Preferred headphones store
Updated

The 7 Best Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones - April 2019
Reviews

Best Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones
345 Headphones Tested
  • Store-bought headphones; no cherry-picked units
  • Retest after major updates
  • Easily comparable results
  • No ads; unbiased reviews
Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

In-ear headphones tend to be better known for noise isolation since they physically block the ear canal from the outside world. However, in-ear headphones aren’t always the most comfortable, and some people prefer the fit and feel of over-ear headphones. Active noise cancellation (ANC) has come a long way in recent years, and it’s now easier than ever to get great-sounding over-ear headphones that also isolate disruptive ambient sound.

We’ve tested 327 headphones and below are our recommendations for the best noise cancelling over-ear headphones to buy in 2019. If you’re looking for our top noise cancelling picks in general or for certain budget options, check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, the best noise cancelling headphones under $100, and the best noise cancelling in-ear headphones.

  1. Best Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones: Bose QuietComfort 35 II/QC35 II Wireless 2018

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.4
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.9
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.7
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.1
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.8
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    6.0
    TV
    Score components:
    5.6
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    The best noise cancelling over-ear headphones that we’ve tested so far are the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They’re outstandingly comfortable and they sound great. These are very good headphones for most situations that require neutral audio reproduction and adequate noise cancellation, like critical listening, commuting or traveling, and even everyday use in the office.

    These headphones deliver the thump and rumble necessary to enjoy bass-heavy music genres like EDM and hip-hop, but are balanced enough for classical, jazz, or even podcasts to sound clear and detailed. They achieve very good noise isolation, effectively blocking out rumbling low frequencies like bus or plane engines, and can help mask out office chatter as well. They also have a very good rechargeable battery that provides 20 hours of continuous playback on a charge.

    The Bose have okay leakage performance, but they seep a bit of sound into their environment at higher listening levels. This shouldn’t be an issue in louder environments like an airplane, but could be bothersome to others if you like to crank up the volume in the office. The Microsoft Surface Headphones leak significantly less sound and have a much better control scheme, but they lack the unparalleled comfort and sound quality of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. They are versatile, well-rounded headphones and have earned their place among our top picks for travel and our overall best closed-back headphones as well.

    See our review

  2. More Customizable Alternative With Better Isolation: Sony WH-1000XM3 Wireless

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want even greater isolation and more customization options, then get the wireless Sony WH-1000XM3. They’re not as comfortable as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and they don’t sound quite as good, but they offer superior leakage performance and a better companion app. Where these headphones really shine, though, is in their companion app, Sony | Headphones Connect. This well-designed app offers a ton of customization features and even gives you live data on the impressive adaptative noise cancelling feature of the WH-1000XM3.

    These headphones lack the clear, neutral sound of the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but if you live for deep, powerful bass, you may prefer the sound of the Sony. These headphones also have better noise isolation and leakage performance than the Bose. If you prefer great-sounding headphones out of the box, you’ll likely prefer the Bose, but if you enjoy taking the time to fine-tune your headphones exactly how you want, go for the Sony WH-1000XM3.

    See our review

  3. More Fashion-Forward Alternative: Beats Studio 3 Wireless

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want more eye-catching headphones, then get the wireless Beats Studio3 Wireless. They may not isolate noise as well as the Bose QuietComfort 35 II, but they have a more stable and stylish design. They also offer great leakage performance, which makes them a decent choice for quiet listening spaces, like an office.

    These headphones sound decent in general, but not as good as the Bose QC 35 II or the Sony WH-1000XM3. They’re still decent headphones, though, and are definitely worth considering if you’re a fan of the signature Beats look. However, if you prefer better sound quality, consider the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless. They’re stylish noise cancelling headphones with a more balanced sound but aren’t as comfortable as the Beats Studio3 Wireless.

    See our review

  4. Best Mid-Range Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 Wireless 2016

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    7.3
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.7
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    7.4
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    7.1
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    7.5
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    6.2
    TV
    Score components:
    5.9
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you want sturdy, comfortable, noise cancelling wireless headphones but find the Bose QuietComfort 35 II too cost-prohibitive, then get the wireless Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. They may not be as comfortable as the Bose or have as good noise isolation as the Sony WH-1000XM3, but they’re still among some of the best Bluetooth headphones we’ve reviewed. They’re well-built, comfortable and have a great control scheme that is easy to use.

    These headphones have an amazing battery that charges in just over 2 hours and provides 30 hours of battery life on a single charge, which is perfect for a weekend getaway. These headphones are definitely geared towards more bass-heavy music since their low-bass is quite overemphasized, but they are still well-suited for a wide variety of genres.

    Unfortunately, they don’t isolate noise as well as the more expensive options out there, but they still do a decent job. On the upside, they have very good leakage performance, meaning you can raise your volume to mask out more sound without bothering those around you too much. The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 don’t rival the comfort and sound quality of the Bose, but they offer great value and are still a solid choice.

    See our review

  5. Alternative With A More Stable Fit: JBL E65BTNC Wireless

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for a more stable fit and a better microphone, get the wireless JBL E65BTNC. They don’t sound as good as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 and their battery life isn’t as exceptional. That said, they’re a good pick for those who prefer a more stylish design.

    These headphones sound good, but their treble is a bit underemphasized and their bass is quite heavy, which makes them better for bass fans. They have a better microphone than the Plantronics, though, and they even come with an in-line mic that is compatible with different gaming systems for added versatility. If you’re interested in similar headphones with a slightly different look and a better battery, check out the Skullcandy Venue. Though they’re not as well-built as the JBL, their battery lasts about 4 hours longer.

    See our review

  6. Best Budget Over-Ear Noise Cancelling Headphones: Mpow H5 Wireless

    Usage Ratings - Version 1.2

    Test Benches:

    • 1.2: Winter 2018
    • 1.1: Summer 2017
    • 1.0: Winter 2017
    • 0.9: Winter 2016
    6.7
    Mixed Usage
    What it is: This is the combination of the different use cases to evaluate how versatile the headphones are. Therefore an everyday headphone should be well-rounded enough to adapt to most situations and environments without significant losses in sound quality, design ergonomics or isolation.
    Score components:
    7.3
    Critical Listening
    What it is: The level of audio fidelity a headphone can reproduce. Therefore a balanced and true representation of bass, mids, treble, soundstage and imaging, as well as a comfortable listening experience, is essential for critical listening.
    Score components:
    6.5
    Commute/Travel
    What it is: How well the headphones handle the loud environments involved in commuting or traveling. Therefore your listening experience should be comfortable, hassle-free and as isolated from noise as possible.
    Score components:
    6.8
    Sports/Fitness
    What it is: How well-adapted the headphones are, to use while doing sports or strenuous exercise. Therefore the headphones should not be too cumbersome and deliver a stable and comfortable listening experience.
    Score components:
    6.7
    Office
    What it is: How well the headphones can deliver a comfortable and isolated listening experience in an office-like environment. They should not leak much and should block the noise of a busy office.
    Score components:
    6.0
    TV
    Score components:
    5.8
    Gaming
    Score components:
    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you have a tight budget and the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 are too expensive, then get the Mpow H5. They don’t isolate noise as well as the Plantronics, but they come with lots of active features for budget headphones and sound pretty decent too. They’re among our best budget noise cancelling headphones and offer exceptional value for their price.

    They have a straightforward design with metal accents. They have decent durability and their control scheme is easy to use. These headphones have good bass but aren’t ideal for fans of more vocal-centric music like pop or jazz. They have a decent battery that lasts for 12 hours and they support multi-device-pairing, which is a nice touch at this price.

    Unfortunately, these headphones inadequately reduce disruptive frequencies, which is rather disappointing for noise cancelling headphones. If noise isolation is your top priority, consider the Anker SoundCore Space NC. They’re significantly more expensive, but they isolate noise quite well. However, the Anker have a dark sound that lacks clarity. The Mpow H5 cost far less and sound better. All in all, these are comfortable headphones that are sure to please more budget-conscious individuals on the hunt for decent sound.

    See our review

  7. Budget Alternative With Greater Noise Isolation: Cowin E7 Wireless

    Type : Over-ear
    Enclosure : Closed-Back
    Wireless : Yes
    Noise-Cancelling : Yes
    Mic : Yes
    Transducer : Dynamic

    If you’re looking for greater noise isolation than what the Mpow H5 offer, then get the Cowin E7. They don’t sound nearly as good as the Mpow, even though they’re a bit more expensive, but they have decent isolation performance. Their battery also lasts significantly longer, which is a big plus for long car rides or international flights. They’re also less expensive than the Anker SoundCore Space NC.

    Unfortunately, the Cowin feel cheaply made. The headband and ear cups are well-padded, but the plastic used in their build feels low-quality and has a glossy finish that is prone to scratching. They also sound mediocre and have rather poor treble performance. On the upside, their microphone has better recording quality than the Mpow H5, which makes them better for taking calls on-the-go. All in all, these are pretty unremarkable headphones, but their long battery life and decent isolation makes them an okay choice for commuting and traveling.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Microsoft Surface Wireless Headphones: A unique design with an excellent control scheme and good noise isolation. Somewhat limited customization options and not as comfortable as the QC 35 II. See our review
  • Bose QuietComfort 35/QC35 Wireless 2016: Very comfortable over-ear headphones with very good sound. Older model replaced by the Bose QuietComfort 35 II. See our review
  • Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless: Well-designed headphones with lots of customization options, but they don't isolate as well as our top picks. See our review
  • Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC: Comfortable headphones that sound pretty good with nice customization features for Android. Don't sound quite as good as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2. See our review
  • JBL Everest Elite 700 Wireless: Sturdy headphones with good noise isolation and awesome bass. Not as comfortable as the BackBeat Pro 2 and a bit too tight on the head. See our review
  • Bose QuietComfort 25/QC25: Similar in sound and comfort to the QC 35 II, except wired. Have a longer battery life, but use AA batteries and ANC causes more self-noise. See our review
  • Sony WH-1000XM2 Wireless: Excellent noise cancellation and good sound in a polished design, but XM3 are more comfortable and have less self-noise. See our review
  • AKG N700NC Wireless: Beautiful headphones with a premium look and feel. Bose QC 35 II sound slightly better, have significantly better noise isolation and are much more comfortable. See our review
  • Sony WH-H900N/h.ear on 2 Wireless: Nice headphones with very good sound, but mediocre noise cancelling for ANC headphones. BackBeat Pro 2 provide better value. See our review
  • Skullcandy Venue Wireless: A lightweight and easy to use noise cancelling headset, with an exciting sound profile. Decent isolation but not as good as some of our other mid-range picks, and their tight fit won't be as comfortable for everyone.  See our review
  • Bowers & Wilkins PX Wireless: Gorgeous headphones that are remarkably well-built with great isolation but average-at-best sound. Bose QC 35 II sound much better and are more comfortable. See our review
  • Anker SoundCore Space NC Wireless: Decent noise cancelling over-ears with good noise isolation but sound a bit dark. See our review

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best noise cancelling over-ear headphones to buy for most people in each price range. We factor in the price (a cheaper headphone wins over a pricier one 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 over-ear headphones. 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.

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:

Create Discussion