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 490 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 Mpow H10. These over-ears have a comfortable fit, thanks to their soft and plushy padding. They have a fairly versatile overall performance, and their over 23-hour continuous battery life is ideal for long days on the go.
They have an excited, slightly V-shaped sound profile that packs an extra thump and punch in the bass range, so they're suitable for a wide variety of music genres, including EDM and hip-hop. Thanks to their ANC feature, they can block out bass-heavy sounds like bus and plane engines, making them ideal to use during your commute. If you work in a noisy office, you'll appreciate that they can block out sharper sounds like voices and AC units, too.
Unfortunately, they have a plasticky build that doesn't feel the most durable. They also leak a bit of noise, so you may bother the people around you if you're listening to your music at loud volumes. That said, these headphones provide a good price-to-performance ratio that ranks them among the best headphones we've tested.
If you're shopping for noise cancelling headphones on a very tight budget, consider the Mpow H5 instead. While they aren't as comfortable and don't isolate noise as well as the Mpow H10 Wireless, they're cheaper and a bit better built. Their sound profile is more bass-heavy, so it's well-suited to bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. They come with a hard carrying case and a 12-hour continuous battery life so that you can bring them on the go. Also, you can pair these headphones with multiple devices at the same time, which is convenient.
If you want more comfortable headphones with a better noise isolation performance, check out the H10, but if you're on a budget and looking for headphones with a fair noise isolation performance, consider the H5 instead.
The best budget noise cancelling headphones under $100 that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q20. These Bluetooth over-ear headphones are quite comfortable thanks to their well-padded headband and ear cups and aren't too big, so they should fit well even if you have a small head. Their physical controls give a good amount of functionality, including volume control, and are decently easy-to-use.
They have an excited, V-shaped sound profile that provides a good amount of extra bass that isn't overpowering, making them well-suited to most genres from EDM to rock. Their ANC does an excellent job of blocking out background chatter as well as the high-frequency sounds from an AC unit or fan, making them well-suited for use in the office. They also don't leak too much audio, so you can turn up your music without bothering coworkers sitting close by.
Unfortunately, like with most budget options, their ANC doesn't work nearly as well at blocking the low rumble of bus or plane engines. That being said, it still works decently well in this regard and will help give you a bit of peace during long flights, especially since they have an outstanding 32-hour battery, which is among the longest we've ever tested. Overall, they're a decent pair of over-ears that are versatile enough for most uses without breaking the bank.
The best budget noise cancelling headphones under $150 that we've tested are the Amazon Echo Buds. These truly wireless in-ears feel well-built, with dense plastic construction and an IPX4 rating for water resistance, although we don’t test for this. They’re a great option for taking out on a run or to the gym, as their lightweight, compact design allows them to maintain a consistently secure fit. Their 5.3-hour battery life, in conjunction with a case that carries an additional five charges, should be more than able to see you through the daily grind.
Their noise isolation performance is very good, even without activating their ANC system. The latter’s effectiveness is most noticeable in the bass range, where it helps block out quite a bit of the low rumble of sounds like bus engines, which is handy if you frequently use public transit. They deliver a pretty well-balanced listening experience across the board, although you can adjust their sound profile with a graphic EQ in the dedicated Amazon Alexa app.
Unfortunately, the Alexa app is needed for the headphones to even function, so if you don’t want to download any more apps on your phone, you may want to look elsewhere. While their touch-sensitive control scheme can be remapped in the Alexa app, it's finicky to use and lacking in functionality regardless of configuration. Still, these are a solid choice if you’re looking for some peace without compromising on portability.
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. However, their over-ear design is more comfortable, and they have one of the best control schemes we've tested on a pair of headphones. While they have a companion app, 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.
09/25/2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy.
07/28/2020: Added AKG N700NC Wireless to list of 'Notable Mentions'.
05/29/2020: Replaced the Anker SoundCore Space NC with the Anker Soundcore Life Q20.
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.
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.
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. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter.