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The 6 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones - Winter 2024 Reviews

Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

While headphones with active noise cancelling (ANC) have been around for a long time, the technology has progressed significantly in the past few years and has become much more common. ANC headphones can help keep you focused in a noisy office or block out engine noise on planes, trains, or buses. Not all ANC performs the same, and there are now many options in every possible price range, making it hard to know which ones are worth it.

We've tested over 235 pairs of headphones with ANC, and below are our recommendations for noise cancelling over-ears. If you prefer an earbud design, you'll want to check out our picks for the best noise cancelling earbuds instead. If you're looking for something in a specific price range, also consider our picks for the best noise cancelling headphones under $200 and the best budget noise cancelling headphones.

  1. Best Noise Cancelling Headphones

    The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless are the best noise cancelling headphones we've tested. These premium over-ears are outfitted with the manufacturer's CustomTune technology, meaning the headphones can adjust their sound and noise cancelling performance based on your hearing abilities and surroundings. As a result, their ANC system reduces a fantastic amount of ambient noise around you. This includes the low rumble of bus engines, office chit-chat, and the high-pitched whirl of PC fans. With their ANC on, they last 29 hours continuously. However, they don't support passive playback, and the headphones must be on if you want to use them wired via USB.

    These over-ears have a bass-heavy sound emphasizing thump, rumble, and boom in mixes. Their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets if you prefer a different sound. Since they support multi-device pairing, you can connect them with your PC and smartphone simultaneously. They even have aptX Adaptive, a Bluetooth codec that automatically adjusts to your content, either lowering latency to keep your audio and visuals in sync or raising audio quality.

    If you're looking for similar over-ears at a slightly lower price point, it's worth checking out the Bose QuietComfort Headphones Wireless. They perform very similarly to the Ultra and have a similarly powerful ANC performance. However, they aren't as well-built and lack Immersive Audio support.

    See our review

  2. Best Upper Mid-Range Noise Cancelling Headphones

    Although the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless have been discontinued, you can still find these premium over-ears online via retailers like Amazon, and sometimes they go on sale for under $300. They're also worth considering as they deliver a high degree of noise isolation. Their ANC system does an outstanding job of blocking out the low rumble of bus engines, office chit-chat, and the hum of computer fans, making them a great choice for on-the-go use. They even block out more bass-range noise than our top pick, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless. With their ANC on, these headphones last over 37 hours continuously.

    They're equipped with an auto-off timer to conserve battery life when not in use, or you can just use them over a wired connection if you don't want to worry about running out of juice. These over-ears have a bass-heavy default sound profile that delivers immense thump, rumble, and boom to mixes. If the bass overwhelms vocals and lead instruments, you can customize their sound profile with a graphic EQ and presets in the companion app.

    See our review

  3. Best Mid-Range Noise Cancelling Headphones

    If you want to spend less without sacrificing noise isolation, consider the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless. Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, these over-ears have an adaptive ANC system designed to detect your current environment and adjust its performance accordingly. This feature does a fantastic job of blocking out noise across the spectrum, meaning you can enjoy busy commutes and crowded cafes in peace. You can also switch to manual ANC via the companion app, which has five different levels if you want to customize the amount of ambient noise you hear, and you can use the ANC while connected via analog.

    Their V-shaped sound profile is a solid choice if you listen to a lot of rock and pop music, as they deliver extra thump and boom while higher-pitched instruments like cymbals are crisp. Using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets, you can fine-tune their sound to suit your preferences. They last over 27 hours continuously and support multi-device pairing, meaning you can stay connected to your PC and smartphone simultaneously. For a little less, they remain a great noise cancelling pick.

    See our review

  4. Best Budget Noise Cancelling Headphones

    The best budget-friendly ANC headphones we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. They aren't quite as sturdy as the Anker Soundcore Space Q45 Wireless; some users have even reported that their unit's headband or hinges cracked with regular use. However, their adjustable ANC feature delivers a comparable noise isolation experience. They can easily reduce commuter noise like the rumble of engines and ambient chatter. Unfortunately, Anker removed the ability to use the ANC while wired in later product batches, so if you purchase them, you'll likely get a pair of headphones that don't support this feature. That's a huge downside if you want to use them for in-flight entertainment, but it's less of an issue if you use them wirelessly in your day-to-day life.

    These comfortable over-ears have over 44 hours of continuous battery life with their ANC on, which is great for long days on the go. They also support multi-device pairing, meaning you can simultaneously stay paired with two devices. They have an excited sound out of the box, delivering intense thump, punch, and warmth to your mixes while ensuring that vocals and instruments are bright. You can adjust their sound using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets to suit your tastes.

    See our review

  5. Best Cheap Noise Cancelling Headphones

    If you're on a tight budget, check out the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. This manufacturer dominates the low- to mid-range over-ear market, especially for ANC. These headphones are no exception, delivering a good overall noise isolation performance for a relatively low price. Although they're weaker than their successors when tackling the rumble of bus and plane engines, they do a better job cutting down office chit-chat and the hum of A/C fans. They don't have ANC presets, but they support ANC while wired, which is handy if you want to watch in-flight entertainment.

    These headphones have a V-shaped sound profile that delivers intense bass to the audio, while vocals and lead instruments are bright and sparkly. Their extra boom and punch muddy the rest of your mix, but unlike the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, they lack sound customization features to help you adjust them to your preferences. While they have a comfortable fit and last over 32 hours continuously, their affordable price reflects their build quality. Their plasticky hinges feel hollow, making them the weakest point of their frame.

    See our review

  6. Best Sounding Noise Cancelling Headphones

    Focal is known for their high-end audiophile headphones, which don't have noise cancelling. However, if you care about audio quality, consider the more casual Focal Bathys Wireless. These headphones bridge the gap between high-quality sound and a casual, wireless design, offering the best of both worlds. These premium cans won't isolate you from noise quite as well as our top pick, but they still deliver a very good overall performance. They also have a wired DAC mode, which can help deliver your favorite tunes in higher quality than their default wireless mode. Using them via Bluetooth, you can use aptX Adaptive to stream hi-res audio with low latency.

    These over-ears have a fairly neutral sound profile that's versatile enough for most audio content. While vocals and instruments sound slightly veiled, you can customize their sound to your liking using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. Their comfortable fit means you can also wear them for long periods without significant fatigue, and with their ANC on, they last over 29 hours continuously. They're a great pick for audiophiles who still want a distraction-free listening experience while on the go.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Bose 700 Headphones Wireless: The Bose 700 Headphones Wireless are premium noise cancelling over-ears with a surprisingly good microphone. Their audio experience isn't as customizable as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, and their ANC doesn't block out as much bass range noise. However, their overall performance in this regard is still excellent. See our review
  • Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless: The Sennheiser MOMENTUM 4 Wireless are high-end over-ears that support aptX Adaptive codec, which is good if you like to stream Hi-Res content with better audio quality. They also have over 60 hours of continuous playback time. However, their ANC doesn't perform as well as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. See our review
  • Apple AirPods Max Wireless: If you're an Apple user and want a pair of headphones that integrate seamlessly with the brand's ecosystem, check out the Apple AirPods Max Wireless. While these premium over-ears don't surpass the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, their ANC can still effectively block out a wide range of sounds. However, they create a lot of ear pressure when the ANC is on, so you'll want to keep this in mind if you're sensitive to this feeling. See our review
  • Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless: The Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless are Bluetooth-enabled noise cancelling over-ears with a sturdy-feeling design, impressively intuitive ANC system, and a wide selection of customization features. Unfortunately, their ANC system isn't particularly impressive compared to alternatives like the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Feb 06, 2024: We've checked our picks for accuracy and product availability. However, there hasn't been a change in our recommendations.

  2. Jan 08, 2024: We've made minor updates to the text to ensure accuracy and clarity. However, the picks haven't changed.

  3. Nov 29, 2023: We've added the Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones Wireless as our top noise cancelling pick, thanks to their high-performing ANC system and wide breadth of extra features.

  4. Nov 01, 2023: We've checked that the picks represent the best recommendations in each category and made minor updates to the text.

  5. Oct 06, 2023: We've updated this article's text to ensure it's up-to-date and accurate. Our picks haven't changed.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best headphones with ANC to buy for most people in each price range. 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. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones and the level at which you play your music will naturally drown the ambient noise of lower amplitudes.