone ear tips are well made and provide a tight fit. Cables are protected by a nice amount of rubber and there seem to be no major weak points in the design.

      Comfort

      Because of their lightweight design and quality silicone ear tips, Bose QuietComfort 20 are very comfortable.

      In the package you get 3 different sizes of ear tips, small, medium and large that will fit in most people’s ears. The ear tips seem shorter and from the looks of it, don’t promise a lot in terms of passive noise isolation and stability of the fit…

      …but they do a very nice job. With the combination of “wings” that you attach to your ears, the fit is very stable and comfortable at the same time. They aren’t the most comfortable earbuds in the world, but pretty close.

      Passive noise isolation is quite good as well, especially once you find the proper size of ear tips.

      Features

      The microphone is positioned on the cable and works like intended, you can comfortably make calls without interruptions.

      The controls are conveniently placed and you’ll get used to them very quickly. You can control; play/pause, next/previous song and ANC on/off, plus the button for Aware mode (just make sure to buy the right OS model – iOS or Android).

      There are also older, cheaper Bose models that have equally good noise isolation if you don’t want to pay the full price.

      Want headphones for swimming? Click here to find top waterproof iPods.

      Sound

      Sound quality is very good for noise-cancelling headphones, but obviously, can’t compare to regular, audiophile models.

      It seems the sound is better when noise cancelling is on, compared to when it’s offline. The mids are usually more recessed in the latter case so it makes sense to always use ANC (active noise cancelling) mode if possible.

      Generally the sound is still very “Bose-like”. With emphasized bass and treble slightly overshadowing mids. Yet the sound seems more balanced than with previous models, these have better mid-range than any noise cancelling Bose earbuds before.

      There isn’t much soundstage, like with most earbuds, and there is also that slightly hearable hiss that noise cancelling technology produces. In the end, sound reduction more than makes up for it, so it’s not really such a big deal.

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

      In the end, if you want the best possible noise cancelling technology packed in a small, comfortable earbud design that produces good sound quality, Bose QuietComfort 20 are the earbuds for you.

       


      best wireless: Bose QuietControl 30

      Bose QuietControl 30

      Bose is known for delivering great sound and best-in-class active noise canceling performance. While not as good as QC20, we think these are the best wireless noise cancelling earbuds right now.

      PROS

      • Premium sound quality
      • Good ANC performance
      • Very comfortable
      • Wireless Bluetooth connectivity

      CONS

      • Talkback microphone is low quality
      • ANC may be slightly lower than other Bose products
      • Neckband can slide around

      The QuietControl 30 wireless earbuds are very close to earning their place on top, but a few small features may not work for some. Read further for more details.

      Noise Cancelling

      The Bose QuietControl 30 may not be the most advanced set of active noise cancelling headphones, but they certainly outperform many other ANC earbuds.

      The noise cancelling circuit is housed in a lightweight neckband with dual microphones.

      Bose’s Connect mobile app allows you to select various levels of noise cancellation so you can fine-tune the performance to your environment.

      While the performance of the ANC technology is better than many other noise cancelling earbud brands, users of other Bose ANC products (like the QC35 or QC25 headphones) may feel that the cancellation isn’t quite as good.

      To be fair, the QuietControl 30 uses a little bit different type of ANC technology than some of the other Bose products. It works rather well for its intended use.

      Overall, lower frequencies are cancelled quite effectively. Some higher frequency noises and strong impulse sounds aren’t cancelled as well.

      The noise cancelling mode can work without being connected to a Bluetooth device.

      Durability

      Everything from the packaging to the product construction is high quality.

      The neckband that houses the electronics is flexible but not flimsy.

      Strain relief for the cables seems adequate for everyday use.

      The biggest drawback and quality concern with the QuietControl 30 is the poor talkback microphone quality. This may be caused by some interference with the ANC circuitry.

      If you plan to use these earbuds for talking on the phone, you might want to explore other options. Other than that, this is a great quality product.

      Comfort

      This is a category were Bose excels. The StayHear+ QC silicone eartips are extremely comfortable and great for long wearing sessions.

      There are three different sizes of QC eartips included and they are easy to remove, clean and replace.

      The lightweight neckband sits around the back and sides of the neck, is fairly comfortable and works for various wardrobe choices, hiding under a collar if needed.

      You can certainly use the Bose QuietControl 30 earbuds for working out, but the neckband may slide around too much and be unsuitable for some activities.

      Features

      Besides the wireless neckband receiver and attached earbuds, you’ll also receive a charging cable, three eartip sizes, and a nice zippered carrying pouch.

      Bluetooth range is effective for 30-50’ and is pretty easy to pair with most devices.

      There is no support for a wired audio connection, so that means you can’t use these earbuds to listen to the audio distributed on airplanes.

      A 10-hour battery life can be achieved with less than a 3-hour charge, but the earbuds cannot be used while charging.

      One really handy feature is the ability to connect the QuietControl 30 earbuds to the Bose Connect mobile app.

      This app allows you to dial in the level of noise cancelling you want, as well as save any other custom audio presets for your device.

      Sound

      Bose delivers crystal clear audio with these earbuds. It isn’t too bass-heavy like some earbuds can be.

      The noise cancelling circuit is quiet and doesn’t generate a lot of noticeable self-noise that cheaper ANC products tend to do.

      Volume handling is respectable and doesn’t break up at higher levels. The frequency response sounds even and balanced across varied listening levels.

      You won’t have to push these earbuds deep into your ear to get a good seal for great sound. The QC eartips hold the lightweight housing in place perfectly.

      (summary & call to action)

      The Bose QuietControl 30 carries a premium price for a premium product. The ANC technology isn’t perfect, but the overall sound and quality still delivers good value.

      If you’re tired of constantly replacing cheap Bluetooth noise cancelling earbuds that aren’t fun to listen to, an upgrade to the QuietControl 30 should be in your future.

       


      overall best, runner-up: B&O Beoplay E4

      B&O Beoplay E4

      Best noise cancelling earbuds runner-up.

      If you’re looking for high-quality in-ear earphones with noise-cancelling and great sound quality B & O Beoplay E4 are one of the best choices you can make. Though these cost more money than most and still don’t offer wireless Bluetooth connectivity, everything else is top notch.

      The small ergonomic, aluminum earbuds offer a good and comfortable fit. Though they aren’t as comfortable as Bose and might be uncomfortable for people with shallow ear canals. The 4 sizes of silicone ear tips are combined with 1 pair of Comply foam ear tips which really improve the comfort. Just keep in mind foam tips needs more frequent replacement.

      Active noise cancelation is comparable to Bose’s. It’s even slightly better at canceling out human conversation but not as good at lower sounds like the hum of the airplane. Nonetheless, it’s very effective and justifies the premium price. The battery holds for about 20 hours of noise canceling on a full charge. The connection is wired via a 3.5mm AUX jack.

      The “transparency mode” is a type of aware mode which leaks in sound so you can talk to people when needed. It needs some time getting used to but does the job.

      In addition, the design looks and feels premium. Build-quality is great and you can expect many years of service from these. Among the accessories, you also get a flight adapter and a carrying pouch.

      The microphone works well for calls except in extremely windy situations. In-line buttons are straightforward to use and easy to learn. It will become your second nature in no time.

      In the end, the sound quality is their biggest advantage. The sound signature is more balanced than with Bose and offers a quality reproduction of all ranges. There might be a bit of an emphasis on mid-bass but you won’t notice unless you’re a hardcore audiophile.

      Furthermore, the soundstage is very good. The instrument separation is noticeably better than with other noise-cancelling earphones. Treble offers high details and clarity. Another good point is that ANC doesn’t change the sound quality when turned on.

      In conclusion, Beoplay E4 are definitely one of the best NC in-ear headphones right now as long as you’re willing to pay a premium price and are looking for a wired connection.

       


      best value wireless: Phiaton BT 220 NC

      Phiaton BT 220

      Phiaton BT 220 ($120-$200)

      Phiaton BT 220 NC are the best-value-for-money Bluetooth noise cancelling earbuds right now.

      PROS

      • Good noise cancelling, up to 95% cancellation
      • Comfortable because of lightweight design and good ear tips
      • Above average battery life at 16 hours per charge
      • Bluetooth 4.0 with AptX
      • Can be used as wired earbuds as well
      • Balanced, clear, high sound quality

      CONS

      • Strong wind messes with sound when NC is on

      This is the upgraded version of already good Phiation PS 210 BTNC model which you can still get at a lower price, but with slightly fewer features.

      Noise Cancellation

      For those of you who know a little bit about noise cancelling, you’ve probably already heard of Phiaton. This company is well known for making top quality ANC headphones.

      With Phiaton BT 220 NC the noise cancelling circuitry is packed in a small box where you can also control music, ANC activation and Bluetooth connection.

      Noise cancelling is supposedly even better than with older version, as it will block up to 95% of all noise. While these are nice numbers, Bose QuietComfort 20 still have a slight edge in this regard (especially cancelling higher range sounds), but for a higher price and with lower sound quality.

      Phiation doesn’t produce such noticeable hissing sound most other ANC headphones do. This is something other manufacturers have yet to learn.

      Battery life is good with around 16 hours, depending on how much you use the noise cancelling technology. You can also use it with NC off and you’ll get more juice out of the battery.

      Bluetooth 4.0 works pretty much like the older versions, not much improvement there. So you can expect about 30ft of range without obstacles in between.

      These wireless earbuds also have AptX for better sound quality, just make sure your device supports it. (iPhones don’t)

      The good thing about these is that you can use them in various ways.

      Either with Bluetooth and ANC, or you can connect them with a micro USB cable and use them as regular wired earbuds.

      You can also use noise cancelling without any music if you just want some peace and quiet.

      Durability

      When it comes to durability, these aren’t anything special. They are still well built, but aren’t resistant to sweat or have a lot of aluminium in them.

      They are made mostly out of plastic, but this makes them very light. In the end, you should treat these just like any average earbuds and they’ll survive for a long time.

      Comfort

      Because of their lightweight design, these are very comfortable. Once you find the right size of ear tips you will often forget you’re even wearing them.

      In any case, you can change the ear tips with better ones if you want, like foam Comply tips that are considered as best in class.

      Features

      With Bluetooth 4.0 and AptX you also get NFC connectivity, a microphone (only works in Bluetooth mode) and multipoint connection, basically meaning you can connect it to 2 devices at the same time.

      Sound

      The sound is very good, probably even better than with Bose QuietComfort 20, but only if you appreciate the balanced sound. Bose has more bass and Phiaton a more even reproduction of all ranges.

      The highs are very crip and detailed, midrange isn’t overshadowed and the bass is punchy, but definitely not emphasized. For bassheads, this isn’t the right model.

      The only problem, that all noise cancelling headphones have, is that strong wind will still make a mess of the sound when NC is on. This is one of the disadvantages of noise cancelling technology.

      In the end, if you’re looking for comfortable, affordable, noise cancelling and Bluetooth earbuds with great sound quality, Phiaton BT 220 NC is your best choice.

       


      best for Lightning: 1MORE E1004 Dual ANC Earbuds

      1MORE E1004

      The best noise cancelling earbuds for Apple Lightning devices.

      The first thing you’ll notice about 1MORE E1004 is premium packaging. It looks and feels better than with most premium products. But the reason you should get these is their sound quality. More on this below.

      For iPhone users, these are the best noise cancelling in-ear headphones you can get. The connector works with all Apple devices supporting LightningTM connector. No need for adapters.

      The active noise cancellation is good. It can’t really compare to Bose but it’s above average nonetheless. The battery is not required because active noise cancelling is run on the phone or tablet.

      Note: What are the most durable headphones for kids?

      Build-quality stays true to the premium look. The beautiful metal casing and quality materials make a good impression. Unless you ear your earbuds for breakfast these will last a long time. The fit and comfort are good too. While they aren’t best suited for sports you could use them for that as well.

      With the in-line remote and microphone, you can make calls and control your music without accessing your phone.

      The audio quality is their biggest advantage. With great balanced sound signature, you’re getting detailed and rich highs that really come out. The mids and bass aren’t bad either though bassheads will want more.

      If you have one of the newer iPhones and want high-quality noise-cancelling earbuds with a lightning connector, your best pick are 1MORE E1004 earphones.

       


      best value: Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23

      Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 black earbud

      Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 ($30-$80)

      In our opinion, these are the best value for money noise cancelling earbuds right now, period.

      Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 are one of the most popular noise cancelling earbuds…

      …and not without a reason.

      PROS

      • Very good noise cancelling, up to 95%
      • Good battery life up to 60h (AAA)
      • Well built
      • Affordable
      • Best value for money in noise cancelling earbuds
      • High quality sound, slightly emphasized mids

      CONS

      • For the price, you can’t expect more

      For under $100 you’re getting durable, noise cancelling earbuds with a high-quality sound that is better than many $200+ ANC (active noise cancelling) earbuds.

      Noise Cancellation

      According to Audio-Technica, these earbuds cancel up to 90% of noise. Real life effectiveness confirms this.

      These have one of the best noise cancelling effectiveness that can compare even to Bose QuietComfort 20 and Phiaton earbuds.

      This says a lot.

      Put them on, turn on the noise cancelling and enjoy the magical “disappearance” of all annoying noise. You can still hear people around you, but just enough to know if someone is calling you.

      The battery life is great at around 60 hours with one AAA battery that’s stored in the attached casing.

      Having a changeable battery gives you a lot of flexibility. If it suddenly dies on you, you can easily replace it with a new one, no need to recharge.

      Durability

      Since these are Audio-Technica earbuds, build-quality is very good. They are made out of plastic, but the high-quality kind that doesn’t break down in a few weeks.

      On the other hand, don’t use these for sports as you’ll most likely have a problem with the noise cancelling “box” attached to the cable, plus sweat will probably kill these sooner than later.

      You can find top headphones for working out here.

      Comfort

      Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 are lightweight IEMs with a bulky design. This doesn’t make them uncomfortable, in fact once you find the proper size of ear tips these are as comfortable as any other in-ear monitors.

      Because of low weight, earbuds don’t pull down, so when they fall out, it’s more of a coincidence.

      Features

      The earbuds don’t have a microphone for taking calls since mics are integrated into earbuds themselves. You control noise cancelling, called QuietPoint, with controls on the “box”. It is as simple as pressing a button and you get transferred to a more peaceful place.

      Sound

      This is where Audio-Technica are really good, especially considering the price.

      These are one of the best sounding noise cancelling earbuds. They are rather midcentric, but only to a small degree. The treble is mostly clean but can be a bit harsh at times. The lows have good extension and quite a lot of punch for earbuds.

      Soundstage is better than with other ANC buds, so if you care about having that spacious sound, you’re going to like these.

      At the same time, you can’t expect perfect audiophile sound, but it’s quite close.

      If you want the best bang for your buck in noise cancelling earbuds, Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 are your best choice.

       


      best under $100: Linner NC50 – Wireless

      Linner NC50 Noise Cancelling Earbuds

      Best noise cancelling earbuds under $100.

      If you’re looking for a great value for money noise cancelling earbuds with strong bass look no further.

      Linner NC50 earbuds have above-average noise cancellation, maybe not as good as Bose but very effective, especially considering the price.

      Take them on the plane, turn on the ANC and some music on and you’ll forget you’re flying on a plane. Since they’re smaller than over-ear headphones this makes them more portable.

      Bluetooth connectivity is stable and works well. You also get a good battery life of 9 hours on full charge.

      The comfort doesn’t disappoint either. The behind-the-neck fit is comfy since these are lightweight and stick in the ears well.

      With IPX4 water protection rating, you can use them in rain or even for sports without worry.

      The sound has a strong emphasis on bass which makes these great for all bassheads out there.

      All in all, Linner NC50 are made even sweeter with the price of around $50 which is very affordable for noise cancelling earbuds.

      Read the full Linner NC50 review here.

      Buy on Amazon

       


      under $100, runner-up: Cowin HE8D

      Cowin HE8D

      Great pair of noise-cancelling earphones under $100.

      Cowinn HE8D are another great value noise-cancelling earphones. With the price under $100 you get a lot of features and technology.

      The package includes a nice, hard carrying case which makes taking these with you much easier.

      The ear buds themselves are light and fit into the ear canal rather nicely. They aren’t as comfortable as Bose but close.

      The 3 pairs of silicone ear tips provide good noise isolation and with the added active noise cancellation you’ll barely hear any ambient noise. ANC supposedly cancels up to 28dB of noise though this varies depending on circumstances. This rating is valid in “best possible scenario” and does not apply in every case. Nonetheless, noise-cancellation is noticeably effective but not as good as our Bose’s top pick.

      Furthermore, the build quality is good. IPX4 rating makes them sweat-proof and can even survive a good splash. They feel solid in hands and don’t seem to have any major weak points. The only concern with all “unknown-brand” models is the quality of their battery life. It holds the power for about 9 to 10 hours but since batteries deteriorate with time it’s hard to say how well this one holds. The battery charges with some fancy magnetic technology which is always nice for some bragging rights.

      Bluetooth has the standard 33ft (10m) range without interruptions. The in-line microphone has good voice quality for making calls. The in-line remote buttons aren’t the best but do their job well.

      The overall sound signature is slightly bass emphasized. This is geared towards the general audience who prefers slightly more bass. The treble and mids are pretty good as well. Sibilance only comes out at unhealthy high volumes and there’s almost no cable noise.

      Overall, Cowin HE8D NC earbuds offer one of the best affordable and functional noise-cancelling earbuds.

       


      best for Xperia: Sony MDR NC31EM (only for Sony Xperia)

      Sony MDR NC31EM black earbuds for Sony Xperia

      Sony MDR NC31EM ($30-$80)

      Before the review, you have to know that Sony MDR NC31E are only compatible with Sony devices that support noise-cancelling technology, like Xperia smartphones and tablets (Z2, Z3, Z4, Z5…).

      PROS

      • Noise cancelling works better than average
      • No “box” attached to the cables since NC is processed by connected device
      • Needs no battery
      • Affordable
      • Unique design of noise cancelling earbuds
      • Decent to good sound quality with NC on

      CONS

      • Only work with Sony Xperia devices (crucial)
      • Should make them more useful for non-Sony devices

      You can also use these with any device supporting 5 pole 3.5mm output, but noise cancelling won’t work because it needs the on-board noise circuitry that only Sony devices have.

      If you’re not using one of these Sony devices, it would be better to look at some other noise cancelling in-ear earbuds.

      On the other hand, with an Xperia device, these earbuds work very well.

      Noise Cancellation

      According to Sony, these have up to 98% of noise cancelling.

      This is more than any other competitive models, though we still think Bose QuietComfort 20 have a clear advantage in this regard.

      With a good seal you should get a much cleaner and quieter sound, generally, noise cancelling in NC31EM works better than average (just with compatible Xperia devices).

      The great thing about Sony MDR NC31E is that they have no additional “box” with the noise cancelling circuitry like other ANC (active noise cancelling) headphones.

      This makes them more portable as you don’t have to worry where to put the box, which is more of a nuisance than anything else.

      Everything is taken care of by your connected Sony device, including all the controls. Turning NC on or off takes just a few taps.

      They also give you the option of adjusting the noise cancelling depending on where you are, you have the option of flight mode, bus mode and office mode. These work well, but only use them when appropriate.

      Additionally, you don’t have to worry about the battery life, as these have none. Just plug-in and play.

      Durability

      The earbuds are made out of plastic with decent, rubberized, uneven length cable that is prone to tangling (left side is shorted than right side). The build quality is good, like most Sony products, but nothing special.

      You have to understand these are “lower-end” noise cancelling earbuds that cost under $100 so you can’t expect top-notch durability.

      If you plan on using these occasionally, for traveling like most people, then durability won’t be an issue. Just don’t expect to use them for very long if you make these your main, everyday use, earbuds. Check the most durable earbud models.

      Comfort

      When it comes to the fit and comfort Sony MDR NC31E aren’t bad either. The changeable ear tips play a crucial role in comfort. You can easily replace them with foam Comply tips if you want better comfort.

      They are comfortable enough for in-ear monitors, but can’t exactly compare to the most comfortable IEM models.

      Features

      The noise cancelling works because the microphones are built-in the earbuds themselves and the actual noise cancelling wave producing is handled by the connected Xperia device.

      There are no earbuds like these on the market right now and if you use Sony devices you can’t go wrong with these.

      Sound

      The sound quality is pretty good. It’s more of a balanced sound, definitely not bass heavy. It’s what you would expect from $50 earbuds.

      Can’t compare to audiophile headphones and at the same time produce better sound than most $20 earbuds.

      You shouldn’t expect over the top sound quality since these are noise cancelling headphones after all, but it’s good enough to enjoy some music during a plane flight.

      All in all, if you’re looking for affordable, noise cancelling earbuds and use Sony Xperia devices, the MDR NC31E are a very good choice.

       


      best budget: TaoTronics Noise Cancelling Earbuds

      TaoTronics Noise Cancelling Earbuds

      TaoTronics Budget Noise Cancelling Earbuds

      For a budget option of active noise cancelling earbuds these are the best. Now keep in mind these are very cheap compared to other NC earbuds so don’t compare them. You won’t get the same NC technology.

      PROS

      • Very cheap price
      • Quite comfortable and durable design
      • Effective noise cancellation for the price
      • Great value for money overall

      CONS

      • Can’t compare to higher-end models

       

      What’s in the box?

      • TaoTronics noise cancelling wired earbuds (model:TT-EP002)
      • 3 pairs of silicone eartips
      • 2 pairs of ear hooks
      • Short Micro-USB charging cable
      • Airline adapter
      • Soft carrying pouch
      • User manual
      TaoTronics Noise Cancelling Earbuds Unboxed

      TaoTronics Noise Cancelling Earbuds Unboxed

      Noise Cancellation

      The noise cancellation circuitry is installed in a small box which your earbuds connect to. On the box are all the switches which control ANC.

      How effective is it?

      Well for the price it’s quite good, but don’t expect to compare them to higher-end NC earbuds. Bose is still much better and the difference is paid in price.

      Nonetheless for such a cheap price these noise cancelling earbuds perform rather well. You will get a noticeable reduction in outside noise, especially the lower ranges.

      TaoTronics reports up to 25dB noise reduction but we all know this greatly depends at what frequencies this is measured. For the price, it does what it promises.

      Since noise cancelling is very useful for airplane travel you also get an airplane adapter as an accessory.

      The battery holds about 15 hours of playtime per full charge. This depends on the mode used and volume you listen to but most users will get about 15h out of it.

      With “monitoring mode” you can control how much external noise gets let through which might be useful for hearing a flight attendant or other people around when needed.

      Durability

      Build-quality isn’t bad either. The casing is made out of aluminum and quality plastics. The weak points have some strain relief but the cable is rather average. Plain rubbery cables with an I 3.5mm plug at the end.

      These noise cancelling TaoTronics earbuds aren’t made for sports, they’re not sweat-proof so don’t use them for sports.

      For runners, here are best earbuds for running in case you want more sports oriented IEMs.

      Comfort

      Comfort is pretty good as well. While these are a bit heavier in-ear earbuds since they have noise cancelling you’ll get used to them quickly. The NC box isn’t too heavy and you’ll soon forget it’s there.

      The silicone eartips offer average comfort which means you can wear them for hours on end without irritation.  But Bose earbuds still have an advantage over them.

      If you replace the original eartips with some foam premium ones, you’ll get improved comfort.

      Features

      Together with noise cancelling these earbuds offer making and accepting calls as well. There’s an inline microphone and remote control for volume, song selection, play/pause and accepting/rejecting calls.

      The noise cancelling buttons are all on the NC box and not on the remote.

      Carrying pouch is very soft so it doesn’t offer a lot of protection but it’s better than nothing.

      The in-line microphone also has noise cancelling so your calls are slightly clearer though you won’t notice a big difference.

      Sound

      When it comes to sound quality it’s what you’d expect from a cheap NC model.

      It’s nothing special but more than good enough to justify the price.

      Since noise reduction is the main feature of these earbuds sound was less focused on.

      It’s slightly bass emphasized which might be to the liking of the general public. You can find the best basshead earbuds here.

      For an audiophile though, these aren’t really comparable since none of the ranges come close to the audiophile standard. The highs aren’t clear and detailed enough, mids are hidden and bass is muddy would be a short summary of an expert.

      Nonetheless, these are much better than your standard airplane earbuds you get for free. As long as you don’t expect sonic fidelity, (and you shouldn’t since these are so cheap) you will be more than satisfied with the sound as well.

      Understand these are cheap and you’ll be very happy with them.

      Overall, if you’re looking for a cheap way to get rid of noise with ANC in a small package, these TaoTronics earbuds are the best budget pick right now.

       


      How we do reviews?

       

      You can find great cheap earbuds here.

      Or cheap over-ear & on-ear headphones.

      Noise Cancelling vs Noise Isolation – Is Noise Cancelling Better?Top Picks

      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 noise and sends the opposite frequency to the headphones to negate the unwanted noise.

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

      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 human voices, loud music and every other, non-constant frequencies won’t be cancelled out and you’ll still hear them.

      Usually the combination of active noise cancellation and passive noise isolation offers the best results.

      Noise Isolation

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

      For over-ear headphones 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 ear tips usually gives the best results.

      You can find great noise isolating earbuds here.

      Good noise 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 noise 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 without being bothered by the outside world.

      On the other hand, complete 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.

      What are the Benefits of Noise Cancelling Headphones?

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

      How noise cancelling works?

      Once you press the button to activate noise cancelling, 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 headphones are the best for traveling since travelling is often loud.

      Can Noise Cancelling Headphones 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 NC headphones. The technology is quite basic once you understand it. It cancels out ambient noise in a perfectly harmless way.

      Can You Sleep with Noise Cancelling Headphones?

      Yes, you can but only if they are comfortable for you. Smaller noise cancelation 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 ear plugs works equally well.

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

      Here’s an interesting fact.

      All ANC (active noise cancelling) ratings represent a measurement at best 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 background 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.

      What Are Your Favorite Noise Cancelling Earbuds?

      If you have great active noise cancelling earbuds that you want the world to know about and we haven’t reviewed them on this page, please let us know.

      You can either contact us through the website or just leave a comment below.

      Tell us why you think your favorite model is better so we can compare them to other NC models.

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