Sometimes we all need a bit of peace. If you use your headphones daily for commuting or while in the office, you may want something that will do a good job of blocking background noise. In the past, you needed large over-ears to get good active noise cancelling (ANC), but now even small and portable in-ears or earbuds have impressive noise cancelling features. You can also passively achieve great isolation with some in-ear headphones that don't feature ANC due to them physically blocking your ear canals.
We've tested over 290 earbuds and in-ears, and below are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling earbuds to buy. See also our recommendations for the best earbuds and in-ears, the best Bluetooth earbuds, or the best noise cancelling headphones overall.
The Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless are the best noise cancelling earbuds we've tested. These premium buds are the previous generation of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless and have a top-tier ANC system. Whether traveling on a noisy plane or working in a busy office, these buds help isolate you from an outstanding amount of ambient noise. With their ANC on, they last well over six hours continuously. If you need to top them up, their carrying case supplies three additional charges.
These buds have a more bass-heavy sound than our test rig measures due to the shape of our rig's ear canals. Subjectively, they have extra thump, rumble, and boom, making them a solid choice for genres like EDM and hip-hop. While the bass also muddies vocals and instruments, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets if you prefer a different sound. Unfortunately, despite having a high price tag, they're missing features like multi-device pairing, so you can't connect them to multiple devices simultaneously. They have a somewhat bulky fit compared to other picks on this list, but they still feel comfortable.
If you're looking for a premium product with a less hefty price tag, consider the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless. These earbuds are usually less expensive than the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless and have been on sale lately. Although their ANC system isn't quite as powerful as the Bose's in reducing ambient noise like bus engines or office chatter, they still deliver an excellent overall performance. Since they're an Apple product, they also offer a couple of ecosystem-unique features worth checking out if you already own a MacBook or an iPhone, like Spatial Audio for a more immersive audio experience and an H2 chip for seamless pairing with other Apple devices.
With their ANC on, they last nearly six hours continuously, and their carrying case supplies an extra four charges. They have a comfortable fit too, but the buds can wiggle out over time, which can be frustrating. Thanks to their adaptive EQ, they have a warm sound profile well-suited for genres like folk and jazz. They lack any sound customization features, so if that's important to you, you'll want to check out the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3, which have a companion app with an EQ and presets. Their ANC performance is comparable, but they're bulkier and less comfortable.
The Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless are the best wireless noise cancelling earbuds at the mid-range price point we've tested. These buds have a similar noise isolation performance to the Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless and can easily cut down sounds like the rumbles from plane engines and chatty coworkers. Whether you're on a long trip or commuting to work, they also last over seven hours with the ANC on, and you can top them up, thanks to the nearly two charges included in their case. They support multi-device pairing, meaning you can connect them to your PC and smartphone simultaneously.
These buds have a decently comfortable fit, but they're bulky and can pop out of your ear over time, causing a drop in bass. Once you ensure a good fit, they deliver a touch of extra thump, rumble, and boom, while vocals and instruments are bright and sparkly. You can even fine-tune their sound using their companion app's graphic EQ and presets. However, if comfort is a top priority, you'll want to consider the Sony LinkBuds S Truly Wireless instead. Their smaller, more lightweight design ensures you can wear them for long periods without experiencing fatigue. Their ANC also offers excellent overall performance, but it doesn't block out as much of the low rumble of car engines as the Google headphones.
The best wireless noise cancelling earbuds we've tested in the budget category are the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless. Despite their affordable price tag, they offer as many features as the Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless and even have a better overall noise isolation performance. Their adaptive ANC easily reduces bass range noise like plane engine rumbles, making them a solid choice for travel. They also do an excellent job cutting out mid to high-pitched sounds, like office chatter and the hum of an AC unit. These versatile buds also come with features like multi-device pairing and LDAC codec support, which is good if you like to stream Hi-Res content.
These well-built buds have a warm sound profile that you can customize via the graphic EQ and presets in their companion app. They also last over eight hours continuously, which will get you through long days on the go, and their carrying case holds an extra four charges. Unfortunately, if you need to make calls, the integrated mic does a poor job of capturing speech clearly, so your voice sounds distant and sharp, which isn't very pleasant for the caller on the line.
For something much cheaper, look at the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless. It's uncommon to find ANC earbuds at this price point. While they're simple in design, they have an ANC system that can block out lots of ambient sound. Don't expect them to block out nearly the same level of noise as the Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless. However, they're still a solid choice for effectively reducing the rumble of plane engines and ambient chatter. You can't turn off the ANC entirely, though. You can only switch between this mode and transparency mode, which allows you to hear your surroundings without taking out your buds. They last over eight hours continuously, and their carrying case holds two additional charges if needed.
These buds have a slightly v-shaped sound profile that delivers a touch of extra thump and rumble to your mixes and bright sibilants, like cymbals. That said, vocals and lead instruments are weak, and the headphones lack sound customization features to help you adjust their sound. Fortunately, they have a stable, decently comfortable fit and are certified IPX6 for resistance against immersion in water, making them a solid choice for sports and fitness.
If you're looking for something even cheaper, the TOZO T10 Truly Wireless are the best earbuds we've tested for passive noise isolation. These earbuds don't have an ANC feature, unlike the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless, but they're usually available for less than half the price. Their design does a great job of blocking out ambient sound without the benefit of active noise cancelling. They effectively block out mid-range noise like background chit-chat and computer fans and also do an okay job of reducing bass-range noise like rumbling engines.
They have a very bass-heavy sound profile that adds intense thump and boom to your audio. You might like that for genres like EDM and hip-hop, but it can also make mixes sound muddy and cluttered, which isn't good for genres like folk or classical. Their deep in-ear fit likely helps with noise isolation but isn't comfortable for everyone. They also have a short continuous battery life of only about 3.5 hours. However, you can top up the battery using the case, which holds about four extra charges. The Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless are another good option for passive noise isolation. While they're more expensive, their 7-hour continuous battery life is much better, and their case holds around 12.5 extra charges, so they offer an outstanding total battery life. Their sound profile is more balanced, making them a better choice for most, but unfortunately, they aren't easy to find available right now.
May 19, 2023: Replaced the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless with the TOZO T10 Truly Wireless because they aren't easy to find in stock right now.
Apr 07, 2023: We've added the Samsung Galaxy Buds2 Pro True Wireless to the Notable Mentions and verified the text for accuracy and clarity.
Feb 27, 2023: Quality of life update for better clarity and readability.
Jan 24, 2023: We've checked this article for accuracy as well as product availability. While we've made minor changes to the text, the picks haven't changed.
Dec 13, 2022: We've rehauled this article to reflect more powerful noise cancelling ANC earbuds. We've added the following: the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II Truly Wireless, Apple AirPods Pro (2nd generation) Truly Wireless, Google Pixel Buds Pro Truly Wireless, and Anker Soundcore Space A40 Truly Wireless. We've also removed the following: the Sennheiser MOMENTUM True Wireless 3, Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless, Anker Soundcore Liberty 3 Pro Truly Wireless, Anker SoundCore Life P3 Truly Wireless, and Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best in-ear noise cancelling headphones and earbuds for most people to buy. 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 noise cancelling earbuds and in-ears. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.