Noise canceling headphones might not seem like a necessity for a lot of you out there, but if you find yourself using your headphones outdoors or at your workplace you’ll definitely understand the appeal of a good pair of noise canceling headphones once you try them. These headphones are capable of drowning out background noise, hence the name, allowing you to enjoy your music (or just silence) without any interference.
The technology is especially great for professionals who wish to focus on their work and not get distracted by all the things happening around them, and a good pair of headphones with active noise cancellation can really come in handy while traveling via air, as they can completely drown out the surrounding noise, allowing you to read or sleep in peace. So, without much further ado, let’s take a look at some of the best noise canceling headphones that you can buy right now:
Best Noise Canceling Headphones (Updated August 2020)
- Sony WH-1000XM4
- Bose Noise Cancelling Headphone 700
- Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
- Sennheiser Momentum 3
- Anker Soundcore Life Q20
- AKG N700NC
- Bose Quiet Comfort 25
- Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT QuietPoint
- JBL TUNE 750BTNC
- Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2
What is Noise Cancellation?
Noise Cancellation is a new technique in sound technology that reduces the ambient sound around your surrounding. It blocks out all kinds of noise including high-pitch and low-pitch sound using microphones. Basically, the microphone picks up the unwanted noise and then the headset generates an inverted sound wave to cancel out the unwanted noise. This way, noise around you will be actively neutralized before it reaches your ear.
How to Choose the Best Noise Cancelling Headphones?
Before choosing a noise canceling headphone, you must check if the brand has done substantial work in sound technology as it directly affects your ANC experience. For example, Sony and Bose are the industry leaders so their techniques to cancel out ambient noise is far better than other companies.
Apart from that, battery life is a key factor and an ANC headphone should at least have 15 hours of battery life. The more the better. Next, you should definitely check out how comfortable the headset is for long sessions. In addition, if the headphone allows you to access voice assistant, change tracks, and other cool features then that is an added bonus.
Top ANC Headphones in 2020
1. Sony WH-1000XM4
At the top of our list is the new Sony WH-1000XM4, which is the best noise canceling headphone overall as it offers good noise cancellation capabilities, quality audio output, amazing battery life, a sleek design, along with some rather functional add-ons.
The headphones feature large 40mm drivers that sound phenomenal, they’re rated for up to 30 hours of continuous playback, and they’ve got some really comfortable ear cups that ensure that you won’t feel any fatigue if you wear the headphones for long stretches of time.
The active noise cancellation (ANC) of the Sony-WH1000XM4 might not be the best out there, but Sony makes up for it by including a bunch of additional features that add a significant amount of value to the product.
I especially like the gesture that allows you to pause the music briefly by covering an earcup and the touch-sensitive volume/playback controls on the earcups. All-in-all, the Sony-WH1000XM4 is the best noise canceling headphone you can buy right now, but they’re a bit on the expensive side.
- Best ANC experience
- Noise cancellation is excellent
- 30-hour battery life
- Touch Sensor controls
- Speak to chat
- Wearing detection
Buy Sony WH-1000XM4: $348
2. Bose Noise Cancelling Headphone 700
The Bose 700 takes the second spot on this list as it falls slightly behind the Sony WH-1000XM4 in the audio quality department which, I believe, should be the primary criteria in judging any headphones, even noise cancellation headphones.
The headphones feature a compact and lightweight design with excellent earcups, making them one of the most comfortable noise canceling headphones out there, and they’re rated for up to 20 hours of continuous playback.
The headphones offer the best noise cancellation out there, even better than the Sony-WH1000XM4, which is probably the only reason why anyone would be prompted to go for this pair instead.
Functionally, the Bose 700 don’t offer as many features as the Sony-WH1000XM4 either, packing in just an additional dedicated voice assistant button for Alexa, along with the volume and playback controls, and not much else. The Bose 700 is a great buy for anyone who wants to experience the best noise cancellation and doesn’t care too much about the other factors.
- Second only to Sony in ANC
- Rich sound
- Access Voice Assistant
- 20-hour battery life
- Comfortable earcups
Buy Bose 700: $339
3. Microsoft Surface Headphones 2
Microsoft’s new Surface Headphones 2 are also a great option for buyers looking for a solid pair of noise canceling headphones, as they offer a premium design, great wireless performance, and excellent noise canceling capabilities.
On the downside, however, the headphones are rated for just up to 20 hours of continuous playback and they aren’t as comfortable as some of the headphones on the list.
Additionally, the headphones don’t come with support for AAC or LDAC, which means that the sound output isn’t as great and you might even encounter some issues while listening to music over a wireless connection. The control dials on the headphone are a nice touch and they make interacting with the headphone feel a bit more seamless.
But the Microsoft Surface Headphones 2 are great only for casual users who want a good noise canceling headphone, but at the price I’d probably go with the Sony WH-1000XM4 which sounds far better and offer some cool features.
- Very comfortable
- Hands-free assistance
- Skip tracks, answer calls
- 13 levels of ANC
- 20-hour battery life
- Supports AptX codec
- No AAC or LDAC support
Buy Microsoft Surface Headphones 2: $249.99
4. Sennheiser Momentum 3
If comfort and long-time usability are some things that you prioritize over other factors, then you should consider getting the Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless – a great pair from the German manufacturer that is by far the most comfortable noise canceling headphones out there.
Not only do the headphones sound great, they’re rated for up to 15 hours of continuous playback and have some solid features that befit a headphone in this price range.
The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless offers decent noise canceling capabilities, a clean design, and some of the most comfortable earcups you’d find on any headphones (noise canceling or not) out there.
On top of that, the headphones also pack some additional features, with the earcup trackpad being one of my personal favorites. The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless is a great buy for any user who tends to use their headphones for long hours at a stretch.
- Comfortable earpads
- ANC is pretty good
- Smart controls
- Alexa integration
- Bluetooth 5.0
- Battery life could have been better
Buy Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless: $295.45
5. Anker Soundcore Life Q20
Users on a tight budget can consider the Anker Soundcore Life Q20, a decent pair of wireless noise canceling headphones that have a lightweight and sturdy design, decent audio quality for the price, good battery life, and a rather premium travel case. The headphones are rated for up to 40 hours of wireless playback at a stretch, which is amazing for the price.
You can even extend the battery life by up to 30 hours just by using the wired connection. The Anker Soundcore Life Q20 also features touch controls on the earcups, but they’re way too sensitive and might not appeal to some users. However, if you’re looking for a decent noise canceling headphone on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the Anker Soundcore Life Q20.
- Best ANC experience at affordable price
- Exceptional battery life
- Touch controls
- Sturdy design
- Supports wired connection
- ANC output might not impress everyone
Buy Anker Soundcore Life Q20: $59.99
6. AKG N700NC
After exceptional audio quality? Then the AKG N700NC are the headphones for you. When compared to other studio quality headphones, the AKG N700NC might not seem that great, but for a noise canceling wireless headphone, the audio quality doesn’t get any better than this.
However, rated for up to 20 hours of continuous playback, the AKG N700NC doesn’t offer the best battery life at the price and the headphones aren’t as comfortable as some of the others on the list.
When it comes to noise canceling capabilities, the headphones perform quite well and the noise canceling is quite effective. On top of that, the headphones also feature an ambient aware mode, that lets you safely listen to music while being aware of whatever is going on in the surroundings.
So, if you’re okay with the claimed 20 hour battery backup and the not-so-comfortable design, then the AKG N700NC is one of the best sounding noise canceling headphone you can get right now.
- Ambient aware mode
- 20-hour battery life
- Comfort fit ergonomics
- Foldable design
- Sturdy build quality
- Full control with AKG app
Buy AKG N700NC: $229
7. Bose Quiet Comfort 25
In case you’re one of the many people who still prefer wired headphones over wireless ones, then you should go for the Bose Quiet Comfort 25. Even though the headphones are a bit old, they pack great noise canceling capabilities and sound quite good over a wired connection. The lightweight design coupled with the comfortable earcups make them really comfortable to wear over a long period of time.
The Bose QC 25 is powered by a single AAA battery which is capable of powering the active noise cancellation (ANC) for up to 35 hours of use, which is great in itself, but you can easily carry a spare battery and extend the battery life considerably, making the headphones even better.
Since the QC 25 work over a wired connection, they’re also a bit cheaper, so you’ll even be able to save a couple of bucks if you go for these headphones over the wireless ones.
- Still the king for wired ANC experience
- Great noise cancellation
- Deep, powerful sound
- Music and Call support
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Gotten old
Buy Bose QuietComfort 25: $209
8. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT QuietPoint
If great design is what you prefer over everything else, then you should probably go with Audio-Technica ATH-ANC900BT QuietPoint. The headphones look stylish, have a very premium build quality and offer excellent sound. On top of that, the easily replaceable magnetic memory foam ear cups are a nice added touch.
Since the Audio-Technica QuietPoint is a bit more expensive than competing headphones, I would only recommend them to you if you’re hell bent on getting a pair of headphones that look cool. While the headphones aren’t bad by any means, they sure don’t justify the price with just the premium design and any of the other headphones on this list that offer better performance would be better choices.
- Premium design
- Comfortable wear
- 40mm driver
- 35-hour battery life
- Customize the sound with Audio-Technica app
- Quite expensive
Buy Audio-Technica QuietPoint: $299
9. JBL TUNE 750BTNC
Rounding off the list is the JBL TUNE 750BTNC, the company’s new top-of-the-line wireless noise canceling headphones that pack a mean punch. As with most JBL audio products, the Tune 750BTNC delivers punchy bass-heavy audio, with a companion app that allows you to further customize the sound profile as per your liking.
The headphones are rated for 15 hours of continuous playback, which isn’t exceptional, and their noise canceling capabilities aren’t as great as some of the other headphones on this list either. Even though I dig the design with the large comfortable earcups, I would only recommend the JBL TUNE 750BTNC to those who’re either JBL fans or like bass-y headphones more than flat sounding ones.
- Quite good for the price
- Bass-heavy audio
- Decent ANC
- Companion app for tuning sound
- Battery life is low
Buy JBL TUNE 750BTNC : $99.95
10. Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2
In case you have some wiggle room in your headphone budget, but don’t want to go with a super expensive pair, then you can consider getting the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 – a decent mid-range noise canceling headphone. The headphones sound good for a Bluetooth headphone, they’re quite comfortable to wear and have a great battery life.
The headphones are rated for up to 24 hours of continuous audio playback and they take about three hours to charge back up to full capacity. When it comes to noise canceling, the Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2 performs fairly well for a headphone in this price range and the tactile controls on the earcups are a nice addition.
- Average ANC output
- Quite comfortable
- 24-hour battery life
- Tactile controls
- Charging time is quite high
Buy Plantronics Backbeat Pro 2: $199
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Is It Worth Buying Noise Cancelling Headphones?
Absolutely. If you generally live or travel in a noisy environment then noise canceling headphones can completely change how you perceive sound. You won’t experience any kind of noise unless it’s significantly high-pitch sound.
Q. What are the Best Noise Cancelling Headphones in the Market?
I would blindly recommend the Sony WH-1000XM4, but if you want other options, you can check out Bose 700 and Anker Q20 if you are on a budget.
Q. Do Noise Cancelling Headphones Block All Sound?
No. If there is considerably high-pitch sound then even the best noise canceling headphones can’t sufficiently block the sound.
Q. Is Noise Cancelling Bad for Ears?
No. In fact, it can protect your ears if you generally live in a noisy environment. That said, keep in mind, some users notice a hissing sound while ANC is turned on. It can get irritating for some users.
Q. Is It Bad to Sleep with Noise Cancelling Headphones?
No. But then ANC headphones are not designed in a way that you can wear them while sleeping.
Get Yourself a Pair of Noise Canceling Headphones Today
A good pair of noise canceling headphones can really be a great purchase for several reasons and since they’re mostly high-end headphones, you’ll also notice an overall improvement in sound quality if you’re currently using just any other regular pair of headphones.
Granted, the sound quality might not be as great as with some studio quality headphones, but for an average consumer, noise canceling headphones can be a great combination of functionality and great sound quality.
So, that rounds up our list of the best noise canceling headphones you can buy in 2020. Have you tried any of these headphones before? Which one would you go for depending on your particular use case? Let us know in the comments section below.