With regards to noise-canceling headphones that block out background noise and ambient sound, Bose has been the audio gold commonplace for years. However different headphone makers have steadily chipped away at Bose’s lead, and now it is a aggressive class with a large number of compelling noise-canceling choices at numerous costs. Whether or not you wish to use your noise-canceling headphones to hearken to music or simply block out undesirable noise, there are lots of excellent fashions to select from — with much more on the best way. 

Beneath, I’ve rounded up all the very best noise-canceling headphones obtainable to buy, all of which I’ve absolutely reviewed or used hands-on over a time period. I will be updating this checklist repeatedly as extra audio choices are launched.


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Sony WH-1000XM4: The best noise-canceling headphone gets…



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Sony’s earlier WH-1000XM3 model was great. But if it had a weakness, that was its voice-calling capabilities, particularly in noisier environments. The new WH-1000XM4 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. That means that if a call comes in while you’re using the headphones with your computer the audio will switch to your phone when you answer the call.

The Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 probably still have a slight edge for voice calls, but the 1000XM4 headphones are arguably a tad more comfortable and also have some other slight improvements to noise cancellation and sound that make this model a great all-around choice.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM4 review.

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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).

At launch, they cost $400, but they’ve recently come down in price, with the white version costing $299 while the black and silver versions are priced at $339. That gives them pricing parity with the new Sony WH-1000XM4 headphones, their closest competitor.

Read our Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 review.

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Sony’s WH-1000XM3 — the third generation of Sony’s excellent wireless noise-canceling headphones — earned an Editors’ Choice award from CNET and was arguably the top noise-canceling headphone model until the WH-1000XM4 came along. Its successor is 15%-20% better, with slightly improved sound performance and noise cancellation, plus multipoint Bluetooth pairing (you can simultaneously pair two devices, such as a PC and smartphone, with the headphones for easy switching) and upgraded microphones for voice calling. But the WH-1000XM3 headphones are still great and their price has dropped, making them a better value.

Read our Sony WH-1000XM3 review.

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Even if the music or audio doesn’t sound as magical as you’d hope for from a $249 pair of earbuds, the AirPods Pro still manage to be a good pair of truly wireless earbuds. That’s largely due to their winning design and fit, improved bass performance (which helps the audio quality), effective noise cancellation and excellent call quality. Plus, they’re a lot less noticeable than over-ear headphones. Yeah, these in-ear buds are expensive to buy at $249, but the good news is you’ll use them so much you’ll probably wear the battery down — it does degrade over time and isn’t replaceable — and have to buy a new pair of earbuds in 18 to 24 months if you don’t lose them first.

Read our Apple AirPods Pro review.

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The Mpow X3 wireless earbuds sound shockingly good for their low price of $50, with good clarity and powerful bass, and they even have active noise cancellation that’s fairly effective.

Mpow seems to be regularly tweaking its earphones, and the X3 earbuds were briefly taken off Amazon, before returning with an update. “The new version upgraded the volume control and optimized its active noise-canceling function and call effect,” the company told me. “It also added the supersoft ear caps, which [are] extra snug to put on for a very long time.”

They did match me comfortably and securely and I received a good seal from one of many units of XL ear ideas. They’re absolutely waterproof (IPX7) and rise up to 7 hours of battery life at average quantity ranges with USB-C charging. (The charging case seems like a fats model of the usual AirPods case.) Name high quality is nice — they’ve a sidetone function that permits you to hear your voice within the earbuds — however I’ve used different earbuds with higher noise discount throughout calls. I seen a contact of audio lag after I streamed a YouTube video however no issues when streaming iTunes films.

The contact controls take some getting used to — they’re slightly wonky — and it did not assist that the directions within the field appeared to be for the previous X3 mannequin. (I discovered the present directions on-line, which helped me determine issues out.) Apart from a couple of minor downsides, Mpow’s X3 earbuds are an important worth. 

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Urbanista could also be based mostly in Sweden, however it would not have an issue naming its earbuds after different European cities. Its London true-wireless earbuds ($150) look loads like Apple’s AirPods Professional and have noise canceling with a transparency mode, in addition to a sensor that detects once you take the earbuds out of your ears and pauses your music. Nonetheless, they sound higher than the AirPods Professional, with clear, well-balanced sound and punchy, well-defined bass and good element. On prime of that, they’re superb for making calls, that includes good noise discount so folks hear you nicely even when there’s ambient noise within the background.

Their solely draw back is that their contact controls are considerably restricted and never fairly as simple to make use of as these of the AirPods Professional. In addition they sound distinctly totally different when you may have them in ambient (transparency) mode and noise-canceling mode. Battery life is rated at 5 hours — the identical because the AirPods Professional — however that is not so good as a few of the newest true wi-fi earbuds with noise cancellation. The compact charging case, which costs by way of USB-C, offers you an extra 4 costs. 

In contrast to the AirPods Professional, the Urbanista London earbuds can be found in not only one coloration however 4.

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Anker’s Soundcore Life Q20 headphones are arguably the very best worth within the class of noise-canceling headphones. Not solely do these over-ear headphones sound fairly respectable for his or her common checklist worth of $60 (they usually promote for $10 much less), however they’re additionally snug to put on because of the safe earcups.

No, they do not sound pretty much as good as premium Bluetooth headphones just like the Sony WH-1000XM3 headphones, however the audio high quality is fairly good, which is all you may ask of noise-canceling headphones at this worth. The sound high quality is pretty nicely balanced with an inexpensive quantity of readability and plump bass that is not bloated or muddy (there is a bass enhance or BassUp mode if you would like an additional serving to of bass along with your music). Additionally, the noise cancellation is acceptably efficient they usually’re strong as a headset for making calls. Battery life is nice at 40 hours. A easy carrying pouch is included.

Learn extra.

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Whereas they are not waterproof, Sony’s new WF-1000XM3 true wi-fi headphones function wonderful sound, are good for listening to music or any audio with and have one thing you will not discover in Apple’s AirPods: lively noise cancellation. At $230, these noise-canceling earbuds should not low-cost to purchase, however with a battery life lasting as much as 24 hours and high-res audio, they’re among the many finest new true wi-fi earbuds of 2020.

Learn our Sony WF-1000XM3 evaluate.

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Microsoft’s over-ear noise-canceling Floor Headphones 2 had been launched earlier in 2020, and the most important change from their predecessor is the value: The unique Floor Headphones launched at $350, whereas the Headphones 2 price $250. Like the unique, there’s loads to love about this second-gen mannequin. Whereas they’ve misplaced their hands-free Cortana voice management function (a change nobody will lament) and the sound high quality hasn’t improved (it is fairly good however not stellar), the mix of some small design tweaks, higher battery life, upgraded Bluetooth and the brand new cheaper price helps bump their score up and make them extra recommendable. 

Their multipoint Bluetooth pairing functionality lets you pair them with two gadgets on the similar time (resembling a pc and cellphone) and rapidly swap the audio from every gadget to the headphones. That is an interesting function from a work-from-home standpoint, and these additionally work nicely for making voice calls.

Learn our Microsoft Floor Headphones 2 evaluate.

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Sony’s WF-1000XM3 earbuds are thought of among the many finest true wi-fi noise-canceling earbuds. However to the dismay of some folks, this mannequin lacked any type of water resistance, making them unsuitable for sports activities. It took some time, however now we lastly have a brand new true wi-fi noise-canceling sports activities mannequin from Sony: the WF-SP800N.

This is not fairly the WF-1000XM3 earbuds with IP55 water resistance. They’re lacking Sony’s QN1e processor, however there’s nonetheless loads to love about them, together with superb sound, strong noise cancellation and good name high quality. It is positively an improve over the WF-SP700N, which got here out in 2018, and the “arcs” (sports activities fins) lock the buds in your ears nicely. Simply ensure you get a good seal from one of many included ear ideas or else each the sound and the noise canceling shall be lackluster.

Learn our Sony WF-SP800N evaluate.

Sarah Tew/CNET

With regards to premium noise-canceling headphones, Bose and Sony have been the dominant gamers over the previous couple of years. However now Sennheiser has turned up with its new Momentum three Wi-fi headphones they usually deserve some consideration, significantly from followers of the Momentum line. The Momentum three headphones are in the stores now for $400 (£369) — the identical worth as Bose’s Noise Cancelling Headphones 700.

Not solely does this mannequin function improved noise-canceling options and wonderful sound and audio, however it additionally performs nicely as a headset for making calls. Whereas in noise cancellation and luxury degree the Momentum three headphones do not fairly measure as much as the Sony WH-1000XM3, I appreciated the properly padded earcups lined with sheep leather-based and had no bother rocking them for a 2-hour music listening session, to say nothing of the battery life.

Learn our Sennheiser Momentum three first take.

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When Jabra first introduced its new Elite 85h ($300, £280 or about AU$435 transformed) over-ear headphones, it touted how they’d be geared up with always-on (hands-free) voice assistant management utilizing Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant. Alas, that function did not make it into the ultimate product — apparently it affected battery life an excessive amount of, and battery life is vital — however the Elite 85h noise-canceling headphones are however wonderful, making music and audio sound good. They’re snug to put on and likewise work nicely (essential for over-ear headphones) as a headset for making calls.

Learn our Jabra Elite 85h evaluate.

Amazon

Sennheiser up to date its well-regarded 4.50BTNC noise-canceling headphones for 2020. The brand new headphone mannequin known as the 450BT and it has some notable upgrades, together with higher battery life (as much as 30 hours with noise canceling on), USB-C charging, Bluetooth 5.Zero with AptX help for gadgets just like the Samsung Galaxy smartphones that help it and extra snug earpads. The 450BT noise-canceling headphones checklist for $200, however often dip to $125 or much less. 

The 450BT headphones haven’t got fairly the readability or bass definition of Sennheiser’s Momentum Wi-fi three headphones, however they price a lot much less and ship superb well-balanced sound that is simple to hearken to for lengthy intervals. I believed the 450BT mannequin additionally labored fairly nicely as a headset making calls, with the sidetone function that lets you hear your voice contained in the headphones.

The one potential draw back is that common headphones will not be probably the most snug for some folks. I’ve a smaller head, so that they labored nice for me, however they do clamp a bit and people with bigger heads might have a difficulty with that. Additionally, whereas the earpads have been improve,d they’re nonetheless lined in a fake leather-based materials that does not breathe fairly in addition to some earpad coverings. Nonetheless, if you cannot afford premium fashions within the $300 to $400 vary, this can be a extra reasonably priced possibility that is nicely constructed and delivers premium sound. The headphones fold up into an included mushy carrying case.

Amazon

I appreciated Bowers & Wilkins’ unique PX noise-canceling headphones, however they had been barely missing in each the earcup consolation and noise-canceling departments. The corporate’s new PX7, launched within the fall of 2019, improves on each fronts, with wonderful sound, 4 noise cancellation settings (Computerized, Low, Excessive and Off) and well-padded earcups in a sturdy, eye-catching design. There’s additionally an adjustable ambient transparency mode that lets you hear the skin world. 

The headphones are a tad heavy at 10.7 ounces (304 grams), however the construct high quality is top-notch — and it higher be contemplating these are slightly dear at $400. Bowers & Wilkins additionally makes a extra compact on-ear mannequin, the PX5 ($300), which can be fairly good. However these do sound slightly higher.

The sound is wealthy and detailed, with deep bass that is still well-defined even at excessive volumes. These are fairly dynamic headphones, with a contact of additional vitality within the mid-highs. They are not laid-back like the sooner PX5 Wi-fi and their most direct competitor might be the Sennheiser Momentum three mannequin listed above. That Sennheiser is arguably superior for making calls, however this B&W in all probability wins on design. 

The PX7 headphones help AAC and aptX, use Bluetooth 5.0, cost by way of USB-C and have as much as 30 hours of battery life at average quantity ranges. The noise canceling is not fairly on the degree of the Bose or Sony on this roundup, however it’s not far off — as I mentioned, it is improved from the unique PX mannequin’s noise cancellation.

Learn extra.

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The Solo Professional headphones are the primary Beats on-ear mannequin to function lively noise cancellation and the primary full-size Beats headphones to cost by way of Lightning. They use the corporate’s Pure Adaptive Noise Canceling (Pure ANC), “derived from the over-ear Studio3 Wi-fi, with up to date tuning to accommodate the on-ear type issue,” Beats says. With the faucet of a button, you may flip off that noise cancellation to save lots of battery life. Hit the button a second time to enter an audio transparency mode that lets you hear the skin world, not simply the music you are listening to.

Out there in a number of coloration choices, these noise-canceling headphones are geared up with six microphones, two of that are beamforming mics which might be designed to dwelling in in your voice when making calls or speaking to your voice assistant (Apple’s H1 chip is on board for always-on Siri). The sound is clean and well-balanced with punchy bass that does not make music sound boomy. Fairly snug for an on-ear mannequin, the extra compact design travels higher than some full-size fashions on this checklist. Whereas they’re overpriced at $300, we’re seeing reductions that convey its worth nearer to $200, which is the place it must get to.

Learn our Beats Solo Professional first take.

Amazon

Bang & Olufsen’s Beoplay H9 headphones do not get talked about a lot within the dialogue of prime noise-canceling headphones as a result of at $500, they’re actually dear. The newest third-generation model has been upgraded in a couple of vital ways in which make them higher than the sooner H9i mannequin. Battery life has been improved to 25 hours, there’s now a devoted button on your voice assistant, the padding on the ear cushions and headband is cushier and the contact controls have been tweaked. The audio sound remains to be good.

Learn extra.

Sarah Tew/CNET

When Bose launched its new flagship Noise Cancelling 700 Headphones it did not drop the QuietComfort 35 II from its headphone lineup, and these stay a prime noise-canceling mannequin. Whereas I feel the 700 performs higher total, there are individuals who desire the QuietComfort 35 II. These headphones incessantly go on sale for lower than the retail worth, so positively search for them at a reduction if you wish to purchase them.

Learn our Bose QuietComfort 35 II evaluate.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Whereas the noise cancellation and luxury ranges aren’t fairly on par with competing fashions from Bose and Sony, JBL’s Dwell 650BTNC headphones measure up nicely when it comes to sound. These over-ear headphones are price contemplating should you do not wish to spend $300 or extra on noise-canceling headphones. We just like the sound of that!

Learn our JBL Dwell 650BTNC evaluate.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Lots of people do not consider the Beats Studio3 Wi-fi as noise-canceling headphones, however they do function lively noise cancellation and spectacular sound. They’re slightly bit underrated, with good battery life, high quality sound and cozy earpads, plus now that they have been out for some time they promote for lower than the checklist worth, and typically considerably much less.

Learn our Beats Studio3 Wi-fi evaluate.

Reality be advised, these are the in-ear headphones I often take with me on airplane journeys. The noise-canceling earbuds take up little or no room in a bag, do not want a battery (so no worrying about battery life) and are good for watching in-flight films, whether or not on the airline’s in-flight leisure system or your personal gadget. They provide surprisingly good noise cancellation; simply do not forget your headphone adapter dongle if in case you have a cellphone or pill that is lacking the headphone jack. Notice that these earbuds have been out for some time. Because the QuietComfort 20 earbuds are wired moderately than wi-fi, it is unclear whether or not Bose will replace them, however search for them on sale.

Learn our Bose QuietComfort 20 evaluate.

Extra headphone suggestions 

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