What are the best noise cancelling headphones?
Below you’re going to find the top models of over-ear and on-ear headphones…
…that have the best noise cancelling technology right now.
Avoid the noisy office and enjoy some peace and quiet on the commute to work.
Pick one of the top ANC headphone models below.
Compare them to each other in the comparison table or read the in-depth reviews at the end.
Maybe looking for best noise cancelling earbuds?
Here you can find the alternative, best noise isolating headphones.
Check table of contents below for better orientation.
- 15 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Comparison
- Is Active Noise Cancelling Better Than Passive Noise Isolation?
- What to Expect From Noise Cancelling Headphones
- Best Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones Reviewed
- Bose QuietComfort 35 (Top Pick)
- Best Wired Noise Cancelling Headphones Reviewed
15 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Comparison
|Bose SoundSport In-Ear (Top Pick)||4.1||In-ear|
|Monster iSport Freedom||3.7||On-ear|
|Jaybird X2 (Best Wireless Headphones for Running)||3.4||In-ear|
|Powerbeats 2 Wireless||3.4||In-ear|
|Shure SE215||4.0||In-ear||$ ($80-$120)
|Plantronics BackBeat Fit||4.1||In-ear|
|Sennheiser CX 685 Adidas||3.9||In-ear|
|Philips ActionFit SHQ5200||3.9||On-ear|
|Yurbuds Inspire - Women's (purple)||4.2||In-ear|
|66 Audio BTS+ Bluetooth||3.9||On-ear|
|SoundMAGIC E30||4.0||In-ear||$ ($30-$80)
|||Koss SportaPro||4.3||On-ear||$ (<$30)
|||MEE Audio Sport-Fi M6||3.7|| In-ear|
- Over-ear=over-the-ear (circumaural)
- On-ear=on-the-ear (supraural)
Is Active Noise Cancelling Better Than Passive Noise Isolation?
There is a lot of misconception about noise cancelling.
Many people don’t even know the difference between noise cancelling and noise isolation even though they have entirely different names and work by a different mechanism.
The actual answer, whether noise cancelling is better than noise isolation is:
What is Noise Cancelling
Noise cancelling technology has an advantage when you want to cancel out low-frequency noises while still hear human talk, street traffic or your crying baby.
Noise cancelling is effective only at lower frequencies like the humming sound 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.
This technology is more suitable for people who want to let louder noise in while keeping the more constant and predictable ambient sound out.
Don’t forget this comes at a price, you can read more about what you can expect from noise cancelling headphones below.
How does noise cancelling work? Bold
All noise cancelling headphones use microphones to know when ambient noise is present. Thais signal is send to dedicated electronics which creates direct opposite sound waves that go through the headphones to your ears and thus negate the original noise.
This is a much-simplified explanation.
What is Sound Isolation
Sound isolation uses no specific technology or electronic circuitry, but just the concept of noise isolation.
The best noise isolating headphones are usually in-ear monitors and closed-back, tightly clamping over-ear headphones.
These two types of headphones provide the best passive noise blocking.
With noise isolation, you don’t let the sound in and you also don’t leak the sound out.
Here you can find more top noise isolating headphones.
This enables you to listen to your music at lower, more comfortable volumes. Not to mention this is healthier for your hearing in the long run.
Additionally, noise isolation headphones don’t need a battery and usually, don’t cost as much money and have no major disadvantages.
The only disadvantage with noise isolating headphones is usually poorer soundstage, meaning you don’t get the illusion of spacious sound like with high-end, open-back headphones.
But if you know which model to pick you can get comparable soundstage even with closed-back design, take a look at Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO, one of the best closed-back headphones for the price. Review here.
What to Expect From Noise Cancelling Headphones
Recently noise cancelling headphones have become very popular, but many people don’t realize the disadvantages of noise cancellation.
Noise Cancelling Advantages
Cancellation of lower and some middle-frequency noises
Noise cancelling works and works well enough to give you the illusion of quieter environment which makes listening to music much more enjoyable.
At the same time, you can use the NC headphones just for cancelling the noise without any music. Perfect for times when you need to rest your head.
Noise Cancelling Disadvantages
Noise cancelling headphones tend to cost more, especially the higher end ones. All the technology, microphones and more sophisticated design cost money.
To get decent NC headphones you’ll have to pay money for which you would get non-cancelling headphones with better comfort, better build quality, and especially better sound.
Lower sound quality
Noise cancelling technology produces the counter frequencies to negate noise, but because it’s not 100% accurate all the time you can hear a hissing noise when it’s turned on.
Not to mention some of the frequencies in the original music recording will also get cancelled out, distorting the overall sound quality.
It is an accepted fact among audiophiles that noise cancelling technology lowers the sound quality of any headphones, even the most expensive ones.
But if you don’t have the sharpest ears and value more features and user experience, the headphones on this list are among the best to choose from.
ANC needs power
Since ANC (active noise cancelling) technology can’t work without power you need a battery, making it less user-friendly.
Some headphones use rechargeable batteries, some changeable ones, but overall this means more hassle and expense for the end user.
Sensitive to wind
One of the known problems of ANC is strong winds. When strong winds are blowing and making sounds, your microphones pick it up and make a whole mess of the sound you are hearing on the headphones.
This is why ANC headphones are not recommended for outside use and can be extremely frustrating if you’re ever caught in that situation.
“Pressure” on ears
All noise cancelling headphones make you feel like your ears are under pressure and for some this is uncomfortable. There is nothing that can be done about this as it’s just another “feature” of the noise cancelling technology in general.
If you’re buying ANC headphones, expect to pay more money for a decent pair, don’t use them outside, keep your mind on the battery and don’t expect superb, audiophile sound quality.
In case you value sound quality and don’t want to pay too much money, take a look at noise isolating headphones. Usually, they are cheaper, sound better and offer good protection from outside noise.
Best Bluetooth Noise Cancelling Headphones Reviewed
Bose QuietComfort 35 (Top Pick)
Bose QuietComfort 35 are the best active noise cancelling headphones right now, period!
This is the new over-ear ANC Bose model, the update from older QuietComfort 25. Sure they cost $50 more but offer new and improved features.
Bose QC25 are still great headphones if you don’t mind the wires you can save some money and get the same noise cancelling and comfort.
Check the QuietComfort 25 here.
The QuietComfort35 have now become wireless via Bluetooth and kept the option of using them as wired headphones as well.
Note: For the best noise cancelling earbuds click here.
The combination of everything good headphones need with the best noise cancelling technology currently known to mankind makes Bose QC35 a no-brainer choice.
When it comes to active noise cancelling technology Bose is the undisputed champion.
Bose QuietComfort models have been stomping the competition for some time now.
No other company knows how to make their ANC (active noise cancelling) as effective as Bose.
QuietComfort 35 are no different, their ANC is superb.
Compared to QC25 there is basically no noticeable difference, it still “magically” creates a silent environment with a press of a button.
These headphones are top-notch at cancelling out the engine sounds of a plane or people chatter on public buses and trains.
They are even effective at cancelling out some middle range tones as well, this is something other headphone brands don’t yet know how to do.
If you need some quiet time and your neighbor’s kids don’t let you relax with their loud playing, put these on and you’ll be transferred into another world.
Noise cancelling is powered by a rechargeable built-in battery (not replaceable anymore) that lasts about 20 hours in Bluetooth mode or up to 40 hours in wired mode. This is an impressive upgrade from the previous QC25 model which lasted for 30-35 hours on a full battery and only had wired mode.
Charging is done with micro-USB cable which is included in the package.
Passive noise isolation is good but isn’t superb since ANC technology is so effective. While you might not hear the noise around you, others might hear what you are listening to because there is some sound leakage at high volumes.
Nevertheless, for the headphones with the best-in-class noise cancelling, Bose QuietComfort 35 beat all the competition easily.
Durability is similar to other QuietComfort models, it’s all high quality plastics. While Bose isn’t known for top notch durability they do a good enough job.
Bose QC35 are no different. Plastics don’t make these tank-like but if you accidentally drop them a few times they should be fine. We didn’t test this, though.
Build quality is great, all parts come together nicely and make the headphones feel premium all around.
Quiet”Comfort” is the name of the headphones for a reason.
Comfort is top notch, it is true the new QC35 model is slightly heavier than the previous QC25, but you only feel the difference if you wear one after another.
If you only wear ones you won’t know the difference.
They are super comfortable with big plush, memory foam earpads, headband covered with Alcantara and slanted drivers.
The clamping force isn’t too strong and wearing them for hours isn’t an issue at all, you’ll soon forget you’re wearing them at all.
Bose knows these will be used on long plane flights so they’ve put extra effort into making them at least as comfortable as older models, meaning top notch comfort.
The ear cups rotate 90 degrees and with headband adjustment, you can make the headphones fit even the largest heads comfortably.
Just put them on and relax whatever you’re doing or wherever you’re going the headphones will feel like natural a part of you.
The biggest new feature is Bluetooth 4.1. Now you can connect these brilliant ANC headphones with either iOS or Android devices with a click of a button.
They’re compatible with iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, Bluetooth MP3players and Bluetooth laptops.
Connecting them is very easy and hassle free. The connection breaks very rarely and the range seems to be better than average in most cases.
You can connect them to multiple devices. Once you turn on the headphones turn the power button to on again for 2-3 seconds until you hear the voice prompt telling you the headphones are ready to connect to a new device.
Bluetooth has come a long way, but still isn’t perfect. You might experience some distortion every once in a while, but far less than with most BT headphones.
In case you still want to use the cable, there is a 3.5mm standard analog cable available. You can save a lot of battery power if you use it in wired mode.
In case you like having an in-line remote and microphone you can use the cable of QuietComfort 25 with in-line remote and microphone, the same cable is fully compatible with QuietComfort 35 as well.
The headphones have solid built-in controls on the right earcup. The buttons are big, sturdy and have a premium feel.
Changing volume, songs, play/pause, turning ANC on/off and connecting via Bluetooth is all done from headphone controls.
The 2 built-in microphones work well too as long as you understand they’re a built in mics. You can make normal conversation in most environments even outside, but don’t expect high-end boom microphone quality.
The mics are quite sensitive and will pick up louder noise around you even if you can’t hear it due to ANC. Nevertheless, in most cases, they work perfectly fine.
You get a nice, sturdy carrying case and an airplane adapter since these will be used on planes often.
The sound quality is great too. As long as you’re not a purist audiophile you are going to love these.
The sound has become a bit richer in bass tones compared to older models (QC25), yet not too much to classify them as basshead headphones.
They can’t be classified as neutral either as there is some emphasis on bass.
They create a very rich and dynamic sound that is fun to listen to. You will enjoy your pop, dubstep or classical music as they’re very versatile in making all genres sound good.
The highs and mids are clear and rich, add in great soundstage and you’re in for a great music experience.
Sound separation has really improved and is better than ever before in any of Bose headphones. You’ll clearly hear the different instruments and where the sound is coming from.
Now, since the headphones became Bluetooth you can be wondering how do they sound compared to wired headphones.
Well, it is true they don’t support aptX, but they sound surprisingly good.
While all who have sensitive ears will hear an improvement in sound quality when used in wired mode, for an average listener these will sound great in Bluetooth mode as well.
As long as you don’t compare them to high-end audiophile headphones you can’t complain much. There is a bit of harshness and distortion at lower and higher tones when you ramp up the volume to unhealthy levels, but you won’t be using them that way anyways.
If you want the best noise cancelling headphones money can buy right now, Bose QuietComfort 35 are a no-brainer offering everything a high quality, premium pair of headphones needs.
- Best noise cancelling technology known to mankind
- Amazing comfort, perfect for long commute and flights
- Solid build quality
- Stable Bluetooth performance, long range
- Great battery life (20h BT, 40h wired)
- Premium feel and performance
- Great sound quality with boosted bass, fun & dynamic
- Pricey (you get what you pay for)
- No aptX support for Bluetooth
The combination of great build quality, comfort, wireless connectivity with good noise cancellation and sound quality, you will have a hard time finding better ANC Bluetooth headphones than this.
The price is quite steep, even more expensive than Bose QuietComfort 35, but you have to understand these are Bluetooth headphones, which usually cost more money.
Comparing noise cancelling to Bose QuietComfort is category standard, Denons fare quite well. Bose headphones are still winners of course, but only by a small margin.
Noise cancelling in these headphones is very effective and you can use them in any noisy environment. The effectiveness can be compared to Audio-Technicas or Sennheisers, not quite beating Bose, but very close.
ANC technology is powered by one chargeable battery. You can only charge it with a micro USB cable that you get in the package.
For 3 hour charge, you’re getting about 20 hours of battery life in wireless mode.
When it comes to Denon, build quality is top notch. These headphones are no different.
Very nice design with quality plastics and strong metal internal parts. These headphones were made for travel.
You can expect years of use out of these as long as you don’t abuse them too much.
Headphones fold flat so you can pack them in the carrying bag together with all the accessories and they’re ready to go.
Over-ear design with plush ear pads is very comfortable. This is more or less a standard in high-end noise cancelling headphones, but it’s good to know you can wear these for hours on end.
Even if they look big and heavy, they’re actually not. Because of plastics, they’re lighter than they look and fit very comfortably.
Bluetooth 4.0 ensures you can connect these to any smartphone and Bluetooth enabled devices. It works without connectivity problems, up to 30ft in range.
Supporting AptX you get the best possible sound quality you can get through a wireless connection, just make sure your music device supports it too.
Also featuring CVC, meaning Clear Voice Capture is a newer technology that helps with sound quality during calls. Many times talking over headphones is problematic, because of external noises that get picked up by the microphone.
You can connect them with the cable that you get in the package in case you want to use them as wired headphones, but note that play/pause and ANC on/off buttons don’t work in that mode.
Additionally, the sound is slightly better with ANC on like with many other headphones. It’s just one of the limitations of the technology.
Sound quality is very good for Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones. You have to understand that you can’t achieve perfect sonic fidelity with Bluetooth and ANC headphones, at least so far nobody has done it to a satisfactory degree.
In fact, Denon AH-GC20 Globe Cruiser have come closest to that high standard of perfection.
Compared to most other noise cancelling headphones, these sound amazing, maybe not much better than Bose QuietComfort 35 but the support of aptX does make a difference.
The sound is fun to listen to, not flat but with quite some bass. Some would say even bass heavy, though real bassheads won’t be happy either.
Highs are clean and detailed, mids come alive from places you’ve never heard before and bass gives the sound that extra fun factor.
These are not audiophile headphones looking for a flat response, but great sounding headphones to have some fun with no matter where you go.
If you want great sounding Bluetooth and noise-cancelling headphones, together with other qualities, packed in one pair of headphones, Denon AH-GC20 Globe Cruiser are a great choice.
- Very good noise cancelling
- Good build quality, made for travel
- Comfortable for long trips
- Nice button controls in Bluetooth mode
- Foldable, with nice included accessories
- Work without ANC on
- Great sound for noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones
- Expensive, even for wireless ANC headphones
- Soundwise can’t compare to real audiophile models
While Beats headphones aren’t very popular in the audiophile world, this model is very different.
It is a much improved newer version with considerably better sound than before…
… and if you’re looking for a stylish pair of Bluetooth headphones you could do a lot worse than Beats Studio Wireless.
Noise cancellation is good, just like with previous Studio model. It’s not top notch like Bose, but you’ll dramatically lower the background noise with ANC on.
They have focused on fun sound and design more than on noise cancelling effectiveness. This doesn’t mean you can’t use them in noisy environments, quite the opposite.
The battery is proprietary and on one charge gives up to 12 hours with ANC and Bluetooth in use, or up to 20 hours with noise cancelling only.
The battery is charged via USB to Micro USB cable so any laptop or USB adapter will charge them.
Design is top notch.
Build quality is decent, they definitely have a very nice, sleek over-ear design. While mostly plastic, it has a nice finish that gives them a premium look… very classy.
To make a fashion statement and to let others know you have some style, you probably can’t do better with any other headphones.
As long as you don’t throw them around you should get a long life out of them, just don’t expect miracles.
Beats Studio Wireless are very comfortable headphones. Big plush ear pads of proper size make sure of that.
They are not the most comfortable headphones in the world, but wearing them for hours shouldn’t leave you with irritated ears. It helps that they’re quite lightweight and don’t put a lot of pressure on your head either.
Bluetooth has the standard 30ft of range and connecting to all supported devices is fast and easy. As long as you keep in range no connectivity issues occur.
Headphones have a built-in microphone to make calls with and you can also use the added cable (with microphone) to get better call quality.
Nicely incorporated “Beats” controls on each ear cup work effectively when in Bluetooth mode. You can control the standard, volume, songs and play/pause.
Plug them with the cable and use them as wired Studio headphones, saving on battery power and getting better quality sound.
The sound has improved dramatically, comparing them to the old Studio Wireless.
Bass is more controlled and not as muddy and boomy as before. It’s still strong but doesn’t overpower other ranges.
Overall the sound is a lot more balanced while still keeping the rich bass nature.
These aren’t audiophile headphones providing perfect natural reproduction, but rather very fun sounding headphones with emphasis on highs and bass like you’d get in a concert.
The clarity of highs has also improved and while the old version had rather aggressive highs, they are now cleaner and more detailed.
These are just all around fun headphones with non-fatiguing sound.
If you’re looking for stylish, wireless, noise-cancelling headphones with bassy sound and don’t mind the premium price, Beats Studio Wireless are your best choice.
- Good noise cancelling (not better than Bose)
- Stylish design with decent durability
- Very comfortable with big, over-ear pads
- Nice controls and accessories
- Improved sound, more balanced with fun, strong bass
- Pricey compared to alternatives
- Not audiophile sound
Parrot Ziks are another great wireless noise cancelling headphones.
This is the first model, but it’s considered better than the 2.0 or 3.0 especially for the price. The newer models are much more expensive and don’t bring anything new to the table.
The minimalist design is special and looks nice compared to the alternatives.
Noise cancelling is above average. They use their own technology so it isn’t as effective as Bose, but you’re still getting a superb cancellation for all occasions.
Over-ear design offers good passive noise isolation as well, but you probably won’t use these headphones without ANC (active noise cancelling) because the sound quality gets much worse.
According to Parrot these reduce up to 98% of background noise using 4 different microphones.
This sounds all very compelling, but real life experience is still superior in Bose QuietComfort 35, as said before. This, of course, is a subjective opinion, your experience could be different.
The one thing that’s lacking is a good battery. With ANC on and Bluetooth connection, you’re bound to get only around 5 hours of battery life. This increases if you don’t use both at the same time.
Build quality is good as you’d expect from around $300 headphones.
Nice black finish, durable plastics, and metal parts all make a nice combination.
There is really nothing more to say about durability, as long as you take decent care of them you are going to have a great pair of wireless, noise-cancelling headphones ready to go on a trip with you.
Because of big padded ear pads, comfort is very good. Over-ear design and its big size help with keeping the pressure even around your ears.
Wearing them for hours isn’t really a problem even though they do weight a little bit more than your average headphones.
Bluetooth connection works well without issues. It has the regular range of around 30ft after which you’ll start losing connection.
One really cool feature is the head detection sensor. What it does, is when you put the headphones off your head, the music stops playing, put them back on and the music resumes without you pressing any buttons.
The 5th microphone on headphones is meant for making calls, it works as it’s supposed to. You can clearly hear the one calling and vice versa.
You control the music with touch sensor positioned on the right ear cup but only works when connected through Bluetooth.
Additionally you can use Parrot Ziks as wired headphones with the cable that you get in the package. This helps with battery life since it’s so small.
Ziks aren’t really made for sports, especially water sports, but there are many good choices for waterproof Bluetooth headphones.
Sound doesn’t disappoint, at least when ANC is on. It’s clean and balanced, you can clearly hear all ranges without any of them being too aggressive or lacking.
Keep in mind these are Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones which are probably the worst combination for good sound quality so you can definitely find better sounding wired, non-cancelling headphones for the same price.
As long as you keep the noise cancelling on you will get one of the best and most enjoyable sounds out of any wireless, ANC headphones.
Parrot Zik Wireless have a unique design while offering Bluetooth connection and noise cancelling in one good sounding package, making them on of the best choices in category.
- Unique design
- Bulky, but comfortable
- Well built to last
- Very nice features
- Great sound for Bluetooth ANC headphones
- Bad battery life, “only” 5 hours with BT and ANC on
You probably already know Sennheiser and the many great headphone models they make, MM 450-X are one of them.
Noise cancelling is very good, it’s called NoiseGard and it’s the same with all Sennheiser headphones.
Now compared to noise cancelling from Bose, these let through a bit more background noise, but you’re getting much better sound quality for a lower price.
ANC is powered by one proprietary battery which can be charged by the cable. Unfortunately, you can’t buy the battery in every supermarket or airport shop, you can only order it from Sennheiser.
With one charge you can use them for about 8 hours with ANC and Bluetooth in use. If you use them wired, for example, you get up to 20 hours.
This isn’t too bad but could be better as we’ve seen from other ANC (active noise cancelling) headphones.
Just like most Sennheiser headphones, these are well built. Quality materials with good hinges make them durable even for a frequent traveler.
The portable design comes in handy for packing them in the carrying bag and taking them with you.
The right earphone has useful controls with which you can change volume, songs and play/pause.
When it comes to comfort, Sennheiser MM 450-X don’t disappoint either. Plush ear pads are soft and you can easily wear them for hours without irritation.
They are meant for traveling after all and long trips are pretty common nowadays.
Bluetooth works up to 30ft which is more or less standard. You can also use NFC for connection if your music device supports it.
To talk to other people while wearing headphones you can use the TalkThrough function. It basically records outside voices and sends it in through headphones.
This is useful in many cases, like if a flight attendant wants to talk to you about your dinner.
For talking to your friends you can use the built-in microphone, but only works in Bluetooth mode.
For those you looking for the best wireless sound transmission, these also support AptX compression so you get the best sound quality over the air.
Being Bluetooth and noise-cancelling headphones at the same time, this is not a good combination for quality sound, but it’s surprisingly good, comparable to Bose QuietComfort 35.
Now, you can‘t compare them to wired, non-cancelling audiophile headphones, but compared to other headphones in the category, these sound like the best of them.
As long as you keep the ANC on, sound really comes alive. It’s not flat, but also doesn’t have strong, overpowering bass either.
The sound is rather balanced, clear highs, well-detailed mids and just enough bass that’s not fatiguing.
Depending on your sound taste, if you like overpowering bass these are probably not for you.
Overall, you’re getting portable, well built, comfortable, noise cancelling headphones that don’t disappoint with sound either. MM 450-X are truly another great pair of Sennheiser headphones.
- Very good noise cancelling, NoiseGard 2.0
- Sennheiser build quality
- Comfortable on-ear design
- Nice selection of features
- Very good, rather balanced sound (not for bassheads)
- Battery could be better
- Sound can’t compare to real audiophile headphones
For the price of slightly over $200, you’re getting a lot of value.
Noise cancelling can be compared to other ANC headphones on this list, except Bose. Nobody comes close to Bose in noise cancelling.
You can expect to cancel out most, lower frequency noises like the engine sounds, air conditioning noise and the like.
Passive noise isolation is also quite good so you can use these without noise cancelling as well.
The battery is already built-in and you can charge it with the included cable. A one 2.5 hour charge will give approximately 13 hours of battery life with ANC (active noise cancelling), but without it, up to 20 hours.
Build quality is above average. They are not built like tanks, but like you can expect from Sony’s these won’t just fall apart.
They are very light and might even seem a bit flimsy but both of these headphones are made for traveling so you can be sure they’re up to the challenge.
Over-ear design with big padded ear pads is always comfortable and it’s not different with Sony MDR ZX770BN.
Bigger size ear cups will be comfortable even for people with bigger ears. The clamping force is quite firm but gets lighter over time.
With Bluetooth and NFC wireless connectivity, which will work to around 30 ft range you will mostly use these without wires.
They also have AptX support for those wanting best sound quality over Bluetooth, just read the instructions on how to enable it.
Microphone for making calls is built-in and works without problems.
When it comes to sound, Sony MDR ZX770BN don’t disappoint either.They sound at least a good as other noise cancelling, Bluetooth headphones.
The highs and mids are balanced and nicely represented while the bass is quite strong, too strong for those who like a flat response.
It’s not audiophile sound quality, but more like casual, fun sound with a nice beat.
Sony MDR ZX770BN are perfect for an average consumer who doesn’t care much about sonic reproduction, but just wants to enjoy some modern, fun music with style.
- Above average noise cancelling
- Stylish, minimalist design
- Very comfortable due to light weight and soft ear pads
- Good, fun sound quality with some beat (not audiophile)
- Not best at anything
Plantronics are known for making good sports headphones, but with BackBeat PRO they’ve done great over-ear Bluetooth headphones as well.
The design might not be particularly pretty or anything special, but as headphones, these work well.
They come only in a black variant, with a carrying bag, charging cable and the additional audio cable if you want to use them as wired headphones.
The Plantronics BackBeat PRO have noise canceling that works well in all situations. It can’t compare to Bose or even Sennheiser or Denon, but it’s still decent.
If noise cancelling is high on your priorities, you should take a look at the wireless, Denon or Sennheiser models, those will probably better suit your needs.
The ANC is using a proprietary battery that gives up to 24 hours on one charge. You can see the level of battery with a nice LED indicator.
Build quality is great, durable plastics made in a way that can survive a lot of punishment.
Keep in mind these are quite bulky and do not fold, so they may not be best suitable for travel. There are many other models on this list that are more suitable for travel.
They are of decent weight compared to others as they weight 11.84 ounces, but this doesn’t impact comfort that much.
Plantronics BackBeat PRO are very comfortable headphones, maybe not as comfortable as Bose QC 35 because of their weight, but if you don’t have a weak neck it’s not going to be an issue.
Big plush ear pads and nice fit overhead help keep them in place comfortably for hours on end.
These are high-end Plantronics after all.
One thing that really stands out is remarkable Bluetooth connectivity that reaches up to 330 ft or approximately 100m. Usually, Bluetooth supports up to 30ft, but these have much better range.
Don’t forget that the usual Bluetooth limitations still apply, you’ll probably get close to 330ft in open space, but not with walls in between.
BackBeat PRO headphones also feature the head sensor knowing when you have them on their head. When they’re on they play music, if you take them off they pause it, this is something we’ve seen with Parrot Zik and it’s a very nice touch.
Additionally you can pair them with NFC technology, allowing pairing to be done with just a tap…
… and if you have AptX music device (Android smartphone) you can get the best sound quality over Bluetooth as well.
Microphone for calling with your connected phone is built-in and works well, no hiss sounds or disconnects.
BackBeat PRO could be used for gaming too, they have great comfort and noise isolation, but for more dedicated wireless gaming headphones go here.
The sound is very nice, not as good as with Sennheisers or Denons, but good nonetheless.
The lows and mids and bass are well defined. Treble could use more clarity and is sometimes a bit harsh, but that’s not such a big issue for Bluetooth headphones.
Bass is controlled and detailed, not too boomy or loud so these aren’t suitable for bassheads.
Overall it’s good sound quality with great detail and soundstage, this combination is hard to find in closed-back, Bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones.
If you want detailed sound with noise cancellation in a wireless design, and don’t mind the weight, Plantronics BackBeat PRO are a great choice.
- Good to decent noise cancelling
- Well built to last
- Nice features (Aptx, Bluetooth range, NFC…)
- Detailed sound with good bass
- Simple design (could be a pro)
- Not best at anything
Golzer BANC-50 are a hidden gem among Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones.
While not the best in any category compared to more expensive headphones, you’re getting very solid value, especially for the price.
As the cheapest, wireless ANC headphones on this list, the value per $ is very high.
Noise cancelling works well, not as good as Bose, of course, for the price, it’s better than expected. We’d say it has about 70% of Bose effectiveness for low frequencies.
Expect good noise cancellation on planes or busy offices, but not complete cancellation of all background noises.
The battery for noise cancelling and headphones charges in about 2-3 hours and gives up to 12 hours of juice. With ANC only you get 30 hours and with Bluetooth about 15 hours.
This is pretty good and can easily compare to more expensive models.
When it comes to build quality it isn’t the best. In fact compared to all other headphones on this list, these probably have the poorest durability.
They are not badly made, but they’re also not made out of premium materials like the headphones reviewed above.
They are very “plasticy” and don’t inspire much confidence. For the price, they are still well made, like a pair of average $50 headphones.
Golzer BANC-50 are over-ear headphones and very comfortable at that.
Thick, padded ear pads become softer over time and offer good comfort for long listening sessions. They might not be as comfortable as Bose QuietComfort 35 but still, have above average comfort.
The size of ear cups could be bigger for over-ear design as some people find them a bit small. Also, the clamping force is quite strong in the beginning but gets softer after some use.
If you’re not traveling all the time and don’t require best of the best, you’ll be perfectly happy with the comfort of these headphones.
Bluetooth range is standard 30ft and works well, additionally, you can make use of AptX codec if your music device supports it.
A hard, carrying bag is a nice touch, especially considering it’s very common to get only a soft bag with more expensive headphones.
The built-in microphone works well and most callers won’t be able to know you’re talking over a headset. Controls on the ear cups function only in Bluetooth mode but otherwise function well.
Changing songs and volume is very easy, especially once you get used to the positions of buttons.
The wired mode is useful if you want to save on some battery power as you can get up to 30 hours with only noise cancelling on.
The sound is pretty good. Not audiophile standard, but for wireless, noise-cancelling headphones the sound is better than average.
It’s not completely flat but doesn’t have that basshead lows either. It is something in between. You can find great basshead headphones here.
If you’re looking at Golzer BANC-50 you’re probably not an audiophile.
Nonetheless, the sound quality is better than with average $100 Bluetooth headphones.
Keep ANC on as it makes the headphones sound much better, louder and richer. This has to do with the limitations of noise cancelling technology and not with this particular model of headphones.
For the most budget friendly option of Bluetooth, noise cancelling headphones. Golzer BANC-50 offer a nice combination of ANC, comfort, features and sound quality that is very hard to beat for its price.
- Decent/good noise cancelling
- Good comfort after some use
- Very affordable
- Lots of nice features for the price
- Great value for money
- Good sound for ANC wireless headphones
- Not great at anything, it’s a budget model in category
Funny video review below.
NoiseHush i9BT (best budget model)
There are some other similar models for the same price of around $80, but NoiseHush i9BT just does more things better.
If you have $80 to spend and want noise cancelling Bluetooth headphones, get these and you won’t be disappointed.
The noise cancelling is very effective, there is a small switch on the right earphone that turns on ANC (active noise cancelling).
It’s not as effective as Bose models, but very close and considering the Bose headphones cost 3 times more you’re getting a lot of value for a lot less money.
The battery is another better than average feature. The headphones are charged when you get them and you can use them for around 12 hours in Bluetooth mode with ANC on one charge.
The battery life using just Bluetooth is 15 hours per charge and if you use only ANC you get almost 30 hours of battery life. This is comparable battery life with Bose QC 35 that cost 3 times as much.
The headphones themselves are quite light and don’t really seem to be extra durable, but over the time they seem to fare better than expected.
Made mostly from plastics that is somewhat bendable and doesn’t seem to break easily. If you intend to use the headphones for long plane flights, like most people, their durability is more than good enough.
Keep them in the convenient hard carrying case and they should serve you a long time.
Comfort of NoiseHush i9BT is another thing that pleasantly surprises. These are smaller headphones and for most people, they will rest on ears, so basically they are on-ear headphones.
The thing that makes them so comfortable are super soft memory ear pads that just melt on your ears. You can easily wear them for long continental flight without feeling any discomfort.
For headphones in this price range, this is just a great feature.
In the package, you get basically everything you need. Regular 3.5mm cable for use as wired headphones. If the battery runs out you can still use them as normal headphones without Bluetooth or ANC.
You get the airplane adapter, 6.3mm adapter, and the USB charging cable. Everything fits in a small cables pouch that you can store inside a hard carrying case.
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They also have an integrated microphone inside an earphone for when you want to make calls, it works without problems.
The only thing they could improve is to change their earphone buttons, they are somewhat small and hard to distinguish so you need to learn the exact positions to use them efficiently.
Altogether a very nice package of accessories that keeps surprising.
The sound quality is probably the only average feature of these headphones, but this is to be expected as most active noise cancelling headphones lack in this department, even the most expensive ones.
The sound signature changes with ANC turned on. Without it, the headphones are slightly bassy and have a warm sound.
When you turn on the ANC a lot of that bass disappears, along with background noise of course.
They have good sound overall and much better than any airplane headphones you get on board. Just keep in mind these are Bluetooth and noise-cancelling headphones, so you can’t expect sonic fidelity out of these.
All in all, for the best $100 spent on Bluetooth and noise-cancelling headphones, get NoiseHush i9BT and enjoy your music wirelessly in peace and comfort anywhere you go.
- Very good noise cancelling
- Nice hard carrying case with all the cables/adapters
- Can work without battery as wired headphones
- Long battery life (up to 12 hours with BT and ANC)
- Super comfortable memory ear pads, perfect for long flights
- Very affordable, great value for money
- Some difficulties using the earphone buttons
Best Wired Noise Cancelling Headphones Reviewed
Bose QuietComfort 3 (on-ear headphones with best noise cancelling)
Here is another Bose QuietComfort model but with a higher price. This on-ear model costs about $50 more than over-ear QC 35 reviewed above.
What more do you get for that higher price?
In two words, better sound.
But let’s begin from the beginning.
Just like with QuietComfort 35 noise cancelling is top notch. It’s not any better even if the price is higher, but then again, all Bose QC models have best in class ANC (active noise cancelling).
The headphones come with one changeable and rechargeable battery. You can buy the second, spare battery online for cases when you need it.
On one full charge you’ll get around 25 hours of playtime which is less than the 40 hours of QuietComfort 35 in wired mode, but this isn’t such a big difference. Buy a spare battery and you have 50 hours of active noise cancellation ready at your fingertips.
The design of Bose QuietComfort 3 isn’t much different from QC 35. Apart from being on-ear, they both use similar colors and “plasticy” lightweight design.
Having foldable structure and overall smaller size makes them one of the best noise cancelling headphones for traveling.
Durability is good and you can safely take these to any of your trips or just use them for the commute to your workplace.
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Because of smaller size and weight, Bose QC 3 are even more comfortable than their bigger brother.
Once you put them on you will barely feel them. The soft ear pads nicely distribute the pressure making them one of the more comfortable on-ear designs you’ll ever try.
Apart from noise cancelling, comfort is probably the second most important thing when looking for travel-friendly headphones.
You don’t want to be caught on a noisy airplane with uncomfortable headphones that make your ears red of irritation in a few minutes.
The cables can be changed, which is a nice feature also found in Bose QC 35. This comes handy if you accidentally break the cable or if it starts deteriorating.
The headphones come with 2 types of cables, one for iPhone with a microphone for making calls and the other one for an iPod with controls for changing songs and volume.
For around $400 you could get other features and accessories, but if you’re buying Bose you don’t mind paying a bit more.
This is where Bose QuietComfort 3 have a slight advantage over QC 35 model.
While passive sound isolation isn’t as good, the balance and detail of highs and mids are slightly better with QC 3 model. The sound is clearer and doesn’t lack bass either.
In the end, it still can’t compare to real, audiophile headphones of similar price.
If you’re not an audiophile you probably won’t notice a big difference as the overall sound signature isn’t that much different since these are still Bose headphones.
Because of light, comfortable fit, durable design, good sound quality and best in class noise cancelling, Bose QuietComfort 3 are the on-ear headphones with the best noise cancelling by our opinion.
- Best in class noise cancelling
- Comfortable and light on-ear design
- More portable than QuietComfort 35
- Rechargeable battery offering around 25 hours of playtime
- Good sound quality
- Even more expensive than QuietComfort 35
- Not the best passive noise isolation
With nice mode selections and high-quality sound, these are in many ways better than the competition.
Noise cancelling effectiveness is comparable to Bose QC models, maybe not exactly the same, but the difference is very small.
They still make great flight or office headphones, because ANC (active noise cancelling) is top notch.
With closed-back over-ear design, they have good passive noise isolation and with the combination of noise cancelling you’re getting very “quiet” headphones.
PSB M4U are big headphones. This is understandable as they need to have space for an amplifier and 2 AAA batteries for noise cancelling. The batteries provide about 50 hours of playtime, which is more than the alternatives.
The construction is metal but with layers of plastic over it. In the end, you get heavy, bulky headphones.
Durability wise these promise more than Bose QC 35, but for portable use which is their main purpose, this isn’t always an advantage.
Having the ability to fold them is nice and makes them more portable, as long as you don’t mind the weight.
Ear pads are soft and comfortable. The headband is covered by a nice layer of pleather and once you put them on, their weight stops being an issue.
Unless you move your head very quickly the weight won’t be a problem and PSBM4U 2 nicely sit on the head.
The only possible comfort issue would be the clamping force to the ears, especially if you have a large head. Because of a tight fit, the pressure on ears can be a bit too much if you have above average head size.
One thing other headphones don’t have is an internal amplifier.
This is a nice feature that helps with driving these headphones even with an iPod or your smartphone. You’re always guaranteed high sound quality.
You have the option of 3 different modes of listening:
- Passive mode – without power or noise cancelling
- Active mode – with only amplifier on, but no ANC
- Active ANC mode – with both, amplifier and ANC on
All modes work nicely, but you get the best sound quality with amplifier and noise cancelling active.
Additionally, PSB M4U 2 have an in-line microphone for making calls, just in case you need it, works like intended as you’d expect from high-end headphones.
You can control the activation or pausing of noise cancelling with a button conveniently placed on the headphone itself, so you don’t have to take them off if you want to talk to someone in person.
Sound quality is where PSB M4U 2 really shine. They favorably compare to Bose QuietComfort 35, having clearer and more balanced sound.
You can expect, clean and detailed sound across all ranges with prominent, punchy bass. These aren’t basshead headphones but have more of an audiophile sound than other noise cancelling headphones.
If you enjoy listening to slightly V shaped sound signature, these will be perfect for you.
In the end, PSB M4U 2 are great noise cancelling headphones with bulky, but comfortable design that produce superior sound quality compared to high-end alternatives.
- Very good noise cancelling comparable to Bose
- Heavy and big, but still comfortable
- Durable metal and plastics design
- Built-in amplifier
- 3 listening modes
- Battery life up to 50 hours (2 AAA batteries)
- More balanced and detailed sound quality
- Heavy and bulky design
- Not comfortable for big heads
Sennheiser PXC 450 are one if not the best sounding noise cancelling headphones at the moment.
You can also check Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless if high price isn’t a problem.
For those of you looking for decent noise cancelling and great sound quality, these headphones are the perfect combination.
Sennheiser uses its own NoiseGard technology which works very well. Compared to Bose QuietComfort 35 the difference is minimal. Bose still have a slight edge over Sennheisers, but this comes at a cost in other features, like sound quality.
Noise cancelling works in combination with noise isolation and produces very good results in loud environments.
You can use the headphones without ANC and just rely on passive isolation, works nicely.
Noise cancelling is powered by one AAA battery that gives you up to 16 hours of playtime. This isn’t the best, but AAA batteries are easy to come by. Just buy a 4 pack and put it in the carrying bag.
Build quality is good as you’d expect from Sennheiser. While covered primarily by plastics, durability doesn’t suffer.
Soft pleather is used for ear pads and headband protection, ear pads can also be replaced if you aren’t happy with them.
Compared to other over-ear, portable headphones, these are slightly heavier but still offer a good fit. Foldable design helps with storing them in smaller pockets.
Sennheiser PXC 450 are slightly bigger and bulkier compared to Bose QC 35, but comfort is comparable.
Most people will still find Bose headphones better since they are lighter and smaller.
If you don’t mind the bigger size, these are perfect even for the longest trips.
You can use these headphones with ANC (active noise cancelling) on or off depending on your needs, plus you have a third option called TalkThrough mode which enables you to talk to people nearby.
Find best earbuds under $50 on this page.
Basically, the microphone records the voice and sends it through the headphones for you to hear. It doesn’t mute the music and looks a bit awkward but works like it’s supposed to.
Sound quality is very good for noise cancelling headphones, better than Bose QuietComfort 35. It is a strong advantage over the competition since many aren’t happy with the mediocre sound.
The sound is clear and rich in detail. Bass is good, not overpowering or muddy, just right. You could say these are rather balanced without any range being too strong.
Compared to other noise cancelling headphones these are one of the best sounding. At the same time, for this price you can get better non-cancelling headphones, but this probably makes them less suitable for travel.
One great feature of these is that they sound the same even when noise cancelling is turned off. You can easily use them at home when you don’t need to block the noise.
If sound quality is more important to you than noise cancellation while being well-built and comfortable, then Sennheiser PXC 450 are the best choice for you.
- Good noise cancelling, NoiseGard
- Bulkier but comfortable
- Doesn’t change sound with ANC off
- Superb sound quality for noise cancelling headphones
- Bigger in size