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The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones in 2023

Last updated: 2 years ago
11 min read

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Get the best noise-cancelling headphones in 2023 and enjoy your music in peace.

Rating Price Battery (with ANC) Type Foldable Mic & Controls More info
Apple AirPods Max Best Apple
Apple AirPods Max
Under $550
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Sony WH-1000XM4 Best overall
Sony WH1000XM3 wireless headphones
Under $350
28 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Under $380
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Under $320
17 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Under $310
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Sony WF-1000XM4 Best true wireless
Sony WF-1000XM4
Under $280
8 hours + 16h in case (Bluetooth 5.2)
True wireless
Apple AirPods Pro True wireless alternative
Apple AirPods Pro
Under $250
5 hours + 24h in case (Bluetooth 5.0)
True wireless
Under $330
24 hours (Bluetooth 5.1)
Beats Solo Pro Best on-ear
Beats Solo Pro wireless headphones
Under $300
22 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Best under $100
Anker Soundcore Life Q30 noise cancelling headphones
Under $80
60 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
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.


    Want the best noise cancelling earbuds?

    Or get the alternative, best noise isolating headphones.

    Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

    1. Apple AirPods Max

    1st-place Best overall
    Apple AirPods Max floating

    Luxurious noise cancellation headphones for Apple enthusiasts

    AirPods Max are made from a single piece of aluminum and offer exceptional audio quality and ANC.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon 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 (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).

    Apple AirPods Max review

    2. Sony WH-1000XM4

    2nd-place Runner-up
    Sony WH-1000XM4 on a desk

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 4-40.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 38h (28h with ANC) | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 3h + quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC | Water resistance: No | Features: ANC, Ambient mode, multipoint, auto play/pause, 360 Reality Audio, 3.5mm port
    • 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.

    Sony WH-1000XM4 review

    3. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

    trophy Best from Bose
    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon 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 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

    trophy Best from Sennheiser
    Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 6-22.000Hz
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 17h | Wireless range: n/a | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency | Water resistance: No | Features: ANC, Transparent Hearing, mobile app, EQ, Tile tracker
    • Great sound quality
    • Comfortable with leather earpads
    • Foldable, travel-friendly design
    • Good ANC performance
    • Pricey
    • 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

    Shure Aonic 50 wireless headphones

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 50mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: Over-ear | Battery life: 20h | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX Low Latency, LDAC | Water resistance: No | Features: Ambient listening mode, mobile app, USB-C for wired listening, 3.5mm port
    • 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.

    Noise-canceling performance is excellent, being somewhat on pair with competition from Sony and Bose. You can, of course, also amplify the outside world with Environmental Mode.

    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

    true-wireless Best true wireless
    Sony WF-1000XM4 earbuds in case

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 6mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon 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

    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.

    Sony WF-1000XM4 review

    Check their predecessor since they’re still an excellent buy: Sony WF-1000XM3 review

    7. Apple AirPods Pro

    true-wireless True wireless alternative
    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 5h + 24h in case | Wireless range: 33ft (10m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: 2h + quick charge – Lightning | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: ANC, Transparency mode, Dolby Atmos
    • 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.

    Apple AirPods review

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    8. Bose QuietComfort 45

    Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.1
    Driver size icon Driver size: n/a
    Frequency range icon 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’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

    trophy Best on-ear
    Beats Solo Pro wireless headphones

    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.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: On-ear | Battery life: 22h with ANC, 40h ANC off | Range: 33ft – 10m | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Fast Fuel quick charging 10min – 3 hours of music | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: No | Features: H1 chip, auto on/off when folding, transparency mode
    • 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
    • Pricey

    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

    dollar Best under $100
    Anker Soundcore Life Q30 in a bush

    Best budget noise-cancelling headphones under $100

    Anker audio products are always offering very good value. Soundcore Life Q30 are no different.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.0
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm
    Frequency range icon 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

    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.

    Anker Soundcore Life Q30 review

    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

    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.

    how active noise cancelling works
    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 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.

    Apple AirPods Max in the city
    Loud ambient noise makes you raise up the volume, which isn’t healthy for your hearing.


    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 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.

    Man passing the streets
    Since the technology is getting better and better, the list of disadvantages is shorter by each year.

    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.

    1. I have the Parrot Zik headphones, (not the 2.0). I am not an audiophile in any sense of the word. I only use these at work and the noise canceling is good. The sound is good. I like the base but it is not as heavy as the Studio’s. I like the controls and I’ve not had any complaints about the clarity of the microphone while on the phone. The only drawback is while they feel comfortable to start, they start to hurt after about an hour. I have to keep adjusting the strap and ear positions. The battery life may be short but I can’t wear them long enough to drain the battery.


    2. Odd not to see the Phillips Fidelio NC1 somewhere in the top 15.


    3. Know nothing about this stuff but asked to find noise cancelling blue tooth earphones so iPhone can be used on a noisy tractor while cultivating. Assume microphone quite important as well for not picking up high ambient noise of tractor and machinery. Suggestions greatfully received.


      1. The best noise cancelling technology of any brand is from Bose. You can pick one of their models, you can go for on-ear or in-ear models depending on your preference. No other company comes close to noise cancelling effectiveness so this is your best choice.

        For comfort pick the bigger, on-ear model as you barely feel them and are really made for long term use.


    4. Please could someone suggest a good option for children traveling on a long hall flight.
      Noise cancelling good audio quality headphones have changed my flying experience. Now I’m keen for my children to have the benefit.


    5. I wouldn’t be so cavalier about the Quiet Comfort 35’s lack of support for AptX. It’s kind of a glaring omission… and will definitely affect the future proofing of this pair. Especially considering Apple will likely support the standard to keep audiophiles at bay if/when they drop the headphone port from the next gen iPhone. If I’m gonna shell out $350 for a wireless headset today, I def want it to support the highest quality sound for years to come.


    6. Surprisingly the Bose QuiteComfort 35 does support AAC over Bluetooth which is excellent if you use an iOS device. Yes I have checked. Apple’s new Airpods also use Bluetooth and AAC codec.

      With an older Macbook Pro 13″ non-retina I have to force it via Xcode & Bluetooth Explorer in OS X El Capitan. The Macbook does however support APT-X (I do not know why here and not on an iPhone but at least AAC support is there.)


      1. Oh and yes it is not stated on their Bose’s website, on the box, or anywhere. You have to check using a Mac. Why manufacturers hate publishing the codecs supported by their products via bluetooth is beyond me. Might be because a lot of normal users don’t care? I have no idea.


    7. Does any of these bluetooth headphones with noise cancelling also support music sharing/”shareme”? I’m looking for a set that will let me pair two bluetooth headphones, so that me and my wife can listen to the same audio source and watch a movie together on the ipad when travelling.


    8. Thanks for the reviews. I guess, one headset’s gone missing from the list of best 2017 NC headphones – Sennheiser PXC 550. I have both QC 35 and PXC 550, and while Sennheiser is on a par with Bose in terms of noise cancelling, it beats the latter in all other aspects, even in NC features (NC off, NC on, NC adaptive mode, no background hissing noise when NC on). Cheers!


      1. You’re right. We are just looking at PXC550 we are probably going to replace the PXC480 model even though the 550 is a bit more expensive.


        1. Yeh, would be relevant replacement. Cheers!


    9. I have tested Sony MDR ZX770BN (along with others) as a replace for my current China ANC headphones. I must say the ZX770BM has one of the worse passive noise isolation. They are noticeably worse then my current $50 ones. With ANC on they works quite well, but much NC potential is wasted by poor sound isolation. As the total NC is a sum of passive and active NC, Sony’s NC is weaker then other cheap headphones with better passive noise isolation.


    10. Bang for buck my Golzer Banc 50 are fantastic. For sub $100 wireless ANC headphones you can’t go wrong. What seems a little odd is that if you look at the Naztech vs the Golzers…they look like they have the EXACT same cans? The only difference is the headband. I’m sure the cans are sourced from the same supplier. by both companies. So the sound quality, battery life, ANC…etc should be exactly that of the Golzers…Can anyone verify this?


      1. You are right. The models are very similar, probably done by the same manufacturer or just following the same design. A lot of budget companies do that. Some features and tuning might still be different though.


    11. Noise-canceling headphones comes in two types, Passive Noise Cancellation and Active Noise Cancellation. For Passive noise cancellation technology relies on the physical design of the earcups. The fit and the shape of the earcups determine the extent of the headphone’s power to block ambient noise. Compared to the prior, active noise canceling headphones rely upon its electronic circuitry to provide noise cancellation. ANC is about generating ‘anti-noise’ that mirrors and cancels the ambient noise.


      1. You re quite right, except what you call “passive noise cancellation” is actually called “passive noise isolation” It doesn’t really cancel any noise, just isolates it from outside. 🙂


        1. oh, I mishear that one.. thanks! 🙂


    12. Good write-up. There are too many powered things in my life as it is, and I avoid having to charge anything. I use a wired Xbox controller, for example. I don’t have a Fitbit for that reason – you have to charge it. I won’t be buying Bluetooth anything unless it’s stationary and plugs into the wall. Even my iPod Nano remains plugged in for power because I don’t want to worry about the battery running out. Also along that line is any kind of ANC battery. Not worth it to me. Can you speak about Digital Noise Cancelation? DNC avoids batteries altogether (granted it may use my phone’s battery, but that’s at least sharing a charge that I’ve already succumbed to). I can’t use noise isolation in my environment because there are times I need to hear around me, but I definitely need some type of NC at other times. Switching on and off is a must, and purchasing multiple headsets is overkill IMHO. I think the DNC option is the only non-battery option but seems like this may be Sony only.


      1. I think the “digital noise cancelation” is just another way of saying “active noise cancelling”. Battery is still required. Now you do have headphones that don’t have their own battery but instead use the power from your Sony smartphone. Though this only works if you have a compatible Sony smartphone which limits your options.


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