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 520 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 Plantronics BackBeat Go 810. They're sleek, decently well-built, and have an alright active noise cancelling feature. Although it struggles to cut down bass-range noise like bus and plane engines, this feature does a bit better job cutting down ambient chatter.
Thanks to their well-balanced sound profile, they're suitable for a variety of audio content from podcasts to pop music. 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. Even if you forget their charging cable, they can be used passively. They also have a companion app that lets you adjust the ANC levels and switch between two EQ presets. You even pair them with up to two devices at a time.
Unfortunately, their integrated mic transmits thin and muffled speech. It also struggles to separate your voice from moderately noisy environments. Even though the ANC feature isn't their strongest feature, they offer a versatile and well-rounded performance at a wallet-friendly price, making them some of the best value noise cancelling headphones we've tested.
If you're shopping for more comfortable headphones with an ANC feature, try the Anker SoundCore Life 2. While they don't have a companion app or any power-saving features like the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless and they're slightly more expensive, they have a comfortable fit so you can wear them for longer without feeling too fatigued. They also last over 28 hours on a single charge and their ANC feature does a better job of reducing mid and treble noise. While their sound profile isn't as well-balanced, they can deliver thumpier bass, which is well-suited for hip-hop and EDM. That said, they only have a bass-effect feature to help tweak their sound to your liking. They're also more prone to inconsistent bass and treble delivery.
Check out the Plantronics if you don't mind a slightly weaker ANC feature from headphones with a better overall performance. However, if you don't want to sacrifice noise isolation and comfort for additional features, consider the Anker.
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 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 them 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-ears, 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.
11/23/2020: 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'.
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.
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.