Up first in our guide for the best in-ear noise cancelling headphones is the Bose QuietComfort 20. These wired earbuds are specifically designed to work with both Apple and Android devices and allow you to easily switch between music and calls.
Bose has designed these in-ear headphones with their proprietary StayHear+ tips to create a secure fit that will prevent the headphones from slipping out of your ear while using them. The headphones include a slim control module that will allow you to control your music and calls while on the go.
These headphones are durable and made to be transported wherever you go and while they are not wireless their compact design means they fit into most bag pockets with no trouble. If you are looking to tune out the world around you while enjoying the best sound earphones have to offer these earbuds are for you.
For Apple or Android Devices
Bose Active EQ and TriPort Technology
Bose Proprietary StayHear+ Ear Tips
Slim Sound Control Module
Can be ordered as compatible for either Apple or Android devices
Slim battery pack that is close to the point of plug in on your device, so you don’t have to worry about the battery ripping the earbuds out of your ears
Slim and lightweight design allows these earbuds to fit in a small travel case that fits in most all bag pockets
Long battery life means you won’t have to charge these as often when traveling for long periods of time
Quality build backed by Bose reputation
These are not wireless, and they do not have Bluetooth technology, so you’ll have to contend with cords dangling around you
Our next product is another set of wired earbuds this time from TaoTronics. The Active Noise Cancelling Headphones are made by Sunvalleytek and are the best noise cancelling earbuds under 100. These are a great option given the long battery life and the ability to use your earbuds for both entertainment and taking calls.
These headphones reduce environmental noise by up to 25dB while still allowing you to choose Monitoring Mode to clearly hear transportation announcements. Further, the built-in MEMS Noise Cancelling Microphone will allow you to make crisp phone calls without the worry of your caller hearing the noise around you.
The headphones are made from durable aluminum material and metal alloy to add durability while maintaining a sleek appearance. With a one hour and 15 minute charge time, you’ll get about 15 hours of undisturbed audio on a single charge.
Weighing just 0.8 ounces these headphones include a volume control module with phone answering buttons and a battery pack. TaoTronics also includes six earbuds and four ear hooks for you to customize your ear fit, one airline adapter, one travel pouch, a micro USB cable and a user guide
Active Noise Cancelling technology.
Monitoring Mode button
Built-in MEMS noise cancelling microphone
1 hour 15 minute charge time
About 15 hours of battery life
Reduces environmental noises by up to 25dB
Monitoring Mode button allows you to instantly hear airline and subway announcements without removing an earbud.
MEMS noise cancelling microphone allows you to take calls smoothly without callers hearing the noise around you.
Light weight design that still manages to have a long battery life
Battery pack is located closer to the earbuds making these earphones difficult to use while walking down the street without losing an earbud.
Bose is a world leader in excellent sound quality, so it really comes as no surprise that they would develop wireless noise cancelling earbuds. This newest series of wireless headphones combines the world of noise cancelling technology with the freedom of Bluetooth technology.
Are you always on the go? Does it seem like people are always trying to get a hold of you? These headphones offer the best of multiple worlds with the combination of noise cancelling earphones, noise-rejecting dual-microphone system for calls, and Bluetooth capability for wireless freedom.
For all of the technology Bose has combined you get up to 10 hours of audio time on the Lithium-ion battery. The abilities and freedom that Bose headphones offer come surprising lightweight allowing you to wear them all day.
Advanced Bose Noise Cancelling Technology
Noise-Rejecting Dual-Microphone System
10 Hour lithium-ion battery
Bluetooth and NFC pairing
The volume-optimized EQ allows you to balance audio performance and noise cancellation seamlessly
The noise-rejecting dual-microphone system allows you to effortlessly take calls without callers hearing wind and traffic noises around you
The lightweight neckband conforms easily to your neck to allow you all-day comfort.
Specially designed Bose Connect App lets you pair the headphones with multiple devices as well as personalize earphone settings.
These are a much pricier option making it a real investment for you.
The larger carrying case means these headphones fit in only a few bag pockets.
Bose only includes two earbud sizes to choose which best fits your ears.
Wotmic offers an incredibly affordable noise cancelling option if you are looking for a pair of earbuds that you’re worried about losing. These wired earbuds stand out from some of their competitors because they do not require charging in order to be noise cancelling.
At just 0.63 ounces these earphones function for both listening to your beats and taking phone calls. The built-in microphone allows for hands-free calling on the go while the controller allows you to perform multiple functions without a lot of bulk hanging from your ears.
Wotmic includes a cable clip to reduce the wires that can often get in your way while working out which is a common downfall of wired earbuds. These noise cancelling earbuds also come with extra ear hooks and earbuds to customize the fit for your ear size.
Ultra-lightweight of 0.63 ounces
6 earbuds and 4 ear hooks for customization
Incredibly affordable option for those who want noise cancelling earbuds without the investment of some brands.
Multiple earbuds and ear hooks allow you to customize your fit based on your ear size for the most comfortable and enjoyable user experience.
Ultra-lightweight design allows you to fit these earbuds in any pocket when you don’t want to use them.
No need to charge these ear buds so they are ready to use whenever you are needing them.
If you don’t use the right size earbuds you won’t achieve a good seal and they won’t cancel noise.
The built-in microphone does not cancel noise around you, so your callers can hear everything around you.
5. Huawei Active Noise cancelling In Ear Headphones
Chinese manufacturer Huawei offers another attractive noise cancelling headphone option with a convenient built-in microphone for taking calls. These particular headphones are compatible with almost all devices, but their best features work with the Huawei Honor 8 smartphone.
These headphones also come in a slick gold metal finish for those of you who are fashion conscious and want an earbud that stands out from the crowd. Additionally, the special sound chamber design with composite diaphragms and 99.995% oxygen-free copper cable reduce sound distortion to enhance audio quality.
These lightweight headphones weigh just 0.8 ounces and boast a 10-hour battery life on a lithium-polymer battery. These headphones can be charged through a traditional USB cable plugged into the battery, or if you own the Huawei Honor 8 you can charge them while they are plugged into the headphone jack of the phone.
Two dynamic drivers and 2 balanced armature drives for the speakers
High quality, oxygen free copper cable
Multiple charging methods
High-quality speaker design that reduces sound distortion so you get enhanced audio definition.
The aluminum gold finish gives you a sleek and modern appearance and feel.
Built-in microphone lets you switch between your beats and a phone call seamlessly.
If you’re looking for comfortable noise cancelling earbuds for sleeping these can fit your need easily.
While they can function with most any phone the features work best with the Huawei Honor 8, and this capacity renders some features totally inoperable on other phones.
The battery often does not last a full 10 hours.
The built-in microphone does not always cancel out environmental noises causing frustration for your callers.
Phiaton BT 100 NC Wireless headphones offer a noise cancelling option without cables to get in your way. With that said, these are not the best for physical activity, so if you’re looking for active noise cancelling earbuds then you’ll be sorely disappointed in Phiaton.
That being said, the BT 100 NC offers active noise cancelling that works very well for constant noises such as airplane engines. The AptX technology provides excellent sound quality with increased digital streaming efficiency. The AptX technology reduces 95% of ambient noise, and the headphones come with an extra cable that will allow you to wire into your phone and continue listening to music even when the battery runs out.
Phiaton has designed these headphones to be water resistant so they will withstand some sweat and light rain. Weighing in at 9.6 ounces these headphones are a heavier option that will bounce around more during cardio workouts.
The BT 100 NC will vibrate when you are receiving a phone call or if you step outside the Bluetooth range from your phone. This combined with the Everplay-X Technology that allows you to continue listing to the headphones even when the battery runs out means you get noise cancelling earphones that can keep up with you on the go.
Call Vibration Notification
Built In microphone for answering calls
Bluetooth Wireless Technology
Bluetooth 4.0 that allows you to take your music on the go without wires getting in your way.
Extended battery life that lets you cancel out noises on your long trips.
Water Resistant so you don’t have to take them off when you get out of the car in the rain.
Vibration notification lets you know you’re getting a phone call.
Everplay X Technology allows you to continue using your headphones even when the battery runs out.
These headphones do not come with a protective carrying case so you will have to make a separate purchase to protect your purchase.
While they are sweat resistant the design does not allow you to do cardio workouts without the headset bouncing off.
7. Audio-Technica ATH-ANC23 QuietPoint In Ear Headphones
Another cheap noise cancelling earbuds alternative comes from Audio-Technica which claims to reduce background noise by up to 90%. Designed to create a comfortable listening environment these earbuds also feature a built-in miniature microphone that reduces ambient noises during phone calls.
The ATH-ANC23 QuietPoints come with three different earbud choices so you can customize your fit based on your ear size. Included with the QuietPoints is an airline adapter and a carrying pouch. What makes these stand out from their competitors is the use of a single AAA battery to power the noise cancelling feature instead of simply charging these.
From an engineering standpoint, the AAA battery can be a pro for you because when the battery runs out you don’t have to wait until your buds are charged before you use them again. However, the use of an AAA battery can also be very costly if you are going to use the noise cancelling feature very often
Runs on one AAA battery.
1 control module for sound control, call answering, and module to house the battery.
Runs on a single AAA battery so when it runs out you don’t have to wait to charge the headphones before you can use them again.
Multiple earbuds to get the perfect fit for your ear size.
Includes an airline adapter and carrying pouch so you get accessories at a lower price point.
At just 1.6 ounces these headphones are lightweight and compact so you can fit them in any bag pocket to fit your on-the-go lifestyle.
The use of a single AAA battery may leave you forking out a lot of money on batteries if you are going to use the noise cancelling feature very often.
They only reduce 90% of your background noise which is a less than most competitors.
Coming in at number eight on our list the AKG K391NC noise cancelling headphones boast by far the longest lasting play time at 35 hours. With digital active noise cancellation and the signature high-performance AKG sound these headphones manage to remain compact and easy to travel with.
Included with the headphones is a premium hard case to protect the purchase along with an airline adapter but not additional earbuds to customize the fit for your ear size.
As a wired device these headphones will certainly leave cords in the way, but at only 0.3 ounces their lightweight feel will leave you wondering where those cords are.
AKG Patented sound technology
40-hour battery life
Closed back design
In-line microphone and built-in remote control
AKG is well known for their acoustic quality and are prized by musicians world-wide.
The 35-40 hour battery life ensures that you can go more than a day travelling with these headphones and not need to stop to charge them.
The Closed-Back design is unique to AKG and ensures that your music stays in and the environmental noises you hate stay out.
The in-line microphone also blocks environmental noises allowing for crisp clean calls or FaceTime conversations.
The lack of extra earbuds to customize the fit for your ear means you either have to deal with what’s included or buy extra earbuds from AKG to fit your ear.
The number of cords on the earphones makes them a little more frustrating to use on the plane for some users.
9. B&O Play Beoplay H3 ANC Headphones
B&O Play is manufactured by Bang & Olufsen a well-known Danish consumer electronics company, and these earbuds are crafted from a solid block of aluminum to give them an ultra-lightweight feel and sleek appearance.
The 10.8mm driver is custom designed to offer a dynamic and full sound that is supposed to reproduce the original sound of the material as authentically as possible. For music lovers the B&O Play will allow you to experience your beats as close to original format as possible from recorded music.
Designed with memory foam ear tips B&O also includes four different sizes of silicone ear tips if you prefer to customize the earbuds to the size of your ear. Throw in the 20 hour battery life of these earbuds and users can listen to their beats in comfort even in the noisiest of environments.
Bang & Olufsen patented BeoPlay H3 active noise cancelling technology blocks out environmental sounds while this same technology is built into the microphone allowing you to take calls without the worry that your callers will be distracted by the noise around you.
Constructed from aluminum for durability
BeoPlay H3 Active Noise Cancelling Technology
Comes with memory foam and silicone ear tips
B&O has been manufacturing sound equipment for almost 100 years making the brand reputable without the highest price point on the market.
The rechargeable lithium-ion battery gives users 20 hours of play time so these will keep playing for an entire day if you need them to.
The controls for the noise cancellation and for music play are rather large and cumbersome making them difficult to fit comfortably in a pants pocket.
The 3.5mm mini jack does not fit all phone types and may not fit all Android phones.
10. Phiaton BT 220 Wireless ANC Headphones
Our last product on the list happens to be our second Phiaton set of headphones we reviewed. Like the previous set, the BT 220’s are also wireless noise cancelling headphones and feature AptX technology to digitally stream music and improve sound quality.
Unlike the BT 100’s we discussed earlier the BT 220’s do not have a neck support that holds these around your neck. These look similar to wired earbuds, but the wires end at the noise cancelling module controller which conveniently clips to your shirt to keep the wires mostly out of the way.
Manufactured with a built-in noise cancelling microphone for calls these earphones are also capable of wirelessly syncing with two devices at a time and include Near-Field Communication (NFC) Technology. Phiaton’s Active Noise Cancelling Technology also blocks up to 95% of ambient background noise.
These headphones feature 17 hours of music-listening time and 300 hours of standby time in addition to the Everplay-X technology which allows you to continue to use these headphones even when the battery runs out or your device is not Bluetooth compatible.
Bluetooth and NFC wireless technology
Built-in noise cancelling microphone
17 hours play time and 300 hours standby time
1.5 hour charge time
Because these headphones do not have a neck support they are much more ideal for cardio activities without the fear that they will bounce off.
Apt-X technology digitally streams music for crisp and clear sounds.
Bluetooth and NFC technology allow you to go further with fewer cords and wires.
The 1.5 hour charge time gives you 17 hours of play time and 300 hours of standby time.
When the battery life runs out, Everplay-X technology lets you continue to listen to your beats and block out a sound.
While these are Bluetooth there is still a long set of wires that dangle in front of users before you reach the controller.
The device is fairly bulky in the ear making them less than ideal to sleep with.
Noise Cancelling Earbuds Buyers Guide
Music enthusiasts, students, travelers, business people, and even spouses troubled by their partners snoring are all on the search for the best noise cancelling earbuds on the market.
The best noise cancelling earbuds will have superior qualities when compared to the large market of earbuds. These noise cancelling earbuds should have a long battery life be lightweight and portable and have the best technology available while delivering unparalleled sound quality.
They can have other features like Bluetooth and NFC capabilities, and some can even have their own app, but what really makes a great set of buds?
Let’s take a look at some important features
Noise Cancelling versus Noise Isolating
If you’ve spent any amount of time looking for a way to block out noises whether it’s to hear your favorite music better, or drown out a sleeping partner, or block the sound of airplane engines then at some point you’ve run across the terms “noise cancelling” and “noise isolating.”
The distinction is important and to add confusion to the issue headphone manufacturers will often use the terms interchangeably when they are in fact two different concepts. “Noise isolating” headphones use a physical block to block ambient noise with their seal against your ear. “Noise cancelling” headphones can physically block sounds too but also use electronic means to block the sound waves.
Noise cancelling headphones will actually use very tiny microphones to work with the circuitry in the headphones to invert sound waves and cancel out an incoming noise. Basic earphones cannot drop the ambient noise levels as low as noise cancelling headphones can, and while noise isolating headphones can do a decent job they rely heavily on a good fit in the ear.
It’s important to keep in mind that no earphone will block out 100% of the outside world. Because active noise cancelling headphones use tiny microphones to detect outside noise if there is a sudden or sharp noise or a high pitched noise the microphones will not have time to catch the sound and filter it before it reaches your ears. So if you are looking to block out screaming children you are pretty much out of luck.
Bluetooth, NFC, and other Compatibility Considerations
In addition to determining if the headphones truly noise cancelling you should check to make sure they are compatible with the devices, you are using. Most new smartphones have Bluetooth and/or NFC technology, but if you are buying these to use with other devices you should check to make sure the device has Bluetooth or NFC tech in it.
If you decide a wired option is more for your taste you want to first make sure the headphone jack of your device is compatible with the headphone plug-in of the earbuds you buy. If the earbuds are made to fit certain Apple iPhone’s they won’t do much good for your Android or other non-Apple brand devices.
Beyond compatibility, there is an element of personal taste in this choice. Serious music enthusiasts swear that plug-in models offer the best sound quality on the market. Others prefer wireless options because too many cords and wires get in the way of their on-the-go lifestyle. While these are certainly personal preferences they are still important to consider when you start shopping.
Battery and Warranty
Most noise cancelling headphones are considered “active noise cancelling” devices because there is an audio processor or those tiny microphones we mentioned early inside your pair of buds. Those processors need power, and that power needs to be charged with something. There are also electronic parts in those new buds and we all know electronic parts will fail us at some point.
Some earbuds have substantially longer battery life than others, so you want to find the set that meets your listening and noise blocking needs. You also want to take into consideration whether the battery module is replaceable, as some modules will use traditional changeable batteries while others will have a rechargeable battery pack. Knowing the specs on your earbuds including how you will get juice to them and replace that juice are important details to consider.
Since electronics will fail at some point it’s also a good idea to read product reviews and familiarize yourself with what kind of job the manufacturer’s customer service department does when handling warranty claims. The last thing you need to deal with is spending $200 or more on sleek new earbuds and then get a bad warranty or bad customer service.
What do Noise Cancelling Earbuds do?
Will the earbuds do what you bought them to do? Noise cancelling headphones have been known to help block the sounds of airplanes and other consistent environmental noises. It is very important to remember they will not block all sounds. If you are trying to block out inconsistent sounds noise cancelling headphones probably will not work for you.
You also want to consider where you are going to be using these earbuds. Are you trying to block out the noise of a talkative co-worker? Are you wanting to block out noises at the gym when you are in beast mode? Are you an on-the-move traveler who needs to block out transportation noises? All of these questions lead to whether you want your buds wired to a phone or tablet or may lead you to a wireless option.
For example, if you do heavy cardio on a treadmill wired headphones may not be great because you may rip them out of the machine with the swinging motion of your arms. On that same note, certain wireless options have a heavy neck wrap that easily bounces off during cardio activities. Some airplane travelers want wireless options because cords get in the way when you are running through a busy airport.
If at all possible you need to try out the headphones before you buy them, or at least make sure the pair you buy comes with a good return policy. The best way to guarantee satisfaction in your purchase is to try the headphones out before you buy them.
Portability and Accessories
Some people live in their headphones and only consider taking them off for a shower. Most people prefer to unplug at some point, and that means being able to put your noise cancelling buds away. Some earbuds come with a soft carry pouch while others come in a firm case and others still in no case at all.
Wireless options with a neck brace may come in a larger pouch while ones without a neck strap and wired versions will come with something much smaller. Your ability to pack these away in the pocket of your bag is something to give consideration to because no one likes spending time searching and unpacking something when you’re ready to use it.
Also, some noise cancelling headphones fit will into a pants pocket while others have larger battery and volume control modules that can make this difficult if not impossible. So if being able to tuck the controls in a pocket is important to you then make sure to check the size of the battery pack and control module. The placement of the control module and battery pack along the wires is important too as a remote control close to your ears is obviously not going to fit in your pocket, and depending on the battery pack location it too may end up dangling awkwardly from your neck rather than securely sitting in a pants pocket.
And while we’re talking about where things fit to take an extra minute to consider the accessories that come with your earbuds. In addition to a carrying case consider if you are going to need an airline adapter and different sized earbuds because you have extra-large or extra small ears, and then make sure you either get these with your purchase or that they can be easily ordered from the manufacturer.
Noise cancelling with and without music
Another great consideration when shopping for noise cancelling headphones is the ability to cancel noise out even if you are not listening to music. Have you ever needed to study in complete silence but you’re stuck in a crowded place with lots of noise? Not everyone can read and listen to music, and if that’s you then you want to make sure that your earbuds will cancel out noise even if they are not playing your favorite tunes.
Along the same theme is whether the noise cancelling feature will work while you use the earbuds to take a phone call. Some brands will turn off or at least turn down the noise cancelling feature in the earphone while the user is on a phone call. Other brands will leave the cancelling feature on so that you still do not hear outside noise while talking to your caller. It’s a personal preference which feature you choose, but if you are not expecting the noise cancelling feature to turn off during a call then it may take you by surprise or even lead to frustration.
Software and Firmware Updates
Most noise cancelling headphone manufacturers utilize software and firmware to manage the microphones that pick up outside noises. As with any software or firmware, it can become out of date, or incompatible as your other devices go through software and firmware updates.
A thorough review of user comments or even the manufacturer website will tell you how frequently if at all the manufacturer pushes out updates for the headphones. And it’s important to stay on top of these if you want to have an ideal user experience.
It’s a good idea to check not only the current software used to power the noise cancelling microphones, but also if you are looking at wireless options you want to make sure the latest version of Bluetooth or NFC is downloaded. Another great idea is to see if the manufacturer is known for pushing out updates when Bluetooth is updated.
Some noise cancelling earbud manufacturers are now creating apps to further customize the user experience, and these apps can put a lot of features and settings at your fingertips. These apps are great for seamlessly managing your user experience as long as they stay updated, so it’s a good idea to check these apps out prior to purchase and to review the user comments to see how often the app is updated and how well the app does what it promises.
In all this talk about noise cancelling technology we’ve told you a lot about the tiny microphones that are used to cancel out ambient noises, but here we’re talking about the kind of microphone you talk into. It’s important to not only determine if your new headphones have a microphone for talking into but whether you want one.
Do you like the idea of talking to callers while still having both hands free? If so then make sure your noise cancelling headphones include a microphone you can talk on. Another good consideration is whether that microphone has noise cancelling technology that will block out the sounds of the environment around you for your callers. Some manufacturers will design their microphones with the same noise cancelling technology as the earbuds themselves so that you can talk to callers and put the dishes away at the same time without your caller having their eardrums blown out by the sound of plates scrapping together.
Earbuds that have a microphone for taking calls are becoming more common, so the really important feature you want to look for is whether that microphone has its own noise cancelling technology. You will probably pay more for this feature to take a minute or two to decide how often you’ll actually be taking calls while wearing your earbuds. If you like the idea of having two hands free and/or you think you’ll take a lot of calls while wearing your buds then do your callers a favor and invest in some high quality noise blocking tech in the call taking microphone. Your caller’s ear drums will thank you.
The world is a noisy place and as a result, many people are seeking to block out the hum of life.
The ten products that were reviewed are our opinion of some of the best noise cancelling earbuds available today. These earbuds are certainly not for every user, and they have features that fit the specific needs and tastes of each individual.
We hope that you found this guide useful and maybe even found a product that fits your lifestyle and budget. It’ll take a bit of research on your part to find the right set of noise cancelling headphones, but we hope this guide at least made that search a little easier.