Noise canceling headphones are geared towards listeners who wish to have a well-isolated listening experience and block the ambient noise of loud environments. Below are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones we have tested so far.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones
The best noise cancelling headphones we've tested so far are the Sony MDR-1000x. They will isolate you incredibly well in loud environments thanks to the adaptive noise canceling that outperforms that of the QuietComfort 35. They're comfortable and sound quite balanced but struggle a bit reproducing very high frequencies. Overall they're a sturdy, reliable and versatile pair of headphones for most situations and use cases.
The QuietComfort 35 are a bit more comfortable than the MDR-1000x. Therefore, if comfort is one of your major priorities, then the QuietComfort 35 may be a better option for you. They don't isolate as well as the MDR-1000x and aren't as well built, but they're a lot easier to use and have a more consistent audio reproduction.
Best Mid-Range Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you want a cheaper headphone that gives you more control over their active features than the Sony MDR or the Bose QC 35, then get the JBL Everest Elite 700. They don't isolate as well as our first two recommendations but they cancel more noise than the Backbeat Pro 2. They also come with one of the best companion apps that's easy to use and gives you a lot of control over the noise cancellation and sound quality of the Elite 700 that not many headphones can reproduce.
The Backbeat Pro 2 are cheaper and have a better overall performance that the JBL Elite 700 but they don't isolate as well. They still block enough noise for moderately loud environments and commuting so if getting a well rounded over-ear headphone is more important than the highest isolating headphone than the Plantronics are the best option for their price to build and sound quality ratio.
Best Budget Noise Cancelling Headphones
If you're on a tight budget but still want affordable headphones that deliver a good isolation, then the Panasonic RP-HC 56 are a decent option. These noise cancelling earbuds don't have the best sound and tend to distort a lot at higher volumes. However, their noise cancellation and in-ear fit reduce a significant amount of ambient noise, which make them OK to use in loud environments.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best noise-cancelling headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors and availability (no headphones that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
A few examples of noise-cancelling headphones that didn't make the cut:
- Bose QuietControl 30. Great isolation, portable and comfortable earbuds. Neckband design not for everyone.See our review
- Denon AHGC20. Great noise canceling but a poor and uneven audio reproduction and they're very pricey. See our review
- Parrot Zik 3.0. Sturdy and stylish design. Good, customizable sound. Slightly worse isolation than the ZIk 2.0. See our review
If you would like to choose for yourself, here is the list of all our reviews for noise-cancelling headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones and the level at which you play your music will naturally drown the ambient noise of lower amplitudes.