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. If you find outside noise too distracting to listen to your music or to get your work done, you need the best noise-cancelling headphones. Browse between the best noise-cancelling headphones in 2023 and finally enjoy some peace. 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. Here’s a quick round down: Previous Next Rating Price Battery (with ANC) Type Foldable Mic & Controls More info Sony WH-1000XM5 Best overall 4.4 Under $380 40.5 hours (Bluetooth 5.2) Over-ear cross checkmark Review Apple AirPods Max Best Apple 4.5 Under $550 20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0) Over-ear cross checkmark Review Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 Runner-up 4.5 Under $380 20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0) Over-ear cross checkmark Review Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless 4.4 Under $320 17 hours (Bluetooth 5.0) Over-ear checkmark checkmark Review Edifier WH950NB 4.3 Under $180 34 hours (Bluetooth 5.3) Over-ear checkmark checkmark Review Sony WF-1000XM4 Best true wireless 4.4 Under $280 8 hours + 16h in case (Bluetooth 5.2) True wireless cross checkmark Review Apple AirPods Pro True wireless alternative 4.8 Under $250 5 hours + 24h in case (Bluetooth 5.0) True wireless cross checkmark Review Bose QuietComfort 45 4.7 Under $330 24 hours (Bluetooth 5.1) Over-ear checkmark checkmark Review Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Best under $100 4.6 Under $80 60 hours (Bluetooth 5.0) Over-ear cross checkmark Review CONTENTS (show more) 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. Related: Want the best noise-cancelling earbuds? Or get the alternative, the best noise-isolating headphones. Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones 1. Sony WH-1000XM5 BEST NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market. Sony WH-1000XM5/B Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones Sony WH-1000XM5/B Wireless Industry Leading Noise Canceling Bluetooth Headphones $214.50 in stock Buy now eBay Sony WH-1000XM5 Sony WH-1000XM5 $324.99 $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 48 used from $240.22 as of December 7, 2023 10:34 pm Buy now Amazon.com While competitors might beat them in some frequencies, the XM5’s offer the most balanced noise cancellation out of all. Sony WH-1000XM5 review 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 Listen to the Sony WH-1000XM5 ANC test: Sony WH-1000XM5 ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict The audio performance is full-bodied and punchy, while the midrange sounds balanced and natural, with a pleasant warmth. Treble provides good sparkle and no sibilance but could use more detail. Slightly improved over Sony WH-1000XM4 wireless headphones, the XM5 offer a very balanced noise-canceling performance, meaning that all frequencies are reduced to the same degree. The ambient sound mode also improved compared to XM4, now boosting external noises more realistically. Furthermore, the new model proves to be the best Bluetooth headphones with a mic. You get many interesting features inside the Headphones Connect app. Like a multipoint feature that helps you connect the headphones to two devices simultaneously. Sony WH-1000XM5 have a more modern design, providing overall good comfort and stability. Sony WH-1000XM5 review Check price Check similar alternatives among the best bass headphones. 2. Apple AirPods Max SECOND-BEST NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES Luxurious noise cancellation headphones for Apple enthusiasts. Apple MGYH3AM/A AirPods Max W/ SMART CASE Silver , BRAND NEW (SEALED). Apple MGYH3AM/A AirPods Max W/ SMART CASE Silver , BRAND NEW (SEALED). $449.90 in stock Buy now eBay Apple AirPods Max Apple AirPods Max $479.99 $549.00 in stock 2 new from $529.00 4 used from $441.59 as of December 7, 2023 5:06 pm Buy now Amazon.com Apple AirPods Max – Space Gray Apple AirPods Max – Space Gray $529.00 $549.00 in stock Buy now Walmart.com AirPods Max are made from a single piece of aluminum and offer exceptional audio quality and ANC. Apple AirPods Max review Connection: Bluetooth 5.0 Driver size: 40mm dynamic Frequency range: n/a Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 24h (ANC & Transparency mode ON) | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – Lightning | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: None | Features: ANC, Transparency mode, Adaptive EQ, Spatial Audio 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 Included Smart case is useless Listen to the Apple AirPods Max ANC test: Apple AirPods Max ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict Apple’s new AirPods Max have a slight boost in sub-bass, well-balanced midrange, and sparkly 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. Apple AirPods Max review Check price 3. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 BEST NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES FROM BOSE Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 with a customizable cancellation intensity. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 – Luxe Silver Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 – Luxe Silver $200.00 in stock Buy now eBay Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Bluetooth, Over-Ear Wireless Headphones with Built-In… Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, Bluetooth, Over-Ear Wireless Headphones with Built-In… $334.00 $379.00 in stock 3 new from $334.00 24 used from $249.98 as of December 7, 2023 5:15 pm Buy now Amazon.com Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 over-ear Wireless Bluetooth Earphones, Black Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 over-ear Wireless Bluetooth Earphones, Black $379.00 $399.00 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Bose are pioneers in ANC system technology. Their modern wireless headphones are high fidelity and support controls with a voice assistant. Connection: Bluetooth 5.0 Driver size: n/a Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 20h | Wireless range: n/a | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2.5h + quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: No | Features: ANC, Ambient Aware, mobile app with EQ, 2.5mm port Balanced sound Excellent active noise cancelling Comfortable fit Good build quality Unique design Non-foldable design Pricey Not the clearest bass The audio quality is clear, and the frequency response is full 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 supported by Bose 700 headphones. Up to 11 different settings for the active noise cancellation (ANC) inside the Bose Connect app means you can choose how much ambient sound you want to hear. 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. Check price 4. Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless BEST NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES FROM SENNHEISER Best noise cancellation headphones for comfort. Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones – White 509267 Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless Over-Ear Headphones – White 509267 $199.00 $215.00 in stock Buy now eBay Sennheiser Momentum 4 Sennheiser Momentum 4 $269.89 $379.95 in stock 19 new from $269.89 9 used from $209.99 as of December 7, 2023 5:54 pm Buy now Amazon.com Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 $299.95 $349.95 in stock Buy now Walmart.com The Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless are an option to make the audiophiles drool. If you are looking for an uncompromising sound, the Momentum 4 Wireless could be for you. Connection: Bluetooth 5.2 Driver size: 42mm dynamic Frequency range: 6-22.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 60h (with ANC) | Wireless range: 33 feet (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2h – quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive | Water resistance: None | Features: ANC, transparency mode, app Detailed, balanced sound Companion app with custom EQ Improved comfort with well-padded headband Outstanding battery life of up to 60 hours Modern design that you happily wear in public Active noise cancellation isn't on par with competitors While the Momentum series is known to have a more fun sound signature, the Momentum 4 Wireless lean more towards neutral. With a bit of tweaking, their audio performance is rather impressive. High-end headphones come with premium features. Good noise cancellation is one of them, eliminating most of the annoying engine hum or chatter in the cafeteria. They have an exquisite build, with a mixture of metal, pleather, and fabric. Unfortunately, they don’t fold in like previous Momentums. To reduce audio lag when watching movies, the ANC headphones have aptX Adaptive support. No LDAC Bluetooth codec, unfortunately. A companion app offers a valuable array of options, from custom EQ, Transparent Hearing, and control customizer. Check price 5. Edifier WH950NB Best noise-cancelling headphones for less than $200. Edifier WH950NB Noise-Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth 5.3 Headphones Edifier WH950NB Noise-Cancelling Wireless Bluetooth 5.3 Headphones $79.99 in stock Buy now eBay Edifier WH950NB Bluetooth ANC Headphones Edifier WH950NB Bluetooth ANC Headphones $179.99 $199.99 in stock as of December 7, 2023 5:05 pm Buy now Amazon.com Edifier, especially the premium models, never disappoints with features. The active noise cancellation in the WH950NB can easily match the best in business. Edifier WH950NB review Connection: Bluetooth 5.3 Driver size: 40mm dynamic Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 34h (with ANC) | Wireless range: 45 feet (13.7 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 1.5h – quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Water resistance: None | Features: Multipoint, ANC, app, custom EQ, Google Pair Clear sound quality with natural bass response Comfortable design with memory foam earpads Great active noise cancellation that rivals the best Fairly durable build quality with hard-shell carrying case Overwhelming number of features Limiting custom EQ settings Ineffective Game Mode Listen to the Edifier WH950NB ANC test: Edifier WH950NB ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict WH950NB have a smooth response with a balanced sound signature. Playing with a custom EQ, you can further improve the sound by making it even more natural. Headphones are big but lightweight and thickly padded from all sides. They feel like a pillow on your head, and you can even replace the ear pads once they stiffen up. Noise-canceling performance is excellent, especially for the price, being somewhat on par with competition from Sony and Bose. The battery life of 34 hours is pretty good for a full-sized headphone, and can also charge up very quickly (in only 1.5 hours). You get a standard set of audio codecs, with an addition of Sony’s LDAC for higher-quality transmission. Edifier WH950NB review Check price 6. Sony WF-1000XM4 BEST TRUE WIRELESS EARBUDS FOR NOISE CANCELLATION Best true wireless earbuds with exquisite audio performance. Sony WF-1000XM4 Industry Leading Noise Canceling Truly Wireless Earbud Sony WF-1000XM4 Industry Leading Noise Canceling Truly Wireless Earbud $68.99 $299.98 in stock Buy now eBay Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds (Silver) Sony WF-1000XM5 Truly Wireless Noise Canceling Earbuds (Silver) $268.00 $279.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Sony WF-1000XM4 Industry Leading Noise Canceling Truly Wireless Earbud Headphones with Alexa… Sony WF-1000XM4 Industry Leading Noise Canceling Truly Wireless Earbud Headphones with Alexa… $278.00 $279.99 in stock 42 used from $89.00 as of December 7, 2023 5:26 pm Buy now Amazon.com WF-1000XM4 are surprisingly comfortable and technically capable TWS in-ear headphones with superb sound, noise cancellation, and ambient-aware mode. Sony WF-1000XM4 review Connection: Bluetooth 5.2 Driver size: 6mm dynamic Frequency range: 20-20.000Hz (20-40.000Hz with LDAC) Type: True wireless | Battery life: 8h + 16h in case (with ANC) | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 1.5h + quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless charging | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Ambient mode, 360 Audio, Speak-to-chat, EQ, DSEE Extreme 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 Listen to the Sony WF-1000XM4 ANC test: Sony WF-1000XM4 ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict 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 the earbuds having a bit of 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 tons of features, from control customization, EQ, different sound profiles, ambient sound mode and ANC intensity, and 360 Audio. Sony WF-1000XM4 review Check price Check their predecessor since they’re still an excellent buy: Sony WF-1000XM3 review 7. Apple AirPods Pro 2 BEST NOISE CANCELLING TRUE WIRELESS EARBUDS FROM APPLE The best noise-cancelling headphones in the Apple ecosystem. (Renewed) Apple AirPods Pro (Renewed) Apple AirPods Pro $180.00 in stock 5 new from $159.99 3 used from $149.95 as of December 7, 2023 5:05 pm Buy now Amazon.com Apple AirPods Pro Apple AirPods Pro $210.45 $249.00 in stock 28 used from $210.45 as of December 7, 2023 5:05 pm Buy now Amazon.com Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) – Lightning Apple AirPods Pro (2nd Generation) – Lightning out of stock Buy now Walmart.com These feature-packed true wireless headphones offer excellent noise-cancellation and seamless integration in the iOS/macOS system. Connection: Bluetooth 5.3 Driver size: n/a Frequency range: n/a Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 24h in case | Wireless range: 33 feet (10 m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – Lightning | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: H2 chip, multipoint, Spatial Audio More balanced sound than original AirPods Pro, with greater detail Familiar comfy design with extra (4) pair of ear tips Outstanding ANC & Transparency mode performance Seamless connectivity with Apple devices Low battery life of around 6 hours per charge (ANC off) More expensive than first gen in some regions AirPods Pro 2 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. They have much-improved features over the original AirPods Pro, especially thanks to the new H2 chip. The latter is responsible for making active noise cancellation and Transparency mode even better than ever before. Earbuds also automatically pause and play the music when you take one 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 an IPX4, these earbuds are ready to hit the gym. Check out their extremely similar predecessor, Apple AirPods Pro review. Check price 8. Bose QuietComfort 45 Comfortable Bose noise-cancelling headphones. Bose QuietComfort 45 QC 45 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones – Triple Black Bose QuietComfort 45 QC 45 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones – Triple Black $162.99 in stock Buy now eBay Bose QuietComfort 45 Bose QuietComfort 45 $299.00 $329.00 in stock 4 new from $299.00 34 used from $219.00 as of December 7, 2023 5:06 pm Buy now Amazon.com Bose QuietComfort 45 Headphones Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Earphones, Black Bose QuietComfort 45 Headphones Noise Cancelling Over-Ear Wireless Bluetooth Earphones, Black $329.00 in stock Buy now Walmart.com 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. Connection: Bluetooth 5.1 Driver size: n/a Frequency range: n/a Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 24h | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: None | Features: ANC, ambient mode, app, active EQ 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 is on par with the best out there, making the 45s 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. Check price 9. Anker Soundcore Life Q30 BEST NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES UNDER $100 Best budget noise-cancelling headphones under $100. Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 $55.99 $79.99 in stock 4 new from $55.99 as of December 7, 2023 5:05 pm Buy now Amazon.com Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones with Multiple Modes, Hi-Res… Soundcore by Anker Life Q30 Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling Headphones with Multiple Modes, Hi-Res… $55.99 $79.99 in stock Buy now Walmart.com Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless Over Ear Headphone Bluetooth ANC Headset w/APP Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless Over Ear Headphone Bluetooth ANC Headset w/APP $79.99 in stock Buy now eBay Anker audio products are always offering very good value. Soundcore Life Q30 are no different. Anker Soundcore Life Q30 review Connection: Bluetooth 5.0 Driver size: 40mm Frequency range: 16-40.000Hz Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 60h (40h with ANC) | Wireless range: 65ft (20m) | Noise cancelling: Yes, hybrid | Charging: 2h + Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: No | Features: ANC, ambient mode, multipoint, mobile app with EQ, NFC 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 Listen to the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 ANC test: Anker Soundcore Life Q30 ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict 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 at actively canceling noise, but the 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. Anker Soundcore Life Q30 review Check price 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. Honorable Mentions 10. Sony WH-1000XM4 Still an excellent option if you don’t mind missing a little better ANC and longer battery life from WH-1000XM5 and only want excellent sound quality and noise-cancelling performance. Sony WH-1000XM4 review 11. Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 For bassheads who want active noise cancellation, Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 are an excellent choice. Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 review 12. 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 13. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Big wireless earbuds with great stability and ear tips that don’t go deep into the ear canal. Bose QuietComfort Earbuds can very effectively reduce noise of a jet engine or air conditioner. Check QuietComfort Earbuds II price 14. Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 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 it’s good enough for eliminating plane engines. Check Galaxy Buds 2 Pro price 15. 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 the opposite signal to your ears. Before you can hear it, both sounds cancel out. How active noise cancelling works in the picture. Source: Analogictips 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. More: Is active noise cancellation better than passive noise isolation? 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 the headphones’ volume. Here are a few advantages and disadvantages of noise-cancelling headphones: Advantages 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 to remove 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 can you 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 well-being by reducing stress and helping 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. Loud ambient noise makes you raise the volume, which isn’t healthy for your hearing. Disadvantages of noise cancelling headphones Higher cost 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 extent. 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 a 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. Since the technology is getting better and better, the list of disadvantages is shorter by each year. FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions About Noise Cancelling Headphones Do noise-cancelling headphones block all noise? Noise-cancelling headphones only block lower and midrange frequencies. Even the best ANC headphones are struggling with higher frequencies. 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 noise with noise-cancelling headphones? You can still hear noise because no ANC technology can perfectly cancel all audible frequencies. Constant sounds are also easier to cancel than rapidly changing ones, like speech. Are noise-cancelling headphones better than earplugs? Noise-cancelling headphones are better than earplugs because earplugs don’t reduce lower frequencies. On the other hand, it’s much easier to sleep with earplugs, and they are still the best solution for hearing protection (operating with loud machines or visiting concerts). Is 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. Learn more in our extensive article about whether noise cancelling is safe or not. 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.