Get the best passive noise isolating headphones that muffle noise like professional mufflers (almost).
|Rating||Price||Isolation||Type||Mic & Controls||More info|
Beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80-Ohm Best overall
Up to 35 dBA
Sony WH-1000XM4 Best noise cancelling
Up to 30 dBA
Sennheiser HD 25 Best on-ear
Up to 30 dB
Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Best bass
Up to 36 dB
Beyerdynamic DT 150 Best flat sound
Up to 36 dB
Sennheiser HD 280 PRO Best value
Up to 32 dB
Etymotic Research ER4XR Best earbuds
Up to 35-42 dB
Sony WF-1000XM4 Best true wireless
Up to 29 dBA
ISOtunes Free Best for work
22dB NRR certified (max 30)
Shure SE215 Best sound quality
Up to 25 dBA
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/earbuds) 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.
Check the comparison table above to compare all noise-isolating headphones.
Passive Noise Isolation vs Active Noise Canceling – What’s the Difference?
There is quite a difference between noise isolation and noise cancellation that most people are probably not aware of.
- Passive noise isolation isolates all outside sound, generally 25 dB – 30 dB, so if you want to lower all outside noise and just 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 plane or helicopter engine (active noise canceling was first developed for helicopter pilots), and then sends the opposite sound to your ears through headphones to “cancel” it. This is a greatly simplified explanation. In the end, it usually cancels around 15 dB of surrounding noise.
Noise-canceling headphones won’t cancel people talking next to you, or loud music, they are mostly used for canceling annoying external noise and not the “annoying people”.
Noise-canceling is great if you want to remove the background noise, 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 too loud.
Additionally with lower quality, noise-canceling headphones, the audio can be distorted which is one of the bad effects of this technology.
Generally, headphones with sound isolation have better sound quality, but this isn’t an exact rule.
Best Noise Isolating Headphones (over-ears, on-ears)
1. Beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80-Ohm
Beyerdynamic DT 770 M (80 Ohm) are our top pick and the best noise isolation headphones right now.
Better over-ear headphones than these are going to cost you at least 2x the price.
- 35dBA passive noise reduction
- Fun, accurate sound
- Sturdy build with metal frame
- You need an amp to run them properly
The audio quality is very accurate and the sound profile doesn’t have any particular “flavor” meaning they are quite flat. The bass has a well-extended range and it makes music 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 which makes these best headphones one of the top circumaural models at noise isolation.
With soft-skin replaceable earpads and 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.
2. Sony WH-1000XM4
The WH-1000XM4 have the best noise cancellation in headphones (with also great isolation).
Sony made an excellent pair of noise isolation headphones with the WH-1000XM4. They offer an elite option for those who want active noise-cancelling and rich new features.
- Outstanding noise-canceling performance
- Audiophile-grade sound quality
- Premium-feeling build
- Useful Headphones Connect app
- Great battery life
- Support for LDAC
- Amazing comfort and fit
- The speak-to-chat feature is a gimmick
- Voice Priority mode doesn’t work correctly
- No IPX rating
Sony WH-1000XM4 give a natural sound signature without a big and booming deep bass. These headphones could be used in a recording studio, they’re reliable, and even audiophiles appreciate the good sound.
These wireless noise cancelling headphones boast a decent job of isolating noise and they fit snugly around your ears.
On the other hand, they have excellent noise cancellation. They’re able to effectively block out outside noise 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-1000XM4 have a low-profile, compact design, can fold flat, and aren’t overly heavy. This means they’re suitable for long listening sessions. The latter is also possible thanks to the excellent battery life of around 30 hours per charge.
The pressure on the ears is low, and the padding is impressive and soft. They’re quite flexible headphones and come with a carrying case for extra protection.
3. Sennheiser HD 25
The best noise isolating headphones with an on-ear design.
The HD 25 on-ear headphones have been the Sennheiser flagship portables for quite some time and have the status of a classic.
- Excellent isolation for in-ear headphones
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Clear, balanced sound
- On-ear design still isnt suitable for longer listening sessions
Headphones have a balanced signature without any range being too emphasized or lacking. Bass is punchy and clear, with midrange being very rich and detailed. Higher frequencies are clear and precise but can get a big aggressive at higher volumes.
They’re used as a DJ and studio headphones because they have one of the best 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, Sennheiser HD 25 are surprisingly light considering how durable 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.
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4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x
The best noise isolating headphones for bassheads.
Top choice for basshead noise-isolating headphones, period.
- Fun, V-shaped sound
- Foldable, travel-friendly design
- Good overall durability
- Foldable hinges seem fragile
The sound 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. High pitch is also clear and balanced but gets overshadowed by lower tunes.
With up to 36 dB of isolation, these closed-back headphones are hard to beat in this regard. When you want some peace and quiet, put these on and enjoy your favorite music without interruptions.
With padded headband and earpads that you can replace for velour ones like that, you’re getting top comfort that can be compared to any headphones.
ATH-M50X are made out of durable plastics and metal, offering top-grade survivability in today’s harsh world. Foldable design makes them semi-portable even considering their big size.
Related article: Best bass headphones
5. Beyerdynamic DT 150
One of the best isolating headphones if you seek flat sound
Beyerdynamic DT 150 are a bit less known and popular 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.
- Faithful sound reproduction
- Excellent noise isolation, suitable for loud environments
- Retro yet robust design
- Strong clamping force
These ancient-looking headphones produce a very faithful sound similar to the DT770 model but with less treble. Surprisingly, despite their closed-back cups, even the soundstage is nicely wide.
The DT-150 are one of the oldest still-producing headphones on the market. Headphones offer masterful built quality from premium materials, but one of their best “extra features” is passive noise isolation.
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.
6. Sennheiser HD 280 PRO
Good value-for-money noise-isolating headphones.
While at around $100 still aren’t cheap, when you compare them to other top-quality noise-isolating headphones on this list, these are the most affordable.
- Excellent noise isolation
- Professional build quality
- Heavy-duty design
- Great for monitoring at low volume
- Heavy coiled cable can strain connectors
- Padding and fit can be too tight for larger head sizes
Treble is clear and not too aggressive, mids are slightly recessed, but not too bad, while the powerful bass is punchy and tight, making every music sound lively. The only thing lacking is the soundstage, like many other closed-back design headphones.
Earpads offer a tight seal with very good isolation, up to 32 dB which is comparable to much more expensive headphones.
Plastic makes these very light and surprisingly comfortable. While the earpad quality is not up to par with the more expensive models on this list, it’s good enough to wear for very long periods without much irritation.
With proper maintenance, they should last you very long. The good thing is you can replace the earpads, headband padding, and cords in case they break or deteriorate.
Best Noise Isolating Earbuds (In-ear Monitors)
7. Etymotic Research ER4XR
Professional noise-isolating in-ear headphones
Etymotic ER4XR are in-ear monitors with the best isolation on the market right now.
- Exceptional, balanced sound
- Great passive isolation
- Replacable filters
- Deep insertion can cause discomfort
These are considered one of the most accurate and detailed earbuds on the market 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.
8. Sony WF-1000XM4
Great noise-isolating true wireless earbuds for everyday use
Sonys have a top spot among the best Bluetooth earbuds with high passive isolation. Due to pushing the eartips deeper into ears, they block noise more than average TWS buds.
- Audiophile-grade sound quality
- Unique, sweatproof design
- Great battery life
- Excellent active noise cancellation and ambient mode
- Feature-rich app
- In-depth custom EQ
- Comfortable hybrid ear tips
- No official ear tip replacements
- Limited touch control customization
- Poor microphone performance in loud places
- Too bulky to fit smaller ears
Sony’s new high-end true wireless earbuds offer excellent sound quality with natural-sounding reproduction in the mids, shimmery treble, and tight bass. Earbuds support Sony LDAC Bluetooth codec.
Apart from being the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market, they also provide great noise isolating properties (confirmed from personal experience).
Thanks to the new hybrid ear tips that combine silicone and foam layer, they better contour your ear canals. Consequently, they block more of the surrounding noises.
Apart from that, you can pair earbuds with the Sony app and play with music playback touch controls, EQ, 360 Reality Audio special technology, and other nifty features.
Even though earbuds are pretty bulky, they ensure a comfortable fit and don’t produce much wind noise. You also get a better battery life than with the predecessor and extra two charges in Qi wireless and USB-C charging case.
If you need good isolation for commuting, the Sony WF-1000XM4 are an excellent choice.
9. ISOtunes Free
Great isolating true wireless earbuds for work
If you need to isolate yourself at work and don’t have to use big regular headphones, this might be a perfect pick.
- 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
Their decent sound quality isn’t the strongest point, but they’re still good enough for an overall listening experience. Bass is slightly emphasized and punchy, with a decent midrange and treble quality.
They’re also limited to react top 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 a better noise reduction than many others. You can use them when mowing the lawn, using power tools, or any other hearing hazard.
They’re water-resistant (IP45) and come with Bluetooth 5.0 and almost 8 hours of battery life. The audio is slightly punchier, and the aptX support brings better transmission and lower video delay. A built-in mic lets you answer phone calls, as well.
10. Shure SE215
Popular noise-isolating option for musicians
Shure SE215 are one of the most popular and well-reviewed in-ear monitors on the market right now.
- Good sound quality
- Price-to-performance ratio
- Detachable cable
- Narrow soundstage
They produce clear mid-range and treble with bass slightly emphasized. Altogether their sound is rather balanced with just enough bass to make music fun, but these are definitely not extreme basshead material.
Their isolation is superb, maybe not as good as Etymotic ER4XR, but still much better than your regular earbuds. You can really improve the isolation with triple flange tips for Shure you can get on Amazon.
Comfort greatly depends on ear tips you use and once you find the right ones and get the hang of putting them on, they are very comfortable. You can get them in various color options.
With detachable cables coated in regular rubber, these are one of the more durable IEMs that will survive a lot more than what you can imagine in your regular use.
For more headphones recommendations like this: Best bass earbuds
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Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless (Check Momentum True Wireless 2 price) – Effective ambient noise isolation and great sound quality in true wireless design. Get memory-foam eartips for best results. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review
KRK KNS-8400 (Check KNS-8400 price) – These are a good pair of headphones and do a good job for studio monitoring purposes at the lower price. They isolate up to 30 dB.
Jabra Elite Active 75t (Check Elite Active 75t price) – 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
Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)
What are the Advantages of Sound Isolating Headphones?
– By reducing the good amount of ambient noise that enters the ear, you can enjoy music at a lower volume, which is the best way and much safer for your hearing in the long run.
– 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.
– Passive isolation is especially useful for listening to classical music that can be easily overpowered by outside sounds. Without distorting ambient noises, you can hear every detail that you weren’t able to before, making music richer and more enjoyable.
– Sound isolation comes very handy when you don’t want to be bothered by the outside world, like with the best gaming headphones for example.
How Much Can Ambient Sound Be Reduced With Noise Isolating Headphones?
On average good isolating headphones will lower the sound by about 30 dB, considering you have a good, tight fit which is crucial for passive isolation.
30 dB of sound reduction doesn’t mean you won’t hear anything; it will just dampen the loudness of external noises.
– A running car 30ft away will produce around 60-80 dB of noise.
– Whispering is around 15-20 dB.
– A normal conversation produces around 60 dB of noise.
You have to consider the volume of your music as well, the louder your songs, the louder the outside noise has to be for you to hear it.
What Manufacturers Aren’t Telling You About Noise Isolation in dB?
Please take the dB noise isolation with a grain of salt. This is not an exact measurement of noise isolation as it’s really important at what frequency you measure. Some frequencies are easier to isolate than others and the manufacturers just pick the best one.
So if headphones are supposed to isolate 35 dB of noise, this means they can isolate from 0 to 35 dB, depending on what frequency. It doesn’t mean they isolate 35 dB on all frequencies.