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 popular. 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, but since noise cancelling headphones have become so popular, there are now many options in every possible price range, and it can be hard to know which ones are worth it.
We've tested over 190 pairs of headphones with ANC, and below you'll find our recommendations. If you're looking for something in a specific price range, check out our picks for the best noise cancelling headphones under $200 as well as our best budget noise cancelling headphones.
The best Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones that we've tested are the Sony WΗ-1000MX4 Wireless. These over-ear headphones are very well-built, comfortable, and offer a fantastic noise isolation performance. They perform similarly to their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless, but offer a longer 37-hour continuous battery life and multi-device pairing.
Their bass-heavy default sound profile adds extra thump and rumble to your audio, making them well-suited for genres like EDM and hip-hop. If you prefer a different sound, the companion app includes a graphic EQ and presets that you can use to customize it. Their onboard control scheme includes some useful functions like Speak to Chat, which automatically pauses your music and lets you hear ambient sound when you start speaking. You can also cover the right ear cup with your hand when you want to hear ambient sound without pausing your audio.
Unfortunately, they don't have a very good mic performance since it makes your voice sound thin and muffled. They also have high latency with PCs, so you may notice audio syncing issues if you use them to watch a movie or video call on your computer. Ηowever, they have less latency with iOS and Android devices. You can also use them wired with the included 1/8" TRS cable for a latency-free connection, although you can't use the microphone in that case.
If you want noise cancelling headphones with a more comfortable fit, consider the Bose QuietComfort 45 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 instead. They aren't as well-built as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless and don't have a virtual surround sound feature, but they don't squeeze your head as much and have well-padded ear cups, which helps make them much more comfortable. Their sound profile is much more neutral, which some may prefer, but they don't come with any sound customization features. Their ANC feature doesn't perform as well as the Sony, but it still does an excellent job blocking out ambient sound, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines.
If you want to be able to customize your headphones' sound profile, go for the Sony, but try the Βose instead if you prioritize a more comfortable fit and want a more neutral sound profile.
The best noise cancelling earbuds we've tested are the Βose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless. These earbuds have an ANC feature that does a great job blocking out ambient sound, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines. You can also use the app to choose between four different ANC presets intended for different situations.
They have a neutral, well-balanced sound profile suitable for different genres and types of content. The app also includes a graphic EQ and presets that you can use to customize it if you prefer a different sound. They last for roughly seven hours of continuous use off of a single charge, and you can top them up in the case, which holds about two extra charges. Their combined ear tips and stability fins help give them a very stable fit, and they're rated IPX4 for resistance against minor water exposure.
Unfortunately, they aren't the most comfortable headphones since they have a somewhat bulky design and stick out from your ears. They also don't have multi-device pairing, which may be a bit disappointing if you often switch between using your phone and computer. Otherwise, they offer a versatile sound profile and an impressive ANC feature that can block out noise during your commute or at the office.
If you want ANC earbuds with a more comfortable fit, you may prefer the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless. Their ANC performance is slightly worse than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless, but they have a smaller, more comfortable design, meaning you may prefer them for long flights or days at the office. Their ANC does a great job isolating you from a wide range of noise, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines and ambient chatter. Their sound profile lacks a bit of thump and rumble, but otherwise, it's very well-balanced and suitable for different types of content and genres. They don't come with any sound customization features, but they support a virtual surround sound feature if you're using a compatible iOS device.
If blocking out bass-range noise like rumbling bus and plane engines is important to you, the Βose offer slightly better performance, but if comfort is a priority, the Apple are a great alternative.
The best ANC headphones under $100 we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30. These wireless over-ears are comfortable and well-built, with spacious ear cups and a metal-reinforced headband. They have an adjustable ANC system that's remarkably effective, as these headphones filter out everything from the low rumble of bus and plane engines to the high-pitched hum of an AC unit with ease.
Out-of-the-box, they have a bass-heavy sound profile that emphasizes the thump and kick of EDM and hip-hop music, but this can muddy more delicate vocals and lead instruments. Thankfully, these headphones have a graphic EQ and a couple of EQ presets in their companion app to adjust their audio reproduction to your liking. These over-ears can pair with two devices simultaneously, allowing you to stream music from your phone while remaining connected to your computer.
Unfortunately, like most over-ear headphones, they're very bulky, making carrying them around when not in use a bit of a hassle. Thankfully, they come with a fairly solid hard-carrying case that should protect them from minor bumps and water exposure. Intense head movements can cause them to slip from your head too. Otherwise, their relatively affordable price, wide feature set, and outstanding noise isolation capability help make them some of the best over-ear headphones under $100 that we've tested.
The TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless are the best budget noise cancelling headphones that we've tested. These affordable headphones have an impressive noise isolation performance. They can isolate you from noise like background chatter at work and do an even better job of cutting out bass-range noise like rumbling engines.
They have a good control scheme that lets you switch between ANC and 'Transparency' mode, letting you hear your surroundings without taking out the earbuds. Their slightly v-shaped sound profile adds extra thump and rumble to your audio, making them well-suited for bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop. They're also well-built and last for roughly eight hours off a single charge.
Unfortunately, they don't have the most neutral treble response, and sibilant sounds like cymbals or S and T seem harsh and piercing. They also don't have a companion app or come with any sound customization features. Otherwise, if you're looking for noise cancelling earbuds at a budget-friendly price, these offer a great noise isolation performance.
If you're looking for over-ear headphones, try the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. These headphones cost a little over $50, and their ANC feature isn't quite as effective as the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless, but their over-ear design makes them more comfortable for most people. They may also be more suitable for long trips since they have a longer, roughly 32-hour continuous battery life and come with a 1/8" TRS cable, meaning you can use them passively in a pinch. Their v-shaped sound profile adds extra rumble, punch, and brightness to your audio, which is well-suited for bass-heavy music like EDM and hip-hop and genres like pop and rock. Unfortunately, they don't block out as much bass-range noise as the TOZO, which may be disappointing if you want headphones to isolate you from the sound of rumbling engines during your commute. They're great at blocking out office-type noise like conversations or a computer fan.
If you're looking for more compact, portable headphones or want the option with the best noise isolation performance, go for the TOZO, but try the Anker if you want more comfortable over-ear headphones or a longer continuous battery life.
Apr 27, 2022: Verified that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.
Mar 31, 2022: Replaced the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 with the Bose QuietComfort 45/QC45 Wireless as the QC35 II have been discontinued.
Feb 28, 2022: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are available.
Jan 24, 2022: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock.
Dec 20, 2021: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock. There were no changes to recommendations.
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 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.