Noise-canceling earbuds and headphones remove unwanted sounds from the background. This lets you enjoy your music in an uninterrupted manner. Most spaces are already bombarded with unwanted noise, whether it be the office, the bus stop, or even your own home. Fortunately, it’s possible to rid yourself of endless noise. And you don’t have to live like a hermit to do it. What you need is a pair of noise-canceling earbuds or headphones. These are built with noise cancellation systems to actively fight against external noises.
Whether you are in an open office or spend a lot of time on public transportation, noise-canceling earbuds are a great advantage. Or maybe you just like to listen to high-quality music all the time. If you’re the latter, we recommend this piece on the best audiophile headphones for music enthusiasts.
Noise-canceling earbuds are specially constructed to maximize noise-filtering properties. These earbuds are packed with layers of high-density foam and sound-absorbent materials. These materials make them heavier than normal headphones. The trade-off on weight is the reduction of noise for up to 20 decibels.
Most active noise-canceling earphones add an extra level of noise reduction. They do this by actively erasing lower-frequency sound waves. These devices create their soundwaves to offset incoming sound waves. In essence, the incoming and outgoing sound waves cancel each other out. This phenomenon is called destructive interference.
The internal components of active noise cancellation devices take up considerable amounts of energy. This is why most noise-canceling headsets have batteries. They also have several other components. These include a microphone, a noise-canceling circuitry, and a speaker. With the help of these components, noise-canceling earbuds can reduce background noise. About 70 percent of ambient noise is effectively blocked, so your ears can focus on your music.
Noise-canceling earbuds are ideal for different situations. These include airline and train travel, open office environments, or even busy street corners. They are designed to work in any other location with a high level of background noise. You can even use noise-canceling earbuds during exercise to induce concentration. You can also use them just to obtain peace. You don’t even need to be listening to anything. Just pull them up and listen to your world get quieter.
Best Noise Cancelling Earbuds and Headphones for Your Listening Pleasure
If you’re an introvert who enjoys peace and quiet or just a busy bee who needs to concentrate, noise-canceling earbuds can help you out. Here’s a list of the finest noise-canceling earbuds and headphones available:
Panasonic Technics EAH-AZ70W
Technics EAH-AZ70W is Panasonic’s first attempt at creating premium noise-canceling earphones. Unlike the Sony and Bose earpieces, this pair has its weight extended from the earbuds and away from your head. Some people might find this uncomfortable, but there’s not much to do except to adjust the earbuds if they start to slip. Nonetheless, the total weight remains only two-thirds the size of the Sony WF-1000M3. At least, it’s easily pocketable and won’t snap due to its round shape.
The earbuds are also configured for excellent active noise cancellation and sound quality. The technology makes use of two sets of data inputs to cancel noise. You can even adjust how much noise canceling you want active. The device also offers excellent sound quality for music playback. You can adjust your music settings through the Technics Audio Connect app. Panasonic worked hard on these two features, which makes for a deadly combination. And the result is crisp, bright, and energetic audio without any distractions.
You can connect your earbuds wirelessly to your phone using Bluetooth. After that, you can expect 6.5 hours or more of playback time. Besides this, the device is readily compatible with Alexa. This can be set up rather quickly with the help of the app. There’s also support for Google Assistant or Siri. Panasonic Technics EAH-AZ70W is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
If you’re using Alexa, you might be wondering if she records your queries? Know the basics about Alexa and how to stop her from keeping track of your private conversations by reading this piece, Is Alexa Always Listening?
Libratone Track +
Libratone is a Swedish company that aims to break into the market. And it just might succeed with the Track +. This particular set of earbuds has four levels of adaptive noise filtering. And by adaptive, we mean it automatically lets in more sound when you’re on the move. We’re talking about Smart Mode, the most intriguing feature of the app. This combines your phone’s location, accelerometer data, and readings from the microphones. It then automatically adapts cancellation mode to your environment.
The system knows when you’re moving and adjusts the ambient sound accordingly. An example would be while you’re crossing the road. The system can turn down your music and let in some ambient sounds to keep you safe. Under special circumstances, it will shut down audio playback completely. Besides this, the device automatically goes into a bypass mode when not in use to save on battery life. You can also get tech support from the Libratone app, which can teach you all the basics. You can also use the app to bring up internet radio stations, and even EQ controls for the device.
The earbuds are designed to look like a serpentine, halo-style headband. This is a lightweight and highly flexible version of the neckbands on other earbuds. This makes it adaptable for use in the office or the gym. The earbuds also come with a collection of accessories. These include the startup guide, a USB charging cable, and an oval-shaped package of extra ear tips. One last thing—the earbuds also boast an impressive 15 to 16 hours of playback time per charge.
Libratone Track + is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Apple AirPods Pro
The Apple AirPods Pro is a welcome upgrade to the previous models of the Apple AirPods. The Apple AirPods are the original frontrunners in the true wireless earphones craze. The earbuds have a glossy white design that looks similar to the regular model. Nonetheless, there is also the addition of black grilles on the outer panels. There are also control panel strips on each ear stem. This new design delivers strong noise cancellation capabilities in a certified splash-proof build. It also offers strong audio performance for music playback. This makes the pods ideal for commuting and even work.
The earbuds immediately sense when you place them on your ear or take them out. Nonetheless, you can tap on the control panel strip a certain number of times to take control of playback. The earbuds pair with your device automatically through Bluetooth. You can then play music wirelessly for up to 4.5 hours per charge. You can also share music between two pairs of AirPods provided they both have the Apple H1 chip. The software is also compatible with Siri. You can instruct Siri to read your messages or look up an internet query. Unfortunately, there’s no physical app support that you can navigate by phone. Nonetheless, the AirPods Pro provides excellent functionality and ease of use.
The Apple AirPods Pro is exclusively compatible with iOS devices.
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2
Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 is a well-built pair of noise-canceling earbuds. These are the next-generation earbuds from the True Wireless series. Sennheiser retains good sound quality in the earbuds. This is with the addition of an active noise-canceling feature. You can expect to hear excellent bass and treble delivery from this one. The noise-canceling feature is also effective at blocking ambient noises. Conversely, the device also offers excellent leakage performance. This allows you to play music at a fairly high volume without disturbing other people in the same room. You can also customize device commands through the Smart Control app.
The earbuds are ergonomically designed and lightweight. They, therefore, fit comfortably in your ear and are purported to be waterproof. They’re also stable enough for light physical activities like running. You can also put them on during the day and keep them there for long periods. Besides this, they are also portable and fit easily into most small pockets or bags. Even the charging case takes no effort to pack. The package comes with extra pairs of ear tips, a charging case, and a USB charging cable. A manual is also included to help you navigate the hardware.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
The Sony WF-1000MX3 is a pair of completely wireless and noise-canceling earbuds. They provide excellent sound quality with consistent bass and treble delivery. You can get approximately seven hours of playback with a single charge. The earbuds also do a decent job of blocking ambient noises, including work environment noises like ambient chatter and AC noises. There’s also a power-saving feature that turns off the device while not in use.
The earbuds themselves have touch functionality for playback control and voice assistant Alexa. The controls also allow you to switch between active noise control and talk-through. You can also remap device controls through the software. Moreover, the device offers excellent leakage performance. This allows you to play music at a fairly high volume without disturbing other people in the same room.
Like the Sony WI-1000X, these earbuds aren’t connected to any neckband. They’re just plain earbuds, which are a bit larger than usual. Nonetheless, they’re lightweight and compact, making them easy to store. These earbuds aren’t the most comfortable in-ear, but they’re breathable. They also come with a lot of tip options to help users look for the right fit. The wireless design gets rid of the risk of having a cable yanking the cables out of your ears.
The Sony WF-1000MX3 is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Bose Quietcontrol 30
Bose Quietcontrol is an excellent and well-built pair of noise-canceling earbuds. The earbuds connect wirelessly to your devices using Bluetooth. And you can expect great sound quality for playing music. The noise-cancellation feature muffles ambient sounds such as electric fans, wind, and crowd noises. The noise cancellation feature is also designed to be adjustable. This is the reason for the product being named Quietcontrol. You can raise or lower the noise cancellation capabilities of the hardware. There’s also a conversation enhancer feature. This amplifies voices when you take calls.
The earbuds themselves have a lightweight, neckband design. These are meant to rest on your neck while not in use. The neckband also contains the controls for audio and noise cancellation. It’s also completely waterproof. Both the physical and software design makes it ideal for blocking ambient noises. It’s ideal for use both in the office and for exercise. The battery life of this pair is rated at 10 hours, which is decent for this type of headphones.
The earbuds also come with two extra pairs of earbud tips for replacement. You’ll also get a CD-shaped carrying case, a micro USB charging cable, and a set of instructions for use. The only disadvantage is that it doesn’t plug into in-flight entertainment systems. This means it’s not much use while traveling by plane. Nevertheless, it’s great for everyday use.
Bose Quietcontrol is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
The Sony WI-1000X is a set of wireless earphones with active noise canceling. The earbuds block plenty of ambient noises, which makes it ideal for commuting. It’s also able to cancel out low-rumbling noises like airplane and bus engines to a great degree. Sony might not have the same conversation-enhancing feature as Bose. Nonetheless, it appears to have better noise isolation abilities.
Aside from noise cancellation capabilities, the earbuds also produce excellent sound quality. A pair of tests conducted by a third-party reviewer showed excellent sound delivery. The earbuds are also fairly stable and are not likely to pop out of your ears. The battery life of this pair is rated at 10 hours, which is decent for this type of headphones. Also, the earbuds themselves are breathable and very comfortable to wear. This makes it a good option for sports activities or even for a lazy stroll in the park.
The Sony WI has a lightweight neckband design. This design is supposed to reduce any form of neck tension while in use. The device also has a pair of buttons near the end of the neckband for controls. You can use this to toggle between songs and to adjust the volume. There’s also a cable management slot to let you choose the cable length that you need. From the outset, it might look like this pair of headphones would be difficult to pack. But the opposite is true. The braces are flexible enough to fit comfortably inside your pocket or your bag.
Sony WI-1000X is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
The Mpow X3 is a budget-friendly pair of noise-canceling earbuds. These are truly wireless earbuds, which means that you don’t have to worry about any cables at all. The earbuds offer optimized active noise cancellation. The software works with four microphones that constantly monitor the environment. It scans the environment for low-frequency noise and then cancels the noise. The microphones also make phone conversations crystal clear. This also makes it ideal for making and taking calls.
It also offers excellent sound quality with punchy bass and delicate treble. These two features serve users with more immersive music without harmful outside noises. You can spend hours of playback on a single charge. All you need to do is to pair the earbuds to your device via Bluetooth. The connection and pairing process just takes seconds to complete. You can also check battery levels directly through your phone.
The device has a touch user interface with finger-touch controls. This is how you can control music playback, volume, and voice assistant functions. The earbuds are also waterproof, excellent for workouts and running activities. The earbuds are also extra soft, making them very comfortable to wear. And if you don’t like the standard ear tips, you can replace them with at least five other options from the package. The package also comes with a compact and stylish case to store your earbuds.
The Mpow X3 is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II
The Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II are Bluetooth enabled over-ear headphones. The earbuds produce a very well-balanced and accurate sound profile. The system also has the added functionality for either Alexa or Google Assistant. Noise cancellation is another important feature. There are several modes of noise cancellation to choose from. Anyone of them should block low engine rumbles from a bus or plane. The earphones can also handle playback for up to 20 hours straight on a single charge. The only downside is that it tends to leak a bit during playback at high volumes. To address this, just make sure that it’s at a healthy volume when you’re outdoors.
The QC 35 II has the same aesthetics, design, and button layout as its predecessor. It also has the same touch user interface with all the controls. But unlike its predecessor, this a is a full-blown pair of headphones with a headband. Luckily, the headband and ear cups are well-padded and comfortable to wear. The headband itself is also flexible, making it resistant to breakage. This series is lightweight and stable enough for commuting, travel, and light exercise. However, we don’t recommend it for more rigorous activities.
The Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II is compatible with Android and iOS devices. The software also connects to an app, but this doesn’t have QR settings.
Nura Nuraphones are a pair of full-blown headphones with a hybrid design. It features a combination of over-ear and in-ear speakers for fully immersive sound. The over-ear part provides a punchy bass, while the in-ear part is for the mid and treble ranges. The mix of in-ear and over-ear tips passively isolate a decent number of ambient noises, including ambient chatter and AC noises. This makes for a decent performance on the noise isolation front. You can also expect 35 hours of continuous playback per charge. This battery life stands even when noise cancellation and personalization features are active. The earphones also automatically go into standby mode when not in use.
This set of earphones has a premium and stylish design. The padded cups are comfortable to wear. They’re also great against sound leakage. The pads insulate sound. This allows you to listen to music in high volumes without disturbing other people. The headbands are also padded, but its inner lining is made of metal. This makes it both flexible and sturdy. Nonetheless, all these materials make the package rather bulky. There’s also little indication that it’s compatible with sports activities. This is owed to the sheer size of the headphones and the fact that slippage can occur during movement. The best move then would be to limit the use of these headphones to casual listening at home or the office.
The device has a touch user interface with customizable controls. You’ll first need to set up the controls via the Nura app. Afterward, you’ll need to choose from a list of functions that you want to include in the command set. After that, you can already pair the headset with your device via Bluetooth. The pairing process itself is easy to follow. You can also customize sound quality through the app. The same software scans and adjusts sounds based on your hearing. The Nuraphone is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Shure AONIC 50
Shure AONIC 50 is a premium pair of noise-canceling earbuds. The device is laser-focused primarily on delivering excellent sound quality. Noise cancelation appears to be only a secondary priority. The device is perfectly insulated to block all ambient sounds, which include AC units, washing machines, and outside traffic. This perfect insulation also makes the earphones unlikely to succumb to auditory masking and allows you to enjoy clear and accurate audio without distractions. This is also great for initiating distraction-free calls and conferences. The device boasts 20 hours of playback per charge. And this is with noise cancellation features turned on.
The device has a touch user-interface with quick controls. The controls are located on the right ear cup, which is a safe place for them. Included among the controls is a ready switch for active noise cancellation. The button toggles between active noise cancellation or environment mode. You already know what noise cancellation does. But you don’t know that turning it on also leads to a considerable boost in music volume. Environment mode, on the other hand, is the opposite. It shuts down noise cancellation to allow you to engage in a conversation.
When it comes to audio sources, you can pair the headsets via Bluetooth or by wire. Bluetooth pairing is possible for devices within 10 meters. This is the easiest method. But the AONIC 50 also provides the rare option to use USB-C cables to connect to music sources. The AONIC 50 is made with high-quality, durable materials. The headband is covered in leather, connected to aluminum arms. The weight of the bands is evenly distributed, which makes it feel very comfortable to wear. This shouldn’t be a problem even if you wear glasses. The earbuds themselves are covered in removable leather and memory foam. This accounts for its noise-canceling capabilities, which blocks all low-frequency sounds. The leather materials and ergonomic design of this device just scream long-term use. Shure AONIC 50 is truly a premium, high-quality product that is worth the ask.
Jabra Elite 85H
The Jabra Elite 85H is an excellent-sounding pair of earphones. Like other noise-canceling earphones, this set focuses on sound quality and noise cancellation. And it does both with undeniable expertise. The headphones accurately reproduce sound to match the depth of a normal environment. And it just sounds fantastic. Built-in microphones automatically detect distracting noise and turn on active noise cancellation. This mitigates all ambient sounds like keyboard clicking and air conditioning. Its stealthy noise-canceling capabilities make it a great companion in public places. You can even define for yourself what constitutes distracting noise. This can be done through the Jabra Sound + app.
The system automatically detects when the earphones are removed. This automatically pauses playback and resumes when the earphones are worn again. The device is integrated with assistant functions. So you can call for Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant. The device also boasts of 41 hours of playback per full charge. However, this is only the rate when noise cancellation is turned off. As for connectivity, you can pair up to two devices simultaneously through Bluetooth. Any device within 10 meters of the headset can be paired. You can also pair a maximum of eight devices, but you can’t use them at the same time.
The device may look bulky at first, but it can be rearranged. The ear cups fold flat and rotate upwards towards the headband. The ear cups are also very comfortable to wear, so you won’t get any neck pains even with prolonged use. Overall, the Elite 85H offers a great set of features to rival Sony and Bose. Plus, it offers all these for a competitive price.
Bowers and Wilkins PX7 Wireless
Bowers and Wilkins PX7 Wireless is another contender in the noise-canceling earbuds business. The PX7 Wireless has 43.6 mm drivers. These are the largest among the Bowers and Wilkins headphone collection. The headphones have a sonic quality, providing a raw and lifelike listening experience. When it comes to sound quality and consistency, the PX7 is a winner.
Another headline feature is noise cancellation. The device has three modes of noise reduction for you to choose from. Low levels are fine for office settings. On the other hand, high levels are effective for noisier environments. If you do need to talk to somebody, there’s an ambient mode that you can press to shut down noise cancellation. The PX7 also relies on push-button controls like most of the headphones on this list. Special buttons are dedicated to noise cancellation, playback, and device pairing. A proximity sensor detects when the earphones are taken out of your ears, which automatically pauses playback. Putting them on resumes playback. The device also boasts of 30 hours of wireless playtime.
The PX7 might look old-school with its standard gray design. But looks matter less than comfort in this case. The headband is well-padded, while the ear pads clamp with just the right pressure. The cups are also replaceable, which contributes to the durability of the package. Overall, the PX7 promises long hours of uninterrupted high-quality audio. It sounds almost too good to be true, but it’s real.
The Bowers and Wilkins PX7 Wireless is available for Android and iOS devices.
Marshall Monitor II ANC
Marshall Monitor II ANC is a simple yet highly specialized pair of earbuds. The earbuds are designed for a single-minded purpose. And that is to block unwanted noises while you listen to music. As such, the device possesses advanced noise-canceling features. It scans the environment for ambient noise and blocks it out. The device also delivers when it comes to what you can hear. It has custom-tuned 40mm drivers that provide a superior signature sound. It essentially adheres to industry-standard sound quality while keeping distractions out.
The device also boasts of 30 hours of wireless playback. This is with active noise cancellation. Add another 15 hours of playback if you’re going without noise cancellation. This is more than enough time to play your favorite music without interruptions. Another great thing about the device is its integration with Google Assistant. A special button on the earphones is assigned just for this purpose. Just press M and you can start instructing Google Assistant. With its help, you can call friends, conduct a search, or fix your schedule. Another specialized button handles noise cancellation. Alternate modes include a monitoring mode. You can also opt to turn off the automatic noise cancellation feature.
The earphones might look bulky at first. In reality, though, they’re lightweight and decently comfortable to wear. The headphones are also collapsible as they’re made from flexible materials. As such, you can fold the ear pods onto the headband. Afterward, you can put them into the carry case that comes with the package for storage.
Marshall Monitor II ANC is compatible with Android and iOS devices.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
The Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 is a notable upgrade to the original. These wireless headphones maintain the clean appearance and dynamic sound of the original. However, it also welcomes moderate improvements in noise cancellation. These earphones come with 13 adjustable levels of noise cancellation. This is even higher than the Bose 700. You can simply swipe or tap the controls to cycle them. High levels of noise cancellation block out high-frequency noises. Bringing the levels down activates an ambient listening mode.
The touch panels are located on the outer portion of the ear cups. This is much like the original Surface earphones. The tap gestures are responsive and can be executed on either ear cup. The memory foam padding on both ear cups is soft and provides great cushioning for your ears. Besides this, the device is integrated with Siri or Google Assistant. Speech recognition is also great, and the mics pick up every word.
A smart-pause capability automatically pauses audio when the headphones are removed. It resumes when the headphones are put back on. The device is also integrated with the Surface Audio app, which you need to install. The app tweaks audio settings according to your preferences. Battery life also lasts for a total of 20 hours compared to the 15 hours of the original.
Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 is compatible with Windows PC, Android, and iOS devices.
Why Use Noise-Canceling Earbuds or Headphones?
If you’re the type who needs silence to focus at work, noise-canceling earbuds will be of help. This technology is effective at keeping distractions at a minimum. This is so you can remain focused at work. Besides this, they can also protect your hearing, but this is only true during the time that they’re actively canceling out noises.
One of the things that contribute to hearing loss is extremely loud music. With normal headphones, you would normally need to increase the volume when you’re in a busy area. But with noise-canceling earphones, ambient sounds are eliminated. This allows you to hear your music clearly at low volumes. Most are also optimized to produce excellent sound quality. This will allow you to enjoy the full textures of sound without having to blast it full volume. This will probably save your hearing in the long run.
Noise-canceling earbuds are good at what they do, but they aren’t the jack of all trades. There are areas where these products shine and areas where they don’t. If you need an example, they shine well for low, steady sounds such as engines, generators, and appliances. However, they don’t do as well for blocking higher-frequency and transient sounds. For practicality’s sake, don’t expect total silence when you wear one.
What to Look for in Noise-Canceling Earbuds and Headphones?
Earbuds or Full-Size Headphones
First, decide on the type of earphones you want. Your options are in-ear earbuds or full-sized headphones. The physical differences are easy to spot. The latter is meant to fit around two-thirds of the top of your head. Not to worry though, most are lightweight and comfortable. Meanwhile, earbuds are much more compact and are easy to store. If active noise cancellation is what you’re after, you may prefer full-sized models that fit your entire ear.
Second, decide on the price range. Active noise-canceling earbuds have their own audio processors. The quality of this processor factors heavily on the price. You also need to consider the build quality, internal drivers, size, and shape. Premium products with the best features cost more, but you don’t need to bleed your pockets. Remember you’re buying a pair of headphones and not a car. The best models are in the hundreds of dollars, but no more.
Quality and Comfort
Third, check for the essential properties. These include sound quality, durability, portability, and comfort. Try on different models and see if they speak the truth. Check it they prioritize sound cancellation over sound quality, and vice versa. Also, pay attention to the type of materials used. You can usually get a feel of durability from the get-go. Check the fit of the earbuds, and whether you’re comfortable enough to wear them for a long time. Also, check for battery life and charging time. You’ll want to avoid having to go back to the store in less than a year to get battery replacements. Also, check for portability. Most earbuds come with their cases, so storage shouldn’t be a problem.
Lastly, do your research about products that interest you, and keep an open mind. Also, remember to stock up on your favorite tunes first. Check out this beginner’s guide to downloading the best music. You can also download music from Spotify, Apple Music, or even YouTube. Check out this in-depth guide on how to download music from YouTube.
Final Thoughts on Noise-Cancelling Earbuds and Headphones
Shopping for noise-canceling earphones can be a technical endeavor. But with the right information and research, you can find the best pair for yourself. We’ve hopefully helped you understand how noise cancellation works, and why they matter. You can read more on the topic with this guide to noise-canceling headphones. Whether you’re at home or on the go, there’s a decent, reasonably priced pair of earbuds to meet your listening needs.