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 430 pairs of headphones and below are our recommendations for the best budget noise cancelling headphones to buy in 2020. If you have the budget, then you may be more interested in checking out 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 so far are the Mpow H10 Wireless. These over-ear headphones are quite comfortable thanks to their soft and plushy padding, and their physical clicky controls are decently easy to use. They have a great 23-hour battery life and you can use them passively if the battery dies on you.
Their ANC feature works surprisingly well for their low price point, and they'll do a great job at blocking out the low engine rumble of bus or planes, as well as blocking out chatty coworkers. They have an excited sound profile that's well-suited for a wide variety of genres but will provide a bit of extra thump and kick that shouldn't be overpowering.
Unfortunately, while most people should find them quite comfortable, they'll likely be too big for people with smaller heads. They're also made of fairly cheap-feeling plastic and don't look or feel very premium or well-built. The hinges make a snapping sound when you fold the ear cups flat, and while it doesn't appear to cause any damage, it's concerning and feels like you're breaking them every time. Overall, however, if you're looking for great ANC without spending too much, these headphones are a good choice.
If you want something even cheaper, go with the Mpow H5. Their ANC doesn't work as well as the Mpow H10 Wireless, and their battery life is about half, but they're cheaper and feel a bit better made. They come with a nice hard carrying case and feel a bit more stable on the head as well. Their sound profile is a bit more bass-heavy than the H10, so they'll be better suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. While they aren't quite as comfortable as the H10, they fit a bit tighter and may be a better option for people with smaller heads.
Overall, if you don't mind spending a few extra dollars and want the best ANC performance you can get under $50, get the H10, but if you're concerned about the build quality or want to spend a bit less, go with the H5.
The best budget noise cancelling headphones under $100 that we've tested are the Anker SoundCore Space NC Wireless. Their ANC is excellent, and unlike most options, they're as good at blocking out engine rumbles as background speech, making them a great choice for your daily commute or if you travel a lot. They're covered in a thick padding which makes them quite comfortable, and they look and feel surprisingly well-made for the price.
Their sound profile is quite bass-heavy, so they'll be best suited for less vocal-centric genres such as EDM or hip-hop. Unfortunately, they don't have a dedicated companion app, so you can't make any changes to their EQ. On the bright side, they have a good 21-hour battery life, though they don't have any power-saving features to help conserve the battery.
If you want something similar, you could also consider the newer Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless which are cheaper, but their ANC isn't quite as good. Overall, the Space NC are surprisingly solid and premium-feeling headphones for their price point which offer excellent ANC and a great battery life.
The best budget noise cancelling headphones under $150 that we've tested so far are the Amazon Echo Buds. These truly wireless in-ears are reasonably comfortable to wear and, thanks to their stability fins, they're stable enough to not fall out even during vigorous exercise. They have good build quality and their charging case gives an additional five charges to keep them topped up and ready to go.
Their ANC works great, and they'll help keep you concentrated in the office as well as block out the low engine rumble of a bus or plane. Their out-of-the-box sound profile is decently well-balanced, and they have a companion app which gives you access to a graphic EQ, so you can customize their sound to suit your preferences. You can also use the app to adjust their controls as well as the amount of pass-through sound the microphone lets in.
Unfortunately, these headphones rely heavily on their app, and you need to use it to pair them to your device as well, which can be bothersome. They also have high latency on all devices, so they likely aren't the best choice for watching videos or playing games. Overall, they offer a good price-to-performance ratio, especially considering their excellent ANC performance.
If you prefer over-ear headphones, get the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. Their ANC isn't as good as the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless, and they aren't nearly as portable, but their over-ear design is more comfortable and they have one of the best control schemes we've tested on a pair of headphones to date. While they have a companion app, unfortunately, it doesn't allow any EQ settings. On the bright side, their out-of-the-box sound profile is very well-balanced, with just a bit of extra kick. Their 30-hour battery life is excellent, and they can pair to multiple devices at once, which is convenient.
If you want something with better ANC that you can easily slide in your pocket, get the Amazon, but if you prefer the fit of over-ears and don't mind sacrificing a bit on the ANC performance, go with the Plantronics.
03/31/2020: Replaced the Mpow H5 with the Mpow H10 and made the H5 'Cheaper Alternative'. Removed the Bluedio T4 Turbine and the Sony WI-SP600N.
01/31/2020: Minor text and structure changes; no change in recommendations.
12/04/2019: Replaced Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 with Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless, and replaced JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless with Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 as Over-Ear Alternative. Minor text changes.
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 noise cancelling headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter.