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 460 pairs of headphones and below are our recommendations for the best budget noise cancelling headphones to buy. 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. These wireless over-ears are quite comfortable, with liberal use of plush padding around the spacious ear cups and headband, which does a good job of distributing their weight across the head. They also feature an intuitive physical control scheme with clicky buttons for all major functions.
Their ANC performance is very good, especially for the price, as the system is effective in reducing the volume of everything from the low rumble of bus engines to the chatter of pedestrians on a sidewalk. They deliver a somewhat bass-heavy listening experience that’ll please EDM and hip-hop fans without sounding too boomy. Their 23-hour battery life, meanwhile, should be more than sufficient to get you through a couple of long days at the office.
As you might expect at this price, they don’t feel especially premium. The ear cup hinges produce a discomforting snapping sound when you fold them in but don’t seem to cause any actual damage. They also leak quite a bit of audio, so you might annoy coworkers or commuters if you listen to your music very loud. Overall, however, these are a reasonably versatile pair of headphones that offer great bang-for-the-buck when it comes to noise cancelling performance.
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, so they'll be better suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. While they aren't quite as comfortable, 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 so far 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 so far 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, 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, 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.
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 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.