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10 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones in 2024

Last updated: 3 months ago
10 min read

Do you find noise too distracting to listen to your music or get your work done? You need headphones with noise cancellation. Here we’ll cover:

  • The best noise-cancelling headphones that effectively remove background noise
  • Our active noise cancelling tests so you know exactly what to expect
  • Good options at different prices

We test and evaluate headphones using a standardized 9-point methodology. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Read more Price Battery (with ANC) Type Foldable Mic & Controls
Sony WH-1000XM5 Best overall
Sony WH-1000XM5 small image
Under $380
40.5 hours (Bluetooth 5.2)
Over-ear
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Apple AirPods Max Best Apple
Apple AirPods Max
Under $550
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Over-ear
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Under $380
20 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Over-ear
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Under $320
17 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Over-ear
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Under $180
34 hours (Bluetooth 5.3)
Over-ear
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Sony WF-1000XM5 Best true wireless
Sony WF-1000XM5 small image
Under $280
6 hours + 16h in case (Bluetooth 5.3)
True wireless
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Apple AirPods Pro 2 True wireless alternative
Apple AirPods Pro 2 earbuds
Under $250
6 hours + 24h in case (Bluetooth 5.3)
True wireless
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Under $330
24 hours (Bluetooth 5.1)
Over-ear
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Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Best under $100
Anker Soundcore Life Q30 noise cancelling headphones
Under $80
60 hours (Bluetooth 5.0)
Over-ear
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CONTENTS (show more)

    We’ve tested 193 headphones on 9 key categories. To find the best noise-canceling headphones, we primarily evaluated them on:

    • Noise-cancellation performance
    • Sound quality
    • Other features, like a companion app, EQ, customization, Ambient sound mode, microphones, etc.

    Below, you’ll find the best-performing noise-canceling headphones if you want to actively reduce background noise on a plane, in the office, or anywhere else.

    For more ANC options, see the best noise-cancelling earbuds and the best noise-isolating headphones. Or learn if noise cancelling is safe or not.

    Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones

    1. Sony WH-1000XM5

    1st-place BEST NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
    Sony WH-1000XM5 on the stairs

    Sony WH-1000XM5 are the best noise-cancelling headphones on the market – Sony WH-1000XM5 review.

    $326.99
    $363.99
    in stock
    Walmart.com
    $328.00
    $399.99
    in stock
    17 new from $328.00
    69 used from $208.40
    as of May 22, 2024 12:34 am
    Amazon.com
    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 30mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon 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

    While competitors might beat them in some frequencies, the XM5’s offer the most balanced noise cancellation out of all.

    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.

    2. Apple AirPods Max

    2nd-place RUNNER-UP NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES
    Apple AirPods Max floating

    Luxurious noise cancellation headphones for Apple enthusiasts – Apple AirPods Max review.

    $449.99
    $549.00
    in stock
    5 new from $449.99
    10 used from $417.41
    as of May 21, 2024 11:51 pm
    Amazon.com
    $524.00
    $549.00
    in stock
    Walmart.com
    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
    • Included Smart case is useless

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

    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.

    3. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

    trophy BEST BOSE
    Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700

    Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 with a customizable cancellation intensity.

    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

    Bose are pioneers in ANC technology. Their modern wireless headphones are high fidelity and support controls with a voice assistant.

    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.

    4. Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless

    trophy BEST SENNHEISER
    Sennehiser Momentum 4 Wireless headphones

    Best Sennheiser noise cancellation headphones for comfort.

    $289.99
    $379.95
    in stock
    15 new from $289.99
    4 used from $299.65
    as of May 22, 2024 12:18 am
    Amazon.com
    $299.95
    $349.95
    in stock
    Walmart.com
    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.2
    Driver size icon Driver size: 42mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon 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

    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.

    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.

    5. Edifier WH950NB

    Edifier WH950NB headphones with a laptop

    Best noise-cancelling headphones for less than $200 – Edifier WH950NB review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 40mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon 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

    Edifier, especially the premium models, never disappoints with features. The active noise cancellation in the WH950NB can easily match the best in business.

    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.

    6. Sony WF-1000XM5

    true-wireless BEST ANC TRUE WIRELESS HEADPHONES
    Sony WF-1000XM5 in ears

    Best true wireless earbuds with exquisite audio performance – Sony WF-1000XM5 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 8.4mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: 20-40.000Hz (with LDAC)
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 16h in case (with ANC) | Wireless range: 35 feet (10.6 meters) | Noise cancelling: Yes, hybrid | Charging: 1.5h – quick charge – USB-C & Qi wireless | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, LDAC, LC3 | Water resistance: IPX4 | Features: Multipoint, app, equalizer, spatial audio
    • Unmatched audiophile-grade sound quality
    • Comfiest & most stable Sony earbuds to date
    • Incredible passive noise isolation that even blocks rumble
    • Negligible sound leakage at max volumes
    • Good active noise cancellation…
    • … but not even close of being class-leading
    • Terrible call quality in noisier environments
    • Protective mesh is built into ear tips, not into earbuds' nozzle
    • Too many features wants your personal data

    WF-1000XM5 are surprisingly comfortable and technically capable TWS in-ear headphones with superb sound, noise cancellation, and ambient-aware mode.

    Listen to the Sony WF-1000XM5 ANC test:

    Sony WF-1000XM5 ANC Test – HeadphonesAddict

    Tuning remains similar to the WF-1000XM4 model. That means a balanced, natural frequency response with good dynamics. The sound is detailed and nicely controlled, with full custom EQ in the Sony app.

    Active noise cancellation is slightly 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.

    Due to a smaller size, the comfort is much superior this time around. You can also use WF-1000XM5 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.

    For better value-for-money, check their predecessor: Sony WF-1000XM3 review

    7. Apple AirPods Pro 2

    true-wireless BEST FROM APPLE
    Apple AirPods Pro 2 inside ears

    The best noise-cancelling headphones in the Apple ecosystem – Apple AirPods Pro 2 review.

    Connection icon Connection: Bluetooth 5.3
    Driver size icon Driver size: 11mm dynamic
    Frequency range icon Frequency range: n/a
    Type: True wireless | Battery life: 6h + 24h in case | Wireless range: 35 feet (10.6 m) | Noise cancelling: Yes | Charging: Quick charge – Lightning/USB-C | Mic & Controls: Yes | Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC | Water resistance: IPX4 (IP54 – USB-C model) | 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
    • Effective ANC & fantastic transparency mode performance
    • Seamless connectivity with Apple devices
    • Good battery life of around 6 hours per charge (ANC off)
    • USB-C model has an IP54 rating on AirPods & the case
    • Could be stabler during sports activites
    • You need (newer) iOS device to enjoy all features

    These feature-packed true wireless headphones offer excellent noise-cancellation and seamless integration in the iOS/macOS system.

    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 IP54, these earbuds are ready to hit the gym.

    Check out their extremely similar predecessor, Apple AirPods Pro review.

    8. Bose QuietComfort 45

    Bose QuietComfort 45 headphones

    Comfortable Bose noise-cancelling headphones.

    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

    If you are looking for Bose quality, plus exceptional comfort, but don’t want to pay a hefty bill for the 700s, the QuietComfort 45 are a great alternative.

    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.

    9. Anker Soundcore Life Q30

    dollar BEST NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES UNDER $100
    Anker Soundcore Life Q30 in a bush

    Best budget noise-cancelling headphones under $100 – Anker Soundcore Life Q30 review.

    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

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

    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.

    Here, we covered the best of the best ANC headphones. For more affordable options, see the best noise cancelling headphones under $100.

    Honorable Mentions

    10. Sony WH-1000XM4

    Sony WH-1000XM4 on a desk

    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

    Skullcandy Crusher ANC 2 headphones

    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

    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 the noise of a jet engine or air conditioner.

    Check QuietComfort Earbuds II price

    14. Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro:

    Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro wireless earbuds

    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

    Jabra Elite 85h wireless headphones

    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

    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
    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 improve the listening experience in noisy environments.

    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.

    Sony WH-1000XM5 in library

    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.

    Apple AirPods Max in the city
    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 designs 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.

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

    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    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 the ANC technology doesn’t cancel all audible sounds. It removes the majority of unwanted frequencies but leaves some through. Also, constant sounds are 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.

    20 Comments
    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.

      Reply

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

      Reply

    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.
      Thanks

      Reply

      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.

        Reply

    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.

      Reply

    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.

      Reply

    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.)

      Reply

      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.

        Reply

    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.

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    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!

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      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.

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        1. Yeh, would be relevant replacement. Cheers!

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    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.

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    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?

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      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.

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    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.

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      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. 🙂

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

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    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.

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      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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