Preferred headphones store
Updated

The 6 Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds And In-Ear Headphones - Spring 2020
Reviews

Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds And In-Ears
445 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
  • Supported directly by you via insider access and when you purchase through our affiliate links
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

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 150 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.


  1. Best Noise Cancelling True Wireless Earbuds: Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless

    7.5
    Mixed Usage
    7.3
    Neutral Sound
    8.1
    Commute/Travel
    8.4
    Sports/Fitness
    7.2
    Office
    5.7
    Wireless Gaming
    5.5
    Wired Gaming
    6.5
    Phone Calls
    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Truly Wireless
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best in-ear noise cancelling headphones with a truly wireless design we've tested so far are the Apple AirPods Pro. These portable in-ears are quite comfortable, and have a very premium and well-built look and feel. Their touch-sensitive controls are easy to use, and they don't go as deep in the ear canal as some other in-ear options. They're even a good choice for the gym as they feel quite stable, and are rated IPX4 for basic water and sweat resistance, though this isn't something we currently test for.

    Their ANC feature is superb, and they do a great job of blocking out engine noises on a plane or bus. If you use your headphones in the office to keep you concentrated, they also do a great job of blocking out chatty coworkers, as well as the noise coming from an AC unit. As far as their sound profile goes, it's quite neutral and well-balanced, and they should be well-suited for a wide range of genres and content.

    Unfortunately, their overall battery performance is only decent, with just under 5.5 hours from a single charge. On the bright side, 20 minutes in their charging case will get you close to four hours of playback, so you can easily top them up on your lunch break and keep listening. Overall, these are a good pair of in-ears that pack an impressive ANC feature and are among the best truly wireless headphones we've tested so far.

    See our review

  2. Cheaper Alternative: Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless

    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Truly Wireless
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    If the price tag of the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless gives you pause, then consider the Amazon Echo Buds. They aren't as comfortable as the Apple headphones, and they don't look and feel quite as premium, but they're considerably cheaper. Their ANC is a bit weaker, but they still isolate a lot of noise, and their similarly well-balanced sound profile is also well-suited for a fairly wide range of genres. Their battery performance is also on par with that of the Apple headphones, but you need Alexa on your phone to get them to work.

    If you generally find in-ears uncomfortable, or wear them for extended periods and want something that feels more comfortable and premium, get the Apple headphones, but if you're something that still performs well at a lower price, go for the Amazon.

    See our review

  3. Best Neckband Noise Cancelling Earbuds: Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless

    7.2
    Mixed Usage
    7.1
    Neutral Sound
    7.8
    Commute/Travel
    7.6
    Sports/Fitness
    7.3
    Office
    5.7
    Wireless Gaming
    5.6
    Wired Gaming
    6.6
    Phone Calls
    Type Earbuds
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best wireless noise cancelling earbuds we've tested so far with a neckband design are the Bose QuietControl 30. They have a comfortable earbud design that fits securely in the ear without putting much pressure, which makes them very well-suited for long days of travel. They're easy-to-use, their noise cancelling is great, and they sound very well-balanced.

    These wireless earbuds do a very impressive job at cancelling noise in the bass range, like the low rumbling hum of bus or plane engines. They also leak very little sound, so if you need to raise your listening volume to block out even more noise, you can do so without having to worry too much about bothering those around you. They have an impressively neutral, versatile, sound profile that lends itself well to all different kinds of music, and their 11-hour battery life ensures they'll last all day.

    While they feel fairly well-built overall, unfortunately, the rubber sleeve that protects the neckband module tends to detach with time. Not all units are affected by this issue, but it seems to be a rather common problem. It's more of an aesthetic concern than a functional one but is still disappointing for such a premium product. That said, they still provide a solid overall listening experience, so they remain among the best noise cancelling earbuds we've tested.

    See our review

  4. Better-Built Alternative: Sony WI-1000X Wireless

    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Balanced Armature

    If you want something that feels built to last and you don't mind the fit of an in-ear design, then get the Sony WI-1000X. They're less comfortable to wear for longer periods than the Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless since their earbuds go further deep into the ear canal, but they feel quite a bit more durable. Their cables are still quite thin, but the neckband has cable management slots to help keep them tidy when not in use, which is nice. Their noise cancelling is excellent and they block out even more noise than the Bose thanks to their in-ear fit. They sound well-balanced, have a good 10-hour battery life, and can even be used passively with their included audio cable - a feature that's very rare on wireless earbuds, but that can be a lifesaver while traveling.

    Get the Bose if comfort is your biggest priority, but if you're concerned about durability, you'll want to consider the Sony.

    See our review

  5. Best Wired Noise Cancelling Earbuds: Bose QuietComfort 20/QC20

    6.9
    Mixed Usage
    6.5
    Neutral Sound
    7.2
    Commute/Travel
    7.1
    Sports/Fitness
    7.2
    Office
    5.4
    Wireless Gaming
    7.0
    Wired Gaming
    7.0
    Phone Calls
    Type Earbuds
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless No
    Noise Cancelling Yes
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    The best noise cancelling earbuds for wired use we've tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 20/QC20. Their earbud design doesn't enter the ear canal too deeply, making them quite comfortable, and their controls are very easy to use. They come in a variant for iOS and another for Android, so make sure to get the one that's compatible with your devices.

    Their noise cancelling is exceptional, and is among the best we've tested to date. It does a great job with all kinds of background noises but is especially outstanding at cancelling out the low engine rumble from a bus or plane. Their sound profile isn't quite as well-balanced as that of the Bose QuietControl 30/QC30 Wireless, but they're still fairly well-suited for most genres, just with a bit of extra boominess.

    Though these are wired earbuds, they still require a battery for their ANC. Fortunately, it lasts 19 hours, so you should easily be able to wear them for an entire flight. If the battery does run out on you, you can also use them passively without ANC, which is great. Overall, if you're looking for a wired pair of earbuds to give you peace during long travel days, they're a solid choice.

    See our review

  6. Best Passively Isolating Budget Earbuds: AUKEY Latitude Wireless

    7.1
    Mixed Usage
    6.9
    Neutral Sound
    7.8
    Commute/Travel
    7.9
    Sports/Fitness
    7.0
    Office
    5.2
    Wireless Gaming
    5.1
    Wired Gaming
    7.0
    Phone Calls
    Type In-ear
    Enclosure Closed-Back
    Wireless Yes
    Noise Cancelling No
    Mic Yes
    Transducer Dynamic

    If you're looking for the best noise cancelling earbuds in the budget range, but don't actually care whether they use ANC or not, as long as they isolate a lot of noise, then get the AUKEY Latitude. Despite not having noise cancelling, they do a surprisingly remarkable job at blocking out background noises.

    While they isolate most in the higher frequencies, they still do a surprisingly good job of blocking out the low rumble of bus and plane engines thanks to their in-ear fit. Their sound profile is a bit on the boomy side, but will likely please fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop.

    Unfortunately, their 7-hour battery life is only okay, and you'll likely have to take a break to charge them to get through an entire work day or a long flight. On the bright side, they can easily be paired to two devices at once, and they support aptX-LL for lower Bluetooth latency with compatible devices, making them a decent option for watching videos on your laptop if you have the right adapter.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Sony WF-1000XM3 Truly Wireless : The WF-1000XM3 are premium truly wireless earbuds with a very well-balanced, neutral sound, but they're not the most comfortable and their noise cancelling isn't quite on-par with the competition. See our review
  • Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless: The Sony WI-1000XM2 are the successor of the Sony WI-1000X. Their ANC is even better, but battery performance and sound quality aren't as good as the originals. See our review
  • Jabra Elite 65e Wireless: The Jabra Elite 65e are wireless neckband headphones with great noise isolation that are cheaper than the Bose QC30 or Sony WI-1000X, but don't sound as well-balanced. See our review
  • Bose Hearphones Wireless: The Bose Hearphones are very similar to the QC30, but are designed for people who want something that can not only cancel out ambient noise but also amplify it when needed. Expensive, but could provide value for the target audience. See our review
  • Sony WI-C600N Wireless: The Sony WI-C600N are decent mid-range noise cancelling in-ears. Fairly accurate audio reproduction and alright noise cancelling, but poor battery performance. See our review
  • Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23: The ATH-ANC23 are budget, wired, noise cancelling in-ears. Mediocre performance overall, and most passive in-ears isolate better; however, they're quite affordable. See our review
  • Jabra Elite Active 65t Truly Wireless: The Jabra Elite Active 65t are decent truly wireless headphones that do a great job passively isolating sound, but may be uncomfortable to some. See our review
  • KZ AS10: The KZ AS10 are wired earbuds that do a good job at passively isolating background noise, but more expensive than the AUKEY Latitude Wireless. See our review

Recent Updates

05/01/2020: Verification for accuracy and slight changes to the text.

03/03/2020: "Best Wired" added.

01/03/2020: Replaced Sony WF-1000XM3 with Apple AirPods Pro as 'Best Noise Cancelling True Wireless Earbuds', made the Sony 'More Customizable Alternative'. Moved Jabra Elite 65E, KZ AS10, and Jabra Elite Active 65T to 'Notable Mentions'. Changed some categories and category names.

All Reviews

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 earbuds/in-ear headphones. 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.

Recommended Articles

LOG IN

JOIN RTINGS.com

Be part of the most informed community and take advantage of our advanced tools to find the best product for your needs.
Join our mailing list:
Become an insider

Unlimited access to full product reviews, test measurements and scores

test table UI

Product prices across the site on reviews, tables and tools

product prices UI

Additional votes for our
next reviews

Additional votes UI

Early Access
to our reviews and test measurements

Early Access UI

Create Discussion