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 322 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. 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.
The Marshall MID ANC 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, the Mashall MID ANC 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. The Marshall MID ANC sound better, but the AKG N60NC 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. The N60NC 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 Headphone 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 those who prefer the extra noise isolation.
If you prioritize comfort over active noise cancellation, get the Bose SoundLink On-Ear. They isolate less noise than the Marshall MID ANC, but they’re among the most comfortable, lightweight on-ear headphones we’ve tested so far. They have a long-lasting battery that delivers up to 21 hours of continuous playback and they sound very good.
The Bose SoundLink On-Ear do not have active noise cancelling, so their noise isolation performance is disappointing. They isolate higher frequencies well, like the sounds of an A/C unit, but don’t effectively block out the deep rumbles of vehicle motors. On the upside, The SoundLink On-Ear have decent leakage performance, so you can raise your listening volume a bit to mask out more noise without having to worry too much about bothering those around you.
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, but they have stronger active noise cancelling and better isolation performance overall, which makes them a decent choice for commuters.
The Samsung Level On Wireless are compatible with the Samsung Level app, which provides a good set of customizable features to fine-tune the headphones 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 more affordable on-ear noise cancelling headphones, get the BÖHM B-66. They have a sleek minimalist aesthetic and come with a great carrying case, which is a nice touch.
The BÖHM B-66 sound decent and have surprisingly great bass, perfect for bass-heavy genres like dubstep. They have mediocre noise isolation by default, but it is possible to increase the effectiveness of the noise cancelling feature by plugging the audio and charging ports of the headphones. They also have less latency than most Bluetooth headphones, which is great if you like to watch videos on your phone or play mobile games.
Unfortunately, the BÖHM B-66 aren’t very comfortable. Though they have moderately well-padded ear cups, they feel rather tight and get uncomfortable after a while. They also feel a bit fragile and they take a very long time to charge.
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.