Active noise cancelling (ANC) used to be a feature reserved for only the most expensive headphones. However, you can get surprisingly decent noise cancellation at almost every price point. While blocking out background noise is important, things like sound, battery, and comfort are also still a consideration.
We've tested over 745 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best value noise cancelling headphones to buy. Looking for more picks? Check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, the best noise cancelling earbuds, or the best wireless headphones under $100.
The Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless are the best budget noise cancelling headphones we've tested. Anker dominates the low-to-budget price bracket thanks to their high-powered noise cancelling headphones. These over-ears deliver outstanding performance, whether you're blocking out rumbly bus engines during your commute or chatty coworkers at the office. With their ANC on, they last over 44 hours continuously and have an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life if you forget to turn them off. These comfortable over-ears support multi-device pairing, meaning you can simultaneously stay connected to your PC and smartphone.
Their excited sound profile also adds thump, rumble, and boom to mixes while sibilants like cymbals are bright. If you don't like their default sound, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets, so you can fine-tune them. Unfortunately, some users have reported that their unit's headband cracked over time, so if you care about build quality, consider the Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless instead. Although they have a similar plastic design with a metal headband, they feel sturdier and more solid. Their ANC has a great overall performance but doesn't block out as much noise in the bass-range as the Anker's.
If making and taking phone calls are a priority, look no further than the JBL Tune 760NC Wireless. These wireless over-ears have an integrated mic that makes your voice sound natural and well-balanced. As such, callers will have no problem understanding you on the other end of the line. They also do a decent job separating your voice from ambient noise, though you can still get drowned out by passing trains or loud traffic. They have an ANC system, and while they don't block out as much noise overall as the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, they cut out a fair amount of noise, like background conversations and humming computer fans. Their ANC has more trouble with rumbly bass noise, like a bus or plane engine.
These over-ears have a slightly bass-heavy sound, which will please fans of metal and EDM. The rest of the range is relatively neutral, making them suitable for most audio content. However, they don't have a companion app, meaning you can't adjust the ANC level or change the sound profile in any way. They may also be uncomfortable for long calls if you wear glasses due to their high clamping force. Fortunately, they last over 40 hours, meaning you can go through multiple long workdays without recharging.
If you like mobile gaming, scrolling through social media, or watching videos during your commute and don't want to experience as much audio lag, check out the Razer Opus X Wireless. Unlike other picks on this list, these over-ears have a 'Gaming Mode' that provides a low latency connection over Bluetooth for better sync between audio and video. Their ANC also does a great job at cutting out ambient chatter but struggles to isolate you from bass-range noise like a bus engine or heavy traffic. It doesn't perform as well as the Anker Soundcore Life Q30's ANC system, but the Anker have higher latency overall, making them less suitable for watching content or playing games.
Out of the box, they have a relatively neutral sound profile, with a touch of warm bass that makes game soundtracks and sound effects feel warm. The treble range also feels bright, and their companion app has EQ presets to help you find the right mix if you prefer a different sound. They feel well-built and comfortable, but their integrated mic only performs okay, making your voice sound thin and muffled over team chat. Fortunately, their 68-hour continuous battery life will last you through nearly a whole workweek at the office and on the bus without worries.
If you're looking to spend the least amount of money but want a decent product with noise cancellation, check out the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. These headphones are the previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless and have a simpler design. However, their ANC system performs well, given their price point. While it has some trouble blocking out the low rumble of bus and plane engines, it does a better job isolating you from ambient chatter and the high-pitched hum of AC units, making them a solid choice for office use. With their ANC on, they deliver over 32 hours of continuous playback time, lasting through long days on the go.
These comfortable over-ears have a very excited sound profile that delivers extra thump and boom to mixes. At the same time, vocals and lead instruments are bright and sparkly, making them a solid choice for genres like rock and pop. While they lack more robust sound customization features, they have a bass effect control in case you want more rumble. The headphones' build feels hollow and plasticky, so they may be less durable.
If you can afford to spend a little more, like in the $150 range, you can expect to see options that match the performance of some premium-priced headphones. The Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless are one such case. They're the next generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless and feature an adaptive ANC system that adjusts itself automatically based on ambient noise levels, unlike the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless's manually controlled settings. They block out slightly more noise and can help reduce rumbling engines and background conversations at the office.
Their V-shaped sound profile has an overemphasized bass and treble, giving rock and pop plenty of punch and brightness. Their companion app's graphic EQ also allows you to adjust the mix to fit your preferences. They're comfortable enough for long commutes or shifts, but their yoke design leaves them prone to breaking during storage and folding. If you're looking for other options at this slightly higher price range, check out our article on the best noise cancelling headphones under $200.
Jun 13, 2023: We've added a comparison between the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless and the Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless since they're similarly-priced headphones with different strengths.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best value 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.