Active noise cancelling (ANC) headphones can help give you peace in otherwise normally noisy situations. If you work in a loud office or have a long commute on a loud bus or train, they can be very helpful in helping to keep you concentrated or relaxed. While ANC has typically been reserved only for high-end headphones, in the past few years, some surprisingly decent ANC headphones have come out with a much lower price tag. But simply having a good ANC feature isn't everything; you also want headphones that are comfortable, have a good battery life, and a well-balanced sound profile.
We've tested over 480 pairs of headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones under $100 to purchase. If you have a bit more of a flexible budget, see our complete recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones under $200, the best noise cancelling earbuds, or if you want something even cheaper, the best noise cancelling headphones under $50.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $100 that we've tested so far are the Anker Soundcore Life Q20. These comfortable wireless over-ears are an upgraded version of the Anker Soundcore Life 2 Wireless, and they have an improved ANC feature. Their over 32-hour continuous battery life ensures that you don't have to worry about recharging these headphones on a daily basis, which is convenient.
Overall, they do a very good job isolating background noise. They can really block out voices and sharp sounds like AC units, making them ideal to use in an office setting. Also, their slightly excited, V-shaped sound profile packs an extra punch in the bass range that can please fans of bass-heavy genres like EDM and hip-hop, but it may not be preferred by all listeners.
Unfortunately, they aren't the best for blocking out bass-heavy sounds like bus and plane engines, so they may not be the best choice to use during your commute. There aren't any sound customization features, either, so you can't adjust the sound to your liking. That said, these noise cancelling headphones offer versatile performance, and they're a solid choice for everyday casual use.
If you prefer headphones with a more neutral sound profile, check out the Mixcder E9. Their continuous battery life isn't as long, and their microphone performance isn't as good as the Anker Soundcore Life Q20 Wireless, but their neutral, balanced default sound profile is more suitable to a wider range of music genres. They also have a much more consistent audio delivery, so their sound doesn't change as much depending on their fit, seal, and positioning on your head. Overall, these comfortable over-ears have good noise isolation performance. Their ANC feature can block out noises in the bass range, making them ideal to use during your commute. However, on the downside, they don't block out voices quite as well as the Anker, so you may hear some background voices.
If you want something with a long battery life that can block out voices better, consider the Anker, but if you prefer a more neutral, balanced sound and want to use your headphones during your commute, check out the Mixcder instead.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $100 with an in-ear design that we've tested are the Sony WI-SP600N. These wireless in-ears feel pretty sturdy and look premium, with a thick, rubberized audio cable and dense plastic construction. That solid build quality, in conjunction with the included stability fins, makes them a solid option for bringing to the gym or out on a run. As an added perk, they’re rated IPX4 for water protection, although that’s not something we test for.
Their default sound profile is overemphasized but quite even across the bass range, which should please fans of EDM and hip-hop without causing too much in the way of muddiness. If you aren't a fan, these in-ears are compatible with the feature-packed Sony| Headphones Connect app, which provides a graphic EQ and presets. It also allows you to control their ANC system, which does a decent job of blocking out sounds across the audible spectrum.
Unfortunately, their battery life is disappointing, at only 5.6 hours with ANC enabled. That said, they do charge fairly quickly, with a 10-15 minute charge providing more than an hour of playback. If you’re willing to spend more than $100, consider the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless, which have longer battery life, a better-performing ANC system, and the freedom of a truly wireless design. Overall though, the Sony are a fairly versatile, well-built pair of in-ear headphones.
If you want something cheaper that blocks background noises without the need of ANC, get the AUKEY Latitude. These Bluetooth in-ears don't feel quite as durable and comfortable as the Sony WI-SP600N Wireless, and they don't have ANC or a companion app, but they have a better-balanced sound profile and isolate background noise even better provided you achieve a proper seal. Their sound profile has a bit of extra thump but is versatile enough for most genres as the bass isn't overpowering. Their in-line remote also offers a few EQ presets, so you can change their sound if you want more or less bass. Unfortunately, their battery only lasts 7.3 hours, which isn't great, though it's still longer than the Sony's battery.
If you want more comfortable in-ears that have an ANC feature and you don't mind spending a bit more, go with the Sony. However, if you want to save some money and don't need ANC, the AUKEY is a decent choice that will still bring you some peace and quiet.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $50 are the Mpow H10. These wireless over-ears perform well for the price and are pretty feature-dense. They're comfortable, with a well-padded headband and ear cups, and have an easy-to-use physical control scheme. They also provide 23 hours of playback on a single charge, which is very good and comparable to far more expensive headphones.
They have a pretty excited sound profile, with an overemphasized bass that isn’t overwhelming: Fans of EDM will be pleased with their thump and kick, but it won’t alienate those who prefer something like country music or classic rock. Their ANC performance is impressive, especially when taking their price into consideration. They do a very good job of reducing lower-frequency noises like bus engines and construction equipment, which is traditionally a weak point for noise cancelling headphones at this price point.
Unfortunately, they don’t feel especially premium, with a cheap plastic construction that produces some discomforting snapping noises when you fold their ear cups in, but that doesn’t seem to cause any damage. They also leak quite a bit of audio, which might be annoying in a quiet environment. If that doesn’t bother you, they're a good choice thanks to their high price-to-performance ratio.
09/10/2020: Replaced the AKG N700NC Wireless with the Mixcder E9 Wireless to reflect pricing changes. Added the Anker SoundCore Space NC Wireless and the JBL E65BTNC Wireless as Notable Mentions.
07/14/2020: Slight changes to text for accuracy and clarity; no change in recommendations.
05/15/2020: Changed all categories and picks for consistency and to reflect pricing and availability changes.
11/18/2019: Removed Mpow H5 and Bluedio T4 Turbine and added Mixcder E9.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best noise cancelling headphones under $100 to buy for most people. 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 headphones. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter most.