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Review Headphone Noise Reduction

One of those is finding a way to reduce the hubbub created by family members or housemates so that we can focus on the task at hand, or even carve out a few moments of quiet for ourselves. Of course, we’re only interested in noise-blocking headphones that also sound great when you do want to listen to some tunes (or watch a film or TV show, for that matter).

Most pairs of ANC (‘active noise-cancelling’) headphones not only include microphones to cancel out external sound but also to allow for chatting to friends and family, or for those video meetings that are all the rage right now.

Closed-back designs, leather earpads, a good in-ear seal, sizing up or down in eartips, a heavier clamping force in the headband (meaning the earcups fit tighter over your ears), dampening in the earcups and even the shape or material of the driver housings all contribute to passive noise isolation.

Sony WH-1000XM4 Sony’s premium wireless headphones deliver a sonic masterclass Specifications Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery life: 30hr Charging: USB-C Built-in mic and controls: Yes TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime £240 View at Amazon £249 View at Sevenoaks £249 View at Richer Sounds Reasons to buy + Dynamic, detail-rich sound + Sensational sense of timing + Lightweight, comfy and clever Reasons to avoid – No IP rating – No aptX support They’re as comfortable as their predecessors (which is very, by the way); they introduce new useful features that elevate the user experience (such as ‘Speak to Chat’, which allows you to talk to someone while the headphones are still on your head, all without moving a muscle); and, more importantly, you’re getting a serious hike in sound quality over the XM3 for the money (in part down to a new DSEE Extreme sound processor).

The line’s sense of musicality and enthusiasm remains as addictive as ever here, but you can also hear big improvements over the XM3 across the board. Specifications OS support: Android/iOS Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery life: 8 hours (24 hours with charging case) Finishes: 2 TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime £199 View at Amazon £199 View at John Lewis £199 View at Sevenoaks Reasons to buy + Clear, detailed bass performance + Wonderful sense of musicality + Comfortable + Class-leading battery life Reasons to avoid – Missing Sony’s Multipoint feature – Lacking ear tip choices – No aptX HD

Their musical delivery keeps you coming back for more, and also makes you thankful for the eight hours of battery life, which is class-leading in this field.

The new-look earpieces include touch-sensitive controls and a new ear tip design which helps with noise isolation. Combine this with the excellent noise cancelling provided by Sony’s Integrated Processor V1 and you’ve got a pair of headphones that effectively block out the hustle and bustle. They’re a lightweight, compact design – quite the achievement given they squeeze in batteries, playback controls, a Bluetooth receiver and active noise-cancelling.

Wonderfully musical, tonally natural and brilliantly punchy, these true wireless buds sound superb, and the noise-cancelling is excellent. What did come as a surprise was the price, which makes them vastly more expensive than the great majority of premium (if we can even still call them that) wireless noise-cancelling headphones. Assuming you are a keen Apple user, the AirPods Max are the best wireless noise-cancelling headphones you can buy – and not by a small margin. Their authenticity, detail, crispness and spaciousness elevate them so far above the previous best in the wireless noise-cancelling class that the comparison starts to become a little redundant and you instead begin to consider them alongside proper hi-fi products.

While no longer Sony’s latest and greatest wireless noise-cancelling headphones (that’d be the WH-1000XM4 at the top of this page), these XM3 are still superb options – especially for those with tighter budgets; they’ve dropped in price a fair bit since their successors came along. Combine that spaciousness with greater detail, dynamic subtlety and loads of lovely deep bass and you’ve got a breathtaking noise-cancelling package.

Panasonic RZ-S500W The Panasonic RZ-S500W make for a classy debut as the company’s first noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds Specifications Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery life: 6.5 hours (+13 hours from case) Charging: USB-C Built-in mic and controls: Yes TODAY’S BEST DEALS £76.24 View at Amazon Reasons to buy + Expansive detailed presentation + Excellent noise cancelling + Superb touch controls Reasons to avoid – Fit could be an issue As you might expect from a product by a major consumer electronics brand, the Panasonic RZ-S500W spec sheet is pretty comprehensive. The only flaw of note is that the fit is fairly fussy, so take the time to make sure you’ve selected the best of the five bundled buds for your ears.

Sennheiser doesn’t need any ‘third time lucky’ well wishes for its third-generation Momentum Wirelesses – both the originals and second versions were instant knockouts when they arrived, and these have been much improved over their predecessors in the sound department.

That sonic success is backed by enhanced usability features too, although be aware that battery life is only 17 hours next to the above Sony’s 30-hour claim. Still, if you can live with slightly more frequent recharging, these wireless wonders will do you proud: they’re comfortable, convenient (you don’t need to pair them before every use), and they automatically pause or play music as you take them off/put them on.

Earfun Air Pro Earfun adds noise-cancelling to its successful budget true wireless earbuds recipe Specifications Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery life: 7 hours (+18 hours from case) Charging: USB-C Built-in mic and controls: Yes TODAY’S BEST DEALS £54.95 View at Richer Sounds Prime £59.49 View at Amazon Prime £59.49 View at Amazon Reasons to buy + Solid, accurate bass weight + Effective noise cancelling + Classy build and finish Reasons to avoid – Harsh upper midrange Earfun builds on the success of its Award-winning Air earbuds by cramming even more features into a new ‘Pro’ variant, the main addition being active noise cancellation. Specifications Connector: N/A Cable length: N/A In-line remote and mic: N/A OS support: Android/iOS Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery life: 7 hours (28 hours with charging case) TODAY’S BEST DEALS £175 View at Sevenoaks Prime £175 View at Amazon £175 View at Richer Sounds Reasons to buy + Refined, mature sound + Lightweight and comfortable + Nice to use Reasons to avoid – Price – Timing can be bettered – aptX support but not HD They’re nice to use too, with touch-sensitive pads on each earpiece which can be customised to control music playback and features.

We’re pleased to report that the noise-cancelling works extremely well and gives the Sonys in top spot a run for their money. The other has the USB input for charging, pause/play/skip track controls, a Bluetooth connection light and a standard wired headphone output.

At this price, you’d be worried about bright treble or booming bass, but instead, the Lindy BNX-60 headphones produce a balanced sound that’s easy to listen to. All in all, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds are great all-rounders, capable of impressive musicality and topped off with excellent noise cancelling. Specifications Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery life: 20hr Charging: USB-C Built-in mic and controls: Yes TODAY’S BEST DEALS £260 View at Amazon £269 View at Peter Tyson £299 View at Hughes Reasons to buy + Next-gen noise-cancellation + Comfortable and stylish + Crystal-clear, upfront sound + Intuitive touch controls Reasons to avoid – Lack class-leading insight – Rivals have better battery life – Expensive

Zero doesn’t turn noise-cancelling off; it is a light veil that allows you to hear your environment, while ‘10’ represents the most extreme level of sound blocking.

For a hands-free experience, there’s built-in voice control, and when listening to music, (which is, after all, what they’re designed to do) the sound is bold, clear and upfront – although less so than the Sonys, B&Ws and Sennheisers above. But if you’re looking for the lightest, most comfortable, most terrifically techie noise-cancelling in-ears (and you’re an Apple user), you should absolutely give the AirPods Pros a go.

They work flawlessly in terms of their wireless connection, the noise-cancelling is extremely capable, and there’s a Transparency mode that allows outside noise in so effectively that it’s like using a pair of completely non-isolating headphones. Thanks to the bespoke, elliptical silicone tips, the Pros burrow far less deeply into your ears than most in-ear headphones and exert far less pressure, making them barely noticeable in everyday use. Sound wise, they lack a little of the punch and dynamism of the Sonys, but they counter with a rich, easy-going nature that works well with all tracks – even those that are rather low quality. If you want a set of wireless over-ear headphones you can put on, deploy noise-cancelling on your commute or at your desk and largely extinguish the outside world for up to 24 hours, the Bose QC 45 has the edge over most of the competition at the price.

And if you want extra features like a more tailored noise-cancelling experience, an auto-pause function when you remove them, or sound EQ adjustment, you might be better shopping elsewhere. We understand the inclination to stick to a winning design recipe, and that attitude has produced another very likeable (if not class-leading) pair of QuietComfort headphones.

The company’s latest attempt here follow the excellent, five-star BNX-60 (nearer the top of this page) from some years ago but also, more recently, the rather disappointing and pricier BNX-100 from 2019. If you’re after a competent pair of wireless noise-cancelling headphones for this sort of budget, we would certainly recommend spending your money on the Lindy BNX-80.

Specifications Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery life: 20hr Charging: USB-C Built-in mic and controls: Yes TODAY’S BEST DEALS £219 View at Appliances Direct Prime £221.03 View at Amazon Low Stock £259 View at Wex Photo Video Reasons to buy + Outstanding levels of detail + Clear and clean delivery + Solid bass Reasons to avoid – Ridiculous carry case – Noise-cancelling is a mixed bag – Not as engaging as class-leaders

KEF Mu3 KEF aims to take a slice of the true wireless earbuds pie Specifications Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery life: 9 hours (+15 hours from case) Charging: USB-C Built-in mic and controls: Yes TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime £199 View at Amazon £199 View at Sevenoaks £199 View at Peter Tyson Reasons to buy + Refined, mature balance + Weighty bass + Good battery life Reasons to avoid – Beaten for dynamics and expression – Call quality could be better The Mu3 are KEF’s first-ever wireless noise-cancelling earbuds and they can certainly be considered worthy rivals to the Apple AirPods Pro. However, we have some reservations about the call quality, and while nothing about the performance stands out as being a negative, the Mu3 can’t quite match the sonic ability of the class-leading rivals at this level from the likes of Bose and Sony.

Sennheiser HD 450BT Smooth, durable performers with typical Sennheiser appeal Specifications Bluetooth: Yes Noise-cancelling: Yes Battery life: 30hr Charging: USB-C Built-in mic and controls: Yes TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime £99 View at Amazon £99 View at Richer Sounds £99.99 View at Selfridges Reasons to buy + Smooth, easy-listening balance + Excellent battery life + aptX Low Latency Bluetooth Reasons to avoid – Busy button layout – Bass emphasis won’t suit all Their tonality is a little skewed towards the bottom end, sacrificing the midrange clarity that more neutral rivals, such as the AKG N60NCs, are capable of.

The 5 Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones in 2021

These noise-cancelling headphones also have a lightweight design that is comfortable to wear for hours, and they feature an easy-to-use combination of touch controls and physical buttons that you can access without looking. These collar-style Bluetooth earbuds (which have a flexible band connecting them) cancel an impressive amount of noise and have enough battery life to last through a long flight and beyond. The noise cancellation is effective, the sound quality is pretty decent (though a bit bass heavy), and the lightweight chassis and soft foam earcups are comfortable.

Although the Life Q20 doesn’t come with EQ manipulation, adjustable ANC, touch controls, or always-listening voice activation, this pair does deliver on the ANC-headphone essentials, and it offers a shocking amount of quality for well under $100.

This pair is the most effective at reducing airplane noise, the buds are small and fit securely and comfortably in your ears, and the sound quality is quite good. However, the average battery life of 5 hours (longer if you turn ANC off) is a lot less than that of our other picks, and you can’t use these earbuds in wired mode, so you need a Bluetooth transmitter to use this pair with in-flight entertainment systems.

The best noise-cancelling headphones of 2021: our top ANC headphones for every budget

The best noise-cancelling headphones can seriously improve your listening experience – whether you’re immersing yourself in your favorite music or tuning out the world to focus on a podcast. Whatever price, style, or extra features you’re looking for, we’ve selected the very best noise-cancelling headphones you can buy right now, based on value for money, design, and sound quality. While they don’t look significantly different from their predecessors, the Sony WH-1000XM3, a number of new features including multipoint pairing, DSEE Extreme upscaling, conversational awareness and auto-play/pause using a built-in sensor all help the WH-1000XM4 claim the title of best headphones in 2021. Traditionally, noise-cancelling headphones have been designed to block out the environmental sounds around you, so that you can hear your music more clearly (or catch some shut-eye on a noisy flight).

If you’re trying to decide between buying the Sony WH-1000XM4s and the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, we’d recommend going for the former because of that lower price and better battery life. It’s Bose’s second attempt at a set of true wireless headphones, and the QuietComfort Earbuds are leaps and bounds better than the older SoundSport Free.

Sony WF-1000XM4 Wireless Earbuds The best all round true wireless earbuds you can buy today Specifications Acoustic design: Closed Weight: 7.3g Frequency response: 20-40,000Hz Drivers: 6mm Battery life : 8 hours (earbuds) 16 hours (charging case) TODAY’S BEST DEALS View at Crutchfield Prime View at Amazon View at Walmart Reasons to buy + Rapid, full-bodied and eloquent sound + Truly useful features + Impressive call quality Reasons to avoid – Unremarkable battery life – No aptX support Sony is largely responsible for the rude health of the active noise-cancelling true wireless earbuds market, and with the WF-1000XM4, the company has combined performance, ergonomics, and build quality more effectively than ever before. Compared to their predecessors, the Sony WF-1000XM3, the new wireless earbuds offer enough quality-of-life features to make them worth upgrading to, even if they are more expensive. While other true wireless earbuds surpass the Sony WF-1000XM4 in particular areas – noise cancellation, for example – no other model comes close to offering such excellent quality across the board. The Shure AONIC 50 sports a wireless, active noise-cancelling over-ear design, selling at a premium price to compete with the likes of the Sony WH-1000XM4 and Bose NC 700 Headphones. This means you still get the class-leading noise cancellation Bose is known for, good sound quality and incredible comfort, plus a convenient assistant to answer any inquiries you might have while traveling.

Offering class-leading battery life, terrific style and plenty of personalization when it comes to sound profiles, the Elite 85h is easy to recommend. The redesign means they’re far less likely to fall out, and the additional microphones provide strong noise cancellation, as well as a useful Transparency mode, which really does let the outside world in. The AirPods Pro 2 are rumored to be a new, cheaper variant of the company’s popular true wireless earbuds, and they could be released this year.

With sophisticated noise cancellation, brilliant sound quality, and a honed aesthetic, the PX7 could give any of the headphones on this list a run for their money.

Apple AirPods Max The perfect headphones for Apple devotees Specifications Acoustic design: Closed Weight: 350g Frequency response: N/A Drivers: 40mm dynamic Battery life: 20 hours TODAY’S BEST DEALS View at Crutchfield View at Walmart Prime View at Amazon Reasons to buy + Unbelievable audio performance + Fantastic user experience + Brilliant extra features for iOS + Great noise cancellation Reasons to avoid – Very expensive – No 3.5mm audio port – Limited features for Android – Ineffective carrying case The customizable noise cancellation on offer here is also good, but it doesn’t quite reach the class-leading standards set by the Sony WH-1000XM4 Wireless headphones.

Well, if built-in Tile tracking appeals to you, and you like the industrial design and premium materials of the Momentum 3 Wireless, that could be reason enough – and if you do opt for them over the Sony model, you won’t be missing out on any audio quality. Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 Impressive bass and great noise cancellation from Microsoft cans Specifications Acoustic design: Closed Weight: 290g Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz Drivers: 40mm free edge Battery life: 20 hours TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime View at Amazon View at Best Buy View at Walmart Reasons to buy + Warm, wide soundstage + Great controls Reasons to avoid – Sound could be more detailed – Slightly boring look

In spite of those improvements – which includes a longer battery life and a more comfortable design – the Surface Headphones 2 are considerably cheaper than their predecessors, making them the obvious choice if you’re trying to choose between the two.

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2 A great Sony WF-1000XM3 alternative Specifications Acoustic design: Closed Weight: 6g Frequency response: 5Hz to 21kHz Drivers: 7mm dynamic Battery life: 7 hours (earbuds) 28 hours (charging case) TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime View at Amazon View at Walmart View at Crutchfield Reasons to buy + Incredible sound + Sleek design + Support for Hi-Res Audio Reasons to avoid – Pricier than rivals Sennheiser has pretty much knocked it out of the park with these buds, offering great noise cancellation alongside smart looks and stunning sound. Urbanista Miami Budget noise-cancelling headphones with a bassy sound Specifications Acoustic design: Closed Weight: N/A Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz Drivers: 40mm moving coil Battery life: 40 hours TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime View at Amazon Prime View at Amazon View at Amazon Reasons to buy + Cool design + Extended bass response + Excellent battery life and connectivity Reasons to avoid – Noise cancellation isn’t the best – Audio could be more detailed

Urbanista has exceeded expectations with its first pair of noise-cancelling over-ear headphones – they’re an easy recommend for those on a budget, who don’t want to sacrifice style or sound performance. Noise cancellation itself isn’t the best on the market, and while the audio could be more detailed, an extended bass response makes the Urbanista Miami ideal for pop and RnB.

Battery life and connectivity are also decent for the price, making these a great alternative to pricier models such as the Sony WH-1000XM4 or the Apple AirPods Max. Earfun Air Pro A mostly brilliant and sonically balanced set of budget buds Specifications Acoustic design: Closed Weight: 5.3g Frequency response: N/A Drivers: 10mm Driver type: Composite dynamic Sensitivity: N/A Impedance: N/A Battery life (on-board): 9 hours Battery life (charging case): 23 hours Wireless range: 10m / 33ft NFC: No TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime View at Amazon View at Walmart Reasons to buy + Pleasing audio balance + Effective noise cancellation Reasons to avoid – No app for EQ adjustments – Case is a little bulky

Amid a sea of similarly priced efforts on Amazon, they stand out thanks to their superior design and excellent audio chops, and show a high level of competence in almost all other areas. As it stands, these wireless earbuds are an excellent choice for most, offering a blend of useful features and strong performance that should make them popular with commuters in particular. BONUS: Nura Nuraphone The strange in-ear, over-ear hybrid boasts decent ANC Specifications Acoustic design: Closed Weight: N/A Frequency response: N/A Drivers: Dynamic Battery life: 20 hours TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime View at Amazon View at BHPhoto View at Best Buy Reasons to buy + Rich, full sound + Excellent noise isolation Reasons to avoid – Limited controls on headphones – Form factor can be restricting While more traditional over-ear headphones do a better job offering useful features at a reasonable price, the Nuraphone will appeal to the more experimental audio crowd looking to be on the bleeding-edge of the next big thing. Noise-cancelling headphones use analogue and electronic methods to block out the environmental sound around you, allowing you to listen to your music in peace without distraction.

Do you like a warm, well-rounded sound, or do you prefer ultra high-fidelity that allows you to hear every single detail of your music?

Best noise-canceling headphones for 2021

They block out external noise like your neighbor’s lawn mower when you’re working from home and help your kids attend online classes with limited distractions. There are a lot of options out there — from over ear headphones to noise canceling earbuds — and I’m here to help you narrow down your choices.

Whether you want to use your noise-canceling headphones to listen to music or just block out unwanted noise, there are many superb models to choose from. David Carnoy/CNET No earbuds are perfect, of course, and not everybody will love the fit of the Sony WF-1000XM4 buds or be able to afford their high price ($280). But if you’re looking for great-sounding earbuds with great noise canceling, solid voice-calling capabilities and good battery life, these buds check all the boxes. The WH-1000XM4 model has improved in that area and also adds multipoint Bluetooth pairing so you can connect to two devices — such as your phone and PC — at the same time.

According to Bose, there’s a new electronics package that powers the new ANC system, which now better muffles “unwanted sounds in the midrange frequencies” (voices) that you’d “typically find on commuter trains, busy office spaces and cafes.” That said, you can’t adjust the level of noise canceling like you can with those models, which offer a more robust feature set, particularly the Sony. Sarah Tew/CNET The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, the long-awaited successor to Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II model, may not be a quantum leap forward, but these headphones offer slightly better sound and noise cancellation along with top-notch headset performance for voice calls. They’re a strong all-around audio performer with up to 20 hours of battery life and a more durable design than their predecessor (some find the QuietComfort 35 II headphones slightly more comfortable).

David Carnoy/CNET Bang & Olufsen’s earlier Beoplay E8 earbuds were good, but underwhelming for their high price. Needless to say, the premium design elements are here: The aluminum-shelled case opens and closes with precise smoothness, and the buds themselves have an aluminum accent on the outer surface where the touch controls live.

David Carnoy/CNET As far as sound, comfort level and build quality, you’d be hard-pressed to do better than Anker’s SoundCore Life Q30 for the money. Compared to the Q20 (see below), the Q30 does offer improved sound (it’s not a huge difference, but it definitely is a notch up) and a more premium design. In performance they clearly have a leg up on Apple’s best-selling AirPods Pro true wireless noise-canceling buds. However, the AirPods Pro’s smaller design, somewhat more comfortable fit and superior voice-calling capabilities make it hard to declare the Bose the straight-up champ. David Carnoy/CNET Yes, they’re expensive, but the AirPods Max deliver richer, more detailed sound than lower-priced competitors from Bose and Sony. Sarah Tew/CNET E D I T O R S ’ C H O I C E Even if they don’t sound quite as magical as you’d hope a $249 model would, the Apple AirPods Pro still manage to be a great pair of true-wireless earphones with noise cancellation.

That’s largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance and effective noise canceling — and now they’ve been updated with spatial audio, a new virtual-sound mode for watching movies and TV shows (only works with iPhones and iPads running iOS 14). If you want to push the treble or bass, you can tweak the EQ in the Bang & Olufsen app for iOS and Android and give the headphones a warmer or brighter profile.

As I said, it’s expensive, but the small improvements over earlier flagship Bang & Olufsen noise-canceling headphones help make the HX’s case as a worthy alternative to the AirPods Max.

David Carnoy/CNET After a long wait, Bowers & Wilkins has finally released a couple of sets of true wireless earbuds — the PI7 ($400) and PI5 ($250) — both of which are excellent and feature active noise canceling along with a transparency mode. The flagship PI7 has a different driver design and sounds slightly more detailed and refined with a little more bass energy. I also thought the Sony did better with voice calling (it has better noise reduction so people can hear you better in a noisier environments) and it has better battery life.

The PI7’s case does transform into a Bluetooth transceiver, so you can plug it into your laptop for Qualcomm aptX streaming or an in-flight entertainment system. They’re IPX54 splashproof and have 4 hours of battery life with noise canceling on (that’s a little disappointing), plus an extra 4 charges from the case. David Carnoy/CNET The Momentum True Wireless II remain Sennheiser’s flagship true-wireless earbuds. They look nearly identical to the standard CX buds but have a glossy black finish on the touch-sensitive exterior surface — cosmetically, they’re more akin to the older and slightly larger CX400BT.

The noise canceling isn’t quite as good as the Sony WF-1000XM4’s, but I thought it was effective and the headset’s performance was decent, though not stellar. David Carnoy/CNET Master & Dynamic’s earlier MW07 and MW07 Plus delivered top-notch sound for true wireless, but they were a little lacking in the features department and weren’t so great for making calls. The new-for-2021 MW08 offers some significant improvements, including the addition of solid noise canceling and call quality, that makes it one of the top models for 2021. Battery life has improved a bit (up to around 12 hours of battery life at 50% volume versus 10 hours for the MW07 Plus), and the earbuds are equipped with Bluetooth 5.2, active noise cancellation with three microphones on each earbud (noise reduction during calls isn’t up to the level of the AirPods Pro but overall call quality has improved). These truly wireless earbuds now support both the aptX and AAC audio codecs and have an extended range of more than 20 meters, according to Master & Dynamic.

Not only do these over-ear headphones sound quite decent for their regular list price of $60 (they often sell for $10 less), but they’re also comfortable to wear thanks to the secure earcups. These sound pretty impressive for their moderate price, with decent clarity and bass, and I recommend them and a few other sub-$100 models to folks looking for budget true wireless noise-canceling earbuds. David Carnoy/CNET Yamaha has dipped in and out of the headphone arena in the last several years and its new-for-2021 YH-E700A is an all-around solid noise-canceling entry that has a bit of a retro design with its large ear cups that give you that Princess Leia look when wearing them.

Battery life is excellent at 35 hours with noise canceling on and these support the aptX Adaptive audio streaming codec with compatible devices. They’re slightly on the warmer side, with deep, powerful bass and nicely detailed treble (it has some sparkle to it). While they’ve lost their hands-free Cortana voice control feature (a change no one will lament) and the sound quality hasn’t improved (it’s quite good but not stellar), the combination of some small design tweaks, better battery life, upgraded Bluetooth and the new lower price helps bump their rating up and make them more recommendable.

Just make sure you get a tight seal from one of the included ear tips, or else both the sound and noise canceling will be lackluster. While in noise cancellation and comfort level the Momentum 3 headphones don’t quite measure up to the Sony WH-1000XM4, I appreciated the nicely padded earcups covered with sheep leather and had no trouble rocking them for a 2-hour music listening session, to say nothing of the battery life. Hit the button a second time to enter an audio transparency mode that allows you to hear the outside world, not just the music you’re listening to.

The noise canceling is good but not quite up to the level of top noise-canceling models from Bose and Sony that cost a little less. The 450BT noise-canceling headphones list for $200, but usually cost around $150 although they have dipped to as low as $100 in flash sales (they’re a very good value at that price).

I thought the 450BT model also worked quite well as a headset making calls, with the sidetone feature that allows you to hear your voice inside the headphones. The company’s new PX7, released in the fall of 2019, improves on both fronts, with excellent sound, four noise cancellation settings (Automatic, Low, High and Off) and well-padded earcups in a sturdy, eye-catching design. The PX7 headphones support AAC and aptX, use Bluetooth 5.0, charge via USB-C and have up to 30 hours of battery life at moderate volume levels.

The best noise-cancelling headphones in 2021 — tested and rated

The best noise-cancelling headphones aren’t just great for everyday music playback — by engaging active noise cancellation (ANC) tech, they can make ambient sounds much quieter and less distracting. We’re maintaining a separate list of the best noise-cancelling earbuds as well, but our picks below represent the greatest ANC headphones across any form factor. Sony WH-1000XM4 The best noise-cancelling headphones overall Specifications Size and weight: 10 x 3 x 7.3 inches, 9 ounces Battery life (rated): 30 hours (ANC on), 38 hours (ANC off) Bluetooth range: 40 feet (12 meters) Special features: Active noise cancellation, customizable EQ, multipoint technology TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime Low Stock View at Amazon View at Crutchfield View at Walmart Reasons to buy + Unbeatable sound + Excellent noise cancellation + Lots of customization features via Sony Connect Headphones app + Many connectivity options (Bluetooth, NFC, Multipoint Technology) Reasons to avoid – Call quality needs work

Everything that made the WH-1000XM3 a critical darling remains intact, including the phenomenal soundstage and touch controls that allow for seamless playback and call management.

Having the ability to personalize audio via the Sony Headphones Connect app is awesome, letting you create your own sound profiles or pick from multiple fine-tuned presets that lend themselves well to almost every music genre. You’re also getting top-tier ANC that gives competitors a run for their money and lets you enjoy longer playtimes than any Bose model with the feature enabled.

Bose 700 The best noise-cancelling headphones on ANC performance Specifications Size and weight: 8 x 6.5 x 2 inches, 9 ounces Battery life (rated): 20 hours (ANC on) Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters) Special features: Adjustable active noise cancellation, customizable EQ, charging case (optional) TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime View at Amazon View at Crutchfield View at Walmart 21 Amazon customer reviews ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Reasons to buy + Adjustable active noise cancelation + Svelte, attractive design + Precise, balanced audio + Fantastic noise cancelling on calls Reasons to avoid – Expensive Bose QuietComfort Earbuds The best noise-cancelling wireless earbuds Specifications Size and weight: 1.5 x 1 x 1.1 inches, 0.3 ounces (per bud) Battery life (rated): 6 hours, 18 hours (with charging case) Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) Special features: Adjustable ANC, Bluetooth 5.1, Self Voice mode for enhancing calling TODAY’S BEST DEALS Prime View at Amazon View at Crutchfield View at Walmart Reasons to buy + Best-in-class ANC + Dynamic sound + Excellent call quality + Bluetooth 5.1 Reasons to avoid – Disappointing battery life Think of these earbuds as the wireless in-ear variant of the Bose 700, offering much of the same functionality to deliver unbeatable ANC performance, and that is with half the mics. They come with 10 levels of ANC that can be adjusted in the Bose Connect app, which also blends with an ambient listening mode to allow full awareness of what’s happening around you. Bose QuietComfort 45 Best Bose headphones for ANC playtime Specifications Size and weight: 7.25 x 6 x 3 inches, 8.5 ounces Battery Life (Rated): 24 hours (ANC on) Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) Special features: Two-level active noise cancellation, pairable with other Bose products, volume-optimized Active EQ TODAY’S BEST DEALS View at Amazon View at Walmart View at Sweetwater Sound Reasons to buy + Elite active noise cancellation + Refined sound signature + Increased battery life + Fantastic comfort and connectivity Reasons to avoid – Can’t turn off ANC – Lacks several features found on previous Bose headphones The latest entry in the QC over-ear series is the best yet, welcoming several improvements, including better active noise cancellation, sound, and battery life.

The combination of proprietary TriPort acoustic architecture and a volume-optimized Active EQ gives these headphones a refined, well-balanced sound signature to enjoy most music genres. Not being able to turn off ANC means the battery will drain more quickly, plus the absence of some features found on the 700 and QC35 II might have you hesitant about choosing this model over the others.

Apple AirPods Max The best noise-cancelling headphones for iOS Specifications Size and weight: 7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 inches, 13.6 ounces Battery life (rated): 20 hours (ANC on) Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) Special features: ANC, spatial audio, audio sharing, Siri TODAY’S BEST DEALS View at Crutchfield View at Walmart Prime View at Amazon Reasons to buy + Luxury design + Excellent noise cancellation + Spatial audio sounds great Reasons to avoid – Expensive – No aux jack

Elsewhere, the AirPods Max sound great, especially with the surround-sound spatial audio feature switched on, and there design standards and build quality are so high you can almost forget that these headphones cost $549. Sony WF-1000XM4 The best Sony wireless noise-cancelling earbuds Specifications Size and weight: 1 x 0.8 x 0.8 inches, 0.2 ounces (per bud) Battery Life (Rated): 8 hours (ANC on), 12 hours (ANC off), 24 hours (with charging case), 35 hours (with charging case and ANC off) Bluetooth range: 30 feet (9 meters) Special features: Active noise cancellation, transparency mode, customizable EQ TODAY’S BEST DEALS View at Crutchfield Prime View at Amazon View at Walmart Reasons to buy + Substantial yet balanced sound + Excellent ANC effectiveness + Substantial battery life + Lots of features via Sony Connect Headphones app Reasons to avoid – Loose fit – Expensive Release an even more advanced version that trumps the original and other category leaders in several areas, including ANC, battery life, design, sound, and touch controls.

Sony tweaked its noise cancellation to better deal with louder frequencies and rumblings, while also completely silencing common disturbances in home and office environments. Audio remains unbeatable with the WF-1000XM4 given a more dynamic, well-defined sound profile ideal for all music genres, video content, and other media (e.g., podcasts, eBooks).

The 11mm drivers produce well-balanced audio with substantial frequency range to enjoy a nice blend of lows, mids, and highs.

Apple AirPods Pro The best in-ear AirPods for noise cancelling Specifications Size and weight: 2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9 inches, 8.8 ounces Battery life (rated): 4.5 hours (ANC on), 24 hours (with charging case) Bluetooth range: 30 feet (10 meters) Special features: Active noise cancellation, Siri support, spatial audio TODAY’S BEST DEALS View at Walmart View at Crutchfield Prime View at Amazon 6923 Walmart customer reviews ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ Reasons to buy + Active noise cancelling + Water-and sweat resistant + Excellent call quality + Multiple eartips with fit test Reasons to avoid – Battery life could be longer

The AirPods Pro land on our list of best noise-cancelling headphones because these ANC earbuds blocked noise quite well in our testing, whether we were commuting or walking around New York City. The latest iOS 14 update brings new features like automatic switching and spatial audio, which creates 3D-like sound for listeners, into the mix.

How’s this for an ANC headphones bargain: great sound, a modern and flexible design, ample features, a useful app, a full set of accessories and the best battery life in its class, all for $149? Despite operating on the H1 chip, these buds lack a few features found on current AirPods models, including Adaptive EQ and Enhanced Find My mode. ANC uses advanced circuitry and microphones to pick up noise signals and create inverse waves that cancel out these sonic disruptions, whereas PNC physically isolates high-pitched sounds through the headphone design and materials.

Over-ear headphones tend to give the best noise cancellation, though some of the more recent Bluetooth on-ear and in-ear models are proving to be just as effective.

We’ve judged the best noise-cancelling headphones on several factors: audio performance, battery life, Bluetooth range, call quality, comfort and fit, and the effectiveness of the noise cancellation. For sound quality, we listen to many sample tracks that span a number of genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, while evaluating volume, clarity and fullness.

The Best Noise-Cancelling Headphones for 2021

Headphones are great for blocking out the world and letting you enjoy your favorite music, podcast, or audiobook. Simply put, when an object blocks sound, like a thick earpad with memory foam sealing off the area around the ear, it is passively (without any battery power) reducing the ambient noise you hear. It uses microphones that actively sample the surrounding noise in a room, and then produce an inverse wave that essentially cancels out the sound. But these are consistent, relatively unchanging noises—it’s easy for the circuitry to reduce lower and middle frequency sounds that don’t change much. It doesn’t sound awful, but it serves to mask the high frequencies that the circuitry is less good at eliminating. ANC works far better on lows and mids than it does on highs, so getting some of the high-frequency noise reduced passively is essential. Here we should also note that some people feel pressure inside their ears when using powerful ANC, while others don’t notice a thing. It’s worth trying on multiple pairs of headphones in a store before you invest in an expensive product that can potentially cause you discomfort.

That said, the less-common on-ear ANC models can still eliminate plenty of surrounding noise, are often considered far more comfortable, and are usually more compact and easier to stow away. In-ear models also have perhaps the greatest advantage in terms of passive isolation—the eartips seal off your ear canal, so high frequencies are more or less eliminated before you turn the ANC on. Many noise-cancelling headphones work with free apps that can alter the ANC’s performance to better suit your environment. And most ANC models feature an ambient mode, which allows you to hear your surroundings and talk with someone nearby without removing the headphones.

If a model has been around for more than a year or two, you might find some deals, but it’s rare that a quality pair of headphones will sell for less than $200. The exception is in-ear models, which can have solid ANC at lower prices, like the $250 Apple AirPods Pro.

The 7 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones – Fall 2021: Reviews

When you cover the right ear cup, it triggers their Quick Attention feature, which also lets in ambient noise so that you can stay aware of your surroundings without having to pause your music. Their integrated microphone also has a disappointing recording quality, making your voice sound thin, muffled, and lacking detail.

Best noise cancelling headphones

Whether you’re always in crowded areas, working at your desk, or a frequent commuter: noise cancelling can be a much-needed feature. Editor’s note: this list of the best noise cancelling headphones was updated on November 9, 2021, to add updated frequency response charts, remove discontinued products, and add the AUKEY EP-N12 and Under Armour Project Rock Over-Ear Training Headphones by JBL to Notable mentions.

At first glance, it seems that the company has opted for the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach, sporting virtually the same design as the Sony WH-1000XM3. However, Sony pushed the boundaries with its latest product, with improvements to its sound quality and active noise cancellation.

Most listeners will enjoy a consumer-friendly sound, but to those who want a little less head-rattling bass: use the Sony Headphones Connect app to boost mids and drop highs a bit. The newer headset attenuates low-frequency noises much better than its predecessor, cancelling out sounds such as the hum of an air conditioner or the rumble of a jet engine—perfect for travelers and commuters.

If you’re looking to go all-in for a pair of active noise cancelling headphones, and are willing to pay a pretty penny for the best experience, look no further than the Sony WH-1000XM4. It offers one-touch access to your smart assistant of choice and has a slew of gesture controls that can be difficult to remember.

Bose has made a name for itself in the consumer space by making more premium headsets for frequent flyers and those with deeper pockets. The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are the new flagship product for the Massachusetts-based company, and it has a lot of really good features. Battery life is somewhat disappointing as far as ANC headphones go—but that’s still miles ahead of true wireless earphones. you shouldn’t have to worry much about battery longevity with the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, as they sport much larger cells than true wireless earphones do.

Some people have reported that updating the firmware on their Bose products led to poor ANC performance, but that hasn’t been our experience. However, the AirPods Max may not be the right thing to buy owing to their high cost and relatively poor flexibility. Unless you own an iPhone and have a large budget, there are too many competing models out there that offer a similar level of ANC performance and better sound quality. With the feature enabled, you can reliably see a reduction between 20-30dB of droning outside noise, even in the range where most music sounds live. We don’t recommend the Bose QuietComfort 45 as one of the best noise cancelling headphones because it has a heavily boosted treble response that, as of October 2021, you can’t equalize away. Active noise cancelers attempt to increase the quality of your music by using destructive interference to prevent auditory masking. In simpler terms, outside noise (a “masker”) can drown out notes that are similar in frequency, making them completely inaudible. By using Active noise cancellation tech (ANC), you can simultaneously make your music sound better in noisy environments, but you can also reduce how much pressure your inner ear is subjected to, staving off hearing loss. Unless you have a flagship phone like an iPhone, Galaxy, or V20, chances are good that you’ll be stuck on an older, crappier codec.

They conform perfectly to your ear canal every time, which not only means super-good isolation with whatever earbuds you want but also they’re as comfortable as it gets with that type of audio device. However, we give everyone their fair shot because we’re not all-knowing gods of consumer audio or anything, and there are always some surprises out there; yes, even for this best noise cancelling headphones list. using our Bruel & Kjaer 5128 test head, we can offer much more accurate measurements of what a human would experience than most other outlets would.

Just keep that in mind when you peruse our charts: a higher pink line (isolation) is always better than an equally-high dashed blue one (ANC). From there, we went down the list of most important factors and averaged the ranks based on a system of weighting that rewarded categories in order of performance. We don’t use ads or sponsored content on the website at a time when doing so is the norm, and SoundGuys’ survival depends solely on readers enjoying their purchases. We pride ourselves on transparently outlining objective facts and measurements, while accounting for the subjective experience to contextualize an audio product’s performance.

Best Noise-Canceling Headphones of 2021

Consumer Reports doesn’t test battery life in headphones, but Sennheiser says this model will run for up to 20 hours with Bluetooth and noise canceling turned on.

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