Active noise cancelling (ANC) used to be a feature reserved for only the most expensive headphones. However, nowadays, you can get surprisingly decent noise cancellation at almost every price point. While being able to block out background noise is important; things like sound, battery, and comfort are also still a consideration. We've broken down the best budget ANC headphones by different price budgets, so you can find the best choice regardless of how much you want to spend.
We've tested over 615 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best budget noise cancelling headphones to buy. If you have the budget, you may be more interested in checking our full list of the best noise cancelling headphones and the best noise cancelling headphones under $200.
The best cheap noise cancelling headphones that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. These over-ears are the previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. Although they're a bit older and have fewer overall features, their ANC does a good job of blocking out background noise like ambient chatter around you.
These comfortable headphones have over 32 hours of continuous battery life and can be used passively with their 1/8" TRS cable. Their excited sound profile is well suited for genres like pop or rock as it delivers intense thump, punch, and boom while vocals and lead instruments are bright. They also have low Bluetooth latency on iOS and Android, which is great if you like to stream videos.
Unfortunately, their ANC struggles to cut down bass-range noise like bus or plane engines. While they have a bass boost button to help add more rumble to your mixes, they still lack more robust sound customization features like an EQ. However, if you're looking for more affordable headphones with active noise cancelling, they're a suitable choice.
If you're looking for wallet-friendly over-ears with a more neutral sound profile, check out the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless. While they're not as comfortable as the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless, and their ANC doesn't isolate you from as much noise, the Plantronics have a more neutral sound that's versatile enough for a variety of audio content. They also have a companion app that offers a couple of EQ presets to help you adjust their sound to your liking. They can so be paired with up to two devices at a time, and they have roughly 24.5 hours of continuous playback time, which should last through long days at the office. Unfortunately, some users have reported that their unit's plastic headband broke with continuous use over time.
Try the Anker if you're looking for headphones with a more powerful ANC system and comfortable fit. However, consider the Plantronics if you're looking for headphones with a more neutral default sound profile.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are the best budget noise cancelling headphones under $100 that we've tested. These well-built headphones have an outstanding ANC system. They can block out a significant amount of noise like the low rumble of bus and plane engines as well as ambient chatter.
Their excited, v-shaped sound profile delivers intense thump, rumble, and boom. At the same time, vocals and lead instruments are bright and sparkly. Thanks to their companion app's graphic EQ and presets, you can also customize their sound to your liking. They have over 44 hours of continuous battery life too, and they can be connected with up to two devices at a time. They support multi-device pairing, so you can connect them with up to two devices like a smartphone and laptop at a time.
However, they're prone to inconsistencies in treble delivery and you may need to adjust their fit and positioning to achieve a more consistent listening experience. They also leak audio at high volumes, which could annoy others around you. However, these over-ears offer a fantastic noise isolation performance as well as a customizable sound profile, making them a suitable choice for most users.
If you prefer more portable headphones, consider the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless. While their battery performance falls short of that of the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, the Soundcore Life P3 have a comfortable in-ear fit, which some users may prefer. These sleek headphones have an adjustable ANC system with three different settings advertised to target specific sounds. Using their 'Transport' mode, they can block out an excellent amount of ambient noise around you including background voices the car engine rumbles. Out of the box, these headphones have a bass-heavy sound profile but if you prefer a different sound, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets so that you can tweak them to suit your tastes. These in-ears also rated IPX5 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for it. Unfortunately, they have a limited control scheme and lack volume control, which is a little disappointing.
Check out the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 if you're looking for over-ear headphones with longer continuous battery life. However, try the Anker SoundCore Life P3 if you want in-ear headphones with a more stable fit.
The Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones are the best value noise cancelling headphones under $150 that we've tested. These Bluetooth-enabled over-ears have an ANC system that enables them to block out an amazing amount of background noise. They're also comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions, have a highly intuitive control scheme, and feel solidly built.
Out-of-the-box, these headphones have a somewhat bass-heavy, boomy sound profile that should suit genres like EDM or hip-hop, but if that isn't to your liking, it can also be adjusted via their in-app graphic EQ or EQ presets. They also support multi-device pairing, allowing you to stream music from your phone while remaining connected to your computer. These headphones offer more than 13 hours of playback time on a single charge, but they come with a 1/8" TRRS cable with an in-line mic, allowing for full audio and mic compatibility on a wired connection.
Unfortunately, like most over-ear headphones, they're quite bulky, which can make them a bit of a nuisance to carry around when not in use. Their integrated mic delivers sub-par overall performance, as it struggles to isolate speech from even moderate background noise and makes your voice sound thin and muffled. Otherwise, their excellent noise isolation performance, comfortable fit, and wide range of customizability make them a good fit for most uses.
Sep 17, 2021: Moved the EarFun Air Pro True Wireless and Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro Truly Wireless to Notable Mentions. Made the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless the 'Best Budget Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $100' and added the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless as the 'In-Ear Alternative' as the P3 offer a better noise isolation performance.
Jul 20, 2021: Replaced the TaoTronics Sound Liberty 94 Truly Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Q20 Wireless as the TaoTronics are no longer available.
May 21, 2021: Replaced Razer Opus with Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones as 'Best Budget Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $150' pick due to current pricing. Replaced Amazon Echo Buds with Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro as 'In-Ear Alternative' due to current availability. Added Mpow X5 to Notable Mentions. Removed Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro from Notable Mentions.
Mar 30, 2021: Replaced Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless with EarFun Air Pro True Wireless. Added Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless as the pick for the new 'Over-Ear Alternative' category. Added Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro Truly Wireless and Anker Soundcore Life A2 NC Truly Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Jan 29, 2021: Replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless with their next generation, the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. Added the Razer Opus Wireless and TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 Truly Wireless as they represent better value to most users. Removed several Notable Mentions that are discontinued or out of stock.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cheap noise cancelling headphones to buy for most people. We factor in the price (cheaper headphones win over pricier ones 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 headphones with an ANC feature, sorted by their noise isolation performance. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter.