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 225 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're comfortable as they don't enter the ear canal too deep and are 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; they do a great job blocking out the low rumble of bus and plane engines, and office sounds like background chatter and fan noise. They have a well-balanced and 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 many 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 about 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 want to customize the amount of ambient sound you hear when you're wearing your earbuds, you may prefer the Bose QuietComfort EarBuds. These headphones aren't as comfortable as the Apple AirPods Pro Truly Wireless, and they don't have an H1 chip for easier pairing with Apple devices, but you can use their companion app to adjust the ANC to hear more or less ambient sound. When you turn up the ANC, they do a great job blocking out ambient noise, including the rumble of bus and plane engines and background conversations. They're suitable for many genres and types of content, thanks to their very neutral sound profile. Their continuous battery life of roughly seven hours is longer than the Apple's, and they come with a case that holds about two extra charges.
Go for the Apple if you want a slightly better noise cancelling performance or a more comfortable fit, but try the Bose instead if you like being able to adjust the ANC level to hear your surroundings.
The Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless are the best neckband noise cancelling earbuds that we've tested. These headphones have very good ANC, which can cut down bass-range noise like bus or plane engines as well as ambient chatter around you. They're also well-built, with a flexible silicone neckband and a sturdy hard case to make it easy to store them when you're on the go.
Right out-of-the-box, they have a warm and dark sound profile that's well-suited for vocal-centric content like audiobooks or podcasts. If you prefer a different sound, their companion app offers a graphic EQ and presets so you can tweak their sound to your liking. They have roughly 8.6 hours of continuous playback time and can be used passively with their TRS cable. These decently comfortable headphones can also be paired with up to two devices at a time and even support NFC pairing.
Unfortunately, their neckband can snag longer hair. The ANC also seems to filter out the wrong noise in the treble range, so they do a better job of blocking high-pitched sounds passively than with the ANC. That said, if you prefer a neckband design, these noise cancelling headphones are a suitable choice.
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 a bit 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 best budget noise cancelling headphones that we've tested are the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless. These well-built earbuds are sold a little above the $50 price point, but they're still fairly affordable. Their ANC feature blocks out an impressive amount of sound, from bass-range noise like the rumble of bus and plane engines to office-type sounds like conversations and the hum of an A/C unit.
They have good touch-sensitive controls that allow you to cycle between ANC and Transparency mode, which lets you hear ambient noise while listening to audio. Their sound profile is slightly v-shaped, with a bit of extra low-bass that adds thump and rumble to mixes, which fans of genres like EDM and hip-hop may like. They're comfortable and very stable once you achieve a good fit with the included ear tips.
Unfortunately, you can't completely turn off the ANC feature, which some may find inconvenient. Also, their continuous battery life of roughly eight hours is shorter than advertised. On the plus side, they come with a hard plastic case that holds about two extra charges. If you're looking for earbuds with an effective ANC at a budget-friendly price, these are a solid option.
If you want headphones that passively block out noise, you may prefer the Anker Soundcore Life Dot 2. These earbuds have a worse overall noise isolation performance than the TOZO NC7 Truly Wireless; however, even without an ANC feature, they do a better job of blocking out noises like background conversations and humming A/C units. They're comfortable, well-built, and have a well-balanced, somewhat bass-rich sound profile. They're suitable for workouts and have good stability if you achieve a good fit with the included ear tips and stability fins. Unfortunately, they struggle a bit to cut down bass-range noise like the rumble of bus and plane engines.
Go for the TOZO if you want earbuds with an ANC feature, but consider the Anker instead if you prefer headphones that passively block out sound.
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.
May 13, 2021: Replaced the Jabra Elite 65e Wireless with the Sony WI-1000XM2 Wireless as the Jabra are getting harder to find in stock. Verified the text for accuracy to ensure we're still recommending the best products for your needs.
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.
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.