Sometimes we all need a bit of peace and quiet. If you use your headphones every day for commuting or while in the office, you may want something that will do an effective job at blocking out background noises. While in the past you needed large over-ears to get good active noise cancelling (ANC), 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 220 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 best noise cancelling wireless earbuds with a truly wireless design that we've tested are the Apple AirPods Pro. They're quite comfortable as they don't enter the ear canal too deeply, and they're so lightweight that you barely even notice they're there. They look and feel premium and well-built, and have easy-to-use touch-sensitive controls on each stem. Their case is very small and supports wireless charging, and they pair seamlessly to all your Apple devices.
Their ANC is excellent, and they do a great job of blocking out the low rumble of bus and plane engines, as well as office sounds like background chatter and fan noise. They have a well-balanced and fairly neutral sound profile out-of-the-box, making them versatile enough for most genres and content. Unfortunately, they don't have any EQ options, and their lack of low-bass may be disappointing to fans of EDM and dubstep.
Like with a lot of Bluetooth headphones, their microphone isn't very good, and your voice sounds very thin and muffled. They also only last just under 5.5 hours off a single charge, which isn't nearly as long as most premium truly wireless options. On the bright side, Apple claims that a 20-minute charge will give you around three to four hours of playback, and their case holds around five additional charges, which is excellent. Overall, these are a good pair of in-ears that pack an impressive ANC feature and are among the best truly wireless headphones that we've tested.
If you prefer to control your ANC's level to better suit your needs, take a look at the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds. While they're not as comfortable as the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless and they lack an H1 chip for seamless pairing with other Apple devices, the Bose have an adjustable ANC control via their companion app. At their highest setting, their ANC can block out the rumble of bus engines during your commute, as well as ambient chatter while you're at the office. They also have a very neutral and well-balanced sound profile, so they're well-suited for a variety of audio content. They have a continuous battery life of 7.3 hours with around two extra charges in their case, and they have a great build quality that feels very stable, which is great if you're always on-the-go.
If you want more comfortable in-ears with a slightly better ANC and higher total battery life, try the Apple. However, if you prefer to adjust your ANC to hear some sounds around you, go for the Bose.
The best noise cancelling earbuds with a neckband that we've tested are the Jabra Elite 65e. These comfortable, well-built earbuds offer an impressive noise isolation performance thanks to their ANC feature. They can block out the rumble of airplane and bus engines as well as higher-frequency ambient noise like the hum of AC units or people talking nearby.
They have a bass-heavy sound profile that adds a little extra thump and punch to your audio, which is ideal if you like bass-heavy music like EDM. If you prefer a different sound, there's even a graphic EQ available in the Jabra Sound+ app to help you customize them. Their in-line microphone also has decent recording quality, so your voice is clear and full-bodied to whoever's on the other end of the line, even if you're calling from a moderately noisy setting.
Unfortunately, they last for just over eight hours off of a single charge, which is decent but may not last through really long days on-the-go. They also tend to come in and out of stock frequently. If you're looking for neckband earbuds with similar noise isolation performance, you can also check out the Sony WI-1000X Wireless, though they aren't as comfortable or as well-built as the Jabra.
The best wired noise cancelling earbuds that we've tested are the Bose QuietComfort 20/QC20. These well-built earbuds have an incredible noise isolation performance thanks to their ANC feature, so you can focus on your audio whether you're commuting on a noisy bus or working in a crowded office. They're comfortable, and they even come with three different sizes of earbud tips to help you get the best possible fit.
They have a bass-heavy, dark sound profile that adds a lot of extra thump and punch to your audio, making them well-suited to fans of bass-heavy music like EDM. They don't leak a lot of noise, either, so you can crank up the volume on your favorite tunes without annoying those around you. Thanks to their 19-hour continuous battery life, they're a solid choice for long days on-the-go.
Unfortunately, the overemphasis in the bass range may be overwhelming for some listeners, especially those who prefer neutral sound. There aren't any sound customization features available, either, so you can't adjust their sound profile more to your liking. However, if you like an extra punch in the bass range, these wired headphones are a solid choice for noise cancellation.
The TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 are the best budget noise cancelling earbuds that we've tested. These well-built and sturdy in-ears have an excellent noise isolation performance. The ANC system can block out bass-range noise like bus engines and reduce ambient chatter around you.
Even though they don't have stability fins, they have a decently comfortable fit that's stable enough for a jog in the park. They're also rated IPX5 for water resistance, although we don't currently test for this, and they don't leak a lot of audio, so you can listen to your favorite tracks at a high volume without disturbing others around you. Fans of EDM and hip-hop may especially enjoy their bass-heavy and dark sound profile that adds extra boom to your mixes.
Unfortunately, they lack any customization features, so you can't tweak them if you prefer a more neutral sound. Their 3.8-hour continuous battery life is quite short, so you may need to recharge them throughout your day. Luckily, their carrying case holds around three additional charges, and they have an auto-off timer to help conserve battery life when not in use.
If you prefer to passively isolate noise, consider the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2. While they don't block out as much background noise as the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 Truly Wireless, and they have fewer controls, they can reduce noise like office chatter without an ANC system. They have a more neutral sound profile that some users may enjoy, but they still deliver a touch of extra thump and rumble that's especially suitable for bass-heavy genres. Just like the TaoTronics, they have a similarly comfortable, well-built, and stable fit. They also have a longer-lasting continuous battery life of over seven hours with around 12.5 extra charges in their carrying case. Unfortunately, their integrated mic delivers a mediocre overall performance, and it struggles to separate your voice from ambient sound around you.
Try the TaoTronics if you're looking for headphones with an ANC to cut down ambient noise around you. However, if you don't like ANCs or want a more neutral sound profile, check out the Anker.
Apr 13, 2021: Replaced the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless with the Bose QuietComfort EarBuds Truly Wireless as the Amazon aren't in stock. Also added the TaoTronics SoundLiberty 94 Truly Wireless as 'Best Budget' pick and made the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless a 'Passive Isolation Alternative'.
Mar 18, 2021: Replaced the Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless with the Jabra Elite 65e Wireless as the Jabra are back in stock. Added the JBL CLUB PRO+ TWS True Wireless and the Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Feb 18, 2021: Replaced Sony WI-1000X Wireless with Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless due to availability. Added Sony WI-1000X Wireless to Notable Mentions.
Dec 18, 2020: Replaced the AUKEY Latitude Wireless with the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2 Truly Wireless to reflect changing availability. Updated Notable Mentions.
Nov 27, 2020: Slight changes to the text and verification for accuracy; no changes in product recommendations.
Oct 30, 2020: Removed the Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless as 'Best Neckband Noise-Cancelling Earbuds' as they aren't available.
Aug 07, 2020: Added the Nura NuraLoop Wireless to the Notable Mentions.
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.