Whether you have an upcoming international flight, work in a noisy office, or just want to tone down the hustle and bustle of your morning commute, headphones with active noise cancelling (ANC) can help bring you some peace and quiet. The absolute best ANC headphones can be overwhelmingly expensive, though, and the cheapest models don’t always isolate noise all that well. Thankfully, there’s a variety of mid-range ANC headphones that are a little kinder to your wallet but perform better than most budget options.
We’ve tested over 400 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones under $200 to buy in 2020. If you’re looking for our top picks in general or for different price brackets, check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, the best headphones under $200, and the best noise cancelling headphones under $100.
The best noise cancelling headphones under $200 that we’ve tested so far are the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They’re well-built, comfortable wireless over-ear headphones with an impressive battery. They have a great control scheme that’s easy-to-use, with physical buttons, and they can pair to up to two devices at the same time.
They have an exciting bass-rich sound which fans of EDM and hip-hop are sure to love. Their battery lasts for an impressive 30 hours before needing to be charged again, and they have an auto-off feature to prolong the battery life even further, which is great for road trips and long flights. They take a little over 2 hours to charge, but you can still use them while they're charging and even passively without ANC when the batteries run out.
Unfortunately, they’re not compatible with a companion app, so if you don’t like their more bass-heavy sound profile, you may be disappointed. They also don’t isolate noise as well as some of the more premium ANC headsets we’ve tested. You may want to consider the Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 Wireless if you prefer a more stylish design and neutral sound profile, but the Pro 2 are more comfortable and their battery performs better.
If you’re looking for the best ANC performance under $200 and don’t mind a wired design, then get the Bose QuietComfort 25. They’re not as versatile as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016 since they aren’t wireless, but they have remarkable noise cancelling for noisy commutes. They also sound pretty good and are well-suited for a wide range of music genres. Unfortunately, they're less well-suited for office use since they leak quite a bit of sound. That said, they have no latency issues, provide nearly 33 hours of continuous playtime with a fresh set of AAA batteries, and have a much better microphone than the integrated Bluetooth mics featured on most wireless models.
Get the Plantronics if you'd rather have Bluetooth headphones, but if you care more about noise isolation, then you'll want to go for the Bose.
The most customizable noise cancelling headphones under $200 that we've tested so far are the JBL Live 650 BTNC. These over-ear headphones are quite comfortable thanks to their soft padding, and feel well-built enough to withstand a few accidental drops or bumps. Their 22-hour battery life is very good, and they can even be used passively with a 1/8" TRRS cable if your battery dies, which is nice.
While their out-of-the-box sound profile is a bit bass-heavy, they're compatible with JBL's Headphones app which gives you access to EQ presets as well as a fully parametric EQ, so you can customize the sound of the headphones to better suit your own personal preferences. The app also allows you to control the headphone's ANC, which works decently well. Unfortunately, they don't do as good a job at blocking out the low rumble of bus or plane engines as some other options, but they will help keep you concentrated in the office, as they do a good job at blocking background chatter.
These headphones are even stable enough to wear while doing some light exercising, like jogging or running, and their on-ear control scheme is easy to use. Overall, these headphones are a good option if you're looking for a comfortable pair of over-ear headphones with ANC that allow you to customize their sound profile.
If you're an Android user and you prefer the fit of on-ears, but still want something customizable, get the Samsung Level On. They don't feel as well-built as the JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless, and their battery doesn't last nearly as long, but their more casual on-ear design is less bulky. While their companion app gives you access to a graphic EQ to customize their sound profile, unfortunately, it's only available on Android, so you'll be stuck with their out-of-the-box sound if you're an Apple user. Their ANC works decently well, and they do a slightly better job at blocking out low engine rumbles than the JBL. While their 15-hour battery life is quite a bit short, luckily they have a power saving feature to help stretch the battery as long as possible.
If you prefer the fit on over-ears, or you're an Apple user, get the JBL, but if you would rather on-ear headphones and have an Android device, the Samsung are a good option.
If you find over-ear headphones too cumbersome and prefer the portability of in-ears, check out the Amazon Echo Buds. These earbuds have outstanding noise isolation, largely due to the passive isolation provided by the snug fit. They're great for sports too, as they stay in the ears even during vigorous exercise and are rated IPX4 for water resistance.
The earbuds can be customized through a mobile app, and thankfully, it's one that some of us are already familiar with, as Amazon simply uses the same Alexa app rather than having to download a separate one. Within the app, you'll find options to tune the sound with a 3-band EQ, and a pass-through feature that lets you hear your surrounding without having to pause your music. You can also check the battery level of both the earbuds and the carrying case. In case you're wondering, the earbuds last a little over 5 hours of continuous playback and the case holds five additional charges.
The overall sound of these earbuds is decent. It can be characterized as well-balanced with a bit of extra bass, but the treble can sound harsh or sibilant at times. The wireless connection is good thanks to the Bluetooth 5.0 support, but there's too much latency to be usable for videos or gaming. If you spend a good amount of time commuting or traveling on airplanes, these headphones will keep you entertained.
If you're shopping on a tighter budget, the Sony WI-C600N may be a better option than the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless. It's a neckband design that may not suit everyone, but the earbuds themselves are fairly comfortable. They perform well in terms of noise isolation, especially in the mid and treble range. The audio reproduction is also decent, but they may sound a bit boomy and cluttered. However, you can always customize the sound through Sony's mobile app, Sony Headphones Connect, which has plenty of options from presets to a graphic EQ. Sadly, the weakest point of these earbuds is battery life, averaging about 6 hours of playback with ANC enabled and taking up to 2 hours for a full charge.
If you want earbuds with the best noise isolation, go with the Amazon, but if you're on a budget, then the Sony are worth considering.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best noise cancelling headphones under $200 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 noise cancelling headphones under $200. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There are no perfect headphones and the level at which you play your music will naturally drown the ambient noise of lower amplitudes.
02/03/2020: Only minor updates to the text and verification for accuracy; updated Notable Mentions to reflect current availability.
12/04/2019: Replaced Jabra Elite 65e with Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless, minor text changes.