If you’re ready to cut down on distractions, the best noise canceling headphones can make you happy. They are designed to block out and dampen ambient noise, both high and low, before it reaches your ears. This noise neutralization provides an immersive listening experience that allows you to focus on what you want to hear and avoid what you don’t. This could be just what you need when you are traveling, on a business trip or just for a moment for yourself.
Of course, it is not always safe or desirable to block all sound. That’s why many wired or wireless headphones with Active Noise Canceling (ANC) technology help you determine how much ambient noise you want to let in. Some models also adjust these levels automatically, creating the best balance based on the noise around you.
Best Package: Sony WH-1000XM4
The Sony-WH-1000XM4 is arguably the best consumer headphones on the market for most people. This is because these Bluetooth headphones really are the complete package, sometimes to blame. The first consideration with such a product is the music listening experience and sound blocking.
With Sony’s latest noise-cancelling QN1 processor you really get the best ANCs and when you combine them with the rich and natural audio response of the headphones themselves, it’s a truly immersive listening experience. The look of the headphones is also exceptional, with ultra-soft leather ear cushions, a soft-touch matte plastic outer shell, sleek copper logos and a slim profile that goes with everything. In other words, these headphones basically check all the main compartments you’d expect.
Best Value: Bose Quiet Comfort 35 Wireless Bluetooth Headphones II
The Bose brand is one of the pioneers, if not the most famous, in noise cancellation and headphone technology, and the Bose Quiet Comfort 35 (Series II) shows its prestige to the extreme. These comfortable over-ear headphones offer three levels of noise cancellation that you can switch between to best suit your environment and listening needs. The sound quality is also impressive, thanks to the drivers’ volume-optimized equalizer (EQ) which produces clear sound regardless of volume and background noise, even during calls.
If you like voice messaging for even more convenient hands-free connectivity on the go, Quiet Comfort 35 has Google Assistant built-in and Amazon Alexa out of the box. If you prefer to use a different voice assistant, you can change it and assign it to the multifunction button / voice assistant. Even better, these headphones will easily get you through the day with 20 hours of battery life, and if you’re short on time, a 15-minute quick charge can extend playback by 2.5 hours. These headphones cost a pretty penny, but the travel-ready design is drop and corrosion resistant and comfortable enough to reach for every day.
Best in comfort: Sennheiser PXC 550
If you’re looking for headphones for hours of comfortable use, the Sennheiser PXC 550 is a contender. These Bluetooth and NFC compatible headphones have a unique elongated cup designed to mimic the shape of the ear. The unique ear cup design and soft headband and cushions provide a comfortable fit for many, and the lightweight 8oz design won’t weigh you down when carrying or storing. They also fold completely flat for easy packing.
When you’re on the move, Adaptive Noise Canceling technology closely monitors the surrounding noise level and makes the necessary adjustments for uninterrupted listening. And whatever you tune in, the PXC 550 delivers pleasingly accurate and balanced sound quality. Sennheiser says accuracy will improve if you connect these cans to a computer, which you could if you exceed 30 hours of battery life. The downside to the battery capacity is the slow charging time, but as long as you have a cable or plan ahead, you’ll enjoy using these comfortable headphones.
Best Splurge: Bose 700. Noise canceling headphones
The brave Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones 700 sell for a high price that not everyone will like, but there are plenty of reasons to consider the investment, especially if you’re a fan of the Bose brand and its noise-cancelling prowess. . These headphones have six microphones, four of which help you hear callers better and two provide excellent speech clarity when you speak, and have 11 different sound control settings from complete isolation to confrontational.
Another strength of the Bose 700 is its attractive and unique design, which justifies its high price. The steel headband is much more minimalistic than other Bose or over-ear wireless headphones, and the soft ear cups rotate up to 15 degrees to better reflect the natural shape of the head and ears. Our reviewer noted the success of the headband holder, which helps create a secure fit and the freedom to tilt the ear pads. Although it disagreed with the sensitivity of the touch controls, which can lead to erratic triggers or accidental prompts, the excellent audio performance easily compensates for any shortcomings.
Best adaptive sound: Jabra Elite 85h
Adaptive audio control options are one area where the Jabra Elite 85h thrives. These over-ear Bluetooth headphones allow the user to make adjustments via the Jabra Sound+ app and a physical button. The app is where you can adjust the ambient noise level settings and thus activate the brand’s Smart Active Noise Cancellation feature. The headset’s eight-microphone system uses four to neutralize external noise, depending on application preferences. You can also turn ANC on, off, or allow hearing to stay alert to ambient noise.
If you leave Smart ANC at its default settings, the system will guess whether you’re at home, on the road, or in a public place based on prompts. Our reviewer reported success with this automatic adaptive shifting, but wanted to provide inputs via the app or just use the buttons. He also noted that these were generally comfortable to wear, but the fabric lining picks up lint very easily. Due to their somewhat clunky construction, fit can be an issue if you like a light, streamlined design. One tough thing to contend with though is the incredible battery life that can last up to 36 hours even with ANC on.
Best Sound: Marshall Mid ANC
If beautiful, great-sounding headphones are your thing, the Marshall Mid ANC is sure to please you. They offer reliable sound quality and good ANC, but their real strength lies in their design. Using high-quality textured vegan leather, anodized metal hinges and a brass finish, these headphones have a fantastic Marshall-branded look and sound quality at the same time.
They do struggle a bit with the one multi-function button – a retro joystick-style button – which looks good but is a bit clunky to use effectively. Although the Marshall Mid ANCs offer aptX Bluetooth connectivity, they lack the wow factor in playback compared to other headphones in this price range. In this style, however, it’s the wireless headphones that manage to stand out.
Best style: Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i
Not all headphones can be called refined, which is what makes the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8i stand out from the crowd. Crafted from premium leather, these headphones float over your ears instead of weighing them down. B&O says this thoughtful design only gets better over time, something you won’t hear from most brands given the longevity of their wearable accessories. This remote quality requires a $400 buy-in, but you also get 30 hours of playback and more than 100 feet of Bluetooth range with two different devices, though our reviewer couldn’t quite get that working distance. get .
Bioplay H8i combines a high-quality design with a faithful and professional sound experience that is warm and balanced. The complementary application also allows you to manage the EQ settings for more precise listening. In terms of noise cancellation, it’s solid, although some users have reported a slight hiss on activation.