Do you want to cut out the traffic noises around you?
Or maybe the noises in your office?
Do you want to not get distracted by any of your surrounding noises and just focus on your thing, be it work, studies or anything else?
If you answered Yes to any of the questions above, then you surely need a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Noise Canceling headphones blocks out all the ambient noises in the surrounding, helping you get a better audio experience or just feel at peace.
But, which noise-canceling headphones should I get?
Well to help you with that, we have published this In-depth Buyer’s guide with thorough reviews for The 10 best noise-canceling headphones for 2021.
Best Noise-Canceling Headphones – Quick Look
(Click on the name of any headphones to read their in-depth review)
|Bose QC 35 II |
|20 Hours||0.52 lb|
|30 Hour||0.56 lb|
|Microsoft Surface Headphones||15 Hours||0.64 lb|
|Cowin E8||20 Hours||0.95 lb|
|Skullcandy Venue||24 Hours||0.96 lb|
|Sennheiser HD 4.50||19 Hours||7.2 Ounces|
|Sennheiser Momentum 2.0||22 Hours||9.17 Ounces|
|Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H9||25 Hours||0.65 lb|
|Taotronics Headphones||30 Hours||0.61 lb|
|Avantree Headphones||28 Hours||9.8 Ounces|
1. Bose QC 35 II – Best Overall ANC headphones
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is yet another revolutionary and mind-blowing wireless Bluetooth headphone in the QC35 series.
Bose QC35 II comes in a weird but appropriate oval carrying case.
Considering its flexibility is top-notch, you shouldn’t worry about how you will pack it in a bag. You can just throw it inside and the rest can take care of itself.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II is worth its price of course because of its improved utility and flawless features.
Our In-Depth Review:
Along with its flexible body, Bose QC35 II comes with a micro USB charging cable and a 3.5mm audio cable that you can use to connect it to your phone.
The packaging also contains instructions on how to download and set up the Bose Connect App. This app could also be used to find your phone.
The Bose Connect App can also activate Google Assistant or Alexa, which you can give commands or ask questions and receive instant answers. This device is super quick!
Additionally, the Bose Connect App will need to be set up before you can proceed any further. The app will find the headphones and for pairing, the app will ask you to swipe them down. There’s a small voice in your ear that will always give you a confirmation on whether the pairing has been successful or it’s still searching.
Google Assistant will let you have your notification read aloud in your ear. Immediately the set-up is complete and you press the hardware button that activates the Google Assistant, the headphones start listening to your questions or demands. You can even demand to know the time! Don’t you think this is impressive?
Adding icing on the cake, there’s an Action button on the left ear cup that can be used to control the active noise cancellation. This decent and off the wall ANC gives it the ability to mute noise from outside and accord you the peace of mind that you desire. You will find peace in your hearing.
The ANC comes in three levels: high, low and off.
Talking about the battery life, it easily lasts for around 20 hours on a single charge. This is equivalent to coast to coast trip in the US for like 3 to 4 times. Unless you play your music at maximum volume for an elongated period, you shouldn’t have an issue with the power.
On top of all this, the microphone is exceptionally strong and flawless. The clarity of the voice transmission works seamlessly for phone or conference calls. Also, the strength of the connection is not something to worry about. The connection strength is consistent whether your phone is in the pocket or at the other end of the room.
- Super durable.
- Strong and consistent wireless connection.
- One of the best Active noise cancelation tech.
- Very comfortable on the ears.
- No Cons.
Keeping in mind the essence of your comfortability while listening to music, Bose QuietComfort 35 II is your best bet. The serenity and tranquility in the phone calls is also exotic. For the best hearing experience, this device is your best choice. It will provide the value for your money.
2. Sony WH-1000XM3 – Industry Leading ANC
Sony is arguably one of the best known and well respected companies in the industries. Its Japanese technology makes it hard for other competitors to keep up with their developments, most especially in the music business.
As we all know, noise-canceling features in a headset have become a very demanding feature. This is why Sony had incorporated this main feature to its newest headset model the Sony WH-1000XM3.
Well, it is worth wondering why Sony has become one of the hottest players in the world of the noise-canceling headsets. While other companies might have invented this feature, Sony had made it their goal to continuously innovate, improve and add more.
Our In-Depth Review:
When it comes to choosing headphones, there always are these three things that you should consider:
- Sound Quality.
And the Sony WH-1000XM3 did not only have all these attributes but also a box of new and improved features. While most noise cancellation headphones are designed to block out vehicle noise the Sony Noise Cancelling is also capable of canceling airplane cabin noise.
Headphone WH-1000XM3 is equipped with the advanced technology of Adaptive Sound Control enabling you to effectively block out the daily noise and ambient sounds.
It also features Smart Listening by Sense Engine that automatically adjusts to whatever you do. Whether you like noise-free travels or just a reduced background stroll, the Sense Engine gives you the power to tune in and out of your music with one-touch helping you to easily adapt to situational awareness.
It also provides Quick Attention Mode which lets you communicate instantly by placing your hands on the right ear cup without taking your headphones off.
Design-wise, the Sony WH-1000XM3 feels and looks premium while still managing to make you feel comfortable even after a long period of use.
Through its soft cushion padding that lessens the pressure of wearing it to its deep and spacious ear cups, the Sony WH-1000XM3 doesn’t make you feel any discomfort or need to remove it.
The headphone is also fast charging allowing you to probably get it fully charge in less than two hours while getting a whopping 30 hours of use at full battery.
The only downside of the Sony WH-1000XM3 is that it can only be connected to one Bluetooth device at a time and the Touch control may get some time getting used to.
- Premium Noise Cancellation.
- Excellent Sound Quality.
- Long-lasting Battery life.
- First-rate Design and Comfort.
- One Bluetooth device at a time.
- Touch Control may get some time getting used to.
While the Sony WH-1000XM3 does not go far from other Sony’s noise-canceling headphones it refined it to a point that it’s almost close to perfection. It has resolved most of the later version’s issues and added more improvements and features.
While it’s true that for a great headphone you have to spend a bit more, it is arguable that with the Sony WH-1000XM3 you do get what you pay for and more. It is one of the best, if not the best in the noise-canceling headphones combining its top-notch audio performance with its remarkable noise-canceling technology plus its featured-packed, well-built and looks good.
3. Microsoft Surface Headphones – Cortana Compatible
Microsoft introduced Surface Headphones in their Surface range of products. Their design matches the rest of the surface products.
Their noise cancellation feature is one of the features that make them stand out.
For those who want to block out the background noise and focus on whatever they are listening to, the earphones come in handy.
They come with nice padding that goes over the ear. This provides comfort to your ears no matter how long you have the earphones on.
They also have a classy, minimalist look.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Surface Headphones come in a stylish grey case that has a nice material hard enough to protect the headphones whenever you are traveling. The case has the Microsoft label. The case is a bit large compared to Sony’s latest. Inside the case, there are some directions for use which are pretty easy to follow.
The Surface Headphones have a beautiful matte finish with no visible screws.
They have a noise-canceling feature that can easily be adjusted to suit the needs of the user. The ear cups have volume and ANC dials that rotate smoothly. The left one controls the Active Noise Cancelation (ANC). The right one controls the volume.
The dial is a cool feature in that you can also tune it to receive ambient noise cancellation mode where you get to be aware of what is happening around you. If you want to completely block out the background noise especially when on a call then you just dial it down.
For Cortana users, they help you to perform various tasks by pairing the headphones to your phone or your computer. The AI assistant initially helps you to set up the headphones and guides you through the features and the usage of the headphones. This is a pretty awesome feature. You can also make calls and send messages with Cortana using your voice.
They can be connected to more than one device at a time. With its compatibility with Windows 10, iOS macOS.
With 40mm Edge Speakers, the sound quality is good with good bass and you can certainly feel the strong sound presence. There is a graphic equalizer to help you customize the sound to your preference. The sound vocals can be better but they are still ok. You can still hear whatever the artist is saying but not as good.
- Easy to use touch dial pads.
- Integrated Cortana.
- A graphic equalizer for customizing your preferred sound quality.
- Neat and clean design.
- The case is a bit bulky for travellers.
- The battery life can be improved.
Generally, the Surface Microsoft Headphones are a gem. Considering these are the first headphones to be produced by Microsoft, the company has outdone itself. You get an on-ear dial that can be used to adjust the level of active noise cancelation.
4. Cowin E8 – With Bluetooth 5.0
Everybody seems to be looking for a way to block out noise from their environment and just enjoy their small music world. Most people are looking for a way to just enjoy this small world and for a moment forget all the hassles and busyness of the world.
This has seen the demand for headphones that promise noise isolation rise. Thus, the need for developing headphones that take care of this.
The Cowin company in a bid to compete fairly in the market has tried to meet this demand. After the Cowin E7 pro, the company released the Cowin E8 ANC headphones.
Our In-Depth Review:
The E8 comes in a sturdy case which is a bit bigger than the E7 Pro case. Inside the case, there’s a small pouch for carrying the cables.
The Cowin E8 has a more premium look compared with others in the series. The headband design feels firmer with the cups made of high-quality plastic.
The earcups have leather pads that make them comfortable on the skin. The pads are replaceable so you won’t have to put up with worn-out pads. The cups, however, have a small hole that doesn’t cover the whole ear and tends to affect the isolation quality. The leakage is also fairly loud and can be distracting to others.
The cups tend to protrude giving them an enlarged not so good look. The headphones are also a bit heavy on the head and leave you feeling all clumped up.
On the right earcup, there’s a power switch to enable and disable the noise cancellation feature. There is also a three-button setup for volume controls, track skipping, call and music.
The bass is a bit strong and overwhelming. The treble is also uneven.
Have times when you just don’t want to hear any noise, not even the music? You just need to enable the feature and you have a noise-free environment.
The built-in microphone is excellent and clear when making calls. The Bluetooth functions help you to make hands free calls.
The battery life is awesome. 2-3 hours charging gives you 20 hours of playtime. This is a plus for the headphones as everyone admires longer lasting battery life.
With 5.0 Bluetooth connectivity, the Cowin E8 headphones are compatible with most devices. The wireless connection helps you work as you enjoy the music.
- Well, padded ear cups which are also replaceable.
- Sleek quality design.
- A long battery life.
- Amazing audio quality.
- They are a bit heavy and bulky on the ears.
- The bass can be overpowering.
The company has improved from the last CowinE8 headphones produced. The Cowin E8 Headphones are sure to serve the basic needs most headphone users have. That said, they still have a lot to do so that the headphones can match the features of other headphones within the same price range. They are a consideration since they also have awesome features as discussed earlier.
5. Skullcandy Venue – With Rapid Charge Tech
The Skullcandy Venue is one of the successful wireless ANC headphones in town. It comes in an attractive oval carrying case that protects it from scratches, dents, water, and falls.
In case you wanted wireless headphones that are compatible with your device, then you are home. The Skullcandy Venue is compatible with all Apple and Android Bluetooth enabled devices.
Additionally, it can be connected to two devices at the same time. This is marvelous right? Well, there’s still more to surprise you about these headphones.
Just like most headphones, the Skullcandy Venue comes with a 3.5 mm cord that can be used to connect it to a device. Similarly, as you take it out of its lovely and elegant carrying case, the 3.5 mm cord is accompanied by a USB charging cable.
Our In-Depth Review:
The Skullcandy Venue is mostly black but sometimes may contain small red accents. It may, however, get very tight for some people. This can be tiring if listening is done on an elongated period.
It has leather ear muffs that trap some heat in your ears and also reduce the airflow. It is highly recommended to use them during moderate physical activity. If you would desire to use them during more vigorous activities, I suggest you take breaks to let your ears cool off.
However, it has a creaky and irritating sound when it is twisted. It can make you question its build-up which is mostly plastic. Another knife on the wound is that it can press your ears a little bit if you have a wider head size. Don’t take this as an insult. To be optimistic, the pressure on your ears creates a seal that works well with the Active Noise Cancellation.
Furthermore, the ANC filters out all unwanted sounds making it convenient to hear your music in peace. This noise-blocking technology paired by the seal guarantees an off the hook hearing experiencing.
On top of this, it has a button that lets you answer a question, order coffee or even hear announcements in airports without taking the headphones off. This is heaven to all the lazy people like me. Taking your headphones on and off every time someone wants to talk to you is certainly unpleasant.
What about its battery life? Well, its battery life is equally impressive. The Skullcandy Venue is also embedded with rapid-charge technology. This gives you the pleasure to enjoy 5 hours of battery life for 10 only minutes of charging.
Your time is more valuable than waste it on waiting for hours for your headphones to charge.
Regardless of all these merits, the audio quality is not as impressive as you expect. The low-quality sub-bass makes some details in the music to be lacking.
Some instruments like trumpets are not heard well. The Skullcandy Venue will work well with rap, jazz, and EDMS. Therefore, if you are a person who loves these types of music, you’ll fall for it.
- Battery life is outstanding.
- It can be connected to two devices simultaneously.
- Compatible with all apples and android devices.
- Flawless Active Noise Cancellation.
- Microphone is not very sensitive lowering the call quality.
- Can press the ears making it uncomfortable for the user.
- Low-quality sub-bass reducing the quality of music.
It is very evident that the Skullcandy Venue will quench your thirst for good and quality earphones. Look no further because heaven is already here. The ability to track your headphones will definitely help in finding them when they are lost or stolen. Additionally, the rapid charge will save you hours of charging. I wouldn’t look the other way if the Skullcandy was in front of me.
6. Sennheiser HD 4.50 – With Intuitive Controls
HD 4.50 from Sennheiser is a pair of wireless headphones and runs on Bluetooth 4.0, and comes with Noise guard Active Noise cancelation technology.
The price is neither super expensive nor super cheap. It’s decent considering the headphones are from such a big brand.
The best thing about headphones is the overall design.
The design is really minimalistic and comes with intuitive controls on top of the ear cups.
Our In-Depth Review
In the past couple of years, we have seen that a lot of headphones manufacturer has started integrating intuitive controls on their headphones.
Even the best headphones brand, Bose, recently launched its ANC 700 with Intuitive touch controls.
With intuitive touch controls, you could do everything. You can control the volume, you can switch the tracks, you can play/pause the music, and you can also answer/reject calls just by touch, no physical hardware buttons.
The difference between the intuitive touch controls and regular controls is that with touch controls, there are no buttons. the top of the earcup acts as a touch surface, and by touching on various points, you can control various functions.
With HD4.50, the intuitive controls are good but are quite inconsistent and slightly difficult to use. Users would have to give some time to get familiar with the controls.
Talking about the connectivity options in HD 4.50, you get Bluetooth and NFC. Bluetooth is accompanied by an aptx codex that helps in delivering super sound quality over a wireless connection.
The other thing that impressed us is the battery range. The headphones provide an excellent battery range of 19 hours, that could be extended to 25 hours if the ANC is turned off.
The is very basic and minimalistic, and since the headphones don’t have any control buttons on them, the design looks cleaner. The only physical control available on the headphones is to turn off the ANC.
For the comfort part, the manufacturer has used soft leatherette padding on-ear cups.
Though the earcups feel soft on ears, they cause some discomfort for large ears. The ear space between the cup is small and doesn’t fit large ear completely. This gives the feeling of them being over-ear headphones and also feels pushy to the ears.
And besides the ANC switch, there is an option to add the chord and use the headphones in wired mode.
Talking about the feature that most important, the Active noise cancelation technology.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 feature Noisegard Active noise cancelation technology that could block ambient sounds in offices, streets, train and even on an airplane. The noise cancelation works perfectly when used with music playback, and works ok when used without music.
Last but not least, the headphones deliver sound quality that you would expect from them. The proprietary drivers integrated inside them delivers well balanced and highly detailed sound with dynamic bass. Add Active noise cancelation to it. and the audio experience goes even better.
- It offers NFC connectivity.
- 19 hours of excellent battery range.
- Good sound with dynamic bass.
- Side-swivelling ear cups.
- Intutive controls take some time to get used to.
- Ear cups are quite small for large ears.
The HD 4.50 are not the perfect headphone for everybody. But they could be great for users with normal sized ears. The sound quality is excellent, and the battery life is exceptional. Bluetooth version is not the very latest, but since you get aptx along with that, you will have a good connectivity eperience.
7. Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 – With Hybrid ANC
Rumor has it that these are the greatest headphones as far as the quality/price ratio is concerned. And when we say rumor, we mean the dozens of people we asked about them!
The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 headphones offer a great quality of the sound regardless of the music type – classical, rock, jazz, pop…, long battery life, active noise cancellation that prevents external noises and ensures the flawless performance, and easy device connection.
The story of the Sennheiser Momentum goes back to 2013 when the brand released the first of the model – superior in its sound quality but to be fair, not very comfortable to wear according to most of the feedback given.
Anyway, the Momentum 2.0 Wireless, which happens to be the improved second generation of the same model, is polished up a lot so that the wearer’s discomfort is eliminated due to the new design and the great sound experience is hardly prevented by any circumstance.
Our In-Depth Review:
The oh-so-luxurious design is approached with attention to every detail: leather elements, solid seams, and stainless steel headband contribute to the style of this gorgeous pair of headphones.
As far as the comfort of Momentum 2.0 Wireless is concerned, it is guaranteed by a new design, leather cushions that are bigger than those of its predecessors, and full of memory foam, and a hardly-visible hinge that ensures the good experience. Also, the material of the cushions is much softer and comfy in comparison with the previous model.
The foldable headband is a new feature and it makes the Momentum 2.0 ideal for traveling purposes. The traveling convenience is also complemented by a soft but also very sturdy protective case to store the headphones in.
The Momentum 2.0 Wireless headphones are more than convenient to pair due to its Near Field Communication (NFC) that allows the trouble-free pairing via the Bluetooth technology with any device which has its NFC feature on.
They are easily connected to not one but two devices simultaneously according to your preferences. If you are not to take advantage of the wireless connection, then the jack of the headphones is standard so it is compatible with your devices.
The VoiceMax technology of the Momentum 2.0 Wireless offers a great phone call experience. The headphones have not one but two built-in microphones that work together so that any external noise is revoked during phone calls.
Even the most devoted music freak will be satisfied with the battery that lasts over 20 hours (22, to be exact!), so the great-sounding experience is complemented by the long battery life.
- Great sound quality.
- USB connection to smartphone/computer.
- Foldable, light and compact.
- Sleek design.
In a nutshell, this second generation of Sennheiser Momentum has a performance that is one of the best for its price range. If you don’t have deep pockets, this pair of headphones is perfect for you. Momentum 2.0 Wireless provides superior quality, active noise cancellation, convenient connection to all of your devices and, last but not least, conveniently soft leather cushions and an improved form that offer optimal comfort.
8. Bang & olufsen Beoplay H9 – Beautiful Design
When we talk about advanced luxury of a new type, what comes to our mind is the 3-rd generation of Bang & Olfusen’s model Beoplay H9.
This Danish brand has never stopped improving this high-end model to provide us with one of the most advanced pair of headphones we can find now.
The H9 combines both practical features and a sleek design to provide the best experience for the user.
Our In-Depth Review:
One of the global problems nowadays is the noise pollution. However, this pair of headphones isolate you from any loud surroundings and offers you a “capsule” to hide from the unwanted outer noise with their advanced Active noise cancellation technology (ANC).
However, if you need to hear the background sounds from your surroundings in your 25-hour playtime, just switch to the Transparency mode that lets you hear everything coming from your environment when necessary.
Among the best features of Beoplay H9 headphones is their Voice assistant (built-in Google, but any iOS user may switch to their Siri). You can summon it by rubbing the magic lamp… just kidding, a special button is dedicated to the Voice assistant that needs to be switched.
The Voice assistant allows you to be connected to the online world without even taking your smartphone out of your pocket or bag. No matter if you want to answer your calls, to skip a song, to adjust the volume, etc., the voice assistant is there for you.
The design is as you see it – glorious! The high-quality genuine leather of the sleek cushions, filled with adaptive memory foam, the aluminum elements, the matte muted colors – they all, combined, provide a superb touch of luxury and comfort.
Lambskin, cowhide, aluminum – no compromise with the high quality is being made. Moreover, adding to the special experience, Beoplay H9 comes in their branded dust bag which protects your headphones on your long journeys.
Beoplay H9 model won’t break the bank completely but it is not the most affordable one on the market. However, if you are not disturbed by the price tag and willing to foot the bill, the H9 headphones are worth their weight in gold – they are one of the best choices out there both because of their exquisite style and the superior audio quality.
- Crystal-clear sound.
- Excellent noise cancellation.
- Gorgeous design.
- 25 hours of insane baterry range.
- The not-so-affordable price.
Overall, if you strive for great quality, the Beoplay H9 is perfect for you as the model incorporates both amazing performance and good looks – rich and powerful audio, noise cancellation technology that makes sure you and your sound don’t have an annoying “company” from the outside, voice assistant that is always ready for you, satisfying life of the battery, and last but not least – a design to die for. This is a head-turner that ensures you a blasting experience if you know what we mean.
9. Taotronics Headphones – With CVC 6.0 Noise cancelation Mic
When it comes to buying budget-friendly quality headphones, Taotronics is our go-to brand.
In the past, we have tested their noise-canceling earbuds, that comes at a very low price point and performs exceptionally.
We don’t say that Taotronics is one of the cheapest brands in the market, but it is still pretty affordable.
The headphones that we are reviewing today are over-the-ear foldable headphones that come with a staggering battery range of 30 hours.
Our In-Depth Review:
These taotronics headphones are an absolute delight for the user who doesn’t have much to spend on noise-canceling headphones.
The headphones come with all the features that you get in high-end premium headphones.
Talking about the design and build quality first, the headphones are a build-up of all plastic and come in matte black color, matte pink (though the company calls it orange), and classic silver color.
On the right earcup, you get volume control buttons, a power button, an ANC slider switch and a 3.5mm connectivity port. On the other earcup, you get a charging port and a led charging notification.
The padding on the headphones is done quite well. You get light leather padding on the headband and protein ear cushion padding on both the earcups. The headband is adjustable and the earcups are 90 degrees rotatable.
The best thing about the headphones is the battery. They offer a staggering battery range of 30 hours on a single charge. On top of that, they also come with quick charge functionality which helps in getting 2 hours of playback on just 5 minutes of charging.
Last but not least, the sound quality of these headphones is awesome. The sound gets slightly less loud when the ANC is turned on, but that’s something that happens with almost every other noise-canceling headphones.
- Excellent Battery range.
- Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity.
- Excellent price point.
- Good sound quality.
- No Cons.
If you need an excellent active noise canceling headphones without spending too much, then look no further. Taotronics headphones are very well built headphones with excellent sound reproduction.
10. Avantree Headphones – Portable Design
If you have ever looked up for headphones online you would have probably come across this brand.
Avantree is a very renowned brand that manufactures all types of headphones.
Few of its headphones are already mentioned on our list of best wireless headphones and best wireless headphones for TV.
The price of the headphones is as good as Taotronics headphones, and the audio experience is good too.
Our In-Depth Review:
Alongside Taotronics headphones these are also one of the most affordable noise-canceling headphones you can get.
The active noise cancelation on these Avantree headphones is excellent. It can cancel almost any noise be it loud traffic noise, airplane cabin noise, and even mowing engine noises.
To turn on ANC you just need to switch the slider that is present on the earcup. Along with that you also get other control buttons on the earcups. You get control buttons to manage volume, button to answer/reject calls, etc.
Talking about the look and feel of the headphones, it’s basic. The headphones are build of plastic and are quite sturdy. The design, on the other hand, is very basic, its not bad, but it’s not too beautiful either.
Coming to sound quality on these headphones, its impressive. They are not bass heavy but for a casual listener, it would suffice. Along with the Active noise cancelation, the audio experience comes out as even better.
- Exceptional battery range.
- Affordable price point
- Exceptional Active noise cancelation.
- Built in microphone.
- Design could have been better.
We have tested few headphones from this brand before and we completely trust it. These headphones are great and offer immense value for money. If you are low on budget and still want a pair of good noise canceling headphones then you will be satisfied with the overall performance.
Noise Canceling Headphones – Buyer’s Guide
What are Noise canceling headphones?
Noise-canceling headphones have gotten very popular in recent times, and that’s because it has now started coming in affordable headphones too.
Noise-canceling headphones are just like any other headphones but with a noise-canceling technology integrated into them that cancels out all the surrounding noises, including the high-frequency noises like train noise and airplane cabin noise.
Now the quality of noise cancelation varies on different headphones.
Some headphones could easily cancel out all noises, while some are good just for light noises.
Noise-canceling technology works on a mechanism where a counter white noise is created to cancel out the external noises. When the music is turned off, you can hear that white noise.
With some of the modern headphones, you get the options to switch between different ANC levels depending on the surroundings.
For a really long time, the Bose QC 35 ruled the noise-canceling sector with its exceptional overall performance, but then Sony released its WH1000-XM3, which was the successor to XM2. The XM3 took the market by storm and everyone started talking about how it’s better than the QC35.
Bose’s counter to XM3 was the Bose 700 which surely came with a lot of improvements. One of the major improvements over QC 35 is the option to choose between 11 levels of noise cancelation. Other than that most of the features were similar to the QC 35 including battery range.
As of writing this post, Bose QC35, Sony XM3, and Bose 700 are some of the most popular noise-canceling headphones in the market.
Headphones vs Earbuds
We have tested a lot of noise-canceling headphones and earbuds in the past and can confirm that the quality of active noise cancelation on both types is excellent.
Although the audio experience on both types could be different. Especially bass.
Since the drivers on the headphones are quite large as compared to those on earbuds, the bass is much stronger.
Getting back to the noise cancelation, the headphones have all the noise cancelation tech built inside the earcups only, while with the earbuds you get to see an external ANC module attached to the wire, for both the wired and wireless earbuds.
Although, we now get to see a lot of truly wireless earbuds that have the noise cancelation tech built-in.
If we had to decide on what type is better for noise cancelation then we would call out earbuds.
And that’s because their fit is much tighter than any headphones, even the over-ear ones. And need not to say, noise cancelation favors the noise cancelation.
Wireless or Wired
We have not used any ANC headphones till now that was strictly wired, and we are not sure of how many wired noise-canceling headphones are out there in the market.
Yes, we have tested wireless ANC headphones that could be used as wired headphones, and the ANC in that mode was the same.
When you use ANC in wired mode, you save a lot of the headphone’s battery.
Remember the ANC would only be functional in wired mode if there is some battery left in the headphones. With zero battery only the music would be operational without any Active Noise cancelation.
Most of the ANC headphones that we recommend, support wired connectivity.
Noise cancelation vs Noise isolation
Noise cancelation and Noise isolation are two different things that offer different experiences.
With noise cancelation its all about the technology integrated into the headphones while with the noise isolation its all about the fitting of the headphones over the ears.
The tighter the fit, the better noise isolation.
All the over-ear headphones offer noise isolation while all may not offer noise cancelation.
In a nutshell, noise isolation refers to the creation of a good seal around the ears so that the external noises do not penetrate through.
The best type of noise isolation that you would ever find is on the in-ear headphones. The ear tips on them stick tight to the ear and allow very little audio to come or pass through.
If you are especially looking for noise-isolating headphones then we would recommend going with the in-ear ones.
What is CVC Noise cancelation?
CVC, which is a technology built by Qualcomm is a noise reduction technology that is quite different in terms of both experience and functional technology.
CVC 6.0 (clear voice capture) could be found in a number of headphones in the market. Usually, this technology could be found in cheaper headphones.
If you are looking to get decent noise cancelation (read reduction), and don’t have a lot of money to spend, you can go with the CVC headphones.
The CVC noise cancelation comes in the expensive headphones too but on those headphones, it is integrated on the microphone that is used for calls and not the microphone that is used to cancel out the ambient noises.
CVC uses some digital algorithms to reduce external sounds, ambient noises like traffic noise, wind while you are making a call. Basically making sure that your voice is clearly delivered to your recipients without any distortion.
The users using CVC microphones can expect a noise cancelation of up to 30db while making a call.
CVC is probably for those who are not satisfied with the passive noise-canceling headphones but also can’t shed a lot of money to get a pair of noise-canceling headphones.
Recently the Qualcomm upgraded from the CVC 6.0 to CVC 8.0 with some improvements.
Are noise-canceling headphones expensive?
Yes! good noise-canceling headphones are expensive, while the most high-end noise-canceling headphones are super expensive.
Although you can get a lot of noise-canceling headphones at a lower price point, the quality of noise cancelation on most of them would not be satisfactory.
While they would work fine in less noisy areas, they won’t perform well in places like airplanes and railway stations.
Decent noise-canceling headphones would cost you around $100, while the best noise-canceling headphones would cost you around $300 and more.
After testing a lot of high-end expensive headphones, we say definitely say that the money spent on these headphones is not an expense, its an investment.
Note: If you are planning to get a pair of noise-canceling headphones specifically to be used in airplanes then we would highly recommend you to go with the only premium (read expensive) headphones. All the mid-budget headphones that we have tested don’t usually perform well in the airplanes, all though they perform really well in normal noisy conditions.
Does a higher price tag mean that the headphones would sound better?
A higher price does not always mean that the headphones would be good.
Yes, you can say that for the headphones like Bose QC35 and Sony XM3, but not for every headphone.
In fact, in recent times we have come across a lot of budget headphones that offer a really great audio experience.
However, we can surely agree with one thing that the quality of noise cancelation is actually better on the expensive headphones. Or if we put it in another way, the best noise-canceling headphones are usually expensive.
And as we said earlier, for some extremely noisy areas like airplanes, the expensive headphones tend to perform better since they have better noise cancelation technology integrated into them.
Adjustable Noise Cancelation
Some of the high-end headphones come with options to choose between different levels of noise cancelation with a slider switch, buttons, etc.
A great example of this would be Bose Qc 35 II.
It comes with an option to choose between three levels of noise cancelation low, mid, and high depending upon the levels of noises in your surroundings.
Now if you are wondering if why it is important to set different levels and why you shouldn’t keep the level of noise cancelation as high, then here is the answer to that.
Active noise cancelation is a power-hungry feature, and the more aggressive it is, the more battery it will consume, so setting it on a low level when the surrounding noises are not too loud can help you save a lot of battery.
Noise-canceling headphones are most of the time over-ear, and over-ear headphones are usually large in size.
They are not heavy but are usually bulky.
And if the size of the drivers is larger than the usual size of 40mm, then the earcups get even bigger.
If you want to get the most possible compact size then go for standard 40mm drivers.
Most of the top-rated premium headphones that we have tested till now come with average size earcups that would work perfectly fine for every user.
Is Bose really the best?
Yes! Bose is the best headphone brand in the market. Atleast out of all the brands that we have tested to date.
Although Sony has created some great noise-canceling headphones in recent times, Bose still has a better lineup overall.
Bose has produced legendary products in all the segments, be it earbuds or headphones.
Their QC 35 has led the market for quite a time in the noise-canceling headphones segment. Their QC 20 is still one of the best noise-canceling earbuds.
As of writing this post, the best noise-canceling headphones in their lineup are the Bose 700. Those are beautiful looking headphones with industry-leading noise cancelation.
Other Best Brands
Apart from Bose, we are also big fans of Sony, Sennheiser, and Beats.
We think everyone’s a fan of Sony. They have been creating excellent audio products for a decade now and are one of the most trusted brands in the market.
It has produced a lot of great headphones in the past, but ever since it has brought forward the WH-1000XM3, the company has placed itself on the top of the headphones industry.
Recently they launched their WF-1000Xm3 truly wireless earbuds that are a direct competitor to Apple airpods pro.
For beats, we cant say that we are a fan of a lot of their headphones but if we specifically talk about their Beats Studio wireless, then we would say that we truly love those headphones.
Sennheiser does not have a lot of noise-canceling headphones, but in general, they produce excellent headphones.
Noise-canceling headphones for workout purpose
The answer to this completely depends on what someone means by workout.
If its going into the gym and using the headphones thereby while working out, then by means go ahead.
But if it means running on the sidewalks then its would be a big NO. You would want to be aware of your surroundings when working out or running
on a sidewalk.
What to look for?
Depending on your liking you also need to check the bass response of the headphones you are going for.
The vocals should be clear and the mids and highs should be accurate.
A pair of headphones must have soft padding on the earcups and headband.
The headphones should also be overall lightweight so that there is no pressure on the head.
On average most of the noise-canceling headphones have a batter range of 15 hours of more which means you can easily use them for a whole day without any battery issues.
Also, most of the high-end headphones support fast charging.
If you are looking for some headphones that you can use at home or at the office any decent headphones would do the job as these are light frequency noises that could be canceled by any decent noise cancelation tech.
High-end noise cancelation is useful when the frequency of surrounding noises is high like train noises and airplane cabin noise,
The best noise-canceling headphones in the market would cost you close to $300.
Most of the headphones today come with noise-canceling microphones, while some of the high-end models come with dual noise-canceling microphones.
This makes sure that the recipient receives clear voices without any distortions.
Active Noise Cancelation vs Adaptive Noise cancelation vs Passive Noise cancelation.
Active Noise Cancelation
Active noise cancelation is the standard noise-canceling technology that works on absorbing the external sounds and then creating a counter-voice to cancel that out.
It is actually a white noise that do not cancels the external noises, instead, it just prevents them to reach your ears.
If you listen closely then you would be able to hear that white noise.
There are a lot of levels of noise cancelation, and those vary from headphones to headphones.
Like the Bose QC 35 comes with 3 levels of noise cancelation: Low, mid, and high, while the very latest Bose 700 comes with 11 noise cancelation so that you fine-tune the level of noise cancelation depending upon the level of surrounding noises.
Adaptive Noise Cancelation
Adaptive noise cancelation is nothing but the different levels of noise cancelation that are automated.
Breaking it down further, headphones with adaptive noise cancelation auto adjust the level of noise cancelation depending upon how aggressive the surrounding noises are.
Let’ say you are at the office which low level of noise around you. Adaptive noise cancelation would keep the ANC level low.
And if you are traveling on an airplane, the ANC level would be in full force.
Passive Noise Cancelation
As mentioned a lot of time in our reviews, the passive noise cancelation is nothing but a name given to the noise isolation.
There is no technology involved in the process and everything depends on how tight do the headphones fit.
Tighter the fit, better the noise isolation.
On-Ear vs Over-Ear
The basic difference between On-ear headphones and over-ear headphones is the way how the earcups are placed.
On-ear headphones rest on top of the ears while the Over-ear headphones completely cover the ears completely and create a good seal around ears.
Usually, most of the noise-canceling headphones are over-ear, or atleast all the headphones that we have tried were over-ear.
Practically the noise-canceling would not work well on the on-ear design since the earcups rest on the ears and then is no seal around the ears.
Best Noise-Canceling Headphones for studying.
Assuming you are going to study at home or at the library, any decent affordable headphones would work fine.
Since these places are not too noisy, the external noises would be canceled quite easily.
Taotronics Headphoned on our list would be the best headphones for studying. They are quite affordable and would do the job easily.
Truly wireless noise-canceling headphones
With Apple recently launching the Airpods Pro that comes with active noise cancelation, the demand for cheaper truly wireless ANC headphones has increased.
As of writing this post, we only see a few of the good noise-canceling earbuds, sony WF-1000M3 being one of them.
If you do not have an iPhone, and still want to use some great noise canceling truly wireless earbuds, then Sony WF-1000XM3 would be a great choice.
But, we think there is a long way to go before we start seeing some decent budget truly wireless ANC earbuds in the market.
Aware Mode/Transparency mode
These are the names used for the same technology that is being used on some of the high-end noise-canceling headphones.
This technology enables to cancel the noises around you while still allowing you to hear the noises that are important.
In our opinion, this is one of the most important techs for any noise-canceling headphones.
The trigger for this mode could be different for different headphones. Like for the WH-1000Xm3 you just have to touch the earcup, and the mode would be activated, while on some of the headphones there is a switch on the earcups to activate this mode.
Are they expensive?
Yes, Good noise-canceling headphones are expensive, and the best noise-canceling headphones in the market like Bose QC 35 and Sony M3 are super expensive.
But there are some decently priced noise-canceling headphones too that offer decent noise-canceling functionalities.
But to get the best possible noise-canceling experience or even great experience, you have to shed some decent amount of money.
FAQ’s related to Noise-canceling headphones
Are noise-canceling headphones safe
Noise canceling technology is 100% safe and no whatsoever harmful effects on the health of a human being. And the reason for that is there are no harmful rays emitted during the process. But you need to remember that although the ANC is safe, prolonged use of Bluetooth could be harmful to health.
Can you sleep with Noise-canceling headphones on
If you are taking a quick nap on your chair, feel free to sleep with your noise-canceling headphones on. But if you are planning to use them during the night when you sleep on your bed then we think that could cause a lot of comfort issues.
What does ambient noise mean
Ambient noises or the background noises refers to all the noises in an area that could also be called as interference. Most of the active noise-canceling headphones use this phrase in their product description.
What is better Active or Passive Noise cancelation
The Active noise cancelation depends on the technology while the passive noise cancelation depends on the fit of the headphones. Obviously the active noise cancelation is much better than the passive noise cancelation technology.
Do Noise-canceling damage ears
No, there is no kind of damage to the ears with the use of n noise-canceling technology.
Does noise canceling work without music
Yes! the noise cancelation would work without music and that's the best part about these headphones. If in case you want to focus on your work or studies or any other thing that requires your full attention, then you can just keep the ANC turned on and keep the music turned off. But before you do that make sure your headphones have some battery in them. ANC requires power to run both in the case of noise-canceling headphones and earbuds.
Will noise-canceling block out talking
Yes! noise canceling can completely block out talking. In some of the headphones, you get a mode with which you can not block the talking or other important ambient noises in the surroundings and only block the noises that are irrelevant.
Are noise-canceling headphones good for studying
Noise canceling headphones could actually be great for studying and work. No outside noises mean no distraction and a complete focus on work and studies.
How do I block out office noises
Office noises are very light noises that could be canceled with any decent noise-canceling headphones. With the high-end noise-canceling headphones the medium level ANC mode would be enough to block out the office noises.
Can you still hear with noise-canceling headphones
With average noise-canceling technology you can still some of the ambient noises, but with the high-end noise-canceling headphones the noises are almost completely blocked.
If you have read all the reviews above you must have decided which headphones you would like to go with.
If in case you did not have time to go through all the reviews then here are is the quick conclusion for you.
The headphones that have the best active noise cancelation in the market are Sony XM3.
The best overall noise-canceling headphones on this list are Bose QC 35 II.
The most good looking headphones on this list would be Bang and Olufsen Beoplay H9.
The most affordable headphones on this list are Taotronics noise-canceling headphones.