Get the best noise-cancelling headphones in 2021 and enjoy your music in peace.
|Rating||Price||Battery (with ANC)||Type||Foldable||Mic & Controls||More info|
Sony WH-1000XM4 Best overall
28 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
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Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Runner-up
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
17 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
Apple AirPods Max Best Apple
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 Best true wireless
7 hours + 21h in case (Bluetooth 5.1)
| || |
Apple AirPods Pro True wireless alternative
5 hours + 24h in case (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
5 hours + 24h in case (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
Bose QuietComfort 35 II Great value
20 hours (Bluetooth 4.1)
| || |
36 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
Beats Solo Pro Best on-ear
22 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Best under $100
60 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
It’s difficult to find the best noise-cancelling headphones for your needs with all the options.
All brands claim their noise-canceling headphones are the best.
But often that’s not the case.
That’s why we created this guide to help you with your buying decision.
Remove the unwanted ambient noise in comfort, style, and while enjoying great sound quality.
Below you’ll find the best noise-cancelling headphones you can get today that will protect you from background noise on a plane, in the office, or anywhere else.
Want the best noise cancelling earbuds?
Or get the alternative, best noise isolating headphones.
Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones
1. Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4 are the best noise-cancelling headphones overall
All-rounders with fantastic noise cancellation, sound quality, comfort, and a handful of smart 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
The audio performance is full and punchy without losing control, while the midrange sounds balanced and natural, with a pleasant warmth. Treble provides good sparkle and detail, without sounding sibilant.
Slightly improved Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones offer a very similar noise-canceling performance compared to their previous version. You can expect top-notch cancellation of almost all environmental sounds around you.
You’re getting features like a pause/play sensor (inside an ear cup), DSEE Extreme, and Speak-to-chat. They all work flawlessly, and if you don’t need them, you can quickly disable them inside the Headphones Connect app.
Sony WH-1000XM4 look similar to the WH-1000XM3, with slightly slimmer earpads for better comfort. They can fit your whole ear inside, providing a non-fatiguing experience for long listening sessions.
2. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 with a customizable cancellation intensity
Bose are pioneers in noise-canceling technology. Their modern wireless headphones are high fidelity and support controls with a voice assistant.
- Balanced sound
- Excellent active noise cancelling
- Comfortable fit
- Good build quality
- Unique design
- Non-foldable design
- Not the clearest bass
The audio quality is crystal clear, the frequency response is full and detailed across bass, mids, and highs. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are going to keep demanding users happy.
You can also use your voice to control Alexa or Google Assistant; both are built-in the Bose 700 headphones.
11 different settings inside Bose Connect app for the active noise cancellation (ANC) means you can choose how much ambient sound can be let in. The four-microphone system is highly effective when the over-ears pick up ambiance to cancel out.
They are exceptionally comfortable, too, so you can wear them on intercontinental plane flights or long working hours in the office. Plus, the closed-back design passively isolates from external noise like the best noise isolating headphones.
3. Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless
Best noise cancellation headphones for comfort
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless are an option to make the audiophiles drool. If you are looking for an uncompromising sound, the Momentum 3 Wireless could be for you.
- Great sound quality
- Comfortable with leather earpads
- Foldable, travel-friendly design
- Good ANC performance
- Average battery life
All headphones from the Momentum series have a more fun sound signature, and Momentum Wireless 3 are no different. However, with a bit of tweaking, their audio performance rather impressive.
High-end headphones come with premium features. Active noise cancellation is one of them, eliminating most of the annoying hum like engine noise or loud cafeteria.
They have an exquisite build, with a mixture of metal and genuine leather. Despite having a luxury touch, you can still fold them up and put them in the bag for travel.
A companion app has some problems connecting but offers a valuable array of options, from custom EQ, Transparent Hearing, and control customizer.
4. Apple AirPods Max
Luxurious noise cancellation headphones for Apple enthusiasts
AirPods Max are made from a single piece of aluminum and offer exceptional audio quality.
- Exceptional sound quality for wireless headphones
- Premium build quality
- Quickly removable earpads
- Superb noise cancelling performance
- Useless carrying case
- No option for wired listening
Apple’s new AirPods Max have a noticeable boost in sub-bass, balanced midrange, and detailed treble.
Their audio performance is very airy, and you can boost the soundstage with Dolby Atmos.
Max’s unmistakable form factor fits beautifully on your head without creating unnecessary pressure. Fabric earpads are quickly swappable thanks to the use of magnets.
Their noise cancellation performance is on par with the best on the market, muting most of the noise around you.
In contrast, Transparency mode enables you to hear your surroundings with incredible realism.
AirPods Max use a rotating knob (like Apple Watch) for playback controls or summon smart assistant Siri.
5. Shure AONIC 50
Best noise-cancelling headphones for build quality
Made from premium materials, Shure AONIC are a newcomer with excellent sound performance and well-implemented active noise cancellation.
- High-quality build
- Plush, comfortable earpads
- Great ANC performance
- Neutral and very detailed sound
- Uninspiring mic quality
Targeted towards audiophiles, AONIC 50 have a neutral sound signature, with incredible clarity all-across the frequency response.
With these headphones, you can see where your money went. Construction is if high-quality, with a metal frame and stitched leather.
Thick memory foam earpads are amazingly comfortable as if you’re wearing pillows.
The battery life of 20 hours is about average for a full-sized headphone. You get a wide selection of audio codecs to choose from: SBC, AAC, aptX LL, aptX HD, and LDAC.
6. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
Best true wireless earbuds with exquisite audio performance
It’s surprising how good is the sound quality on these earbuds, while also offering a bunch of premium features like noise cancellation and ambient mode.
- Refined, audiophile-grade sound with natural midrange
- Above-average soundstage
- Great comfort and secure fit
- Good noise-canceling performance for truly wireless earbuds
- Premium-feeling charging case
- Good build quality with IPX4 water protection
- Good overall battery life
- Futureproof with Bluetooth 5.1
- Useful mobile app
- Responsive and intuitive touch controls
- Bass could be tighter
- No foam tips included in the box
- Call quality could be better
- Some audio lag when watching videos
So far, the best sounding true wireless earbuds on the market. After a few firmware updates, they have incredibly refined and musical frequency response, especially after a bit of equalizing.
Despite being a bit bulky, they fit nicely into your ears, so you quickly forget about them. With up to 7 hours of battery life, you can use them for almost an entire day.
Earbud’s active noise cancellation can completely eliminate low frequency sounds but struggle with higher ones.
The Transparent Hearing feature works a bit better, offering quite realistic natural sound.
You can control everything from the earbuds themselves, which is very helpful.
7. Apple AirPods Pro
The best noise-cancelling headphones in the Apple ecosystem.
These feature-packed true wireless earbuds offer a fantastic noise-cancellation and seamless integration in the iOS/macOS system.
- Sound better than original AirPods
- In-ear fit that’s suitable for moderate exercise
- Effective noise cancelling and isolation
- Seamless user experience with iPhone/iOS
- Sweatproof with IPX4 certification
- Expensive even among premium alternatives
- No built-in volume controls
- Cheap lid mechanism on the charging case
AirPods Pro are tuned to have a balanced frequency response, with very little excitement in their presentation. They’re easy to listen to, regardless of the music genre, but they lack bass.
AirPods Pro have much more features than the original AirPods. One of them is active noise-cancellation. Its performance is excellent, being very close to what Sony can offer in the Sony WF-1000XM3.
Besides that, you also have the option to amplify the ambient noise, automatically pause and play the music when you take one earbud out, and scan your inner ear for more personalized EQ.
They come in a comfortable form factor, too, with shallow silicone tips that don’t protrude too much into the ear canal.
You’re getting wireless charging and a stable connection, with seamless switching between other iOS devices. With IPX4, these earbuds are ready to hit the gym.
8. Sony WF-1000XM3
One of the best noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds
If you’ve been waiting for solid noise cancellation earbuds, these true wireless earphones from Sony are the winning option.
- Great noise cancelling performance
- Feature-packed mobile app
- Solid battery life
- Fun, punchy sound
- Tri-Hold design isn't comfortable for everyone
- No IP rating
They’re a fantastic set of true wireless earbuds, even ignoring the noise cancellation. You can hear all the frequencies clearly, and the bass is pretty strong for earbuds, too. Plus you can equalize the sound to your liking with an app.
These earbuds use the HD processor QN1e for the noise cancellation technology (the same as in WH-1000XM3). This is cutting edge in terms of noise-cancelling in earbuds.
Bluetooth transmits clear and high-quality audio thanks to 24bit audio processing.
The earbuds use USB-C charging and come with a one-year warranty.
For best wireless noise cancelling in earbuds, Sony WF-1000XM3s are the best option on the market.
9. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Comfortable Bose noise-cancelling headphones
If you are looking for Bose quality, plus exceptional comfort, but don’t want to pay a hefty bill for 700, the QuietComfort 35 II are a great price deal.
- Good, balanced sound
- Impressive noise cancellation
- Comfortable and lightweight
- No EQ option
You get a signature, crisp Bose audio with these headphones. Though the bass frequency band isn’t boosted, they’re great for listening to pop, hip hop, rock, and all sorts of other genres.
If comfort is high up on your priorities, the beautiful padded ear cups are great for long periods of listening.
They connect with the Bose app and can be used for revolutionary AR listening, something Bose are championing. They’re also Alexa enabled for voice control of your music or phone.
As you would expect from Bose, they’re very high quality and well-built headphones. Plus, 20 hours of battery life is plenty for most. And if you end up without juice, you can use the included wire with a cable length of 1.2m.
10. Jabra Elite 85H
Best noise-cancelling headphones for clear phone calls
If you want the best noise-cancelling headphones for making phone calls with clarity, these could be an option.
- Excellent battery life
- Bright, detailed sound
- Nano-coated to resist water
- ANC could be better at this price point
Though not quite up there with the elite models on the market, the Jabra 85H has a good bass response and a well-rounded sound. You can also control the EQ through the app to adapt to your favorite music.
In total, the Jabra Elite 85H incorporate 8 different microphones. 6 of these mics give a clear sound when making voice calls.
A fantastic 36 hours of battery life is better than competitors. There is also a fast-charge option that gives you 5 hours of listening from a 15-minute charge.
The 85H headphones are also water-resistant, fine for exercising or walking in the rain. You don’t need to worry about moisture. For the best waterproof Bluetooth headphones.
11. Beats Solo Pro
Best noise cancellation on-ear headphones for bass
It seems to be part of the Beats manifesto that they have to provide amazing bass, and they manage it with the Pros, even in on-ear headphones.
- Comfortable on-ear headphones
- Punchy bass that's great for popular music
- Stylish with many color options and typical Beats design
- Active noise cancellation with solid 20h+ battery
- Modern features
For on-ear headphones, the bass response will really blow you away. They give a high-fidelity and rounded sound in the mids and highs, too, but the bass is the real selling point.
As they fold up nicely and have a compact, on-ear design, these headphones are great for people wanting something more compact.
These use Beats Pure ANC to adapt to the surroundings. There is also a Transparency mode that allows you to hear your surroundings.
A 10-minute charge provides 3 hours of music playback. In total, 22 hours of playback is achieved with active noise-cancelling and 40 with noise-cancellation turned off.
These wireless headphones are stylish, but they have plenty of substance too.
Check similar alternatives among the best bass headphones.
12. Anker Soundcore Life Q30
Best budget noise-cancelling headphones under $100
Anker audio products are always offering fantastic value. Soundcore Life Q30 are no different.
- Great sound quality
- Excellent ANC with 3 modes
- Comfortable fit
- Companion app with EQ
- Outstanding battery life
- Too bassy with stock EQ
- Bulky in size
The best thing about Life Q30 sound is that they can hit a sweet spot for both bass lovers and audio purists. Stock tuning is a bit heavy on low-end, but they can sound fairly neutral after some EQ.
Even the previous Q20 model is good in active noise reduction, but Q30 make a step further. They can compete with the best ones, which is impressive considering their price tag.
You can even toggle between different ANC modes or enable transparency mode when you need to hear your surroundings.
The new design is a bit chunkier compared to the Q20. Thankfully, it possesses the same excellent comfort and battery life, offering 60 hours of playtime.
Find more best headphones under $100.
Here, we covered the best active noise-cancelling headphones for a higher list price. For more affordable options, see the best noise cancelling headphones under $100.
13. Sony WH-1000XM3: Still an excellent option if you don’t mind all the latest features from WH-1000XM4 and only want great sound quality and noise-cancelling performance. (Check WH-1000XM3 price)
14. Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC: These have a great sound and are customizable, but the fidelity is not as good as with alternatives. (Check Lagoon ANC price)
15. Sennheiser HD 450BT: This pair of headphones offers good sound and active noise cancellation under the $150 price range. HD 450BT have a bit of a bass boost, and you can change their listening mode inside the app. (Check HD 450BT price)
16. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2: Plantronics are compact and portable, with a bassy sound profile, but the noise-cancellation could be better, and the controls are a little clunky at times. (Check BackBeat Pro 2 price)
17. Skullcandy Crusher ANC: For bassheads who want active noise cancellation, Skullcandy Crusher ANC are the best choice. (Check Crusher ANC price)
18. Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i: Overall, for a great listening experience and easy touch controls, the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9i are a great option. (Check Beoplay H9i price)
19. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: Big wireless earbuds with great stability and ear tips that don’t go deep into ear canal. Their active noise reduction is more than successful at blocking a jet engine or air conditioner. (Check QuietComfort Earbuds price)
20. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Wireless pair of noise cancelling earbuds with the highest IP rating. They have a balanced frequency response, with 2 dynamic drivers in both earbuds. Their ANC isn’t the best, but good enough for eliminating plane engines. (Check Galaxy Buds Pro price)
For a bit cheaper alternatives, see the best Bluetooth headphones under $100.
What is Noise Cancelling
Noise cancellation technology removes low-frequency background noises while still allows talking, birds chirping, or other sudden sounds.
It uses a set of microphones and electronics that create a 180-degree phase-opposite sound of noise and sends it to your ears. Before you can hear it, both sounds cancel out.
Noise cancellation is effective at low frequency sounds, like the humming of a plane engine. This makes them the first choice for travelers as they need to hear what is going on around them while enjoying the illusion of a more peaceful environment.
You can read more about what you can expect from noise-cancelling headphones below.
How Does Noise Cancelling Work?
Noise-cancelling headphones use microphones to record ambient noise. Then the noise signal is sent to dedicated electronics, which creates 180-degree opposite sound waves. The drivers send the new signal to your ears and before both reach the goal they cancel each other.
Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Worth It?
Recently headphones with noise-cancelling have become very popular, but many people don’t realize the disadvantages of noise cancellation.
Cancellation of lower and some middle-frequency noises
Noise cancellation works well enough to give you the illusion of a quieter environment, which makes listening to music much more enjoyable.
At the same time, you can use the noise-cancelling headphones just for removing the noise without any music. Perfect for when you need to rest your head.
Noise-cancelling headphones tend to cost more, especially the higher-end ones. All the technology, microphones, and more sophisticated design cost money.
To get decent noise-cancelling headphones, you’ll have to pay money for which you would get regular headphones with better comfort, better build quality, and especially better sound.
Lower sound quality
Noise-canceling technology produces the counter frequencies to negate noise, but because it’s not 100% accurate, you often hear a hissing noise when it’s turned on.
Not to mention some of the frequencies in the original music recording will also get cancelled out, distorting the overall sound quality.
It is an accepted fact among audiophiles that noise cancellation technology lowers the sound quality, even in the most expensive cans.
Noise-cancellation needs power
ANC (active noise-cancelling) technology needs power. Did you forget to charge the battery? No ANC for you.
Sensitive to wind
One of the known problems of noise cancellation is strong winds. When strong winds are blowing and making sounds, your microphones pick it up and make a whole mess of the sound.
This is why noise-cancelling headphones are not recommended for outside and are extremely frustrating in that situation.
“Pressure” on ears
Some of the best budget noise cancelling headphones, can make you feel like your ears are under pressure. It’s an uncomfortable feeling. But thankfully, modern high-end models have fixed this issue.