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 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 150 pairs of headphones with ANC. 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 Bluetooth noise cancelling headphones that we've tested are the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. These well-built, comfortable, and stylish headphones are the next generation of the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless. They have a similarly powerful noise isolation performance but new features that you can use to customize your audio experience.
Right out-of-the-box, they have a thumpy, bass-heavy sound profile. However, if you prefer to tweak them to your liking, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets. They have good controls with several unique features like Speak-to-Chat, which pauses your audio and lets in ambient sound when you start talking. When you cover the right ear cup, it triggers their Quick Attention feature, which also lets in ambient noise so that you can stay aware of your surroundings without having to pause your music. You don't have to worry so much about battery life either, as they offer over 37 hours of continuous battery life as well as an auto-off timer.
Unfortunately, they're a bit bulky, which can make them a little less portable when you're on-the-go. Their integrated microphone also has a disappointing recording quality, making your voice sound thin, muffled, and lacking detail. They also have quite a bit of latency, making them less than ideal for watching movies or playing video games. On the upside, they have NFC and multi-device pairing, so you can easily switch between your computer and smartphone.
If you're looking for a pair of even more comfortable headphones, try the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. Unlike the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, they don't offer sound customization features like a graphic EQ or presets, but they have a lightweight build that doesn't clamp as tightly on your ears. They have a superb noise isolation performance, and while they don't reduce bass-range noise like bus engines as well as the Sony, they can still cut down a significant amount of this noise. They also have a very well-balanced sound profile, which makes them suitable for most audio genres. Their touch of extra bass should especially please fans of thump and rumble.
If you like to customize the sound to better suit your needs, consider the Sony. However, if you value comfort over all else or if you're looking for something with a more neutral sound profile right out-of-the-box, check out the Bose.
The best noise cancelling earbuds we've tested are the Apple AirPods Pro. Thanks to their ANC feature, these well-built headphones offer an excellent noise isolation performance, so you can focus on your audio whether you're commuting or working in a noisy office setting. They have a comfortable, stable fit, so they're a solid choice for listening to music during your workouts.
Out-of-the-box, they have a pretty neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. They don't leak a lot of audio, either, so you can crank up the volume on your favorite tunes without really bothering those around you. Though they only last for a little over five hours off of a single charge, their portable charging case offers around five extra charges, so you can easily power up while on-the-go.
Unfortunately, they have some difficulty reproducing a thumpy low-bass, so you may not feel the deep rumbles in action-packed videos or bass-heavy music. They also don't have any sound customization options, which is a bit disappointing for listeners who like to adjust the sound to their liking. That said, these in-ears offer an amazing noise isolation performance, and their versatility makes them a solid choice for lots of different types of listeners.
If you're looking for noise cancelling earbuds that won't break the bank, try the Amazon Echo Buds. While they aren't as comfortable or as well-built as the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, these in-ears are still an amazing choice for noise isolation. With their ANC feature turned on, they can block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines as well as higher-frequency ambient noise, like people chatting nearby. Their neutral, balanced sound profile is suitable for lots of different types of audio content, and they even offer a basic 3-band graphic EQ so you can adjust their sound to your liking. They also last for just over five hours off of a single charge, but their portable charging case offers around five extra charges to help get you through the day.
If you want a more comfortable, better-built pair of noise cancelling earbuds, check out the Apple, but if you're on a tighter budget and want earbuds with more sound customization options, consider the Amazon instead.
The Razer Opus are the best noise cancelling headphones under $200 that we've tested. These comfortable over-ears have a great price-to-performance ratio, and their versatility makes them a solid choice for lots of different listeners. Also, their ANC feature offers incredible noise isolation, so you can block out background noises like bus and plane engines as well as the sounds of people talking around you.
They offer a very neutral, balanced sound profile that makes them suitable for listening to lots of different music genres. If you prefer a different sound, there's even a graphic EQ and presets available in the Razer Opus app to help you adjust them. Also, their continuous battery life of over 32 hours is outstanding and should be more than enough to last through your longest days out of the house.
Unfortunately, they don't support multi-device pairing, which can be disappointing if you like to switch your audio source between different devices on a regular basis. Also, they don't fold into a more compact format, and their bulky design may not fit very easily into your bag or backpack. However, if you're shopping on a budget, these noise cancelling headphones are still a solid choice.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $100 that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30. These Bluetooth-enabled over-ears, helped in part by their highly effective ANC system, do a remarkable job of blocking out ambient noise across the frequency spectrum, from the low rumble of bus and plane engines to the high-pitched hum of an AC unit. Their 44-hour-plus battery life is more than sufficient for a couple of days at the office or several long overnight flights.
They feel quite well-made and are comfortable enough to wear for extended periods. Their bass-heavy sound profile makes them a good option for hip-hop and EDM music, but their companion app features a graphic EQ to let you customize this if it's not to your liking. Since they can pair to two devices simultaneously, you can stream music from your phone while remaining connected to your computer.
Unfortunately, these over-ears leak quite a bit of audio, so you may annoy people nearby if you like to listen to content at high volumes. They're also quite bulky, which makes them a bit of a nuisance to carry around, though they do come with a sturdy carrying case. If you're looking for a pair of relatively affordable wireless headphones with remarkable noise isolation performance, these are a good option.
The TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 Truly Wireless are the best budget noise cancelling headphones that we've tested. These truly wireless in-ears have an excellently performing ANC that can block out a significant amount of bus or plane engine noise as well as ambient chatter. They also don't leak too much audio, so you can listen to music at high volumes without disturbing others around you.
While they have a somewhat boomy sound profile that's suitable for genres like EDM or hip-hop, their mid-range is balanced enough for the reproduction of lead instruments and voices. If you like to run, they're also rated IPX5 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this, and they have a comfortable as well as stable in-ear fit that helps keep them in place while you move. They have low latency on both iOS and Android, so you can stream video from your phone without too much audio lag.
Unfortunately, they don't have a companion app and lack sound customization features like a graphic EQ or presets. Their 3.8-hour battery life is a bit low too, and they probably won't make it through your entire shift at work. Luckily, they have three additional charges in their carrying case, recharge quite quickly, and have an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life. While they're fairly bare-bones in terms of extra features, their wallet-friendly design delivers an excellent noise isolation performance suitable for most uses.
Mar 24, 2021: Added the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless to Notable Mentions. No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
Feb 24, 2021: Replaced the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless with the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 Truly Wireless as they offer more value to our users. Also checked the validity and availability of our picks.
Dec 23, 2020: Replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless with the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless to reflect pricing changes.
Nov 27, 2020: Replaced the Mpow H10 Wireless with the Anker SoundCore Life Q20 Wireless as 'Best Budget Noise Cancelling Headphones'. Added the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Oct 02, 2020: Replaced the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless with the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Removed the Sennheiser PXC 250 II.
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.