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9 Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds of 2024: Expertly Tested

Last updated: 2 months ago
13 min read

We’ve tested 193 headphones on 9 key performance points, including active noise cancellation. We’ll cover:

  • The best noise-canceling earbuds that reduce the most noise.
  • ANC comparison tests, so you can hear the difference.
  • ANC measurement charts that show how much noise is reduced at each frequency.

Let’s start!

We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Rating Price Battery Noise cancelling Connection Sound signature More info
Apple AirPods Pro 2 Best for Apple
Apple AirPods Pro 2 earbuds
Under $240
6 hours + 24h in case
Bluetooth 5.3
Slight bass-emphasis
Under $260
6 hours + 18h in case
Bluetooth 5.3
Sony WF-1000XM5 Best Sony
Sony WF-1000XM5 small image
Under $250
6 hours (ANC on) + 16h in case
Bluetooth 5.3
1MORE Evo Most elegant
Under $140
6 hours (ANC on) + 20h in case
Bluetooth 5.2
Under $200
8 hours + 13h in case
Very effective
Bluetooth 5.0
Under $130
5.5 hours + 12h in case
Bluetooth 5.3
EarFun Air Pro 3 Best under $100
EarFun Air Pro 3 small image
Under $80
8 hours (ANC on) + 36h in case
Bluetooth 5.3
Under $70
7 hours + 14h in case
Bluetooth 5.3
Sony WF-SP800N Best for workout
Sony WF-SP800N true wireless earbuds
Under $150
13 hours + 13h in case
Above average
Bluetooth 5.0

ANC earbuds don’t remove the same amount of background noise.

There are big differences among them. This is why we decided to measure and compare the effectiveness of their active noise cancelling. This is the only way to KNOW what earbuds perform the best.

Don’t let noise ruin your listening experience.

Discover the best active noise-canceling wireless earbuds for peaceful listening that will fit all your needs.

For more options that reduce ambient noise see the best noise isolating headphones, top noise-canceling headphones (on & over-ear), and best budget noise cancelling headphones (under $80).

All earbuds on our list are evaluated based on 9 key factors (Sonic9Score).  The main criteria we looked at to pick the top models are active noise cancellation and fit, as it greatly impacts noise reduction. See our testing and ranking methodology.

CONTENTS (click to show more)

    Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    1. Apple AirPods Pro 2

    1st-place Best Noise Canceling Wireless Earbuds
    Apple AirPods Pro 2 inside ears

    AirPods Pro 2 are the best noise-cancelling earbuds for Apple fans, with a well-balanced sound and good, consistent noise cancellation – Apple AirPods Pro 2 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 11mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 24h in case | Wireless range: 35 feet (10.6 m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – Lightning/USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 (IP54 – USB-C model) | Features: H2 chip, multipoint, Spatial Audio
    • More balanced sound than original AirPods Pro, with greater detail
    • Familiar comfy design with extra (4) pair of ear tips
    • Effective ANC & fantastic transparency mode performance
    • Seamless connectivity with Apple devices
    • Good battery life of around 6 hours per charge (ANC off)
    • USB-C model has an IP54 rating on AirPods & the case
    • Could be stabler during sports activites
    • You need (newer) iOS device to enjoy all features

    Here’s the Apple AirPods Pro 2 ANC test:

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict

    The sound quality of AirPods Pro is fairly balanced, with a slight emphasis on the bass, which makes them a great choice for a variety of music genres.

    You get to take advantage of the H2 chip for quick pairing and auto-connect function, which only works for iOS and iPhone users (but doesn’t work for Android phones).

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

    AirPods Pro 2 are noise cancelling wireless earbuds that do a good job at reducing ambient noise, though some alternatives (like Sony) still have an edge.

    Apple AirPods Pro 2 ANC vs. Sony WF-1000XM5 comparison
    Red line are the AirPods Pro 2, while the green line are the WF-1000XM5.

    On top of that, the ANC buds are great for making phone calls. The built-in microphone sound is clear and great at reducing background noise.

    The single issue is a somewhat average battery life of 6 hours, and an extra 24 hours with a charging case should be enough for at least a few days.

    2. Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds

    trophy Most Stable ANC Earbuds
    Bose QuietComfort Ultra

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

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 18h in case | Wireless range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes, hybrid | Charging: 2h – quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: n/a | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Immersive Audio, app, Spatial audio
    • Comfortable & stable despite larger size
    • Great ANC performance
    • Basshead-level bassy
    • Lacking Bluetooth multipoint & Qi charging

    If you enjoy bass, wireless earbuds do a fantastic job. It’s punchy and incredibly controlled without bleeding too much in the mids, which stays 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 wireless earbuds are big but also extremely comfortable to wear for longer listening sessions.

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

    Inside the app, you can tweak the Bose QC earbuds based on your preferences. You can change touch controls and toggle the intensity of the noise cancellation. And the mic quality for phone calls is good.

    The auto play/pause function is there to conserve battery life, though it isn’t the longest.

    There are 6 hours of playtime inside the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Earbuds (only 4 hours with Immersive Audio), with the charging case having extra 3 charges of battery life and fast charging capabilities.

    Bose Sport Earbuds are a sports variant that lacks active noise cancellation.

    3. Sony WF-1000XM5

    trophy Best Sony Noise Cancelling Earbuds
    Sony WF-1000XM5 buds on table

    Sony WF-1000XM5 are the best sounding noise-cancelling earbuds we’ve tested – Sony WF-1000XM5 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 8.4mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz (with LDAC)
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 16h in case (with ANC) | Wireless range: 35 feet (10.6 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes, hybrid | Charging: 1.5h – quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC, LC3 | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Multipoint, app, equalizer, spatial audio
    • Unmatched audiophile-grade sound quality
    • Comfiest & most stable Sony earbuds to date
    • Incredible passive noise isolation that even blocks rumble
    • Negligible sound leakage at max volumes
    • Good active noise cancellation…
    • … but not even close of being class-leading
    • Terrible call quality in noisier environments
    • Protective mesh is built into ear tips, not into earbuds' nozzle
    • Too many features wants your personal data

    Here’s the Sony WF-1000XM5 ANC test:

    Sony WF-1000XM5 ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict

    The new WF-1000XM5 are definitely the best in sound quality, providing detailed and dynamic performance in all frequency regions. You can tune them just the way you like in the app.

    Active noise cancellation has improved from the previous generation, reducing ambient sounds by an additional 5-6dB. Earbuds use 2 processors to do their ANC magic, although the latter isn’t quite as class-leading as you might think.

    Sony WF-1000XM5 ANC vs. competition comparison
    Sony WF-1000XM5 active noise cancellation chart (red)

    Passive noise isolation does most of the heavy lifting, giving one of the best performances in TWS earbuds.

    As a bonus, earbuds are now slimmer, comfier, and more stable thanks to new hybrid ear tips, making them suitable for sports and commuting. Just avoid making phone calls.

    For a cheaper price, check the previous models: Sony WF-1000XM3 review, Sony WF-1000XM4 review.

    4. 1MORE Evo

    trophy ANC Earbuds With The Best Design
    1MORE Evo shining in case

    1More Evo are the best-designed noise-canceling wireless earbuds with excellent ANC performance and an affordable price tag – 1MORE Evo review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 8h + 28h in case | Wireless range: 40ft (12.2m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2h + quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: App, SoundID by Sonarworks
    • Great build with quality materials
    • Super-fast and Qi wireless charging
    • Good level of customizability
    • Splendid comfort & stability
    • Great active noise cancellation
    • Impressive microphone quality
    • Good bass performance…
    • but with harsh treble
    • Below average passive noise isolation
    • Mediocre Bluetooth range

    Here’s the 1MORE Evo ANC test:

    1MORE Evo ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict

    1MORE Evo have a hybrid driver design, one dynamic and one balanced armature driver. However, the sound quality is slightly off originally. But with custom EQ, you can make your very own personalized sound.

    Moving to the main star of the show, the active noise cancellation works almost on par with the Sony WF-1000XM4, one of the best TWS performers on the market.

    While there’s a slight background hiss when in the ANC-enabled mode, you shouldn’t hear it during playback or in noisy environments.

    The 1MORE app lets you toggle between 4 different ANC modes and 2 ambient sound modes, including transparency mode.

    You get a decent battery life of around 6 hours per charge with ANC on or 8 hours with it turned off.

    5. Google Pixel Buds Pro

    trophy Best ANC Earbuds From Google
    Google Pixel Buds Pro inside ears

    Google made a serious competitor among the best noise canceling earbuds you can buy today, offering a few tempting features – Google Pixel Buds Pro review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 11mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 7.5h + 13h in case | Wireless range: 40 feet (or 12.2 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless charging | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 (buds) & IPX2 (case) | Features: App, EQ, Volume EQ, Spatial Audio
    • Great sound, but only after using custom EQ settings
    • Long-lasting comfort without pressure sensation
    • High battery life of almost 8 hours per charge (with ANC)
    • Pretty good active noise cancelling & ambient mode performance
    • Sweat resistance on earbuds and charging case
    • Mediocre call quality with a noticeable distortion
    • No Game mode means distracting latency during gaming
    • Inadequate stability makes them unsuitable for sports

    Here’s the Google Pixel Buds Pro ANC test:

    Google Pixel Buds Pro ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Here’s the Google Pixel Buds Pro ANC test:

    Google Pixel Buds Pro vs. Sony WF-1000XM4 ANC comparison
    Google Pixel Buds Pro active noise cancelling measurement chart

    Do you find the above comparisons and charts useful? Let us know in the comments.

    Earbuds have a great active noise-cancelling performance that can beat the Sony WF-1000XM5 in reducing the upper bass and midrange area. They also pretty naturally boost the surrounding noise (ambient sound mode).

    While the sound is overall better without ANC, you can still get a great audio quality with noise cancellation if you use our custom EQ (found in the full review).

    They can play music and cancel noise for almost 8 hours on a single charge, while the case holds another 13 hours of battery life.

    You’ll be happy to know that despite their unconventional design, Pixel Buds Pro feel comfortable and reasonably stable. Thanks to using silicone ear tips, they even provide decent passive isolation.

    6. Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2

    trophy Best Value Noise-Canceling Earbuds
    Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 earbuds

    Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 are the best affordable ANC earbuds we’ve tested. Their premium features and capable ANC make them a top choice – Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: BA + 10mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 5.5h + 12h in case | Wireless range: 40 feet (12.1 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes, hybrid | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC, LHDC | Water resistance: IP54 | Features: Spatial audio, LED effects
    • Excellent call quality, even in noisier situations
    • Huge number of features & customization options in the app
    • Good active noise cancelling performance
    • Decent battery life of 5.5h per charge
    • But only an additional 12h in the case, without Qi charging
    • Harsh treble response hurts the sound quality

    Here’s the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 ANC test:

    Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Here’s the Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 ANC measurement chart:

    Edifier NeoBuds Pro 2 ANC modes
    NeoBuds Pro 2 ANC measurements at different ANC modes (lower is better): High (red), Medium (purple), Low (green)

    But the most important feature is active noise cancellation. They can thread blows with the best earbuds in this category, only marginally struggling with higher frequencies. Get more details in our review.

    On the other hand, their ambient sound mode isn’t as faithful at capturing outside noise compared to the previous Edifier NeoBuds Pro.

    NeoBuds Pro 2 have a decently-defined sound quality but with a slightly unresolved, sibilant treble. Nevertheless, using our custom EQ (in the full review), they can somewhat faithfully reproduce your favorite artists.

    Earbuds have an AirPods Pro design, ensuring great comfort and a reasonably stable fit even for outdoor walking.

    Furthermore, since NeoBuds Pro are rated for an IP54, they can easily handle sweat. However, don’t drench them in water, as they aren’t fully waterproof.

    7. EarFun Air Pro 3

    dollar Best Noise-Canceling Earbuds Under $100
    EarFun Air Pro 3 earbuds

    These ANC earbuds are a fantastic value, with excellent noise cancellation and powerful sound (check Air Pro 3 ANC test below) – EarFun Air Pro 3 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 11mm wool composite dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 8h + 36h in case | Wireless range: 40 feet (12.2 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 1h – quick charge – USB-C & Qi charging | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive, LC3 | Water resistance: IPX5 | Features: App, multipoint
    • Natural sound (after EQ)
    • Comfortable & lightweight design
    • Customization via companion app
    • Bluetooth 5.3, LC3 codec, & multipoint
    • Excellent battery life of over 8 hours per charge
    • Effective active noise cancellation & ambient sound mode
    • Not stable enough for sports activities
    • Background hiss when in ANC mode

    Here’s the EarFun Air Pro 3 ANC test:

    EarFun Air Pro 3 ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict

    The sound quality is boomy out of the box, but by taming it inside the app, it offers one of the best audio clarities below $100.

    Most importantly, the new Air Pro 3 have impressive active noise cancellation, almost matching the best earbuds in this category, if not even beating them in some areas. More on that in the full review.

    Ambient sound mode is equally good, providing a natural amplification of the outside world. There is some background hiss, but nothing too bothersome.

    Moreover, the battery life lasts more than 8 hours on a single charge, much more than most ANC earbuds on the market.

    On top of that, Air Pro 3 support LC3 Bluetooth codec, Qi wireless charging, multipoint, and Game Mode. Their value is off the charts.

    8. Edifier W240TN

    dollar Best ANC Earbuds Under $80
    Edifier W240TN on a tree

    One of the best, if not the best deals under $100 if you seek full-package true wireless earbuds with great sound and ANC performance – Edifier W240TN review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 10mm woofer + 6mm tweeter
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 7h + 14h in case | Wireless range: 40 feet (12.1m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC | Water resistance: IP55 | Features: ANC, app, Game mode, EQ
    • Great sound quality (after EQing)
    • Comfortable & stable fit for long listening sessions
    • ANC and Transparency mode performance rivals the best
    • Solid build quality with an IP55 rating
    • Edifier app packed with features and customizations
    • Average battery life of 6+ hours per charge with ANC
    • ANC makes the sound noticeably bright and thin
    • Mediocre indoor Bluetooth range of around 40 feet

    Here’s the Edifier W240TN ANC test:

    Edifier W240TN ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Here’s the Edifier W240TN ANC measurement chart:

    Edifier W240TN ANC off and on measurement
    Edifier W240TN frequency response (sound quality changes) with and without ANC

    On top of having excellent ANC, the W240TN also play music very well. They output a balanced sound signature with a slightly boosted bass (after applying custom EQ, found in the full review).

    Speaking of the app, it offers control customization and EQ and lets you select the intensity of the ambient sound mode. The latter sounds full and even better than Sony WF-1000XM4.

    Moving to active noise cancelling, it’s almost on par with the best, reducing most of the noise without producing a hissing sound.

    As for the battery life, earbuds last around 6.5 hours with ANC, with extra 21 hours inside the charging case.

    Earbuds are pretty comfy, so you can easily wear them on a lengthy trip.

    9. Sony WF-SP800N

    weights Best Sports Noise Cancelling Earbuds
    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 with a good fit 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 background noise.

    However, in many ways, noise cancellation isn’t as effective because the true wireless earbuds lack a QN1 chip (found in Sony WF-1000XM models).

    The companion app offers customization and useful features, like in-depth EQ and 360 Reality Audio surround audio (Sony’s spatial sound format) and transparency mode.

    More for sports: Best headphones for gym and working out

    Honorable Mentions to Consider

    EarFun Free Pro 2

    EarFun Free Pro 2 buds and case

    With these affordable noise cancelling earbuds, you’re getting a great noise cancelling performance. Their energetic sound is suitable for bassier genres like hip-hop.

    EarFun Free Pro 2 review

    Jabra Elite 85t

    Jabra Elite 85t true wireless earbuds

    Earbuds switched the typical Jabra sound for more balance and details. Also, they’re extremely effective at blocking background noises like jet engine noise during flights. Extra features include adjustable EQ settings, supporting multipoint connection, and an ergonomic shape similar to Jabra Elite Active 75t.

    Beats Studio Buds +

    Beats Studio Buds

    The Beats Studio Buds + are true wireless earbuds with a surprisingly tamed bass performance and good audio quality in general. Even more surprising is the lack of Apple’s chips, meaning they work equally for iOS and Android users.

    Edifier TWS NB


    These offer a lot of value in all categories. You get Bluetooth 5.0 with aptX support for better sound quality, faster transmission, and decent ANC.

    Edifier TWS NB review

    Previously recommended models that have since been replaced by better options:

    • Bose QuietComfort 20: These wired earbuds were a great choice a couple of years ago.

    What ANC earbuds to avoid?

    We reviewed Samsung Galaxy Buds Live and were disappointed in their ANC. Avoid. (Samsung Galaxy Buds Live review)

    How We Tested

    Each pair of earbuds in our list is objectively tested and reviewed. Altogether, we test them on 9 key points: This helps us compare and pick the best-performing earbuds that we can confidently recommend. Read our testing and scoring methodology.

    Here’s an example of an ANC measurement across the audio spectrum:

    Sony WF-1000XM5 ANC vs. competition comparison

    How did we choose the models?

    So far, we’ve (tested 193 headphones including many earbuds. Then we ranked them for different use cases, types of headphones, and prices: cheaper towards the bottom.

    What to Look for in Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    From our experience in testing ANC in earbuds, these are the key features to consider:

    • ANC quality: This is the primary feature. Good noise-cancelling earbuds, on average, reduce around 35 dB of ambient noise. More is even better.
    • Sound quality: If you want to listen to all music genres, look for a balanced sound signature. An in-app equalizer also helps.
    • Comfort and fit: For long-term comfort, look for ergonomic earbuds with a high comfort score in our reviews. Ear wings also help with stability.
    • Battery life: Consider how long the earbuds work on a single charge. The average is around 6 hours. But some models come with a higher capacity if that is what you need. Also, consider if you need a quick-charging capability for fast power-up when needed.
    • Durability and water resistance: If you want earbuds for workouts or for outside use in wet weather conditions, look for earbuds with at least some IPX water protection rating. Higher is better.
    • Connectivity: Any of the latest Bluetooth versions offer reliable connectivity. But you might want to consider multipoint pairing, allowing earbuds to connect to 2 devices simultaneously.
    • Features: Look for features like transparency mode (hear-through mode), voice assistants, app support, and touch controls for the best ease of use.
    • Price: Remember, a higher price doesn’t always mean better quality, so check our reviews and stick to your budget. Generally, you can get top-notch ANC in the $100-$150 range.

    What to Expect From the Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds

    Generally, this is what you can expect from the best noise-canceling earbuds:

    • Effective noise reduction up to 90% effectiveness of the leading ANC over-ear headphones. ANC in earbuds slightly lags behind but by a small margin.
    • Top-notch audio quality with capable equalizer options and no interference from the ANC technology, which is common in budget ANC models.
    • Superb comfort and fit, so you can wear them for hours. But slightly larger earbud housings because ANC chips need more space.
    • Above average battery life per charge with ANC turned on. Expect a minimum of around 6 hours of playtime per charge with quick-charging capabilities.
    • Most ANC earphones don’t have any water protection. And if they do, they have a lower rating, like an IPX4, which makes them sweatproof but not waterproof.
    • A reliable Bluetooth connectivity with the latest high-resolution Bluetooth codecs like aptX, LDAC, LC3, etc.
    • Rich features: Most ANC earbuds come with an app for further customization and functionalities. The higher up the price range you go, the “fancier” the features. But personally, I don’t care much about fancy features. I care that the main features work well.
    • Expect to pay from $80 for solid ANC models to $250 for the top-end noise-cancelling earbuds.

    How Much Should I Spend on ANC Earbuds

    These points will help you decide:

    Cheap vs. quality: ANC earbuds generally start from under $50 to over $300. Pricier earbuds usually have better noise cancellation, sound quality, and features (but not always). In my opinion, for many users, mid-range or even the best budget models completely meet their needs.

    Mid-range options: Many quality earbuds with noise cancellation are offered in the $100 to $200 range. These strike the best balance between effective ANC, sound quality, and useful features with good performance across the board. If you’re looking for a reliable experience without spending too much, this is a good range to consider.

    High-end options: If you want the best possible noise cancellation, you have to be willing to pay for it. Premium ANC earbuds start at the $200 to $300+ range. These are flagship models from well-known brands like Sony, Bose, Beats, Sennheiser, etc. You get the latest technology in ANC, high sound fidelity, and extra features like spatial audio, wireless charging, and a flashed-out companion app.

    What are your specific needs?

    If you need earbuds for frequent travel and particularly noisy environments, invest in a higher-end model.

    But if you’re using them in moderately noisy environments, mid-range earbuds should fit your needs.

    BONUS: Don’t pay for features you won’t use. If features like voice assistant compatibility, spatial audio, or special sensors aren’t important to you, look for simpler earbuds that focus on the important basics: Audio quality and ANC. It will save you some money.

    Sony WF-1000XM5 spatial audio
    Opinion: The spatial audio feature doesn’t improve the listening experience for most people.

    Noise Cancelling vs Noise Isolation – Is ANC Better?

    Noise cancelling and noise isolation are 2 different things.

    Let me quickly explain:

    Noise cancelling or noise cancellation (ANC)

    Noise cancelling is a powered system that requires a microphone and a battery to work.

    1. The microphone picks up the surrounding noise and sends it to the ANC circuitry.
    2. The ANC circuitry inverts the noises’ frequency wave, so it ends up having the opposite phase and sends it to the headphone drivers.
    3. Then, the headphone drivers play the inverted-phase sound, which cancels the unwanted noise in the air before reaching the ears.

    Read more on how noise cancelling works.

    how active noise cancelling works
    Simple diagram of the ANC process. Source:analogictips

    ANC works best for constant, low-frequency sounds like the constant hum of an engine or city noise.

    When active noise cancelation is on, it feels like you’re in a quieter place, but it does not cancel out all background noise. The sound of background chatter, loud music playback, and every other non-constant frequency isn’t cancelled out, and you’ll still hear it.

    The combination of active noise cancellation and passive isolation offers the best noise-reduction results.

    Noise isolation

    Passive isolation or passive noise cancellation, as many people call it, is the physical blocking of sound waves.

    It requires no batteries or microphones, only effective noise isolation.

    For over-ear headphones, the use of tight-fitting ear pads plays a crucial role in blocking out external noise. For in-ear monitors and earbuds, using double or triple-flanged eartips gives a more secure fit and better passive isolation. Find the best noise-isolating earbuds here.

    Good isolating earbuds block up to 37 dB of noise, which means isolation from normal conversation volume, especially when you play music.

    Passive isolation blocks all outside sounds, from neighbors to loud kids. This makes it useful when you 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’s going on around you.

    What are the Benefits of Noise Cancelling Earbuds?

    • They significantly reduce background noise
    • By reducing noise, they allow you to enjoy your audio at a lower volume
    • They help you maintain focus in noisy environments like public transportation, offices, or busy streets by minimizing distractions.
    • They reduce stress due to noise pollution. Constant exposure to noise is stressful and fatiguing. By blocking it, ANC earbuds create a more calming environment.
    • They improve call quality. Many earbuds also have noise-canceling microphones. You hear less background noise, and your voice is clearer to the person you call.
    • They make traveling more peaceful and allow for restful sleep and relaxed listening.
    • They contribute to healthier listening habits. By lowering background noise, you don’t have to increase the volume, reducing the risk of hearing damage.
    • They’re much more convenient to carry than over-ear headphones, thanks to their compact size.
    Sleeping with headphones
    If you can’t sleep due to annoying ambient noise, noise-cancelling earbuds can improve your sleeping.

    What Does Active Noise Cancelling Up to 95% Actually Mean?

    You can read claims like “impressive ANC performance up to 28dB“.

    Or “Active Noise Cancelling Up to 95%“.

    What does that actually mean?

    These are sales statements that often don’t show a clear picture of how effective ANC is, but are trying to convince you.

    There are a couple of things to know:

    All ANC ratings represent a measurement in perfect 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 noise cancelling buds with 95% rated effectiveness will cancel out 95% of outside noise. They cancel various frequencies at different levels.

    But it is possible a certain frequency that you barely hear in the real world is cancelled up to 95%. The marketing people then use the statistic to create a compelling message.

    It’s the same with the “up to 28dB” claim. 28dB reduction is only effective at a specific frequency and not across the audio spectrum.

    Take manufacturer ANC ratings with a grain of salt. These often don’t represent the exact behavior and effectiveness of the noise-cancelling technology. For this reason, we do A/B ANC comparison tests where you can compare and hear the effectiveness.

    Are ANC Earbuds Safe?

    Is active noise cancelling safe?

    Noise cancellation technology doesn’t emit any kind of radiation or any other kind of harmful effects. It’s perfectly safe.

    We go into much more detail in this article.

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Can you sleep with noise cancelling headphones?

    You can sleep with noise-canceling earbuds if they don’t bother your head’s sleeping position. but only if they are comfortable for you. Smaller noise-cancellation earbuds are better for sleeping because you can wear them with your head on the side.

    Are AirPods noise cancelling?

    Regular AirPods aren’t noise cancelling. They have passive isolation but no ANC. AirPods Pro models and AirPods Max do have ANC with many other features.

    Is it worth getting noise-cancelling earbuds?

    Noise-canceling earbuds make daily commute and airplane travel more bearable. And they also protect hearing in all noisy environments.

    Is noise cancelling the same as hearing protection?

    While ANC is effective at blocking surrounding noise, it’s not the same as hearing protection. The problem is that most ANC earbuds don’t reduce an entire frequency response. So, dedicated passive noise isolation headphones better protect your ears.

    Did you find our guide useful? Let us know in the comments. We love hearing your opinion.

    Last update: Updated models and added new noise-cancelling tests.

    1. Bose. No comparison. I tried 3 brands. Kept going back to the Bose. Comfortable in the ear. 3 sizes of buds Expensive. Hell yes. But wouldn’t trade. Available for iPhone. YES


    2. Nice review and summary. Thanks!


    3. There is a Bluetooth version of the MDR-EX31BN headphones, sold as import from Japan.
      They have a small rechargeable BT receiver/DNC unit with AptX support and use the same 5-pin NC31 earbuds that work with Xperia phones, although this time supplied with a shorter cable.

      Multi-point connection, NFC and a call handling microphone on the receiver make them very flexible, the only downside is that they cannot be used when charging.


    4. Have used Phiaton NC220 for more than a year – absolutely fabulous. Use in gym regularly, and on 14 hr flights to Europe from Asia. Comfy, good ANC, long lasting battery, and fantastic sound.
      Only CON is the BT connection could be stronger…drops quite easily.


    5. Have you ever heard of the company senso? I ordered their passive noise cancelling Bluetooth earbuds from Amazon. Should receive in a couple of days. The reviews on the site were outstanding for sound and comfort, for a reasonable price ($36) If anyone has a pair let me know what you think. I will know soon enough I guess. I will write a review and let you all know what I think.


    6. I have the Sony MDR NC31E and I was truly impressed the first day I tried them on.
      I had to mow the lawn and the engine noise was reduced almost entirely… Then I went to a music store and tried the Bose QC 20 on display and the difference was not perceived by my non audiophile ears, so needless to say that for the price I paid, the Sony was a great choice, specially since it works with my recent XZ too.

      The downside is that if I want to use it with something else I might need to plug a short extender to “convert” the 5 pole.


    7. Just want to confirm do the TaoTronics actually offer Active Noise Cancellation? From what I can find it only seems to offer CVC noise cancellation (which if I understand correctly is only to support you voice during a call). I can’t find anywhere that says it offers ANC to block ambient sound for the user hears through the earbud. Please confirm because I am looking for a cheap pair of wireless earbuds with ANC, and Taotronics would would be good if it had any ANC.


      1. You’re right. The ANC is only for the voice but they also do have good passive noise isolation. For sound ANC you won’t find them so cheap, cheapest models that do a decent job are still around $80. We are looking into a good replacement as we speak.


        1. It would be really nice if you could tell us what models have ANC for the mic as well. Not only would I like to hear whom I am talking to in a noisy environment, but, I’d like them to hear me. And they won’t, unless the unit has a noise cancelling mic as well.


    8. Good article, thanks! What I need is a good Noise Cancelling in-ear pods which will be used only when I am mowing the lawn. I am not so naive to think that any in-ear solution will block out all the noise of the lawnmower but it would be great to block out enough that I can actually hear the music. So, since I am only wearing while I cut the grass, the noise cancelling feature is more important that the sound quality (it still needs to be “good” sound but not audiophile). For sound quality I own a pair of Bose in-ear pods and Audio-Technica over-headphones. Any suggestions?


    9. Check out the Rowkin earbud’s reviews. Not quite a noise cancelling specialist but all the features are awesome.. One of the best in the best in the market.


    10. It would be nice to know two things about the models you’ve mentioned:

      1. Does it have an active noise cancelling mic so that whomever I’m talking to can hear me as well (the Phiaton’s do, and that’s why I have them).

      2. Does the unit power up when plugged in for charging. Many don’t. I’d be pretty annoyed if my battery died and I couldn’t use them until charged again. Could you imagine if you had a cell phone that didn’t work when it was plugged in for charging?

      As an aside, you said: …The microphone picks up the surrounding noise and sends the opposite frequency to the headphones to negate the unwanted noise…”

      Not a real good explanation. There’s no such thing as an opposite frequency. Why don’t you say what everybody else says…It sends same exact signal, but 180 degrees out of phase with the original, thereby cancelling the background noise.


    11. This article is somewhat helpful as a list, but not enough info to actually choose one. On a site called “headphone addict”, I expect more.

      Can you list the weight of each headphone in ounces, including batteries? Do any of these use standard batteries in addition to rechargable, for a fast swap without waiting to charge? What is the charging time? What connectors are used? Is a lightning adaptor included? Which headphones are on-ear vs over-ear?


      1. Adding weight info is a good recommendation.
        None use standard batteries, ANC earbuds like that don’t exist. They all come with built-in rechargeable batteries.
        The charging time for a full charge is usually under 2 hours. There are no big differences among models in this regard.
        Connectors are visible under “connection” in the table.
        Lightning adapters are not standard accessories. You either buy Lightning earbuds or a separate adapter.
        These are all in-ear headphones/earbuds. On-ears and over-ears are a different type of headphones.
        Hope it helps 🙂


    12. I’ve had two pairs of the Bose earbuds. The noise cancellation is, in a word, magical. Battery life is awesome.

      But, after about a year, the insulation started to degrade to the point where copper was exposed over 80% of the cable. The wires are so fine that it’s basically impossible to replace the cable. The device still worked great, as long as you don’t wiggle the cable too much, which can cause an internal short when the wires are exposed.

      This happened to both pairs, and is apparently due to substandard materials. The InterWebs have literally thousands of accounts of this happening. Bose has made no effort to correct this issue, and only offered a small discount on a replacement when I contacted them.

      I could understand if the battery started to give out, or if I had not properly stored or cared for these items (they were always kept in the supplied pouch, no super-tight winding up of the cable, etc.). But, I took care of these things and they still fell apart. It’s as if the cable insulation is biodegradable.

      I’ll not be buying any more Bose products. Planned obsolescence is annoying enough. Knowingly selling a product that you *know* will fall apart in a year is just terrible business.


    13. your cute table is not sortable by “noise canceling”. also why are there 3 years old comments under this 2 weeks old article?


      1. Thanks for the comment, we’ll try and figure out a solution to make it sortable.
        The article is actually older than 3 years, but we update it frequently, so you’ve probably seen the date of the last update.


    14. At least ONE pair of earbuds with normal wires would be considerate, given we don’t all have a month’s rent available twice a day when the astoundingly predictable endemic failure of wireless microgadetry reveals precisely why the whole idea is BEYOND idiotic : once they get knocked (or fall) out, their geometry makes their trajectory so unpredictable, even bending down to check the leaves is pointless.


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