We’ve tested 192 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 review headphones based on an independent 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more. Previous Next Rating Price Noise Isolation Mic & Controls More info Beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80-Ohm Most isolating 4.1 Under $200 Up to 35 dBA cross Read more Sony WH-1000XM5 Best wireless 4.5 Under $400 Up to 25 dB checkmark Read more Sennheiser HD 25 Best on-ear 4.6 Under $150 Up to 30 dB cross Read more Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Best studio 4.7 Under $150 Up to 36 dB cross Read more Beyerdynamic DT 150 Best flat sound 4.5 Under $210 Up to 36 dB cross Read more Etymotic Research ER4XR Best earbuds 4.4 Under $240 Up to 35-42 dB cross Read more Jabra Elite 7 Pro Best true wireless 3.9 Under $110 Up to 30 dBA checkmark Read more ISOtunes Free Best for work 4.1 Under $110 22dB NRR certified (max 30) checkmark Read more Antlion Kimura Duo Best for gaming 3.9 Under $150 n/a Boom mic only Read more 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 Most Noise Isolating Noise isolation: Up to 35 dBA with pleather ear pads and a tight fit 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. beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80 Ohm Over-Ear-Monitor Headphones in black, closed design, wired, volume… beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80 Ohm Over-Ear-Monitor Headphones in black, closed design, wired, volume… $179.00 in stock 9 new from $179.00 as of December 2, 2023 5:04 pm Buy now Amazon.com Beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80 ohm Closed-back Isolating Monitor Headphones Beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80 ohm Closed-back Isolating Monitor Headphones $179.00 $279.00 in stock Buy now eBay beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80 Ohm Over-Ear-Monitor Headphones in black, closed design, wired, volume… beyerdynamic DT 770 M 80 Ohm Over-Ear-Monitor Headphones in black, closed design, wired, volume… $179.99 $199.00 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm Driver size: n/a 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. Check price Best Wireless Noise Isolating Headphones 2. Sony WH-1000XM5 Best Wireless Noise Isolating Noise isolation: Up to 25 dB with a tight around-the-ear fit The Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best noise-isolating wireless headphones we’ve tested (also with great ANC) – Sony WH-1000XM5 review. Sony WH-1000XM5/B Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones Sony WH-1000XM5/B Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones $229.98 in stock Buy now eBay Sony WH-1000XM5 Sony WH-1000XM5 $327.99 $399.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Sony WH-1000XM5 Sony WH-1000XM5 $328.00 $399.99 in stock 18 new from $328.00 39 used from $230.79 as of December 2, 2023 9:55 pm Buy now Amazon.com Connection: Bluetooth 5.2 Driver size: 30mm dynamic 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. Sony WH-1000XM5 review Check price Best Noise Isolating On-Ear Headphones 3. Sennheiser HD 25 Best On-Ears Noise isolation: Up to 30 dB, as long as you keep them close to ears In our opinion, the Sennheiser HD 25 are the top choice for noise-isolating on-ear headphones. Sennheiser Pro Audio Sennheiser HD 25 Professional DJ Headphone, Black, 1 (HD25) Sennheiser Pro Audio Sennheiser HD 25 Professional DJ Headphone, Black, 1 (HD25) $144.01 in stock 24 new from $143.78 1 used from $252.47 as of December 2, 2023 5:04 pm Buy now Amazon.com Sennheiser HD-25 Closed-Back On-Ear Professional Monitoring Headphones Sennheiser HD-25 Closed-Back On-Ear Professional Monitoring Headphones $149.95 in stock Buy now eBay Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm Driver size: n/a 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. Check price Best Noise Isolating Studio Headphones 4. Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Best Studio Noise isolation: Up to 36 dB (of some frequencies) We believe the Audio-Technica ATH-M50x are the top choice of noise-isolating studio headphones. Audio Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones Black Pre-Owned Audio Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones Black Pre-Owned $94.95 in stock Buy now eBay Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Closed-Back Monitor Headphones Black Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Closed-Back Monitor Headphones Black $182.48 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade,… Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones, Black, Professional Grade,… in stock as of December 2, 2023 5:04 pm Buy now Amazon.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm Driver size: 45mm 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. Check price Best Noise Isolating Flat Headphones 5. Beyerdynamic DT 150 Best Flat Sound Noise isolation: Up to 36 dB (some frequencies), good isolation across the board One of the best sound-isolating headphones if you seek flat sound. Beyerdynamic DT-150-250-GREY Closed Dynamic Monitoring Headphone for use in Loud Environments Beyerdynamic DT-150-250-GREY Closed Dynamic Monitoring Headphone for use in Loud Environments $199.99 in stock 2 new from $199.99 1 used from $199.99 as of December 2, 2023 5:04 pm Buy now Amazon.com Beyerdynamic DT-150-250-GREY Closed Dynamic Monitoring Headphone for use in Loud Beyerdynamic DT-150-250-GREY Closed Dynamic Monitoring Headphone for use in Loud $199.99 $249.99 in stock Buy now eBay Beyerdynamic DT-150-250 Studio Monitoring Recording Headphones Beyerdynamic DT-150-250 Studio Monitoring Recording Headphones $209.95 $299.00 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm & 6.3mm Driver size: n/a 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. Check price Best Noise Isolating Earbuds (In-ear Monitors) 6. Etymotic Research ER4XR Best Noise Isolating In-Ears Noise isolation: Up to 43 dB (for some frequencies) In our opinion, Etymotic Research ER4XR are the most noise-isolating in-ear headphones. Etymotic Research ER4XR Extended Response Earphone – Repackaged Etymotic Research ER4XR Extended Response Earphone – Repackaged $167.99 in stock Buy now eBay Etymotic Research ER4XR Extended Response Precision Matched In-Ear Earphones (Detachable Balanced… Etymotic Research ER4XR Extended Response Precision Matched In-Ear Earphones (Detachable Balanced… $210.80 $224.96 in stock 13 new from $210.00 11 used from $140.41 as of December 2, 2023 4:45 pm Buy now Amazon.com Etymotic Research ER4XR with Etymotion Wireless Bluetooth Cable, Black (ER4XR-BT) Etymotic Research ER4XR with Etymotion Wireless Bluetooth Cable, Black (ER4XR-BT) out of stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Wired – 3.5mm / 6.3mm Driver size: Balanced armature driver 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. Check price Best Noise Isolating True Wireless Earbuds 7. Jabra Elite 7 Pro Best Noise Isolating TWS Noise isolation: Up to 30 dBA with a proper fit and eartips Jabra Elite 7 Pro are the best noise-isolating true wireless earbuds we’ve tested for everyday use – Jabra Elite 7 Pro review. Jabra Elite 7 Pro in Ear Bluetooth Earbuds Jabra Elite 7 Pro in Ear Bluetooth Earbuds $149.99 $199.99 in stock 10 new from $149.99 10 used from $70.30 as of December 2, 2023 5:04 pm Buy now Amazon.com Jabra Elite 7 Pro – True Wireless Earbuds NEW Jabra Elite 7 Pro – True Wireless Earbuds NEW $199.99 in stock Buy now eBay Jabra Elite 7 Pro in-Ear Bluetooth Earbuds Jabra Elite 7 Pro in-Ear Bluetooth Earbuds $199.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Bluetooth 5.2 Driver size: 6mm dynamic 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. Jabra Elite 7 Pro review Check price Best Noise Isolating Work Earbuds 8. ISOtunes Free Best for Work Noise isolation: Up to 30 dB, average 22 dB NRR certified 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. ISOtunes FREE – Noise Isolating Bluetooth Earbuds, 22 dB NRR, 7+ Hour Battery ISOtunes FREE – Noise Isolating Bluetooth Earbuds, 22 dB NRR, 7+ Hour Battery $83.99 in stock Buy now eBay ISOtunes Free True Wireless Earplug Earbuds, 22 dB Noise Reduction Rating, 21 Hour Battery, Noise… ISOtunes Free True Wireless Earplug Earbuds, 22 dB Noise Reduction Rating, 21 Hour Battery, Noise… $99.99 in stock as of December 2, 2023 9:55 pm Buy now Amazon.com ISOtunes FREE 2.0 True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds-Safety Green ISOtunes FREE 2.0 True Wireless Bluetooth Earbuds-Safety Green $129.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Connection: Bluetooth 5.0 Driver size: n/a 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. ISOtunes Free review Check price Best Noise Isolating Gaming Earbuds 9. Antlion Kimura Duo Best Gaming Buds Noise isolation: Great noise isolation for gaming earphones 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. Antlion Audio Kimura Duo in-Ear Headset (IEM Headset) Antlion Audio Kimura Duo in-Ear Headset (IEM Headset) $149.95 in stock 2 used from $120.19 as of December 2, 2023 4:55 pm Buy now Amazon.com Connection: Wired – Dual 3.5mm TRS Driver size: Dynamic & Balanced armature driver 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. For more options, see the best gaming earbuds. Antlion Kimura Duo review Check price Honorable Mentions Sony WF-1000XM4 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 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 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 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 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. 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: Top ANC headphones Top ANC earbuds Top ANC headphones under $100 Matija FerjanMatija Ferjan is a seasoned audio enthusiast reviewing headphones since 2015. He has personally tested hundreds of headphones and earbuds. He’s an active member of the Headphone Audio community and a true nitpicker, always looking for the “best-value-for-money” headphones.