Noise cancelling headphones are a great way to bring some peace and quiet to your daily routine. There are lots of decent over-ear noise cancelling headphones, but if you prefer an on-ear fit, you may have noticed there aren’t as many options.
We’ve tested 348 headphones, and below are our recommendations for the best on-ear noise cancelling headphones to buy in 2019. If you’re looking for our top picks for other noise cancelling headphones, check out our recommendations for the best noise cancelling headphones, the best noise cancelling earbuds and in-ear headphones, and the best budget noise cancelling headphones.
The best on-ear noise cancelling headphones we’ve tested so far are the Marshall MID ANC Wireless. They’re well-built, decently comfortable wireless headphones. They’re styled with Marshall’s signature black and gold design and look great. They have an efficient, responsive control scheme and are portable enough to easily stash into a bag, which is great for when you’re on-the-go.
These headphones are a good option for critical listeners who prefer an on-ear fit. They sound very good and are versatile enough to be well-suited for a wide range of music genres, like hip-hop, rock, jazz, or even classical, as well as podcasts or audiobooks. They also have a good battery life of 17 hours, which should be more than enough for a full workday including time spent commuting.
Unfortunately, they have rather mediocre noise-isolation performance, especially for ANC headphones. They’re not bad, but they don’t isolate as well as other models we’ve tested. That said, the Marshall MID ANC are still good-sounding on-ear headphones and are versatile enough to be decent for most use cases.
If you need more powerful noise cancelling, get the AKG N60NC Wireless. The Marshall MID ANC Wireless sound better, but these headphones have superior noise isolation performance. They do a better job at isolating the low frequencies of bus or plane engines, which is ideal for commuters. They have thick earcup padding and are fairly comfortable for on-ear headphones. They also have a decent battery that lasts for slightly over 13 hours and charges quite quickly.
The AKG N60NC sound a bit boomy and cluttered and may not be ideal for more vocal-centric genres of music like pop or jazz. They’re also not compatible with the AKG Headphones mobile app like the over-ear AKG N700NC are, so you can’t EQ their sound. They’re better-suited for fans of bass-heavier genres like rap and EDM, especially for those who prefer the extra noise isolation.
If you care more about comfort than noise isolation and don’t mind if your headphones aren’t noise cancelling as long as they isolate adequately, consider the Bose SoundLink On-Ear Wireless. They don’t isolate much in the bass or mid ranges compared to the Marshall MID ANC, but they actually do well in the treble range and are definitely better than wearing nothing at all. They also leak a bit less sound than the Marshall, so you can raise your listening volume to help mask out more noise without disturbing the people around you too much. These headphones sound very good and have a great 21-hour battery life, perfect for listening to your favorite tracks on repeat.
Though the Bose SoundLink On-Ear are very easy-to-use, their physical control scheme isn’t quite as complete or as responsive as that of the Marshall. That said, they are more comfortable and are generally less expensive, so they may provide greater value for some.
If you use Android devices and like to be able to customize your headphones, get the Samsung Level On Wireless. They don’t sound as good as the Marshall MID ANC Wireless, but they have stronger active noise cancelling and better isolation performance overall, which makes them a decent choice for commuters.
These headphones are compatible with the Samsung Level app, which provides a good set of customizable features to fine-tune them to your liking. They sound decent overall, but if you’re not a fan of their neutral sound profile, you can EQ their sound in the app. They also have a great battery that lasts for nearly 15 hours of continuous playback. You can also adjust their auto-off timer in the app, which is ideal for long days of travel.
On the downside, the Samsung Level app is not compatible with iOS, which means you can’t customize their sound if you don’t use an Android device. They also feel a bit cheap and there is a lot of flimsy plastic in their build. They look good, though, and are all-around decent noise cancelling on-ear headphones for most use cases.
If you’re looking for on-ear noise cancelling headphones at the best price possible, the best on-ear noise cancelling headphones in the budget category are the BÖHM B-66 Wireless. They have a sleek, metallic design that gives them a modern, minimalist look. They have a lightweight, breathable design that fits securely, so they won’t fall off if you need to sprint to catch the bus from time to time. They perform alright in most respects and are a reasonable budget choice overall.
These headphones sound decent for closed-back over-ear headphones and have okay isolation. If you don’t mind modifying your headphones a little bit, you can actually plug their charging and audio ports to increase their ANC performance. They have a decent 11-hour battery life and be used wired, without ANC, when their battery is dead.
Unfortunately, the BÖHM B-66 aren’t the most comfortable on-ear headphones. They have a rather tight fit that can be fatiguing to wear over long periods of time. They also take over 4 hours to charge, which is quite long. If you don’t mind the way they fit and have a habit of charging your devices overnight anyway, they’re a solid budget pick overall.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best on-ear noise cancelling 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 on-ear headphones. 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.