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 550 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 TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 are the best cheap noise cancelling headphones we've tested. Their ANC can significantly reduce bass-range noise like bus and plane engines, which is great when you're on-the-go. They're also rated IPX5 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this.
Although their ANC system performs similarly to their passive noise isolation capabilities in the mid to treble-range, they can cut down ambient chatter as well as the hum of an AC unit. They also have an overall boomy, warm sound profile that fans of EDM and hip-hop can enjoy. Their stable in-ear fit should stay in place during moderate physical activities.
Unfortunately, they lack sound customization features so you can't tweak their sound to your liking. They also have a short continuous battery life with their ANC on. Luckily, there are around three additional charges in the case, which makes it easy to top them up throughout the day.
If you prefer a little less bass from your headphones or if you like a better-balanced sound profile right out-of-the-box, try the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810. While their ANC isn't as powerful as the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 Truly Wireless, they have a fairly neutral sound profile suitable for a variety of audio content. They offer a great battery performance with over 24 hours of continuous playback time, so you can easily get through a couple of workdays before they need to be recharged. They also have a companion app that lets you adjust the ANC levels and switch between two EQ presets. While their ANC struggles to cut down bus and plane engines, they do an alright job of reducing ambient chatter. Unfortunately, some users have reported that their unit's headband has cracked or broken over time, which is disappointing.
Go for the TaoTronics if you're looking for a powerful noise isolation performance and you don't mind the lack of sound enhancement features. However, consider the Plantronics if you prefer a more balanced, neutral sound profile.
The EarFun Air Pro are the best budget noise cancelling headphones under $100 that we've tested. These truly wireless in-ears have a highly effective ANC system that enables them to block out an impressive amount of background noise, ranging from the low rumble of bus engines to the high-pitched hum of an AC unit. While battery life can vary drastically in the real world, even with their noise cancelling function turned on, they supply over nine hours of battery life on a single charge and come with a case that supplies enough over for over 32 hours of total runtime.
These in-ears also have a comfortable, stable fit that doesn't enter your ear too deeply. They feel quite well-made, with sturdy plastic construction. Their sound profile is quite well balanced, making them suitable for a wide range of musical genres, though their slightly overemphasized bass range does give a bit of extra thump and punch to EDM and hip-hop tracks. They also have very low latency on mobile Android and iOS devices, which is good if you like to watch videos on your way into the office or to class, though different apps and devices compensate for audio latency to varying degrees.
Unfortunately, they lack sound adjustment features and don't have a companion app. Their touch-sensitive control scheme is also sometimes slow to respond to inputs. Still, if you're looking for relatively affordable in-ears with a great ANC performance, these are a good option.
If you prefer the fit of over-ear headphones and still want a highly-effective ANC system, consider the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. They're far less portable than the EarFun Air Pro True Wireless and have a less stable fit, but they offer a much longer continuous runtime of over 44 hours. Their ANC system is also even more effective, as it does a superb job of filtering out ambient noise from across the frequency spectrum. They can also pair with two devices simultaneously, allowing you to stream music from your phone while remaining connected to your computer. Also, while their default sound profile is far darker and more bass-heavy than that of the EarFun, they have an in-app graphic EQ that allows you to adjust their audio reproduction to better suit your preferences. Unfortunately, they leak quite a bit of audio, which could annoy people nearby if you like to listen to content at high volumes.
Get the EarFun if you prefer the go-anywhere portability of truly wireless in-ears, but consider the Anker if you want a broader feature set as well as longer battery life.
The Razer Opus are the best budget noise cancelling headphones under $150 that we've tested. While they're regularly more expensive, they can currently be found on sale at this price point. They offer an excellent price-to-performance ratio, and their ANC does a fantastic job of isolating noise in all ranges. Its noise isolation abilities are even comparable to higher-end models like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018.
These very comfortable and well-built over-ears have a well-balanced sound profile that's suitable for a variety of audio genres. Although they lack a touch of bass, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets so that you can customize their sound profile to your liking. They also have a long-lasting continuous battery life of over 32 hours with their ANC on. They can be used wired with their 1/8" TRRS cable if you want to use them passively.
Unfortunately, you can't connect them to more than one device at a time. Their integrated microphone also struggles to separate your voice from moderately loud environments. That said, their ANC significantly reduces noise around you, and they have a well-balanced but customizable sound profile, which makes them versatile enough for most uses.
If you prefer an in-ear fit, consider the Amazon Echo Buds. While they're not as comfortable as the Razer Opus Wireless, they have an in-ear fit stable enough for physical exercise. They're well-built and have an IPX4 rating for water resistance, although we don’t test for this. Their noise isolation performance is also very good, even without activating their ANC system. That said, their ANC feature can help block out quite a bit of the low rumble of sounds like bus engines, which is handy if you frequently use public transit. They also deliver a pretty well-balanced listening experience, and you can adjust their sound profile with a graphic EQ in their companion app. They have a 5.3-hour battery life, and their carrying case offers five additional charges.
If you're looking for the best noise isolation performance available at this price point and like an over-ear fit, go for the Razer. However, if you're looking for more something more portable and stable, consider the Amazon headphones instead.
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.
Nov 23, 2020: Replaced the Mpow H10 with the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless as 'Best Cheap Noise Cancelling Headphones'. Replaced the Mpow H5 with the Anker SoundCore Life 2 Wireless as 'More Comfortable Alternative'.
Sep 25, 2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy.
Jul 28, 2020: Added AKG N700NC Wireless to list of 'Notable Mentions'.
May 29, 2020: Replaced the Anker SoundCore Space NC with the Anker Soundcore Life Q20.
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.