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 100 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. While they don't have as many sound customization options like the Sony WH-1000XM3 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. 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 shopping for noise cancelling earbuds on a budget, you may prefer the Amazon Echo Buds instead. While these in-ears are less comfortable and have a less premium look than the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, they provide a great value and an impressive noise isolation performance. Ultimately, their ANC performance is not quite as good, but they still block out a good amount of ambient noise in all frequency ranges. Overall, their sound profile is somewhat well-balanced, and you can even customize it to your liking using the 3-band graphic EQ in the Amazon Alexa app.
If you want more comfortable in-ears with a better ANC performance, go with the Apple, but if you want a cheaper option that allows you to customize your sound a bit, go with the Amazon.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $200 that we've tested are the Razer Opus. These Bluetooth over-ears offer outstanding value and look and feel almost identical to the Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless. They're very comfortable, even during longer listening sessions, and they last nearly 33 hours off a single charge, which is excellent. Their physical controls are easy to use, and they even come with a great hard carrying case if you need to toss them into a bag or suitcase.
Their ANC performance is excellent, especially considering their price, and easily competes with other options that cost nearly double the price, such as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018. It does an excellent job of blocking out all frequency ranges, including the low rumble of bus and plane engines. Their sound profile is also very natural and well-balanced, and their companion app allows you to customize the way they sound via a graphic EQ and presets.
Unfortunately, their integrated microphone isn't great, and your voice easily gets drowned out in noisy environments, though this is common with many Bluetooth headphones. They also lack some advanced features like multi-device pairing, so you'll have to re-connect them every time you want to switch from your phone to a laptop. That being said, they provide an outstanding price-to-performance ratio and are among the best office headphones we've tested.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $50 that we've tested are the Mpow H10. They're affordable and have a great active noise cancelling feature that can help cut down bus and train engines as well as ambient chatter. They also have an impressive battery performance with over 23 hours of continuous playback time.
Although they have a bass-heavy sound that's well-suited for EDM and hip-hop, they're still versatile enough for a variety of music genres. They also have a comfortable fit, thanks to their plushy and soft padding, which means you can wear them for long listening sessions without too much fatigue. If you're worried about battery life, they have a standby mode to help conserve power too, which is handy if you frequently use their ANC.
Unfortunately, they have a plasticky build, which is to be expected at this price point. Some users may also find their headband to be fairly large, and if you have a small head, they can fall. That said, if you're trying to keep your expenses down, but you don't want to sacrifice a power ANC feature, these headphones deliver great noise isolation at a reasonable price.
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.
08/05/2020: Minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy.
07/08/2020: Removed the Sony WI-1000X Wireless and replaced the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 with the Razer Opus.
05/29/2020: Removed Bose QuietComfort 25 due to availability. Made Amazon Echo Buds 'Best Noise Cancelling Headphones under $200' and moved BackBeat Pro 2 to "Over-Ear Alternative'.
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. 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.