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9 Proven Best Noise Isolating Headphones (2024)

Last updated: 5 months ago
11 min read

We’ve tested 193 headphones, and this is our list of the best noise-isolating headphones that passively muffle background noise (like professional mufflers).

Discover headphones with the highest passive noise isolation that are:

  • Useful for blocking out ambient noise to enjoy your music
  • Perfect for loud work environments
  • Great at protecting your hearing

Note: These are not active noise-cancelling but NOISE-ISOLATING. Read about the difference below. See the best noise cancelling headphones here.

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 Noise Isolation Mic & Controls More info
4.1
Under $200
Up to 35 dBA
crosscross
Sony WH-1000XM5 Best wireless
Sony WH-1000XM5 small image
4.5
Under $400
Up to 25 dB
checkmarkcheckmark
Sennheiser HD 25 Best on-ear
Sennheiser HD25 Professional DJ Headphones s
4.6
Under $150
Up to 30 dB
crosscross
4.7
Under $150
Up to 36 dB
crosscross
Beyerdynamic DT 150 Best flat sound
Beyerdynamic DT 150
4.5
Under $210
Up to 36 dB
crosscross
4.4
Under $240
Up to 35-42 dB
crosscross
Jabra Elite 7 Pro Best true wireless
Jabra Elite 7 Pro small image
3.9
Under $110
Up to 30 dBA
checkmarkcheckmark
ISOtunes Free Best for work
ISOtunes Free
4.1
Under $110
22dB NRR certified (max 30)
checkmarkcheckmark
Antlion Kimura Duo Best for gaming
Antlion Kimura Duo gaming in-ear monitors
3.9
Under $150
n/a
Boom mic only
CONTENTS (show more)

    Searching for the best noise-isolating headphones?

    You’ve come to the right place.

    Above, you can find 10 headphone recommendations (over-ears, on-ear, in-ear) that have the best passive noise isolation.

    So you’ll never again have to suffer the noise of your neighbor’s kids or experience nerve-wracking plane flights.

    Get these, and don’t let others hear what you’re listening to by leaking sound.

    Headphones on our list are evaluated based on 9 key factors (Sonic9Score). The main criterion we looked at is passive noise isolation (see why below).

    Explore our testing and ranking methodology.

    Best Noise Isolating Headphones

    1. Beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80-Ohm

    1st-place Most Noise Isolating
    • Noise isolation: Up to 35 dBA with pleather ear pads and a tight fit
    Beyerdynamic-DT-770-M best noise isolation headphones

    Beyerdynamic DT 770 M (80 Ohm) are our top pick and the best noise isolation headphones right now.

    Make sure you get the DT 770 M version and not the regular DT 770, which is another model.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 5-30.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 80 Ohm | Weight: 10.6 oz (300g) | Cable lenght: n/a | Features: Inline volume controls
    • 35dBA passive noise reduction
    • Fun, accurate sound
    • Sturdy build with metal frame
    • You need an amp to run them properly

    Better over-ear headphones than these are going to cost you at least 2x the price.

    The audio quality is very accurate, sporting a neutral sound profile that doesn’t have any particular “flavor.” The bass has a well-extended range, and it makes music listening fun. The soundstage is very good for closed-back headphones.

    These are meant for studio use, so sound isolation plays a big part. The sound is isolated up to 35dBA, making these best headphones one of the top circumaural models at noise isolation.

    With soft-skin replaceable earpads and a leather padded headband, you can wear these for hours without any irritation.

    The build is of high quality. Made out of thick plastics that you can feel won’t break easily. The metal headband is coated in leather, making it nice and soft, even after hours of wearing them.

    But these are wired over-ear headphones without frills. In our opinion, they’re not ideal for modern daily use (can’t connect to a smartphone without the AUX port). So, find more convenient models below.

    However, as wired over-ears, they’re a top choice for blocking noise.

    Best Wireless Noise Isolating Headphones

    2. Sony WH-1000XM5

    wireless Best Wireless Noise Isolating
    • Noise isolation: Up to 25 dB with a tight around-the-ear fit
    Sony WH-1000XM5 in a table

    The Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best noise-isolating wireless headphones we’ve tested (also with great ANC) – Sony WH-1000XM5 review.

    $316.99
    $399.99
    in stock
    Walmart.com
    $398.00
    in stock
    24 new from $398.00
    60 used from $196.23
    as of April 11, 2024 6:29 pm
    Amazon.com
    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 30mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 4-40.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 40h (with ANC) | Wireless range: 65 feet (19.8 meters)(Connection priority) | Noise cancelling: Yes, adaptive | Charging: 3.5h – Quick charge – USB-C (PD) | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Water resistance: None | Features: App, Adaptive ANC, 360 Audio, Speak-to-chat
    • Fun sound that can become natural after EQ
    • Modern, comfortable & stable design
    • Class-leading active noise cancellation performance
    • Excellent battery life of more than 40 hours (with ANC)
    • The best call quality in consumer BT headphones
    • Not the most detailed sound
    • Too much plastic for the price

    Sony made an excellent pair of noise-isolation headphones with the WH-1000XM5. They offer an elite option for those who want active noise-cancelling and rich features.

    Sony WH-1000XM5 have a V-shaped sound signature without a boomy bass. These headphones are perfect for commuters and travelers who want to enjoy in full sound that never gets boring. Plus, you can equalize it to your liking with capable EQ options in the app.

    The wireless noise-cancelling headphones do a great job of isolating noise, too. They fit snugly around your ears for minimal noise leakage.

    Furthermore, they have excellent noise cancellation. They’re able to effectively block out ambient sounds and leave your audio clear, perfect for office workers and commuters. They can also do the opposite and boost the environmental noise with Transparency mode.

    The WH-1000XM5 have a low profile and a lightweight design but aren’t foldable anymore. And to ensure you enjoy music and ANC for a long time, you get an excellent battery life of around 40 hours per charge.

    The pressure on the ears is low, and the padding is soft, albeit thin. They’re quite flexible headphones and come with a carrying case for extra protection.

    All in all, in our opinion, there are no Bluetooth headphones with all the bells and whistles that isolate as much noise as these. They’re an investment but totally worth it. See our full review for details.

    For a cheaper but similar option, check the previous model: Sony WF-1000XM4.

    Best Noise Isolating On-Ear Headphones

    3. Sennheiser HD 25

    trophy Best On-Ears
    • Noise isolation: Up to 30 dB, as long as you keep them close to ears
    Sennheiser HD 25 wired headphones

    In our opinion, the Sennheiser HD 25 are the top choice for noise-isolating on-ear headphones.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 16-22.000Hz
    Type: On-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 70 Ohm | Weight: 4.9 oz (140g) | Cable lenght: 4.9 feet (1.5m) | Features: Detachable cable
    • Excellent isolation for in-ear headphones
    • Lightweight and comfortable
    • Clear, balanced sound
    • On-ear design still isnt suitable for longer listening sessions

    The HD 25 on-ear headphones have been the Sennheiser flagship portables for quite some time and have the status of a classic.

    Headphones have a balanced signature without any range being too emphasized or lacking.

    The bass is punchy and clear, with the midrange being very rich and detailed. Higher frequencies are clear and precise but can get a bit aggressive at higher volumes.

    They’re used as a DJ and studio headphones because they have one of the best noise-isolating on-ear designs. With up to 30 dB of noise isolation and portable design, you can easily use these on loud public transport.

    Overall, the Sennheiser HD 25 are surprisingly light, considering how durable the design they have. At the same time, their lightweight nature offers better comfort.

    Build quality is very good, as with most Sennheiser products, having an L-plug and looking rather rugged, these will easily stand the test of time.

    Best Noise Isolating Studio Headphones

    4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x

    trophy Best Studio
    • Noise isolation: Up to 36 dB (of some frequencies)
    Audio-Technica ATH-M50x wired headphone

    We believe the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are the top choice of noise-isolating studio headphones.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: 45mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 15-28.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 38 Ohm | Weight: 10 oz (285g) | Cable lenght: 3.9ft (1.2m) & 9.8ft (3m) | Features: Detachable cable, foldable
    • Fun, V-shaped sound
    • Foldable, travel-friendly design
    • Good overall durability
    • Foldable hinges seem fragile

    The audio quality is great, rather balanced on lower volumes, but really rich in bass. Middle ranges are rich, clear, and detailed but get slightly overpowered by bass. The high pitch is also clear and balanced but gets overshadowed by lower tunes. It’s great for all studio work.

    With up to 36 dB of isolation, these closed-back headphones are hard to beat when it comes to blocking ambient noise. When you want some peace and quiet, put these on and enjoy your work without interruptions.

    You can replace the padded headbands and earpads with velour alternatives for extra comfort. So, you end up with top comfort that is comparable to the plushest headphones.

    They are made out of durable plastics and metal, offering top-grade survivability in today’s harsh world. The foldable design makes them semi-portable, even considering their big size.

    For studio work, the ATH-M50x are a top contender when it comes to passive noise isolation. Check them out.

    Best Noise Isolating Flat Headphones

    5. Beyerdynamic DT 150

    trophy Best Flat Sound
    • Noise isolation: Up to 36 dB (some frequencies), good isolation across the board
    Beyerdynamic DT 150

    One of the best sound-isolating headphones if you seek flat sound.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 5-30.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 250 Ohm | Weight: 8.81 oz (250 g) | Cable lenght: 9.8 ft (3m) | Features: Detachable cable
    • Faithful sound reproduction
    • Excellent noise isolation, suitable for loud environments
    • Retro yet robust design
    • Strong clamping force

    Beyerdynamic DT 150 are less known headphones than others on this list, but not any worse. In fact, they’re the best solution for loud studios and concerts for a reasonable price.

    These ancient-looking headphones produce a very faithful sound performance, similar to the DT770 model, but with less treble. Surprisingly, despite their closed-back ear cups, even the soundstage is nicely wide.

    The DT-150 are one of the oldest still-producing headphones on the market. Headphones offer masterfully built quality from premium materials, but one of their best “extra features” is passive noise cancellation.

    Due to the thick ear cup construction, dense foam, and somewhat tight clamping force, these isolate noise incredibly well.

    These amazing headphones are primarily made for monitoring in loud environments like studios and during live performances.

    Updated over the years, they come with a detachable cable with a proprietary connection. There’s no inline mic for making calls.

    The DT 150 are great for listening at home when you want to have some peace and quiet.

    Best Noise Isolating Earbuds (In-ear Monitors)

    6. Etymotic Research ER4XR

    earbud Best Noise Isolating In-Ears
    • Noise isolation: Up to 43 dB (for some frequencies)
    Etymotic Research ER4XR wired IEMs

    In our opinion, Etymotic Research ER4XR are the most noise-isolating in-ear headphones.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm
    Driver size icon Driver size: Balanced armature driver
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-16.000Hz
    Type: In-ear | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: No | Impedance: 45 Ohm | Weight: n/a | Cable length: 5 feet (1.52m) | Features: Detachable cable, replaceable ACCU-Filters, custom-fit option
    • Exceptional, balanced sound
    • Great passive isolation
    • Replacable filters
    • Deep insertion can cause discomfort

    Etymotic ER4XR are in-ear monitors with the best passive isolation on the market.

    These are considered one of the most accurate and detailed earbuds in their price range right now. While accuracy is great for classical music and other genres with little bass, other more modern pop and rock tunes will clearly show the lack of low tones.

    They have the highest-rated isolation at 35 dB to 42 dB of noise isolation, depending on what ear tips you use. This is the kind of isolation that can be compared to in-ears for $300-$400+.

    Comfort mostly depends on what tips you use. The in-ear headphones themselves are very light due to their plastic construction and offer a secure fit for all sizes of ears.

    They have pretty good strain relief, while the wires are basic rubber protected. By knowing how to clean earbuds, they should serve you long enough.

    Nonetheless, wired earbuds aren’t for everybody. If you’re looking for wireless earbuds you can’t use with your phone, check below. But for earbuds that block a lot of noise, you’ll have a hard time finding better.

    Best Noise Isolating True Wireless Earbuds

    7. Jabra Elite 7 Pro

    true-wireless Best Noise Isolating TWS
    • Noise isolation: Up to 30 dBA with a proper fit and eartips
    Jabra Elite 7 Pro earbuds and case

    Jabra Elite 7 Pro are the best noise-isolating true wireless earbuds we’ve tested for everyday use – Jabra Elite 7 Pro review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 6mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 8h + 22h in case | Wireless range: 60 feet (18.3m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2.5h + quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IP57 | Features: Multipoint, ANC, HearThrough, EQ, app
    • Balanced sound out-of-the-box that gets better with EQ
    • Comfortable fit for long listening sessions
    • High IP57 rating and premium-feeling build
    • Good battery life of 8 hours per charge & wireless charging support
    • Jabra+ app has overwhelming amount of features
    • Impressive passive noise isolation
    • Mediocre active noise cancellation with almost no effect
    • Custom EQ doesn't let you tweak frequencies above 7kHz

    Jabras’ have a top spot among the best headphones under $200 with high passive noise isolation. Because they push the eartips deeper into the ears, they block more noise than your average true wireless earbuds.

    Expect a neutral sound signature with a slight recess in the mids that you can correct in the Jabra+ app. It’s good sound out of the box with a wide soundstage and accurate imaging. Find our custom EQ in the full review.

    Earbuds have a long nozzle and ear tips that reach deep into your ear canal while avoiding pressure inside your ears.

    Consequently, you get impressive passive noise isolation up to 30 dBA. It even surpasses some earbuds with memory-foam ear tips.

    Excellent passive isolation helps Jabra Elite 7 Pro block a lot of ambient noise since the active noise cancellation doesn’t work that well.

    Fortunately, earbuds shine in other areas, like the rich app with lots of customization and clear phone calls.

    Also, they can play music for a very long time, clocking more than 8 hours per charge (with ANC) and having another 22 hours inside the Qi wireless charging case.

    For a top pick among true wireless headphones, check the Jabra Elite 7 Pro. More details in our review.

    Best Noise Isolating Work Earbuds

    8. ISOtunes Free

    trophy Best for Work
    • Noise isolation: Up to 30 dB, average 22 dB NRR certified
    ISOtunes Free

    ISOtunes Free are the best noise-isolating work earbuds we’ve tested. These are certified hearing protection and can be used in loud work environments – ISOtunes Free review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: +7h + 14h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: No | Charging: 2h – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, aptX | Water resistance: IP45 | Features: 22 NRR, volume limiter
    • Superb passive noise isolation
    • OSHA & NIOSH compliant
    • Certified for the workplace
    • High build quality with an IP45 rating (dustproof and waterproof)
    • Good sound quality for most people
    • Thick eartips can irritate the ear canal
    • White noise at low volume

    If you need to protect your hearing at work and don’t want to use big earmuffs, these are a perfect pick.

    Their audio quality isn’t the strongest point, but they’re still good enough for a good listening experience. Bass is slightly emphasized and punchy, with a decent midrange and treble quality.

    They’re also limited to reacting to the loudness of 85 dB, which prevents them from causing hearing loss.

    ISOtunes Free are the latest true wireless headphones that meet the OSHA and NIOSH requirements. These can be used as hearing protection for a safe work environment.

    With a certified 22 NRR (American National Standards Institute certified Noise Reduction Rating) they provide better noise reduction than alternatives. You can safely use them when mowing the lawn, using power tools, or any loud heavy equipment.

    They’re dust and water resistant (IP45) and come with Bluetooth 5.0 for wireless connectivity. With almost 8 hours of battery life, they last for the majority of the work shift. The audio is slightly bassy, making the music more dynamic.

    The aptX support brings better Bluetooth transmission and lower video delay for seamless video watching. You can also answer phone calls with the built-in mic.

    All in all, ISOtunes Free deserve a spot on the list. If you’re looking for portable wireless certified hearing protection that acts as in-ear headphones, they’re a top option.

    Best Noise Isolating Gaming Earbuds

    9. Antlion Kimura Duo

    trophy Best Gaming Buds
    • Noise isolation: Great noise isolation for gaming earphones
    Antlion Kimura Duo IEMs

    Antlion Kimura Duo are the best noise-isolating gaming earbuds we’ve tested. They come with a quality microphone for uninterrupted play – Antlion Kimura Duo review.

    Connection icon Connection: Wired – Dual 3.5mm TRS
    Driver size icon Driver size: Dynamic & Balanced armature driver
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 10-30.000Hz
    Type: In-ear monitors | Back design: Closed-back | Noise cancelling: No | Mic & Controls: Mic only | Impedance: 24 Ohms | Weight: 1.5 ounces (43 g) with cable | Cable lenght: 6.5 feet (2 meters) | Surround sound: No | Features: Detachable cable, boom mic, shirt clip
    • Durable IEMs made of resin
    • Great call quality from the included boom mic
    • Comfortable & with ear hooks for better stability
    • Y adapter for compatibility with laptops
    • Bassy yet controlled sound quality
    • Good soundstage & precise imaging
    • Bass bleeds into the midrange
    • Putting IEMs in your ears can be a chore
    • No mic mute button

    They produce clear mid-range and treble with an emphasized bass. Their sound is rather balanced, with enough bass to make music fun and games more immersive.

    Their isolation is superb, maybe not as good as Etymotic ER4XR (listed above), but still much better than your regular earbuds. On top of that, you also get a superb boom mic so that your teammates can hear you loudly and clearly.

    We found the comfort greatly depends on how much you squeeze the moldable ear hook. But once you find the right spot, they are very comfortable. You can get them in various color options too.

    With detachable cables coated in regular rubber, these are one of the more durable IEMs that will survive many gaming hours.

    For noise-isolating gaming earbuds with a boom microphone, Antlion Kimura Duo take the spot.

    Honorable Mentions

    Sony WF-1000XM4

    Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds with case

    Sony’s high-end true wireless earbuds offer excellent audio quality with natural-sounding reproduction. Earbuds support Sony LDAC Bluetooth codec.

    Apart from being the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market, they also provide great noise-isolating properties.

    Sony WF-1000XM4 review

    Shure SE215

    Shure SE215 wired in-ear monitor

    Shure SE215 are one of the most popular and well-reviewed in-ear monitors on the market right now.

    They’re a great pick for live-performing musicians.

    Check SE215 price

    Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2

    Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 earbuds

    Effective ambient noise isolation and great audio quality in true wireless design. Get memory-foam eartips for best results.

    Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review

    KRK KNS-8400

    KRK-KNS8400

    These are a good pair of headphones and do a good job for studio monitoring purposes at a lower price. They isolate up to 30 dB.

    Check KNS-8400 price

    Jabra Elite Active 75t

    Jabra Elite Active 75t earbuds in box

    A great pair of earbuds if you want dependable, true wireless earbuds with full-bodied sound and above-average noise isolation.

    Jabra Elite Active 75t review

    How We Picked and Tested?

    We test noise isolation by comparing the difference in recorded frequency response between sine sweep noise without and with headphones on our testing rig. This shows us how much noise headphones passively block (we haven’t tested all headphones in the list; this will be updated later).

    The second source of information is online research. There are many use cases that can’t be tested in a lab-like environment. This is why online feedback is valuable.

    Altogether, we test them on 9 key points that create the Sonic9Score: Sound quality, noise isolation, ANC, battery life, comfort, features, etc. This helps us compare and pick the best-performing headphones that we can confidently recommend. See our testing and scoring methodology.

    How did we pick the models?

    We mainly focused on 1 decision point: passive noise isolation.

    Passive noise isolation is a combination of the used materials, design, build quality, and tightness of the fit. A good combination of all aspects produces an effective noise-blocking effect.

    We ranked the headphones by type and use cases. This way, everybody finds what they’re looking for.

    Passive Noise Isolation vs. Active Noise Canceling – What’s the Difference?

    There is a BIG difference between noise isolation and noise cancellation that many people are not aware of.

    • Passive noise isolation physically blocks all outside sound, generally up to 25 dB – 30 dB. So, if you want to lower all outside noise and focus on your music, this is the best option.
    • Active noise canceling works slightly differently. It uses tiny microphones to record all low-frequency noise, like the humming of a helicopter engine noise, (active noise canceling was first developed for helicopter pilots), and then sends the inverted sound wave to your ears through headphones to “cancel” it. This is a greatly simplified explanation. Ultimately, ANC cancels out around 15 dB of surrounding noise.

    Noise-canceling headphones won’t cancel people talking near you or loud music. They’re mostly used for canceling annoying external noise and not the “annoying people.”

    Noise-canceling is great if you want to remove background noises but still want to hear what people are saying. So this is useful if you’re on a plane and want to know when the dinner is going to be served but find the jet engines bothersome.

    Commercial airplanes produce up to 80-85 dB of cabin noise during flight, according to CDC NIOSH.

    But ambient noise isn’t the only problem.

    Lower-quality noise-canceling headphones often distort the audio when ANC is activated. It’s one of the shortcomings of this technology.

    Generally, headphones with only sound isolation have better sound quality, but this isn’t an exact rule.

    What Does Up to 30 dB Really Mean?

    Up to 30 dB is the maximum recorded noise isolation at a certain frequency.

    This doesn’t mean the headphones block 30 dB of noise at all frequencies. Each frequency in the spectrum has a different noise-isolating rating.

    Different frequencies react differently to the same materials. Some are easier to absorb than others (like high frequencies).

    For this reason, a higher max dB noise isolation rating doesn’t mean the headphones are better at blocking noise across the board.

    Frequency response chart
    An example of a frequency response on the spectrum.

    What are the Advantages of Sound-Isolating Headphones?

    Makes music listening safer

    Headphones reduce the amount of ambient noise that enters your ears. This way, you can enjoy audio at a lower volume, which is the best and safest way to listen to music in the long run.

    Protects hearing

    It’s been proven that listening to loud music can damage the ears and result in hearing loss, so practicing safe headphone use is essential.

    Helps you enjoy classical music

    Passive isolation is especially useful for listening to classical music that outside noise can easily overpower. By removing distorting ambient noises, you can hear every detail that you weren’t able to before. Thus making music richer and more enjoyable.

    Helps you block the world

    The world is full of distractions. As you already know, if you work remotely.

    Sound isolation comes very handy when you want to block the outside world so you can focus on your task, phone call, or TikTok videos during a break.

    FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

    How much ambient sound is reduced with noise-isolating headphones?

    Good noise-isolating headphones lower the noise above 30 dB at best. However, the average isolation across the frequency spectrum will be around 20-25 dB. Some frequencies are easier to block than others. This is why the max isolation in dB doesn’t tell the whole story.

    What manufacturers aren’t telling you about noise isolation in dB?

    Noise isolation measurements are taken using specific frequencies. Some frequencies are easier to isolate than others. The manufacturers tell only about the best results. For example, if a manufacturer claims headphones isolate 35 dB of noise, it means they can isolate up to 35dB at a specific frequency. It doesn’t mean they isolate 35 dB across all frequencies.

    Are there headphones that block all noise?

    No headphones can block all noise. Passive noise isolation only works to some extent and is usually better at blocking lower frequencies (bass). Treble or high-pitched sounds are harder to block. Not even the top ANC headphones block all noise.

    Conclusion

    We’ve included different headphones for different use cases. Hopefully, you’ve found ones that fit your needs.

    As a reminder, here are the top noise-isolating picks:

    Best isolating headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 770 M (80 Ohm)

    Best isolating wireless headphones: Sony WH-1000XM5

    Best isolating true wireless headphones: Jabra Elite 7 Pro

    For more options of headphones that remove background noise, check these:

    62 Comments
    1. What are the best noise isolating sports headphones?

      Reply

      1. Any IEMs (in-ear monitors) will do the job. Put some foam ear tips in and you’re golden. The only question you should ask yourself is what kind of sound signature you prefer and whether or not you want them to be wireless.

        Check the article with best headphones for working out and look at IEMs.

        Reply

    2. Hi. Nice list but what do you recommend for office use and travel. No sound leagage, wireless over ear headphones. Need to look good and not cheap. Belive it or not but right now im using Extreme Isolation EX-29 at the office. Drummer headset 🙂

      Reply

      1. Hi Ferdinand,

        it really depends on what you’re looking for. A lot of people go for good in-ear monitors for office use since they have good sound isolation and no sound leakage. Over ear headphones are good too, just make sure they have closed-back so you don’t bother others with it.

        For traveling a lot of people go with Bose noise cancelling headphones (wireless, comfy, decent sound, best ANC), I’d say there is no one model that does all you want perfectly. You will have to pick the features you like the most and pick the model accordingly.

        Reply

    3. Hi love the list! I catch the train everyday, I love my music up loud but I would hate it if everyone around me can hear it too. My budget is no more than $150AUS. I would use it with my macbook and iphone. I prefer on-ear too. Thanks! x

      Reply

      1. Unfortunately I can’t give you any good recommendation in the price range, the Sennheiser HD25-1 II are everything you want but cost a bit too much for your budget. $150AUD is roughly $120USD but the aforementioned Sennheiser headphones cost over $200USD.

        The problem is that it’s hard to find on-ear headphones with good noise isolation since they are smaller in size and yet not as small as in-ear monitors.

        You have the option of either getting in-ear or over-ear models that isolate well for less money, paying more money, or going for some other portable on-ear headphones with good sound, but without great noise isolation.

        Reply

    4. Hi there! Thank you for the great research. I would like to get your advice on in ear headphones that can be used on the train as well as in the office – these can be noise isolation or cancellation. I see that Shure or Etymotic are good fits per the article but wanted to see if there are others. Priced max to $200.
      Thanks!

      Reply

      1. The ones in the list are the best in this category in our opinion. We always keep the possibility that there are better ones out there, especially since people have different needs and opinions, but the ones posted are on top of their game.

        Reply

    5. I agree with the #1 choice of Etymotic HF5 for noise isolation. I ride motorcycles with these on and 90% of wind noise is eliminated. A bonus because then my music does not need to be cranked up too loud! I also wear these while flying commercial. Excellent for isolating the cabin noise while enjoying awesome sound! The only draw back is the durability of the plug. I’ve broken three! Yes, three. the plug is quite fragile compared to other brands (Apple plugs are rock solid). I broke two plugs while the buds were plugged in to my phone, phone put in pocket, and simply bending over to pick something up! SNAP! I really get tired of spending $150 a pop to get new ones. I wish Etymotic would beef up their plugs.

      Reply

    6. Hello,
      My wife is significantly bothered by heavy noise construction taking place in the neighbourhood. She is a writer, working at home, hence she needs a more silent environment. Ear plugs are not sufficient. I was going to suggest over-ear headphones. The sound quality is not important as she does not listen to music when she works. Any suggestion?

      Thanks in advance!

      Reply

      1. If it’s a constant noise she should look up noise cancelling headphones. Bose QuietComfort 35 have the best ANC at the moment. Plus they are very comfy so she can wear them for hours.

        Reply

    7. Hello,
      I’m looking for the *best* sound isolation headphones against human voices. I’m not concerned with the highest music quality. I study all day either at home or coffee places and I’m easily distracted by people talk, baby cry and kids scream at the school across the street.

      I understand noise canceling will not block these frequencies. I bought the shure SE112m+ and added foam tips. Although good, they are not near enough to completely block any of these situations. Even silicone ear plugs will not do the job. Although it may seem a waste of money I’m considering wearing silicone ear plugs together with over-the-ear headphones.

      Is there any headphone out there that can *completely* block human voices? Or what would be the closest?

      Reply

      1. Which would be best for noise isolation specifically against human voice? Over-ear (e.g. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO or the Beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80) or in-ear (e.g. Shure SE215 Earphones and Etymotic Research HF5)?

        Reply

    8. Hi,
      Do you have any good recommendations for noise isolation earbuds or headset for screaming kids? The high frequency of the screams sets off my seizures. I need to use them in stores and other places like airplanes and need to sometimes wear these for hours. Also I would like to have a microphone so that I can take a call on the same earbuds or headset. I would prefer earbuds.

      Thank-you

      Reply

      1. Etymotic Research HF5 have great noise isolation, but unfortunately don’t have the microphone. You are right to pick in-ear monitors for noise isolation, just make sure you also get the right fitting eartips, preferably Comply foam tips. You can get them for any IEM model.

        Reply

    9. Hi,
      About the Beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80’s you said that : Better headphones than these are going to cost you at least 2x the price . Ok which ones? I have the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO and they are very good but i would like more noise cancellation.

      Thanks

      Reply

      1. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO don’t have active noise cancelling, only passive noise isolation. If you want best ANC get Bose QuietComfort 35.

        Reply

    10. I listen to 70s and my wife sits next to me and reads.I have good quality stereo equipment.
      I want good sound and do not want to have any sound leakage to bother my Wife.
      What do I need?

      Reply

      1. You need closed-back, tight fitting headphones with good noise isolation. Most closed-back headphones will do a good job, but look at the best models on the list.

        Keep in mind at higher volumes you won’t be able to completely eliminate noise leak. No headphones are able to do that. As long as you keep the volume to healthy levels you should be fine.

        Reply

    11. Hi

      What would be the best to use for flying? Not sure whether to buy noise cancelling or noise isolating, I read on some reviews that some people can’t use the noise cancelling as it makes them feel nausea.

      Thank you!

      Reply

      1. For flying noise cancelling are a better option. The airplane engines make a constant, low pitched noise which get cancelled out by ANC nicely. Passive noise isolation will work too, but won’t be as effective.

        If you fly a lot you see most people on planes are using ANC headphones without any problems. Though it is possible to get motion sickness from it, it’s very uncommon. Or just take motion sickness pills before boarding, helps with airplane motion as well. It helps me. 🙂

        Reply

    12. Ronicka says:
      November 20, 2016 at 4:46 pm
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      Hi , I”m bothered with the traffic noise of cars, bikes and the horns outside my house and get woken up by of outside noise ever night. What model of ear phones you suggest that I can even wear while I’m sleeping and gives me a quiet and peaceful night sleep by cutting off the outside noise. Also do you suggestin ear or outside. Considering I would like to put them on while sleeping?

      Reply

      1. Unfortunately, headphones aren’t meant to be used when sleeping. In-ear monitors/earbuds would be the better options since over-ear and on-ear are too big to wear comfortably during sleep.
        If you only want to isolate the outside noise to help you sleep, get some of those ear plugs. It’s going to be cheaper and more suited for your needs.

        Noise cancelling earbuds are great at cancelling out noise, but they are bulky, more expensive and need battery charging, plus you’d probably break them in a couple of days if you turn in the bed a lot.

        Reply

    13. What about the Pioneer HDJ-2000mk2 ??

      Reply

      1. We haven’t tested them yet, they seem a bit pricey. You can probably get better cans for the same money.

        Reply

    14. Where on earth are you getting the etymotic for $80?

      Reply

      1. The $80-$120 represents the range for the price not exact price.Etymotic Research HF5 usually have a price around $100 but keep in mind prices change all the time.

        Reply

        1. I am interested in finding out what kind of headphones to wear to block out the noise from fireworks. I don’t need to listen to music, just block out the sound.

          Reply

          1. We recommend you to check our noise cancelling headphones guides, like:
            https://headphonesaddict.com/best-budget-noise-cancelling-headphones/
            Using ANC (active noise cancelling) will help reduce lower frequencies as well (which are also present during firework explosions), which passive isolation headphones can’t reduce. If you want to stay below $100, we recommend you:
            – EarFun Air Pro 3 (in-ear)
            – Edifier W240TN (in-ear)
            – Anker Soundcore Life Q30 (over-ear)
            These are the best ANC headphones in price range around $70-$80.

            Reply

    15. This is a really helpful discussion, thanks for sharing your expertise. But I still have a question. Is noise isolation also the better choice under wind noise circumstances, like on a motorbike or race bike? Right now I have a pair of in-ear VSonic GR07 which sound great (very much like the Shure 215) but it doesn’t isolate that well.

      Reply

    16. Hi – I’m looking for wireless, noise-isolating earphones/headphones for two purposes: (1) To listen to music from my MacBook Pro (mid 2009) via BT and (2) to watch my Sony Bravia TV (2014). The TV doesn’t have BT capability (Sony says use RF). You can get BT transmitters for the TV headphone jack, but there is always audio lag. I have Bose QC 25s (wired, active noise cancellation) that I’m using now, for both purposes – but the wire is a pain and they tend to give me headaches with prolonged use. I believe it is the active noise cancellation. Given your reviews, I may go with Beyerdynamic or Shure (which I might use with an mp3 player), though this would not solve my above issues above. Have you tried Direct Sound EXW37 headphones? Any advice would be much appreciated Thanks!

      Reply

      1. Hi Michael,
        we haven’t tried the Direct sound EXW37.
        The headphones on this list are for those who are looking for noise isolation above everything else.
        You on the other hand can take a look at any Bluetooth closed-back headphones and you’ll still get good noise isolation with great sound quality.
        Check this article: https://headphonesaddict.combest-bluetooth-headphones/

        P.S. Pick over-ear models for better comfort.

        Reply

        1. Thanks!

          Reply

    17. Which are these are good at blocking voice conversations around you in an open office environment? my Bose QC35’s don’t put a dent in this type of noise.

      Reply

      1. All of them on the list, because these aren’t active noise cancelling but only provide good passive noise isolation. These block all outside noise better than average headphones but keep in mind no headphones block all of the noise.

        Reply

    18. Hi. Is Sennheiser HD 25 a safe choice for casual listening? Because the oficial website says this headphone has a higher sensitivity (70Ω 120dB) (I don’t know if is measured in dB/V or dB/mW). For example: using a SPL calculator and an innofensive Sansa Clip Player (16Ω 18mW), we find a SPL = 94,87 (presuming sennheiser measured in dB/mW). Acording to Institutes NIOSIH and CDC, you shouldn’t be exposed to this SPL for more than one hour!

      Reply

      1. Hi. They’re definitely safe to listen to casually. But abusing any headphones at max volume for too long can damage your hearing. Use at higher volumes should be limited for all headphones and sound systems.

        Reply

        1. Thanks! I got concerned when I saw in the manual: “Due to the high pressure levels attainable, these headphones must not be used with portable playback devices”. And concludes that It’s only for professional use. Well, If the problem is only the volume, why they don’t put this information to other products? The safety is the same. Maybe the SPL is not crontolable or not the same in the spectrum frequencies?

          Reply

    19. I had the wh-1000xm2 ( the last sony headphone ) and it really sucks at blocking voice of conversations around you. which earphones/earbuds/headphone will you recommand to completely isolate me from voice conversations?

      Reply

      1. Since wh1000xm2 are active noise cancelling headphones it makes sense that they don’t block conversations that well. Now keep in mind no headphones/earbuds will completely isolate you but the ones in this guide are one of the best at doing so. Passive noise isolation will isolate all sounds including conversation.
        We really like in-ear headphones/earbuds since you can change the ear tips to your liking and this way get the best isolation for your ear size. Etymotic Research HF5 are great at that but read the review to find more about the sound signature.

        Reply

    20. Thank you for this amazing and helpful article/review/comparison. I was also wondering about the noise isolation level of the hd8 DJ headphones from Sennheiser, since it is branded for listening in loud environments too, but no exact numbers were mentioned for it on the site like they were for 280 and 380 Pros. Maybe, if possible, how would they compare to the 770 m and the 280, in terms of sound. Thanks.

      Reply

    21. If your primary goal is sound isolation to get rid of voices nearby (i.e. wife, kids, wife yelling at you, co-workers who rudely talk to each other OVER your cubicle the best isolating headphone hybrid is any cheap ear bugs and a 35dB pair of cheap safety muffs from 3M/Peltor (no speakers inside).

      Ironically the less you spend on ear muffs, the more sound they isolate. Search for hearing protection on Amazon, then Peltor. Browse to find either 34dB or 35dB. This system has worked for me 20 years at the office. If you need to participate in work conference calls just get microphone ear buds and you are golden.

      I have observed for a long time that companies advertising “active sound isolation” also show people in the marketing photos obviously wanting to dampen unpredictable (non droning) sounds such as voices. Thank God I never bought an expensive pair of active noise reducing headphones, thanks to this article I confirmed my instinct that active isolation will actually “tune in” those voices in my head (kids, coworkers wife).

      Reply

      1. I have tried ear plugs + safety muffs, but they heated my ears very quickly and it was painful. Did you experience something similar?

        Reply

        1. You are suffering from “headphone fatigue”. There is a third option.
          1. In ear (plugs)
          2. Over ear (muffs or contemporary headphones)
          3. On ear (picture worth a thousand words.. I bought some and it eliminated the fatigue. Of course they are wired or unwired (bluetooth) for sound.

          An example of on-ear is the

          Bowers & Wilkins P3 S2 Headphones

          I bought the P5 model.

          Reply

          1. I don’t understand what exactly is that third option.

            I understood your first comment as wearing in-ear plugs together with over ear safety muffs in the same time. This solution makes my ear very warm and it is a bit painful and distressing.

            What is the second and third option?

            Reply

            1. The earphone has a “pillow” that fits on your ear (not over it).

              There is a 4th option called “open back” earphones that some people use to help with “ear fatigue”. They don’t seal in the air. This helps your ear to be more comfortable — and lets all the noise in… (bad for you)

    22. Where did you get the noise isolation data from?

      Reply

      1. Claimed by the manufacturers. This means they tell best isolation results in best possible conditions. Effectiveness of isolation depends on the frequency as well.

        Reply

    23. I tried the Sennheiser 280HD, and found the sound isolation to be inadequate, I have been using cheap ear-protectors with earbuds snaked undernath, and was hoping this would be a more comfortable, albeit more expensive, solution to trying to hear my podcasts over the over-loud music they play at my gym. Instead, very little of the gym music was blocked out, and it was no more comfortable than the ear protector/earbud setup. I had expected, since the ear protectors were also rated for about 30db, that the sound isolation would be similar, but the Sennheisers didn’t seem to block out much sound at all. I ended up returning them.

      Reply

      1. In-ear headphones are usually better at noise reduction and if you need them for the gym, they should be your first pick. HD 280 have better isolation than most over-ears but not as good as in-ear monitors. Have you tried Comply eartips?

        Reply

        1. I haven’t, and am not familiar with them.. My ears tend to build up wax like crazy, so I don’t want to encourage them to do that. I have the impression that in-ear headphones are really hard to fit so that they block out unwanted sound. Is that incorrect?

          Reply

          1. That’s not our experience. In-ear headphones or earbuds are generally better at blocking ambient noise if you get the right fit. The type of eartips you use is crucial and generally, the soft, foam eartips are the best for comfort and noise isolation. Though, as you said, if building up wax is a big problem, you’d have to change them quiet often.

            Reply

            1. I ordered and tried Comply eartips. I got the “fits most earphones” style. They fit my earphones ok but blocked very little sound. I did follow the instructions carefully – several times, but the tips were useless. Fortunately, I was able to return them (just printed the return slip) and will be getting a refund.

            2. That’s unusual. To maximize passive noise isolation you need to get an airtight fit which is easier with memory foam eartips. What earphones are you using? What kind of noise do you want to block?

              Well, it’s also possible your situation is more unique and the general advice isn’t effective. It’s hard to say over internet.

            3. The earphones are Acode from Amazon. Nothing special, but they meet my needs for listening to podcasts on an ancient mp3 player. The Comply tips fit them ok. The sound I’m trying to block out is loud music at my gym. So far the only thing that really works is over-the-ear ear protection with the headphones snaked underneath. I haven’t been able to get standalone foam ear plugs to do much for me either, so maybe I have an odd-sized or odd-shaped ear canal.

    24. Great list, I recommend all of these but my favourite is the Shure SE215. It is just the best value overall.

      Reply

    25. Great Article! I would like to use the headphones for my PC, since I prefer not to buy amplifer, I was thinking to buy Beyerdynamic DT 770M 32 Ohm, do you know what’s it’s noise isolation level? I am not sure it’s the same as the 80 ohm version.

      Reply

      1. Hey Tamir, I think it’s the same because the cups and pads are also the same. Should be no different isolation due to Ohm difference.

        Reply

    26. Nothing recent on the market better than DT770M ? I have 3 pairs, they worked great, but I still want to block more sound (the neighbors).

      Reply

      1. There’s a limit to noise isolation over-ear headphones can provide. If it’s not enough you might want to try in-ear headphones with memory-foam eartips. But we don’t expect the technology to advance much in this category. As long as the earcups are closed with good clamping force and fitting earpads, you can’t expect more.

        Reply

    27. Sony WH-1000XM4 do not have a mic.

      Reply

      1. Hi Denis, Sony WH-1000XM4 actually have more than 1 microphone. You can check the mic test here.

        Reply

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