If public transit trips are disrupting your music, external noise-canceling headphones can help you dramatically improve sound quality. The noise reduction headphones are in fact able to effectively block a large part of the ambient noise, which is why they are seen more and more frequently especially in crowded places, and on scheduled flights.
Their use also allows you to keep the volume of music low, to the benefit of listening, and to the health of the ear canal.
Our Top Picks of Best Noise-Canceling Headphones
|TopTop||Sony WH1000XM4||Best Noise Canceling Headphones For The Money||View on Amazon|
|Top||Sony WH-1000XM3||Best Noise Canceling Headphone For Sleeping||View on Amazon|
|Top||Bose 700||Best Noise Canceling Headphones Wireless||View on Amazon|
|Top||Bose QuietComfort 35 II||Best Noise Canceling Headphones on a Budget||View on Amazon|
|Top||Bowers & Wilkins PX7||Great Pair of Noise-Cancelling Headphones||View on Amazon|
|Top||SENNHEISER Momentum 3||Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds||View on Amazon|
|Top||Beats Solo Pro||Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $200||View on Amazon|
|Top||Philips H9505||Best all around over-ear||View on Amazon|
|Top||Jabra Elite 85h||Top-notch true-wireless noise canceling||View on Amazon|
|Top||Sony WF-1000XM3||Great Noise-Cancelling in-ear Headphones||View on Amazon|
The active noise cancellation (active noise canceling – ANC) works by using one or more microphones integrated into the headphone body, analyzing the sounds coming from the outside, and then eliminating the noises at the software level.
You can find this technology in both classic supra-aural headphones and in-ear headphones.
In some models it will be possible to turn this function off or on, in others, you will also find the option of being able to decide the intensity of the noise reduction.
Being a very complex technology, you have to be careful not to buy a model that is too cheap, because often in these cases you will risk being disappointed by the quality of the reproduced audio. We, therefore, recommend choosing in a price range above 100 euros, to avoid unpleasant surprises.
Now let’s see which are the best noise-canceling headphones and earphones on the market today, with the best degree of noise cancellation and audio quality, for price ranges from the most expensive to the most accessible models.
1. Sony WH1000XM4 – Best Noise Canceling Headphones For The Money
The best noise-canceling headphones of 2021 are undoubtedly the Sony WH1000XM4, a 2020 model, with very high sound quality and exceptional noise cancellation technology.
The design of the headphones is identical to the previous version, they are made especially for those who travel a lot, and we can keep them on for a long time without straining the ear.
The real strong point of Sony is the quality of the noise cancellation, which with this model has been further improved (already with the XM3 it was at very high levels) for an almost zero decrease in external noise.
Especially in the medium frequencies, where we often find the noise of a fan, the engine of an airplane, or the shouting of the public, when we wear these headphones the outside world literally disappears, for a feeling of complete peace of mind.
There is an internal geolocation system, which allows you to set different scenarios and adjust the noise-canceling intensity accordingly. For those who always visit the same places repeatedly (home, work, public transport, school), it is convenient to be able to map their day and switch from one mode to another automatically.
When you remove the headphones from your ear, the music automatically pauses, and after a while, they turn off by themselves to save energy. There are many technological devices of this type that make everyday life much easier. Among smart headphones, these are the best.
2. Sony WH-1000XM3 – Best Noise Canceling Headphone For Sleeping
The best ANC headphones for price-quality are the Sony WH-1000XM3, it is the model immediately preceding the WH-1000XM4, they have a practically equal noise cancellation quality and cost less. At the heart of the system, we find the HD Noise Canceling QN1 processor, responsible for managing the ANC department.
Sony’s active noise canceling level is significantly higher than any other brand. These headphones are able to completely block external noise, while the music we listen to is clear and limpid, so much so that we notice the inaccuracies of a poor-quality audio file.
Through the smartphone application, we can control the noise cancellation intensity, and there is also the Adaptive Sound Control function, to let the headphones decide the noise-canceling level depending on the situation in which we find ourselves. For example, if we are traveling by train, the headphones will only let us listen to the music, while if we are in a waiting room of a station we will be able to hear the surrounding noises and become aware of train calls.
The touch-sensitive pad positioned on the outside of the pavilion is also very convenient, which allows us to temporarily disable noise canceling (Quick Attention function) when we want to talk to someone without removing the headphones. The touch controls are also useful for changing tracks, adjusting the volume, and answering a call by simply touching the panel with your fingers.
The high autonomy of the battery, which can reach 30 hours of uninterrupted playback in noise cancellation mode, and the low weight, of about 255 grams, making it the right choice for those who listen to music for a long time and, outside the home, look for the better sound insulation. The quick-charge function allows you to have 5 hours of autonomy with only 10 minutes of charge.
Another strong point of these over-ear headphones is the support for aptX HD and Sony LDAC, codecs that allow high-resolution audio quality directly from the phone, without the use of cables.
Controllable from a smartphone via the application, it is compatible with Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant, and when not in use, thanks to the functional swivel and foldable structure, you can conveniently store them in the small case.
The only downside is the quality of the built-in microphone for calls, which isn’t great. So if you are looking for wireless Bluetooth headphones for frequent phone calls, it is not the first choice, but if your goal is to have high-quality audio listening, it is the best choice.
3. Bose 700 – Best Noise Canceling Headphones Wireless
The Noise Canceling Headphones 700 are the best soundproofing headphones from Bose, which with this model amazed everyone with the quality of design and performance of the noise cancellation system. We recommend these headphones especially to those who intend to make several calls from smartphones in crowded areas.
The main difference between this model and the other headphones on the market is in fact this: in addition to applying the cancellation of external noise for listening to music internally, the Bose also apply the same technology to external calls, with the result that our caller will receive clear and clean audio even when we are calling from a noisy area.
An interesting function is the adjustable noise reduction via a button on the left ear cup, which allows you to choose between 11 preset levels. In fact, you can reduce the level of noise cancellation, or interrupt it for short periods by activating the Conversation Mode, which pauses the music and cancels the noise cancellation.
They are also the best choice for those who habitually use more than one device. The Bose Noise Canceling Headphones 700 can in fact be connected to two devices at the same time.
The sound quality is very good, with an eye to the bass, thanks to the Active EQ technology.
Battery autonomy is also quite good (which touches 20 hours of continuous use ) but not as good as that of rival Sony headphones (30 hours). Only note, the Bose Noise Canceling 700 are not foldable and their case takes up a space of about 21 cm x 18 cm, so they are not pocketable but can easily be placed inside a large bag.
4. Bose QuietComfort 35 II – Best Noise Canceling Headphones on a Budget
Among the best noise reduction headphones, we find the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, characterized by a truly effective ANC technology. They share with the other products of the house the same attention for the sound spectrum and for the sound quality, which in these headphones is really high.
The two microphones for active noise cancellation make them suitable for listening to music or making phone calls even in particularly noisy environments.
The battery life is 20 hours, lower than the products at the top of the ranking but still more than enough for a long journey or to last more than a day.
They are the right headphones for you if you want to combine the quality of listening to music with that of phone calls and, above all, if you can’t do without the voice assistant. This is in fact the most interesting improvement compared to previous Bose models: the implementation of the Google Assistant and Alexa, now usable directly from the headphones, without having to take out the smartphone. However, the Bose QuietComfort 35 II wireless are compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
It is possible to adjust functions such as the different levels of noise cancellation and the active equalizer directly from the Bose app, although, the absence of the aptX codec, particularly appreciated by lovers of high-resolution music, could be a limit for some.
5. Bowers & Wilkins PX7 – Great Pair of Noise-Cancelling Headphones
The Bowers & Wilkins PX7 are the best noise-cancelling headphones for design and style, they are a sophisticated model of over-ear headphones that are appreciated for the build quality, the sound and the level of noise cancellation. At the high end, they are really worth considering against the more well-known brands Sony and Bose.
There are three levels of noise cancellation, depending on whether you prefer to eliminate all background noise, most of it, or just a little. The result is good, with effective elimination of external sounds and unquestionable audio quality.
Activating the ANC function is easy, just act on the side button of one of the pavilions to switch between the methods described above (low, medium, high). When they are set to “high” we are effectively isolated from the outside environment even though we are in crowded environments.
The headphones are also compatible with the new aptX HD technology which makes it possible to wirelessly pass Hi-Res audio up to 24-bit / 48kHz, with low latency to be able to listen to the sound in synchronization with the video without delay.
The weight is only 310 grams, the headband is lined with a soft material that does not bother the head, and the pavilions are decidedly soft. To the touch, the headphones are very pleasant to use, with an exposed fabric not found in other models. For sports and physical activity, we would avoid using them, for everything else the B&W PX7 are exceptional headphones.
6. Sennheiser Momentum Wireless – Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds
Among the ANC headphones, the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless are a satisfying model for those who want to combine excellent audio performance and exceptional wearability.
The different ANC modes allow us to personally adjust the filtering of the sounds through the Sennheiser Smart Control app: there is the “Max” option, for the highest level of cancellation possible, “Anti-Wind”, for a lighter cancellation excluding wind noise, “Anti-Pressure”, to avoid that annoying effect of discomfort (pressure) often caused by active noise cancellation (actually makes the difference) and “Transparent Hearing”, for better awareness of the surrounding environment and let outside noises pass.
Thanks to the intuitive interface with three buttons, you can quickly check your music tracks and calls, or you can activate the voice assistant.
The only real lack of the Sennheiser Momentum Wireless is the battery life with noise cancellation: only 17 hours, which, however, may not be so important for those who use this mode only at certain times, or for those who do not intend to use it. for long journeys.
The sound quality is excellent, the audio output allows a penetrating, energetic and high resolution listening. The 42mm drivers are of high quality, and there is also support for aptX codecs.
It is a product designed for those with a certain level of budget. When not in use, we can conveniently store them in the soft circular case which takes up very little space.
7. Beats Solo Pro – Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $200
The Beats Solo Pro are a pair of wireless on-ear headphones with active noise cancelling. They are quick to store in your bag without wasting too much time looking for the protective case, sturdy and durable, great for the gym and sports activities.
For effective noise cancellation, the Beats offer good pressure on the ear cup. The ear cushions are quite soft and comfortable, but these being on-ear headphones, compared to over-ear headphones, will cause some discomfort after hours of use. On the other hand, they are good for the gym because they are unlikely to deviate from their original position.
Active noise cancellation is good, the Beats effectively reduce ambient sounds when listening to music on a bus, or when walking around town.
There is no ANC intensity adjustment function, the Beats decide for the user, and automatically change the settings according to the situation. In a quiet room, the noise-cancelling level is lowered, while when we are in a crowded area it rises automatically.
To interact with other people and temporarily disable noise cancelling, there is a convenient “transparency mode” button located on the pavilion, with an incredibly natural pass-through sound.
They are easy to fold up, take up little space and have very strong hinges. One of the most interesting features is that they turn off automatically as soon as they are folded, and then turn on again when opened.
The 22 hours of battery life are enough to allow you to use them for a long time, or not having to charge them every day. Plus, with just 10 minutes of fast charging, you get up to 3 hours of uninterrupted listening, especially useful if you have to rush out or you can charge them for just a few minutes in a cafe or at the airport.
They are equipped with two beamforming microphones and an accelerometer for voice detection: they recognize your voice and clean it of background noise, for pretty good call quality. They work with both Apple and Android devices, and the sound quality has significantly improved over previous Beats models, with less overwhelming bass, for the benefit of a more neutral sound signature.
8. Philips H9505 – Best all around over-ear
The best noise-cancelling earphones are Philips H9505. This new version of Airpods is able to filter and eliminate external noises, to create a more intimate listening experience, without having to wear heavy headphones on your head.
The noise-cancelling technology in truly wireless earbuds has not had great success so far. Some models were better than others, but overall the effectiveness of noise-cancelling was significantly higher in over-ear headphones.
This is until the arrival of the new Airpods Pro, which introduce an extremely advanced noise cancellation system. Once you have installed the correct grommet for your ear size (the app will help you out), Apple’s headphones provide an excellent degree of sound insulation.
On the stem of the earphone, there are tactile sensors that allow various functions, and one of these is that of activating the transparency mode (just press and hold), to deactivate noise-cancelling and let external noises pass.
The sound quality is good, indeed, very good, and thanks to the ANC function we can afford to keep a low volume in the headphones even when we are in a noisy environment. What’s more, Apple has implemented technology that optimizes sound according to the anatomy of our ears.
The Airpods Pro are also excellent for voice calls, our voice is picked up clearly and transmitted to our interlocutor without wind noises or other disturbances. For those who frequently switch between listening to music and making a phone call, the Airpods Pro are exceptional.
9. Jabra Elite 85H – Top-notch true-wireless noise canceling
The Jabra Elite 85H are noise-cancelling headphones designed for those who travel a lot by plane, or for those who spend many hours studying in a public place, excellent for value for money and for those who want to spend less than the more prestigious models.
The real selling point of the Jabra Elite 85H is its impressive 36-hour battery life, the highest in its class. Plus, with just 15 minutes of charging, you can listen to up to 15 hours of music.
All are offered at a much lower budget than competing brands’ products. The Jabra Elite 85H are ideal for outdoor use: thanks to the internal nano-coating they can withstand rain and dust, against which they are insured for two years.
Comfortable to use even for a long time, they are able to recognize when they are removed or worn. When you remove them, the music automatically stops or silences the calls.
This model is compatible with Amazon Alexa, the Google Assistant and Siri, which can be activated with voice commands or by pressing a button.
10. Sony WF-1000XM3 – Great Noise-Cancelling in-ear Headphones
The Sony WF-1000XM3 are noise-cancelling in-ear headphones for those looking for truly wireless earphones, especially suitable for train and bus travellers who don’t want to take away too much space in their bags.
The best feature of this model is the sound quality, defined by many as the best true wireless headphones of the moment, they sound very good and the noise cancellation helps to keep the sound clean, without external disturbances.
On the outside of the headphones, we have touch-sensitive panels, to control volume and other parameters, skip the track and activate or not the ANC mode.
The new QN1e internal processor is responsible for the cancellation of ambient noise and uses the microphones placed on the outside of the headphones to eliminate unwanted frequencies. In-flight on an airliner, the headphones are actually effective, and discreetly block out the background noise of the engine.
As with other Sony over-ear headphones, when it’s time to talk to someone, we can temporarily disable noise cancellation by simply touching the outer pad of the left earphone, or we can remove one of the two headphones from the ear to stop the music. automatically.
Good autonomy, just under 5 hours of continuous playback. You can then use the fast charging case to use the headphones for longer.