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 160 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. 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 prioritize comfortability from your over-ear headphones, check out the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018 instead. While they aren't as customizable as the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless since their companion app doesn't offer a graphic EQ or presets, the Bose have a lighter fit that doesn't clamp as tightly on your head. Their ANC can also block out an outstanding amount of ambient noise like ambient chatter around you. Although they don't cut down as much bass-range noise as the Sony, they can still significantly block out the low rumbles of bus or plane engines, which is nice during long trips. They also have a very neutral and balanced sound profile that's versatile enough for a variety of genres. The touch of extra thump and boom should please fans of bass without overwhelming vocals or lead instruments too much.
Go for the Sony if you like to really tweak and customize your headphones' sound to your liking. However, if you want more comfortable headphones or if you prefer a more neutral default sound profile, consider the Bose instead.
The Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless are the best noise cancelling earbuds that we've tested. These in-ears are equipped with an excellent ANC system. It can block out a significant amount of noise like the rumble of bus engines or office chatter so that you can focus on your audio. They have an H1 chip too, and it allows you to seamlessly pair them with other Apple devices.
They have a comfortable, well-built design and are rated IPX4 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for it. They're also stable enough for moderate physical activity like jogging in the park, so they won't easily fall out of your ears. Although they lack a bit of low-bass, they have a fairly neutral sound profile suitable for a variety of audio content. They also have over five hours of continuous battery life, and their carrying case holds roughly five additional charges if you need it.
While they have a companion interface, it doesn't really offer sound customization features, so you can't tweak their sound to your liking. Their integrated microphone also has a disappointing recording quality, and your voice sounds thin, veiled, and distorted. However, if you're looking for in-ears, these headphones deliver an excellent noise isolation performance with a sleek and portable design.
If you're looking for more affordable earbuds with ANC, check out the EarFun Air Pro True Wireless. While they don't feel as premium and high-end as the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, the EarFun offer a great noise isolation performance at a more wallet-friendly price. Their ANC can cut down the low rumble of bus engines as well as office chatter and high-pitched noise like the hum of an AC unit. Out of the box, they have a slightly v-shaped sound profile that adds a bit of extra thump and rumble to your audio while vocals and lead instruments are bright. Although they have fewer additional charges than the Apple, the EarFun have a continuous battery life of over nine hours as well as roughly 2.5 additional charges in their carrying case, which should be enough to get you through long days at the office. They have a comfortable, stable, and breathable fit too, which is great if you want to take them with you to the gym.
Try the Apple if you're looking for better-built earbuds with a superior ANC system. However, consider the EarFun if you're looking to save money without sacrificing too much on versatility and noise isolation.
The Razer Opus Wireless are the best noise cancelling headphones under $200 that we've tested. These well-built over-ear headphones offer an excellent price-to-performance ratio wrapped in a sleek and comfortable design. Their ANC system can block out an outstanding amount of noise around you, whether you're working at a busy office or on your daily commute.
Out of the box, they're suitable for a variety of audio content, thanks to their well-balanced and neutral sound profile. However, if you prefer a different sound, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets so you can really customize their sound to your liking. They also last over 32 hours on a single charge, which should outlast your shift at the office or long trips on the road, and they're even equipped with an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life when not in use.
Unfortunately, their integrated mic does a mediocre job of separating your voice from moderate background noise, so if you need to take a call, it's best to do so from a more quiet environment. Some users may also find their design to be a bit bulky and more tricky to take with you on the go. Luckily, they come with a great hard case to help protect them from bumps and scratches.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $100 that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q30. These wireless over-ears are quite comfortable and fairly well-built, with spacious ear cups and a metal-reinforced headband. They're fitted with 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 let you adjust their audio reproduction to your liking. These over-ears can also 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 best budget noise cancelling headphones that we've tested are the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless. Although they're the previous generation of the Anker Soundcore Life Q30 Wireless, they offer a decent overall price-to-performance ratio. They're equipped with an ANC that can block out a good amount of ambient noise like office chatter as well as the high-pitched hum of an AC unit.
These over-ears have a lightweight and comfortable fit. Their 32 hours of continuous battery life should last through long days at the office or long trips on the road. Some users may also enjoy their very excited sound profile, which is well-suited for genres like rock or pop. The headphones deliver intense thump, rumble, and boom while vocals and lead instruments are bright and sparkly.
Unfortunately, they lack a companion app with customization features, so you can't tweak their sound to better suit your tastes. Their ANC also struggles to block out the low rumble of bus or plane engines, which could be annoying if you travel a lot. That said, if you're looking for wallet-friendly headphones with active noise cancelling, they're a suitable choice.
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.
May 21, 2021: Added the Anker Soundcore Life Q35 Wireless to Notable Mentions. Verified text accuracy and product availability.
Apr 23, 2021: Replaced Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless with EarFun Air Pro True Wireless as 'Cheaper Alternative' pick due to superior overall versatility. Added Wyze Noise-Cancelling Headphones Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Mar 24, 2021: Added the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless to Notable Mentions. No changes in product picks after verifying their accuracy and availability.
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.