Active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones can be quite expensive, but you don't have to blow your budget to find something that satisfies your needs. You may have to compromise a bit on noise isolation performance since, typically, the headphones with the most efficient noise cancelling systems are usually above $200, but there are still lots of solid options at various price points.
We've tested nearly 400 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 we’ve reviewed so far are the Mpow H5. They’re lightweight and decently well-padded wireless headphones. They have a simple, all-black style and have a more premium feel than the Mpow 059 Wireless. They feel fairly well-built and if they do suffer accidental damage, they don’t cost too much to replace.
These headphones come with a great hard carrying case and support multi-device pairing, which are nice additions at this price point. Their battery lasts 12 hours with both ANC and Bluetooth enabled, and although they have no power-saving features, they charge in just over 2 hours. They sound decent for their price, packing enough punch to be well-suited for bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop.
Unfortunately, they have surprisingly poor noise isolation, especially for ANC headphones. Fans of more vocal-centric music will also find they sound a bit muddy. That said, these are still decently well-built, comfortable, wireless headphones that provide great value for their price.
If you want better-built and more premium-looking cheap noise cancelling headphones, then get the Bluedio T4. They're less comfortable than the Mpow H5 Wireless and they cancel less noise in the bass range, but they feel better-built than most of the recommendations on this list, despite their price. They pack an excited bass-heavy sound and have a 19-hour battery life, which should be more than enough for a full day of use. Unfortunately, you might notice a delay between what you see and what you hear if you watch videos or play mobile games because they have the worst latency we've ever measured.
Get the Mpow if you're looking for a more versatile noise cancelling headset, but if you're all about build quality and don't mind the latency, then go for the Bluedio.
The best budget noise cancelling headphones under $100 we’ve reviewed so far are the Mpow H10. They're over-the-ear headphones that deliver decent performance for the price. They're somewhat bulky and may not be suitable for those with a smaller head, but they're comfortable and can be worn for an extended period of time. With a 23-hour battery life, they'll definitely last through those long listening sessions. Unfortunately, the build quality is a bit disappointing. The plastic used for the ear cups feels cheap and when folding the headphones for storage, the hinges produce a loud cracking noise, which is concerning for their durability.
The active noise cancelling is the standout feature here, and they do a great job of blocking out ambient noises, such as bus engines and speech. They have an overall sound signature that's versatile and suitable for almost any genre of music, but the mid range is slightly recessed and the treble can sound sibilant to some.
The Mpow H5 Wireless feel better built overall, but the H10 have a better sound and a significantly longer battery life. If you don't mind the higher price, give these headphones a try.
If you're looking for something with even better overall isolation, get the Anker SoundCore Space NC. The Mpow H10 Wireless cancel more noise in the mid-range, which is important for blocking out speech, but the Anker leak significantly less sound and reduce more noise overall. They also feel better-built, but if you're not a fan of bass-heavy genres like EDM or hip-hop, you'll likely find their bass a bit overpowering. You may want to consider the Mixcder E9 Wireless if you want something with less overemphasized bass, but their noise cancelling isn't as good.
Get the Mpow if you're after a more balanced-sounding headset; however, if you're a big fan of bass and want something that isolates even more noise, go with the Anker.
If you have a slightly bigger budget, you can get a decent pair of truly wireless headphones with outstanding noise cancelling for under $150, the Amazon Echo Buds. They're small earbuds that are reasonably comfortable to wear, and they're stable enough to not fall out during vigorous exercise. They have a good build quality, and they come with a charging case to keep the earbuds topped off and ready to go. The earbuds can last a little over 5 hours of continuous playback, and the charging case holds an additional five charges.
These earbuds have a fairly well-balanced sound that suits a variety of genres, though the treble can sound a bit piercing for some. Fortunately, since they're made by Amazon, you can use the Alexa app to customize them to your taste. The app also lets you change the control scheme on the earbuds, and there's a pass-through feature to let in ambient sound without having to pause your music or take the earbuds off. Additionally, you can control the active noise cancelling, which is the highlight of these in-ears. They can cut out a large amount of noise across all frequency ranges, making them great for your daily commute, the office, or a noisy coffee shop.
If you don't mind the slightly higher price tag, the Amazon Echo Buds are definitely worth checking out.
If you prefer over-ear headphones, you may want to take a look at the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2. They're not as portable as the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless, but they're comfortable to wear. Their build quality is good, with a metal headband that feels sturdy, and they come with a carrying case to help keep them free of scuffs. The active noise cancelling performance is decent, especially in the mid and treble range, but they struggle a bit in the bass range, where the rumbles of bus engines sit. They even have features that we don't find on headphones twice their price, like multi-device pairing, which lets you switch between two devices seamlessly, and support for aptX Low Latency codec. Best of all, their battery life is outstanding. They can last up to 30 hours of continuous playback, and they take only 2 hours to charge. Unfortunately, even though they have a mobile companion app, it doesn't have any options to customize them. Instead, the app has a unique feature to help you find the headphones if you misplaced them.
Overall, if noise cancelling is more important, you should go with the Amazon, but if you prefer over-ears, the Plantronics are decent.
If you like the freedom of earbuds like the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless but the 3-band graphic EQ seems a bit meager to you, the Sony WI-SP600N Wireless will give you much more options to tune the sound to your taste. They don’t sound as good out-of-the-box, but Sony's mobile companion app is truly one of a kind, with tons of presets to choose from, as well as a graphic EQ. Their ANC performance is okay but since their in-ear fit hardly leaks any sound, you can raise your listening volume to block even more noise without bothering those around you. On the downside, they have a rather short battery life, and since they're not truly wireless, there isn't a carrying case that can hold additional charges.
Get the Amazon if you want better noise isolation and sound out of the box, but the Sony will offer more options to customize the sound.
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.
01/31/2020: Minor text and structe 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.