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 130 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 plus presets. They have good controls with several unique features such as 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. These headphones 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 more comfortable pair of headphones with an easier-to-use control scheme, consider the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. While they don't have as many sound customization options like the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless, the physical buttons on these well-padded headphones offer good feedback and can be used in any weather conditions. They also have an incredible noise isolation performance, though they don't block out bass-heavy sounds like engines quite as well as the Sony. Their neutral, slightly bass-heavy sound is suited to lots of different types of music.
If you like to customize your sound, check out the Sony, but if you want a more comfortable, easier-to-use pair of headphones with an incredible ANC performance, consider the Bose instead.
The best noise cancelling earbuds we've tested are the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless. 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, they 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 five 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 your headphones' sound profile, you may be disappointed by the lack of customization options. Although iOS users can use the ANC and transparency mode toggle on their settings screen, they don't have a companion app. However, with one of the most stable fits of any in-ear we've tested, these shouldn't fall out of your ears, even when working out.
If you're looking for noise cancelling earbuds that won't break the bank, try the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless. While they're not as comfortable or well-built as the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, the Amazon offer an excellent ANC feature at a budget-friendly price. Their ANC is slightly weaker than the Apple when it comes to bass and mid-range sounds such as bus engines or ambient chatter, but they're still able to block out quite a lot of noise around you. They also have a somewhat balanced sound profile that delivers a touch of extra thump and rumble. You can tweak their sound profile using their 3-band graphic EQ in their companion app too.
If you're shopping for more comfortable in-ears with an ANC feature that can reduce a bit more bass and mid-range noise, check out the Apple. However, if you're shopping on a budget and you prefer to customize a sound profile to your liking, get the Amazon.
The Razer Opus Wireless are the best noise cancelling headphones under $200 that we've tested. These comfortable, well-built wireless over-ears have an incredible noise isolation performance. Whether you're working in a noisy office or commuting on a busy train, their ANC feature can block out background noises, letting you focus on your audio.
Out-of-the-box, these headphones have a neutral, balanced sound profile, making them suitable for listening to lots of different music genres. The Razer Opus app also gives you access to a graphic EQ and presets so you can customize their sound to your liking. They last for 32.6 hours off of a single charge, too, so you don't have to worry about recharging them on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, these headphones don't support multi-device pairing, which can be annoying if you like to switch your audio source a lot. Also, their microphone has a fair recording quality, and they're a mediocre choice for making phone calls. However, these ANC headphones offer a great price-to-performance ratio, and they rank among the best office headphones we've tested, too.
The best noise cancelling headphones in the budget range that we've tested are the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless. These over-ears come with an ANC feature that does a fair job blocking out background noises. While they struggle to block out bass-heavy background noises like bus and plane engines, they're better suited for blocking out typical office noises like coworkers talking nearby.
These headphones have a neutral, balanced sound profile that's suitable for listening to lots of different types of audio content. They don't leak a lot of noise, and escaping audio sounds very thin, so it shouldn't really bother people around you when you listen to music at loud volumes. Also, their outstanding 24.5-hour continuous battery life makes them ideal for long days on-the-go.
Unfortunately, while these headphones are decently comfortable, some listeners may feel fatigue after long listening sessions due to their tight fit. If you want more comfortable budget headphones with impressive noise isolation, check out the Mpow H10 Wireless. However, if you're on a budget and you want noise cancelling headphones with a neutral sound, the Plantronics are a solid choice.
12/23/2020: Replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless with the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless to reflect pricing changes. Minor updates to the text.
11/27/2020: 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.
10/30/2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy.
10/02/2020: Replaced the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless with the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless. Removed the Sennheiser PXC 250 II.
09/04/2020: Added the Nura NuraLoop Wireless as a Notable Mention.
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.