Get the best noise-cancelling headphones in 2022 and enjoy your music in peace.
|Rating||Price||Battery (with ANC)||Type||Foldable||Mic & Controls||More info|
Apple AirPods Max Best Apple
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
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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)
| || |
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
| || |
Sony WF-1000XM4 Best true wireless
8 hours + 16h in case (Bluetooth 5.2)
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Apple AirPods Pro True wireless alternative
5 hours + 24h in case (Bluetooth 5.0)
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24 hours (Bluetooth 5.1)
| || |
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. 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 and ANC.
- Excellent, smooth sound
- Excellent ANC and realistic Transparency mode performance
- Tons of features (for Apple users)
- Premium build with replacable earpads
- Exceptional Bluetooth range
- Good battery life (23h with ANC)
- Degraded user experience on Android devices
- Uneven clamping force (could cause discomfort)
- Included Smart case is useless
Apple’s new AirPods Max have a slight boost in sub-bass, well-balanced midrange, and detailed treble.
Their audio performance is very airy, and you can boost the soundstage with Dolby Atmos (Spatial Audio). The latter is only accessible for iOS users.
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. The carrying case, on the other hand, is a joke.
Their noise cancellation performance deserves to be in the top spot. It’s on par (if not even better) 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 (only for iPhone users).
2. Sony WH-1000XM4
Sony WH-1000XM4 are still one of the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market
All-rounders with strong noise cancellation, sound quality, comfort, and a handful of smart and unique 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-bodied 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 good noise cancellation of almost all external sounds around you.
You’re getting features like a pause/play sensor (inside an ear cup), and DSEE Extreme. They all work flawlessly, and you find them inside the Headphones Connect app. A new multipoint feature can also help you connect two devices simultaneously.
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.
3. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700
Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 with a customizable cancellation intensity
Bose are pioneers in ANC system 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 provides good passive noise isolation from external noise like the best noise isolating headphones.
4. 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 is rather impressive.
High-end headphones come with premium features. Solid 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.
To reduce audio lag when watching movies, the ANC headphones have aptX support (with an aptX Low Latency Bluetooth codec).
A companion app has some problems connecting but offers a valuable array of options, from custom EQ, Transparent Hearing, and control customizer.
5. Shure AONIC 50
Best noise-cancelling headphones for build quality
With more premium design made from quality 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 over-ear 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 Sony LDAC codec.
6. Sony WF-1000XM4
Best true wireless earbuds with exquisite audio performance
The new WF-1000XM4 are surprisingly comfortable and technically capable TWS in-ear headphones with superb sound, noise cancellation, and ambient aware mode.
- 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
A more consumer-oriented tuning from XM3 is replaced by a more balanced, natural frequency response. The sound is detailed and nicely controlled, with full custom EQ in the Sony app.
Active noise cancellation is also better than on the previous model. The new hybrid ear tips do most of the work, with a memory foam layer to create a tight seal in your ear canals.
Even the comfort is superior this time around, despite earbuds having a bit bulky housing. You can also use WF-1000XM4 for exercising since they come protected with an IPX4 rating.
As always, the Sony app comes with features, from control customization, EQ, different sound profiles, ambient sound mode and ANC intensity, and 360 Audio.
Check their predecessor since they’re still an excellent buy: Sony WF-1000XM3 review
7. Apple AirPods Pro
The best noise-cancelling headphones in the Apple ecosystem.
These feature-packed true wireless headphones offer excellent 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 well-balanced frequency response, with very little excitement in their presentation. They’re easy to listen to, regardless of the music genre, but they lack deep bass.
AirPods Pro have much more new features than the original AirPods. One of them is active noise-cancellation. It does a fantastic job, being very close to what Sony can offer in the Sony WF-1000XM3.
Besides that, you also have the option to amplify the outside noise, automatically pause and play the music when you take one earbud out, and scan your inner ear for a more personalized EQ.
They’re super comfortable and offer a reasonably secure fit, too, with shallow silicone tips that don’t protrude too much into the ear canal.
In-ears come with a wireless charging case and stable connection, and can easily switch between other iOS devices. With IPX4, these earbuds are ready to hit the gym.
8. Bose QuietComfort 45
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 the 700’s, the QuietComfort 45 are a great alternative.
- Balanced sound
- Lightweight & comfortable design
- Excellent active noise cancellation
- Good battery life
- No custom EQ
- You can't completely turn off ANC or ambient mode
The sound quality is pretty much on the same level as the QC 35 II but with a few minor tweaks. They’re still relatively balanced and smooth, suitable for any music genre, from hip hop to rock.
This time around, the ANC performance received a noticeable boost. It’s on par with the best out there, making the 45’s a compelling buy.
Furthermore, Bose made their wireless noise cancelling headphones slightly comfier than the predecessor, which was already very comfortable.
These Bose headphones are also more efficient with better battery life, lasting 24 hours on full charge with ANC enabled.
You can’t entirely turn off the ANC or ambient boost mode for some reason, and you can’t tweak EQ inside the app.
9. 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 most people who want 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 fast 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.
10. Anker Soundcore Life Q30
Best budget noise-cancelling headphones under $100
Anker audio products are always offering very good value. Soundcore Life Q30 are no different.
- Excellent sound quality (after EQ)
- Great ANC with 3 modes
- Comfortable fit
- Companion app with EQ
- Outstanding battery life
- The bass isn't very fast
- Looks bulky on your head
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 to actively cancel noise, but Q30 make a step further. They can compete with the best ones, which is impressive considering their lower 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 class-leading 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.
11. Sony WH-1000XM3: Still an excellent option if you don’t mind all the latest features from WH-1000XM4 and only want excellent sound quality and noise-cancelling performance. (Check WH-1000XM3 price)
12. Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC: These sound great and are customizable, but the fidelity is not as good as with alternatives. (Check Lagoon ANC price)
13. Sennheiser HD 450BT: This great pair of headphones offers good sound and active noise cancellation under the $150 price range. HD 450BT have a fair bit of a bass boost, and you can change their listening mode inside the app. (Check HD 450BT price)
14. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2: Plantronics have a compact design and are portable, with a bassy sound profile. The noise-cancellation could be better, and the controls are a little clunky at times. (Check BackBeat Pro 2 price)
15. Skullcandy Crusher ANC: For bassheads who want active noise cancellation, Skullcandy Crusher ANC are an excellent choice. (Check Crusher ANC price)
16. 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)
17. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds: Big wireless earbuds with great stability and ear tips that don’t go deep into ear canal. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds can very effectively reduce noise of a jet engine or air conditioner. (Check QuietComfort Earbuds price)
18. Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro: Wireless pair of noise cancelling earbuds with the highest IP rating. They have a well-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)
19. Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2: It’s surprising how good sound quality is on these earbuds, while also offering a bunch of useful features like solid noise cancellation and ambient listening mode. (Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 review)
20. Jabra Elite 85h: Over-ear cans with great call quality, clear sound, and strong battery life on a single charge. A special nano-coating makes the internals water-resistant (check the best waterproof Bluetooth headphones). (Check Elite 85h price)
For a bit cheaper alternatives, see the best Bluetooth headphones under $100.
What is Noise Cancelling
Noise cancellation technology actively removes distracting background noises like engine hum, air conditioning, traffic noise, people’s chatter, and so on.
It uses a set of microphones and electronics to record a 180-degree surrounding noise. Then, electronics invert the noise’s phase and send to opposite signal to your ears. Before you can hear it, both sounds cancel out.
Noise cancellation is most effective at constant 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?
While noise cancelling headphones have some disadvantages like higher cost and worse battery life, they can help improve your life for the better. Not only do they reduce annoying ambient noises and help you concentrate, but consequently protect your hearing since you don’t have to raise headphones’ volume.
Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of noise cancelling headphones:
Cancels out noise
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 your favorite music much more enjoyable.
At the same time, you can use noise-cancelling headphones just for removing the noise without any music. Perfect headphones for when you need to rest your head.
Protects you hearing
We tend to crank up the volume when there’s loud background noise that overpowers our music. Since ANC reduces unwanted sounds, you don’t have to raise the volume as much. Consequently, you inflict less damage on your hearing.
Better listening experience
Only when you listen to music in a quiet room, you can fully experience headphones’ sound quality. As soon as unwanted noises start creeping in, the details get less sharp and you no longer hear every nuance in the song.
That’s why noise cancelling can help improve the sound quality simply by reducing annoying elements from the environment.
Improves quality of life
Best noise cancelling headphones that can fully reduce surrounding noise can positively impact your wellbeing by reducing stress, and help you concentrate during work.
Some people can also have trouble sleeping with lots of distracting noises around them like traffic or snoring. ANC headphones help them provide a sensation as if they’re sleeping in a quiet room.
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
This mostly impacts budget headphones which tend to change the sound completely when you turn on the ANC. Some might even produce an audible background hiss (white noise).
Normally, more premium headphones aren’t having the same issues, or at least not to the same extend. Nevertheless, audiophiles still like to avoid using active noise cancellation technology when listening to music.
Noise-cancellation needs power
ANC (active noise-cancelling) technology needs additional power to run its processing chipset. That’s why it’s normal to see a big difference in battery life with and without noise cancellation enabled.
Sometimes it can result in battery lasting half as much, which is a pretty significant hit. Did you forget to charge the battery? No ANC for you.
Sensitive to wind noise
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. Like the wind you hear when making calls.
This is why noise-cancelling headphones are not recommended for use in the outside world 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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Block All Noise?
Yes, but only to some extend. Even the best ANC headphones are most effective at reducing lower frequencies, while struggle with higher ones. Only some high-end models can successfully tackle noises like human speech, and even they can’t do a perfectly good job.
Why Can I Still Hear With Noise Cancelling Headphones?
ANC technology still isn’t perfect, so you will still hear some ambient sounds when using the feature. The most difficult to block are higher frequencies since they tend to vary a lot and constantly change in frequency. Consequently, electronics simply can’t keep up creating the opposite signal at that speed.
Are Noise Cancelling Headphones Better Than Earplugs?
Depends on the use case. The main difference is in lower frequencies. Active noise cancelling can reduce high levels of low-end hum, while earplugs can’t (and you even start to hear your blood flow).
On the other hand, it’s much easier to sleep with earplugs. Moreso, they are still the best solution for hearing protection (operating with loud machines or visiting concerts).
In Noise Cancelling Bad For You?
Active noise cancellation poses no harm to you or to your hearing. It actually helps protect your hearing and, by eliminating surrounding sounds, helps you to concentrate and be more productive.
Of course, there were some cases of people reporting feeling dizzy and irritated when using ANC headphones. However, the technology got better over years and it doesn’t create a vacuum sensation in your ears anymore.