Best Noise Cancelling Headphones in 2020
- Controlled via BOSE App
- Alexa Integration
- World-class noise cancellation
There are several reasons why you might want a set of headphones that can cancel out the noise around you. You might, for example, want to avoid the stress that comes with being in a noisy area. You might also prefer to drown out the obnoxious sounds that are part and parcel of the travel experience. You may even want to ensure that you have an interrupted listening experience when you finally get access to your favorite music. No matter what the case, it’s important that you have the best noise cancelling headphones when you’re trying to get a perfectly quiet listening experience.
- Best Noise Cancelling Headphones
- 1. Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones
- 2. Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II
- 3. TaoTronics Noise Cancelling Headphones
- 4. Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones
- 5. Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic
- 6. Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless
- 7. Sony WH1000XM2 Wireless Headphones
- 8. Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2
- 9. Sony WH-CH700N Bluetooth Headphones
- 10. Sennheiser HD 4.50 Bluetooth Wireless
- 11. Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless Headphones
- 12. COWIN E7 Pro Active Noise Headphones
- Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Buyer’s Guide
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones
1. Sony WH1000XM3 Headphones
Sony's WH100XM3 headphones are among the best noise canceling headphones on the market, with a handful of features that really help it to stand out. Perhaps the biggest selling point for the headphones right now, though, is the Alexa integration. While plenty of headphones work well with personal assistants, this is one of the few on the market to be fully integrated with Amazon's virtual assistant.
Even without the assistant, though, these are still solid headphones. They are fantastic at not only reducing noise but bringing a rich and warm level of sound no matter what device you are using them. Little extras like quick-charging and the excellent 'Quick Attention Mode' also help these headphones to stand out in a crowded field.
- Alexa Integration
- Touch controls
- Quick charging
- Quick attention mode
2. Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II
As you might already expect, Bose makes some excellent noise cancelling headphones. What you might not get at first glance, though, is how must engineering has gone into this particular set of headphones. Not only have they managed to make use of some of the best technology out there to craft a fantastic listening experience at virtually any volume, but the QuietComfort 35 Series II also integrates exceptionally well with both Alexa and the Bose app for a significantly higher level of utility than average.
Another standout feature here is the noise-canceling dual microphones. A perfect set-up for talking to others on the phone, it's as close to being in the same room as you are likely to get. This is an ideal headset for those who frequently wear their wireless headphones on business calls.
- Controlled via BOSE App
- Alexa Integration
- World-class noise cancellation
- Dual-microphone system
3. TaoTronics Noise Cancelling Headphones
This budget set from TaoTronics packs a lot of impressive technology into a relatively inexpensive package. It makes use of cutting-edge Bluetooth technology to ensure a better connection to devices, charges incredibly quickly, and even has the kind of bass performance that you'd expect from a set of sound cancelling headphones three times its price.
While there are other headsets that do noise canceling better, they don't do so at so low a price point. It still uses the same Active Noise Cancellation as more expensive headsets but at a fraction of the price. While you're not going to get the true silence you find elsewhere with this headset, you'll still get a much more reasonable price tag.
- Easy to adjust
- Improved bass performance
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Quick charging
4. Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones
The Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones are among the best that the company has ever made. While the consumer brand definitely has a lot of cultural caches, the truth is that they're also very technically savvy. The adaptive noise canceling on this headset is some of the best you'll find, with a great deal of attention having been paid to how well it works. The sound quality might not be quite that of some of the higher-end brands, but you'll still get an excellent experience here.
Where the Beats really stand out is in utility. They have a great battery capacity but they still charge quickly. They are incredibly comfortable, with a very friendly design. These are among the best headphones for people who just want something that's easy to wear.
- Quick Charge
- Adaptive Noise Cancelling
- Designed for long-term wear
- Uses Apple W1 chip
5. Bose QuietComfort 25 Acoustic
Bose's QuietComfort 25 Acoustic model is perhaps one of the best when it comes to working with Apple products. Though one usually thinks of Apple's own Airpods or the company's Beats line when considering headphones, the truth is that this unit from Bose really brings all of the integrated features one would expect from an internal product to a third-party experience. The set is engineered from the ground up to work well with the latest Apple devices, even to the point of offering enhanced controls for that company's products.
Of course, this headset is about more than just working well with Apple devices. It also features excellent noise canceling and comes with a fantastic carrying case. This headset is also very light and comfortable, making it one of the best to wear on the go.
- Engineered to work with Apple devices
- Compact carrying case
- Noise detection technology
6. Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless
If you're an audio junkie, you already know Sennheiser. The company's excellent sound quality is still present in these headphones, with the kind of performance you just don't get with many other brands. If you're interested in the noise-canceling aspect, though, you'll be happy with what you find. The NoiseGuard tech is honestly among the best in the industry, and it can drown out anything from city streets to the roar of an airplane's engines.
There are a lot of nice touches for consumers here, too. There are multiple control schemes and a smart-pause feature that will ensure that you never have to miss a moment of a song when you're interrupted. The PXC 550 Wireless set is simply one of the best sets of active noise cancelling headphones on the market.
- NoiseGuard adaptive noise canceling
- Voice and touch controls
- Smart pause
- CapTue compatible
7. Sony WH1000XM2 Wireless Headphones
Sony's wireless noise cancelling headphones have a few fantastic features that really set them apart from the rest of the crowd. Instead of trying to push into new territory, though, Sony manages to innovate by taking what already works elsewhere are improving upon it. This headset works very well with virtually any virtual assistant, for example, and features a quick-attention mode that's virtually unparalleled at this price point.
The headset is also terribly convenient. It charges quickly but still has excellent battery capacity. The headset is comfortable and light but still feels substantial. It's even aesthetically pleasing, something that's largely unnecessary but still nice to see.
- Includes voice assistant
- Quick attention mode
- Wired and wireless modes
8. Plantronics BackBeat PRO 2
Plantronics' BackBeat Pro 2 is, at its core, a headset system that makes life easier for users. It has an incredible Bluetooth range, so it's easy to be far away from your media devices while listening. You can even connect two devices at once, making it easier to work on music projects without having to switch out headsets. Plantronics has obviously put a lot of effort into making sure that this headset is as easy to use as possible.
The sound cancellation feature is top-notch here as well. Like so many other headsets, it uses active cancellation technology to ensure that the sounds of the world around the listener can be easily tuned out. Fortunately, this isn't done in a way that requires sacrificing sounds quality, though - the excellent drivers in the headphones make for a great listening experience.
- Active noise canceling
- 300+ foot Bluetooth range
- Open listening mode
- Connect two devices at once
9. Sony WH-CH700N Bluetooth Headphones
Sony has gone all-in on noise canceling with these headphones. The unique AI-drive noise canceling technology makes for a unique experience, one that's arguably much better at eliminating noise than even some of the highest-end competition. With that said, these are still remarkably consumer-friendly headphones, with all the little nods towards comfort that one would want.
This headset is great for travel, with excellent hands-free calling and even an easy storage mode. It's easy to switch between audio presets on the fly as well, which is perfect for those switching between multiple media formats on the go. Simply put, this is one of the best headsets for being on the road.
- Swivel for easy storage
- Hands-free calling
- Multiple audio pre-sets
- AINC sound canceling
10. Sennheiser HD 4.50 Bluetooth Wireless
Sennheiser brings its excellent technology to this Bluetooth headset, with a user-friendly design that one doesn't automatically expect from high-end headphones. The ear-cup mounted controls are exceptionally easy to use, while the instant-pairing feature makes it easier than ever to get the sound quality you want from the headphones. Sennheiser's usual quality drivers are in play here as well, helping to capture the highs, lows, and mid-range sounds perfect.
These headphones also make use of the NoiseGuard technology, which is among the best noise cancelling tech in the industry. It really does get rid of sounds near-perfectly, making them ideal for travel. If you want a great solo listening experience, this might be the headset for you.
- Earcup mounted controls
- NoiseGuard active cancellation
- Instant pairing
- 2-year warranty
11. Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless Headphones
Bowers & Wilkin's PX Wireless Headphones offer a very comfortable user experience. Like a few other headphones on the market, they automatically pause when you life up an ear-cup - perfect for making sure that you don't miss a song just because of a conversation. They also make use of a great mobile companion app to ensure that you can perfectly set up your own listening experience.
These headphones are very responsive, with solid sound design. They use a unique driver setup to provide a fantastic aural experience, one that's matched by few in this price category. With a very natural stereo performance and excellent sound cancelling, it's hard to go wrong with this headset.
- More natural stereo performance
- Very responsive
- Mobile companion app
- Built-in sensors
12. COWIN E7 Pro Active Noise Headphones
COWIN'S E7 headphones are perhaps the best budget noise cancelling headphones on the market today. While they do a fantastic job of canceling out noise thanks to the including active noise canceling technology, they provide an amazing sound quality for the price. The proprietary drivers help to really push out the bass, often to a degree that you wouldn't expect from headphones at this price point.
While the set is definitely an improvement over last year's version, there are still a lot of great holdovers from the old design. There are a variety of colors available, of course, and the battery is still fantastic. This is one set that really seems to be all about pushing the boundaries of what customers should expect on a budget.
- Available in multiple colors
- Proprietary large aperture drivers
- NFC pairing
- High-comfort, upgraded ear cups
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones Buyer’s Guide
When you’re looking at a noise cancelling headphones review, it’s important to know exactly for what features you are looking for. In truth, there are likely more types of noise-canceling headphones out there than the average consumer could ever look through in his or her lifetime, with more tech-related buzzwords attached to them than anyone could hope to understand. If you’re looking at these headphones, you need to know exactly what type of technology you need to be searching for and what features are really the most important.
On a budget? Check out our guide to noise cancelling headphones under $100.
Active Noise Cancelation
If you’re wondering which headsets will eliminate all the noise from the background, there’s an easy answer – none of them can actually make that claim. The closest you can come to sound elimination is through traditional, passive noise cancelation – a process that makes use of seals within the earphones to help block out the world. This sort of technology is imperfect, so active cancelation takes a different approach. If it can’t make the noise go away, the technology will seek to cancel it out.
Active noise cancelation is a two-part technology. The first part makes use of a microphone to pick up any sounds that happen to be in the area. Once these sounds have been picked up, the headset uses its sound-canceling technology to produce an ‘opposite’ sound wave. This has the effect of virtually eliminating the outside noise, thus allowing you to better enjoy your listening experience.
Active noise cancelation requires the use of battery power. While there are plenty of headphones that you can plug in and use, the average user would rather be cord-free. This means that you need a headset that’s got a relatively high-capacity battery. This battery will not only power the sound-cancelation, but also the Bluetooth connectivity.
What makes a reasonable battery capacity varies by person. Most sound-canceling headphones boast a life between twenty and thirty hours. The truth, though, is that the capacity drops quite a bit with the sound-cancelation turned on. The higher the overall capacity, though, the better your listening experience will be.
Comfort is an underrated factor for headphones. While it’s great to have good tech, the tech doesn’t help if you don’t want to wear the headset. Little things like an adjustable headband and padded ear-cups really matter here. A good rule to follow is that the more adjustable a headset, the more likely it will be that you will enjoy wearing the headphones. Look for extra padding as well, as it never hurts to have a bit of extra comfort.
The truth is that even the best set of noise-canceling headphones isn’t going to be able to go head-to-head with the best standard headset out there. This is because the noise-canceling headsets put an awful lot of their tech towards noise-canceling. You should, however, still look for a headset that’s got a great sound system. Doing so means digging a little deeper and looking at the specs. It also, ultimately, means that you’re going to want to try the headphones before you make a purchase.
You’re mostly looking at drivers here because you’re looking at electronics. This is the software used to interpret the sounds that come from your various media devices. A number of the higher-end systems have proprietary drivers that provide clearer highs and deeper bass headphones. Volume isn’t quite as important as clarity at multiple volumes. You want to look for something that’s as clear at high volumes as it is at low volumes.
Most headsets offer a variety of control options. Some allow you to directly control basic functionality (pause, play, skip) through voice commands. Others allow you to use touch controls mounted on the ear-cups. There’s no one control method that is objectively better than any other. Instead, you must seek something out that’s comfortable for you. The happier you are with the controls, the more you’ll like your headphones
It is, however, a good idea to make sure that the control method is compatible with your device of choice. Some headphones require using relatively new versions of Apple or Android’s operating systems. Others have features that can only be used with certain playback devices. Some might even require using their own proprietary apps, which will necessitate using an internet-enabled device. Make sure you know how you’ll have to interact with your headset before you make a purchase.
Finally, take a look at the extras. These are features that won’t make or break a purchase, but they’re nice to have. Some of these, like virtual assistant integration, are great only if you already use the technology. Others, like smart pause, can grow to be very useful even if you have not used them before. These factors can be very important if you are choosing between two different headsets, but won’t usually factor into your primary decision-making process. Even with that said, some of the extras are useful enough that they may matter to individual users.