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 600 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 Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. These over-ears are the previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. Although they're a bit older and have fewer overall features, their ANC does a good job of blocking out background noise like ambient chatter around you.
These comfortable headphones have over 32 hours of continuous battery life and can be used passively with their 1/8" TRS cable. Their excited sound profile is well suited for genres like pop or rock as it delivers intense thump, punch, and boom while vocals and lead instruments are bright. They also have low Bluetooth latency on iOS and Android, which is great if you like to stream videos.
Unfortunately, their ANC struggles to cut down bass-range noise like bus or plane engines. While they have a bass boost button to help add more rumble to your mixes, they still lack more robust sound customization features like an EQ. However, if you're looking for more affordable headphones with active noise cancelling, they're a suitable choice.
If you're looking for wallet-friendly over-ears with a more neutral sound profile, check out the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless. While they're not as comfortable as the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless, and their ANC doesn't isolate you from as much noise, the Plantronics have a more neutral sound that's versatile enough for a variety of audio content. They also have a companion app that offers a couple of EQ presets to help you adjust their sound to your liking. They can so be paired with up to two devices at a time, and they have roughly 24.5 hours of continuous playback time, which should last through long days at the office. Unfortunately, some users have reported that their unit's plastic headband broke with continuous use over time.
Try the Anker if you're looking for headphones with a more powerful ANC system and comfortable fit. However, consider the Plantronics if you're looking for headphones with a more neutral default 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 Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones are the best budget noise cancelling headphones under $150 that we've tested. These Bluetooth-enabled over-ears have an ANC system that enables them to block out an amazing amount of background noise. They're also comfortable enough to wear for long listening sessions, have a highly intuitive control scheme, and feel solidly built.
Out-of-the-box, these headphones have a somewhat bass-heavy, boomy sound profile that should suit genres like EDM or hip-hop, but if that isn't to your liking, it can also be adjusted via their in-app graphic EQ or EQ presets. They also support multi-device pairing, allowing you to stream music from your phone while remaining connected to your computer. These headphones offer more than 13 hours of playback time on a single charge, but they come with a 1/8" TRRS cable with an in-line mic, allowing for full audio and mic compatibility on a wired connection.
Unfortunately, like most over-ear headphones, they're quite bulky, which can make them a bit of a nuisance to carry around when not in use. Their integrated mic delivers sub-par overall performance, as it struggles to isolate speech from even moderate background noise and makes your voice sound thin and muffled. Otherwise, their excellent noise isolation performance, comfortable fit, and wide range of customizability make them a good fit for most uses.
If you prefer the much smaller form factor of a pair of truly wireless headphones but don't want to sacrifice noise isolation performance, take a look at the Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro. These in-ears aren't as comfortable to wear as the Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones and don't support multi-device pairing, but they're significantly easier to carry around and have a more stable fit. Their customizable ANC system also helps them do a great job of filtering out ambient noise. Their default sound profile adds extra thump and rumble to genres like EDM or hip-hop, but without cluttering or muddying vocals or lead instruments. That said, if you aren't a big fan of their out-of-the-box audio reproduction, you can adjust this via an in-app graphic EQ or with EQ presets. Unfortunately, these in-ears have a very short continuous battery life of under four hours, and their charging case only supplies roughly two additional charges.
Get the Microsoft headphones if you want a longer continuous runtime and a more comfortable fit, but take a look at the Anker if portability is a bigger concern.
Jul 20, 2021: Replaced the TaoTronics Sound Liberty 94 Truly Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Q20 Wireless as the TaoTronics are no longer available.
May 21, 2021: Replaced Razer Opus with Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones as 'Best Budget Noise Cancelling Headphones Under $150' pick due to current pricing. Replaced Amazon Echo Buds with Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro as 'In-Ear Alternative' due to current availability. Added Mpow X5 to Notable Mentions. Removed Anker Soundcore Liberty Air 2 Pro from Notable Mentions.
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'.
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.