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 170 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 picks 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. 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, 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 ANC headphones with a more comfortable fit, you may prefer the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. They don't feel as well-built or premium as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, but they have a very comfortable, well-padded design and don't clamp onto your head as hard. Their ANC feature delivers a fantastic noise isolation performance, and they can block out a range of ambient sound, from rumbling engines to background chatter at the office. They also have a much more neutral default sound profile and a 20-hour continuous battery life that should last you through a few 9-5 workdays or a long flight without recharging. You can turn the ANC up or down in their companion app to adjust how much ambient sound you hear. Unfortunately, it lacks sound customization options like an EQ or presets.
If you want to customize your headphones' sound, go for the Sony, but try the Bose instead if you're looking for more comfortable over-ears or a more neutral default sound profile.
The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are the best noise cancelling earbuds that we've tested. These lightweight and portable in-ears have an excellent noise isolation performance and can block out a wide range of noise around you. They also have an H1 chip so that you can seamlessly pair them with other devices in your Apple ecosystem.
These headphones have a comfortable, breathable, and stable fit that doesn't put pressure on your ears. Their sound profile is fairly neutral and well-balanced, and even though they lack a bit of low-bass, they're still well-suited for most types of audio content. They also have over five hours of continuous battery life, and their carrying case supplies roughly five additional charges, which is handy in a pinch.
While iOS users can access a setting screen on their devices, these headphones lack a true companion app and don't have an EQ or presets to help you adjust their sound to your liking. Their integrated mic also has a disappointing recording quality, and your voice sounds thin, muffled, and distorted. However, if you prefer in-ear headphones, they offer a versatile performance to please most users.
If you're looking for less expensive earbuds with ANC, you may prefer the EarFun Air Pro True Wireless. They aren't as well-built as the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, but they're less expensive and have an impressive ANC system. Although they struggle a bit more to block out mid-range sounds like ambient chatter, they're similarly effective at isolating you from noises like the rumble of bus and plane engines or a humming A/C unit. They also have a long continuous battery life of roughly nine hours and a case that holds about 2.5 extra charges. Their default sound profile is slightly v-shaped, so mixes have a bit of extra thump and rumble while vocals and lead instruments are bright.
If you're looking for earbuds with better build quality or a superior ANC performance, go for the Apple, but consider the EarFun if you don't mind sacrificing a bit of noise isolation for a lower price.
The best noise cancelling headphones that we've tested under $200 are the Razer Opus Wireless. These Bluetooth headphones feel durable and have a very comfortable over-ear design. They have an ANC feature that does a fantastic job of isolating you from a wide range of noise, including rumbling engines and ambient conversations.
Their default sound profile is neutral and suitable for a variety of types of content and genres. Fans of a bass-rich sound may find it lacks a bit of thump and rumble, but you can also customize it with a graphic EQ and presets in the headphones' companion app. Their battery provides roughly 32 hours of continuous use with ANC on, which should last you through a long trip or several days at the office, and in a pinch, you can also use them passively with the included audio cable.
Unfortunately, their integrated mic has a mediocre noise handling performance, so if you're on the phone somewhere loud like a train station, the person you're talking with may not be able to hear you. Like most over-ear headphones, they're a bit bulky and not the easiest headphones to carry around. However, they come with a hard carrying case to protect them when you toss them into your bag.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $100 that 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 do 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, which can make 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 Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless are the best noise cancelling headphones in the budget category that we've tested. These over-ear headphones are decently well-built and have a lightweight, comfortable design. Their ANC system does a very good job of blocking out sounds like ambient chatter, and it's decent at reducing bass-range noise like rumbling bus and plane engines.
Their onboard control scheme is easy to use and includes a dedicated button for switching ANC on or off. They have a v-shaped sound profile that brings extra thump and boom to your music, while vocals and lead instruments are bright and sparkly, so they're well-suited for genres like rock and pop. Their battery performance is good since it provides roughly 30 hours of continuous use from a single charge.
Unfortunately, they lack app support and don't come with sound customization features like an EQ or presets. There is a bass boost feature you can turn on with a button on one ear cup, although they have a very bass-rich sound profile that some may find overwhelming. That said, these Bluetooth headphones are worth considering if you're looking for good noise isolation at a budget-friendly price.
Oct 07, 2021: Added the Bose QuietComfort 20/QC20 to Notable Mentions because of their noise isolation performance.
Sep 09, 2021: Added the Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Aug 13, 2021: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations in their categories and that the products are available.
Jul 16, 2021: Replaced the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 Truly Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless as the TaoTronics are not currently available.
Jun 18, 2021: Checked the text for accuracy and product availability. There hasn't been a change in our 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.