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 2 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 are 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 BackBeat 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.
If you want a pair of headphones with a fully customizable sound profile, then get the JBL Live 650 BTNC. They're well-built, comfortable over-ears that are compatible with a good companion app that lets you tweak the way they sound. They have a good 22-hour battery life and can be used passively with their provided audio cable once they're out of power.
These headphones have a bass-rich default sound profile that's well-suited to genres like hip-hop and EDM while still sounding balanced enough to be suitable for pop or rock music. Where they really shine, however, is in their app, JBL Connect. It gives you access to a fully parametric EQ so you can change the way they sound to better suit your needs.
Although they isolate an okay amount of noise in the bass range, their noise cancelling is mediocre overall. Thankfully, they don't leak too much sound, so you can raise your listening volume a bit to mask out more noise without having to worry about bothering those around you. All things considered, they're a solid choice if you're looking for decent customizable noise cancelling headphones under $200.
If you prefer the fit of on-ear headphones, then you’ll want to consider the Samsung Level On Wireless. They feel more cheaply-made than the JBL Live 650 BTNC Wireless and don’t sound as balanced out-of-the-box, but they have a unique on-ear fit that some may prefer. Their companion app offers a nice array of features, like a graphic EQ as well as an adjustable auto-off timer, and they have decent noise cancelling too. Unfortunately, it's only available on Android.
Go for the JBL if you'd rather have over-ear noise cancelling headphones, but if you prefer the fit of on-ears and use Android, then you'll want to get the Samsung.
If you find over-ear headphones too cumbersome and prefer the portability of in-ears, check out the Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless. 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 Wireless 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 Echo Buds, but if you're on a budget, then the Sony are worth considering too.
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.
12/04/2019: Replaced Jabra Elite 65e with Amazon Echo Buds Truly Wireless, minor text changes.