While headphones with active noise cancelling (ANC) have been around for a long time, technology has progressed a ton in the past few years and has become more and more popular. ANC headphones can help keep you focused in a noisy office, or help block out engine noise on planes, trains, or buses. Not all ANC performs the same, but since noise cancelling headphones have become so popular, there are now a ton of options in every possible price range, and it can be hard to know which ones are worth it.
We've tested over 100 pairs of headphones with ANC so far. Below, you'll find our recommendations for the best ANC headphones you can buy. If you're looking for something in a specific price range, check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones under $200, the best noise cancelling headphones under $100, as well as our best budget noise cancelling headphones.
The best noise cancelling headphones with Bluetooth that we've tested so far are the Sony WH-1000XM3. These popular wireless over-ear headphones are very comfortable thanks to their soft padding and look and feel very premium and well-built. Their battery lasts 27 hours, and you can get five hours of playtime from only a 15-minute charge, which is convenient.
Their ANC feature works exceptionally well and is the best we've tested to date. While most ANC headphones do a good job of blocking out background chatter or the high-pitched noises from an AC unit, many struggle with the lower rumble of bus and plane engines. This isn't the case with these, and they're some of the best headphones we've tested at blocking out all frequencies, making them a great choice for the office or your daily commute.
Unfortunately, their touch-sensitive controls don't work in colder climates, and their out-of-the-box sound profile is a bit bass-heavy. Luckily, they're compatible with the excellent Sony | Headphones Connect app which gives you access to a graphic EQ to customize their sound. Overall, these are a great pair of ANC headphones and are among the best headphones we've ever tested.
If you want a pair of over-ear ANC headphones that are even more comfortable and have physical buttons, get the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. Their ANC doesn't work quite as well as the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, and their companion app doesn't give you any EQ options, but they're lighter and more comfortable, and their physical controls will work in any weather conditions. While you can't EQ their sound, their out-of-the-box sound profile is very well-balanced and should be suitable for a very wide variety of genres.
If you want to be able to customize your sound or want the best ANC you can get, go with the Sony, but if you want a pair of headphones that still provide excellent ANC but are a bit more comfortable and have physical buttons, go with the Bose.
The best noise cancelling earbuds we've tested so far are the Apple AirPods Pro. They're comfortable, well-built, and offer more premium features than the Apple AirPods 2 Truly Wireless 2019, including an active noise cancelling feature. Their closed-back design also helps to offer a more accurate bass range.
With an impressive ANC performance, these headphones do a great job blocking out ambient noise while commuting or working in an office setting. Their neutral but slightly bright sound profile should still make them suitable for most music genres. These earbuds can also last for over 5 hours off of one charge, and their portable charging case has five additional charges for when you're on the go.
Unfortunately, if you like to customize the sound profile of your headphones, you may be disappointed by the lack of customization options. They don't have a companion app, although iOS users can use the ANC and transparency mode toggle on their settings screen. However, with one of the most stable fits of any in-ears we've tested, these headphones shouldn't fall out of your ears, even when working out.
If you're shopping for noise cancelling earbuds on a budget, you may prefer the Amazon Echo Buds instead. While these in-ears are less comfortable and have a less premium look than the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, they provide a great value and an impressive noise isolation performance. Ultimately, their ANC performance is not quite as good as the Apple, but they still block out a good amount of ambient noise in all frequency ranges. Overall, their sound profile is somewhat well-balanced, and you can even customize it to your liking using the 3-band graphic EQ in the Amazon Alexa app.
If you want more comfortable in-ears with a better ANC performance, go with the Apple, but if you want a cheaper option that allows you to customize your sound a bit, go with the Amazon.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $200 that we've tested so far are the Razer Opus. These Bluetooth over-ears offer outstanding value and look and feel almost identical to the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless. They're very comfortable, even during longer listening sessions, and they last nearly 33 hours off a single charge, which is excellent. Their physical controls are easy to use, and they even come with a great hard carrying case if you need to toss them into a bag or suitcase.
Their ANC performance is excellent, especially considering their price, and easily competes with other options that cost nearly double the price, such as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. It does an excellent job of blocking out all frequency ranges, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines. Their sound profile is also very natural and well-balanced, and their companion app allows you to customize the way they sound via a graphic EQ and presets.
Unfortunately, their integrated microphone isn't great, and your voice easily gets drowned out in noisy environments, though this is common with many Bluetooth headphones. They also lack some advanced features like multi-device pairing, so you'll have to re-connect them every time you want to switch from your phone to a laptop. That being said, they provide an outstanding price-to-performance ratio and are among the best office headphones we've tested.
The Mpow H10 are the best noise cancelling headphones under $50 that we've tested to date. These Bluetooth over-ears are well-padded and can be comfortably worn for long periods. With 23-hour battery life, you likely won't need to charge these headphones every day, and they don't take long to charge either, which is nice.
Their ANC performance is impressive, especially when compared to other products at this price point. If you're commuting or at the office, these headphones will do a great job blocking out the environmental noise around you. They also have a decently neutral sound profile that can be suitable for a variety of music genres.
On the downside, these headphones aren't as well-built as some of the other products we've tested, and their plastic build can give them a flimsy feel. Also, their headband is fairly large, which may not be ideal for listeners with smaller heads. However, for casual everyday users looking to tune out the noise around them, they can offer great value.
08/05/2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy.
07/08/2020: Removed the Sony WI-1000X Wireless and replaced the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 with the Razer Opus.
05/29/2020: Removed Bose QuietComfort 25 due to availability. Made Amazon Echo Buds 'Best Noise Cancelling Headphones under $200' and moved BackBeat Pro 2 to "Over-Ear Alternative'.
04/03/2020: Replaced Mpow H5 with Mpow H10 as "Best Budget" to reflect current pricing.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best ANC headphones 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 noise cancelling headphones. 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.