Noise canceling headphones are geared towards listeners who wish to have a well-isolated listening experience and block the ambient noise of loud environments. These headphones actively cancel out the noise around you so that you can listen to your favorite albums or audiobooks at a lower volume, or just enjoy the silence. Below are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones we have tested so far.
Best Noise Cancelling Headphones
The best noise canceling 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 Bose 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.
More Comfortable Alternative
If comfort is one of your major priorities, get the Bose QuietComfort 35. They are a bit more comfortable than the Sony MDR-1000x. 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
They cancel more noise than the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 and come with one of the best companion apps. The app is 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.
If getting a well-rounded pair of over-ear headphones is more important for you than having the highest isolating headphones, then get the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They are cheaper and have a better overall performance that the JBL Elite 700. They still block enough noise for moderately loud environments and commuting and they 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 we recommend the Panasonic RP-HC 56. Their noise cancellation and in-ear fit reduce a significant amount of ambient noise, which makes them above-average to use in loud environments. Unfortunately, they tend to distort a lot at higher volumes and their sub-par sound maybe a deal breaker for some listeners.
- Bose QuietControl 30. Great isolation, portable and comfortable earbuds, but the neckband design is not for everyone. See our review
- Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. Versatile headphones with a customizable sound. Mediocre isolation for an ANC headphone. See our review
- Beats Studio Wireless. Sleek and comfortable over-ear headphones with a decent sound quality. Subpar isolation. See our review
- Parrot Zik 3.0. Customizable sound and high isolation. Very short battery life and confusing pairing procedure. See our review
- Samsung Level Over Wireless. A good alternative to the Backbeat Pro 2. Bulky design and slightly worse build quality. See our review
- Denon AHGC20. Great noise canceling but a poor and uneven audio reproduction and they're very pricey. See our review
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).
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.