Sometimes we all need a bit of peace. If you use your headphones every day for commuting or while in the office, you may want something that will do a good job blocking out background noises. In the past, you needed large over-ears to get good active noise cancelling (ANC), but you can now get impressive noise cancelling even in small and portable in-ears or earbuds. With some in-ear headphones, you can still achieve great isolation without an ANC feature due to them physically blocking your ear canals.
We've tested over 250 earbuds and in-ears, and below are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling earbuds to buy. See our recommendations for the best earbuds and in-ears, the best Bluetooth earbuds, or the best noise cancelling headphones overall.
The best noise cancelling wireless earbuds with a truly wireless design that we've tested are the Apple AirPods Pro. They have a sleek, lightweight design and feel barely noticeable in your ear when you're wearing them. They're also impressively well-built and very portable, thanks to their small size and compact charging case.
They have an ANC feature that does an amazing job of blocking out a range of noise, from the low rumble of bus and plane engines to office-type sounds like ambient conversation or the hum of an A/C unit. Their default sound profile is very neutral and well-balanced, making them suitable for a variety of content. They have low enough latency with iOS and Android devices for streaming video without too much audio lag. They also have an H1 chip for easy pairing with Apple devices.
Unfortunately, their battery performance is just okay, since they only provide about 5.5 hours of continuous use with ANC on. However, they're advertised to last for about three to four hours from just 20 minutes of charging, and their case holds about five additional charges, so you can top them up as needed. Their excellent ANC performance and sturdy, comfortable design put them among the best truly wireless headphones we've tested.
If you want earbuds with an adjustable ANC feature, you may prefer the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds Truly Wireless. These Bluetooth earbuds have a bulkier design than the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless and aren't as comfortable, but they have a great companion app that allows you to change the strength of their noise cancelling feature, so you can adjust the amount of ambient sound you hear. With the ANC turned up, they block out an impressive amount of sound, including bass-range noise like rumbling bus and plane engines. They also have a very neutral sound profile suitable for many types of content, and their continuous battery life of about seven hours is much longer than the Apple's. However, their case is bigger and holds only two extra charges.
If you want the option with a slightly better noise isolation performance or a smaller, more comfortable design, go for the Apple, but consider the Bose instead if you're looking for earbuds with an adjustable ANC feature.
The best neckband noise cancelling earbuds that we've tested are the Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless. These headphones have a flexible silicone neckband design, so you can wear them around your neck when you're not actively using them. They also have ANC, and they can reduce a very good amount of noise like the low rumble of bus or plane engines and office chatter.
These headphones have a warm, dark sound profile that fans of vocal-centric content like podcasts or audiobooks can enjoy. If that's not to your tastes, their companion app has a graphic EQ and presets that you can use to customize their sound. They have a comfortable, well-built design and come with a variety of ear tips so that you can get the best fit possible. They also have a continuous battery life of roughly 8.6 hours, and they have a standby mode to help conserve battery life when not in use.
Unfortunately, their ANC seems to filter out the wrong noise in the treble range, and as a result, they do a better job of blocking out the high-pitched hums of an AC unit when noise cancelling is turned off. In addition, their neckband can snag long hair, which can be unpleasant. That said, these neckband headphones offer a solid noise isolation performance and are even among the best neckband headphones that we've tested too.
The best noise cancelling earbuds with a wired design that we've tested are the Bose QuietComfort 20/QC20. These headphones have a rechargeable in-line battery to power their ANC system. It does an outstanding job of reducing background noise like the rumble of bus engines or people talking around you.
These earbuds are well-built and have a comfortable fit, so you can wear them for long listening sessions without feeling fatigued. Thanks to their stability tip design, they shouldn't easily fall out of your ear unless their audio cable gets hooked on something and pulls them out. Their warm sound profile has extra thump, boom, and punch, making them a good choice if you're a fan of bass-heavy audio genres.
Unfortunately, they lack customization features like an EQ or presets. The latex covering the in-line battery can also peel off over time, and although this is purely cosmetic, some users may find it annoying. Still, these wired headphones have a powerful ANC to help block out noise and are comfortable enough for long days at the office or on the go.
The TOZO NC9 Truly Wireless are the best in-ear noise cancelling headphones in the budget category that we've tested. These affordable Bluetooth earbuds are well-built, stable, and have an IPX6 rating for water resistance, so they're suitable for workouts. They have an ANC feature that does a great job blocking out rumbling bus and plane engines and ambient conversations.
They come with a selection of differently-sized silicone ear tips, and once you find a good fit, they're decently comfortable. Also, they have a good onboard control scheme that allows you to cycle between ANC on and Transparency Mode, which is intended to let in ambient noise so you can hear your surroundings. Their v-shaped sound profile delivers extra thump and boom to your mixes while keeping vocals and lead instruments bright and sparkling, although it may sound a bit muddy to some.
Unfortunately, their battery only lasts for a little over four hours of continuous use with ANC on, so they may not be ideal if you're looking for headphones that can last you through a 9-5 workday without recharging. That said, they come with a sturdy, portable charging case that holds about three additional charges, so it's easy to top them up when you run out of power.
If you prefer passive noise isolation over active noise cancelling, check out the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless. Although they lack ANC and don't block out as much background noise as the TOZO NC9 Truly Wireless, they still have a good noise isolation performance. Since they don't rely on active technology, their in-ear design helps to reduce noise entering your ear canal, and some users may find that they experience less ear fatigue during long listening sessions. These headphones have a slightly bass-heavy sound profile that delivers a touch of extra thump, rumble, and boom to your mixes. They also supply over seven hours of continuous playback time and have a standby mode to help conserve battery life when not in use. However, what makes them stand out from the crowd is that their carrying case holds 12.5 additional charges, which equals under 100 hours of total battery life.
Try the TOZO if you want wallet-friendly earbuds with ANC and a better overall noise isolation performance. However, if you're looking for longer total battery life or prefer passive noise isolation, go for the Anker instead.
Oct 01, 2021: Checked that picks represent the best recommendations and that the products are in stock. There were no changes to picks.
Sep 02, 2021: Checked the text for accuracy and product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Aug 06, 2021: Replaced the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless with the TOZO NC9 Truly Wireless as the NC7 aren't available.
Jul 09, 2021: Replaced the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 Truly Wireless with the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless because the TaoTronics are out of stock. No other changes were made to recommendations.
Jun 11, 2021: Verified our picks and checked for product availability. There hasn't been a change in our recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best noise cancelling in-ear 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.