The best cheap noise-cancelling headphones show that a high-end feature such as active noise cancellation (ANC) can be yours for some very reasonable prices. Premium capability made affordable? What’s not to like about that?
It’s worth remembering that not all ANC implementations are identical, and the finest examples remain at the pricier end of the best noise-cancelling headphones spectrum. But it is perfectly possible to find headphones or earbuds that effectively cancel out that pesky ambient noise, leaving you to enjoy your music without distractions. Read on to find out our picks of the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones, based on our testing.
- Want to stick to in-ears? Check out the best noise-cancelling earbuds
- The best wireless headphones on sale now
Editor's Note: The Tom's Guide Awards 2021 for audio have been announced, and the Cleer Enduro ANC has won the Best headphones for battery life award! Head to the audio awards page to see all the winners and recommended runners-up.
What are the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones?
The Cleer Enduro ANC currently tops our list of the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones. Its modern, feature-rich design is backed up by great sound quality and effective ANC, and even with the latter enabled it produces battery life than even the very best over-ear headphones can’t hope to match.
Coming in second place is the underrated Jabra Elite 85H. When it originally launched, this set of headphones gave past category leaders like the Bose QuietComfort 35 II and Sony WH-1000XM3 a run for their money in noise cancellation and sound, and can still hold its own in both categories against newer models. It also comes with some of the longest battery life out there and companion app support for personalized sound.
Our third pick, the Sennheiser HD 4.5 BTNC, offers a similar mix of rich sound and strong noise cancellation. If you’d prefer a pair of the best wireless earbuds, check out the Sony WF-1000XM3. This is actually Sony’s flagship set ANC earbuds, but has also dropped in price to the extent to the point where you don’t need to spend AirPods Pro money to afford it.
Take a look at the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones available now.
The best cheap noise-cancelling headphones (under $200) right now
The Cleer Enduro ANC offers an almost irresistible combination of affordability, audio richness, active noise cancellation and battery life. Emphasis on the battery life: we got more than 50 hours of mid-volume, fully ANC-enabled playback out of this over-ear set.
Unlike a lot of low-cost headphones, even cheap ANC headphones, the Enduro ANC also comes with a respectable range of features. NFC pairing comes in handy, for instance, and if you connect the bundled 3.5mm cable instead of using Bluetooth, you get Hi-Res Audio support. And, unlike the identically-priced Urbanista Miami, the Enduro ANC can fold up for easier carrying.
Read our full Cleer Enduro ANC review.
Launched two years ago, the Jabra Elite 85h still remains one of the best noise cancelling headphones available, packing a ton of functionality into a well-constructed design that’s wrapped in rainproof coating. Underneath the hood are eight mics that do a commendable job with noise neutralization and, while phasing out distractions to enjoy distraction-free phone calls. They also demonstrate great speech recognition to execute Siri or Google Assistant commands with ease. Adding to its intuitive performance are the responsive smart controls such as automatic power on/off and on-ear detection to pause music when taking off the headphones.
But where the Elite 85h really shines is in audio performance and battery life. You can expect great sound reproduction, along with 40 hours of playtime. Our only complaints are that bass can distort when enabling HearThrough Mode and the design is on the bulky side.
See our full Jabra Elite 85h review.
The Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC remains the best pair of cheap noise-cancelling headphones for many reasons. Audio is clean and discernible in both the highs and lows, which is very impressive from a wireless headphone. Sennheiser’s exclusive NoiseGard technology is effective at blocking out ambient sounds, though you might still hear some engine rumble when flying on airplanes. Even better is how ANC doesn’t affect the profile too much; only those with discerning ears will notice subtle differences in audio quality.
One must also admire the HD 4.50 BTNC’s minimalist and elegant aesthetics, featuring a matte-black plastic covering over the headphones, which display the silver-accented logo. They certainly look like baller headphones, but much far cheaper than what Bose and Sony charge. With a rechargeable wireless design and up to 19 hours of battery life, Sennheiser's headphones are an excellent choice.
Read our full Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC review.
The Sony WF-1000XM4 has officially replaced this model, though thanks to the resulting price cuts it's still worth picking up as a budget-friendly alternative. With better ANC, audio, and battery life than the AirPods Pro, it’s almost a crime to see these buds marked down below $200. Bass is well-balanced, giving music an impactful presence that isn’t overpowering on the ears. The Sony Connect app also allows users to adjust noise cancellation and sound, though it’s unnecessary since the default settings already do the trick. Noise cancellation is where these buds truly excel, resiliently minimizing ambient sound across the frequency spectrum.
The touch controls are disappointing, especially since Sony demonstrated great progress with the feature on the acclaimed WH-1000XM3, and the call quality could be much better. Still, one listen and you’re bound to overlook these faults.
Read our full Sony WF-1000XM3 review.
The Urbanista Miami is perhaps the most stylish pair of cheap noise-cancelling headphones you can buy, but it’s more than just a pretty face. The sound quality is great, with strong bass that never overwhelms the rest of the mix, and the ANC works well enough to cut out most background noise. There’s a transparency mode too, which you don’t always get on affordable ANC cans.
The real star, though, is battery life. Urbanista promises 40 hours of ANC playback, and the Miami easily achieved that in our own testing. That’s more than double the lifespan of the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC and almost matches that of the Cleer Enduro ANC, so definitely consider picking these up if you’re a regular traveller.
Read our full Urbanista Miami review.
We'll admit to being surprised when the Beats Studio Buds was announced with full ANC support — we'd heard the Apple-owned Beats was making a small, affordable set of wireless earbuds, but the inclusion of noise cancellation for less than $150 was a very pleasant surprise. Not even the $159 Apple AirPods have this feature.
The ANC works pretty well, too, especially in terms of how little it changes the Studio Buds' sound signature when activated. We'd also recommend the Studio Buds to Android users much more readily than other Apple or Beats wireless earbuds, as it uses a more platform-agnostic chip to enable features like fast pairing on non-iOS devices.
Read our full Beats Studio Buds review.
Don’t sleep on JBL’s mid-range noise-cancelling headphones. The Live 660NC can block out 80% of ambient noise and minimize the presence of high-frequency sounds to keep you focused on what’s currently playing. Bass dominates the soundscape on these cans, though JBL did a better job of balancing frequencies to provide extra room for mids and highs to shine, depending on the songs. Special modes like Smart Audio let you optimize performance based on connectivity or sound, while Video Mode drastically improves lip synchronization when watching videos. Battery life is also top tier with a full charge giving you up to 40 hours of ANC playback.
Be mindful of how long you plan on wearing these headphones because the clamp force is tight and applies unwanted pressure atop the skull and your ears.
Read our full JBL Live 660NC review.
For such a low price, the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC does almost everything you need from a pair of running headphones. The loop design is tricky to put on but holds each earbud firmly in place, while IP66 water resistance makes it essentially sweatproof. Sound quality is surprisingly good, too, and the mobile app offers a fully customizable EQ.
The ANC isn't as effective as what you'd get from the Sony WF-1000XM3, but this pair is cheaper brand new than Sony's aging headphones. The Epic Air Sport ANC also comes complete with am ambient sound mode, Be Aware, so you can keep an ear out for traffic and pedestrians while out on runs without needing to remove an earbud.
Read our full JLab Epic Air Sport ANC review.
The design might lead you to believe this is an older pair of noise-cancelling headphones, but it's relatively new and comes equipped with some cool features that enhance the user experience. For one, you can use the them in either wireless or wired mode; the latter is achieved by connecting the bundled aux cable to the 3.5mm jack. Sound-wise, the NuraLoop delivers amazing percussion and vocal clarity, and the Nura app lets you create a custom listening profile based on your ear shape. The wrap-around-the-head design means these headphones stay put. ANC is also highly effective and adjustable, so you have control over the level of noise you want to cancel out or allow into the soundstage.
You’ll just want to be mindful of the overly sensitive touch controls, which can be frustrating to deal with whenever needing to adjust fit. It’s also odd that Nura chose to develop its own proprietary charging cable, meaning you’re stuck with it as your only solution to recharging the headphones.
Read our full NuraLoop review.
Bigger sound, noise cancellation, and bonus features: Anker blessed this set of cans with the works. The Life Q30 comes equipped with 40mm silk drivers that generate thumping lows and crisp mids to enjoy music across multiple genres. Anker also made these headphones compatible with the Soundcore app, so you can personalize the soundstage to your liking by manually adjusting the EQ or by picking any of the 22 presets available. You don’t see that on many noise-cancellers priced under $100. Noise neutralization is improved from the previous model, so you’ll be able to block out a higher level of external sounds. The three ANC modes (Transport, Indoor, and Outdoor) are engineered to cancel out noises found in different settings too.
We applaud Anker for giving the Life Q30 a more premium look and better aesthetics, though this is still one big, heavy pair of 'phones to lug around.
Edifier equipped their flagship wireless earbuds with superb audio technologies, including 10mm drivers, a Knowles balanced moving iron coil, customizable EQ, and LDAC and LHDC codec support. The latter is beneficial for streaming lossless music at the highest transfer speeds. A low-latency Game Mode also comes part of the package, improving audio synchronization when playing games and watching videos. Noise cancellation is just as impressive and blocks out enough ambient noise to enjoy music in peace. The Ambient Sound mode is also powerful, providing greater awareness of your surroundings and letting you eavesdrop on conversations from several feet away.
Battery life isn’t anything to brag about, especially since it is only 30 minutes longer than the AirPods Pro. The lack of certain modern features like on-ear detection and wireless charging seems like a questionable decision as well. Either way, $129 for this type of sound performance is not something you stumble upon frequently.
Read our full Edifier NeoBuds Pro review.
For the price, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 offers sound and active noise cancellation that either matches or outperforms several luxury models (that means you, AirPods Pro). Taking on the same look and much of the same features as its premium cousin, the critically acclaimed Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro, expect vibrant, clean audio to come out of these tiny in-ear monitors. ANC does a convincing job of reducing unwanted noises, plus special settings like Accessibility let you assign noise neutralization to one bud to prevent discomfort. Samsung Galaxy smartphone owners get an even sweeter deal with access to exclusive features. These include Gaming mode to decrease latency, Galaxy Watch control access, and wireless PowerShare to power up the buds by placing the charging case on the back of a compatible Galaxy smartphone.
Had it not been for the subpar battery life and plain craftsmanship, these buds would rank higher on this list.
Read our full Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 review.
How to choose the best cheap noise cancelling headphones for you
The term cheap often has negative connotations, but as we’ve learned through months of testing, there are plenty of cheap noise cancelling headphones that are just as good, if not better than some of the industry’s more premium selections.
Active noise cancellation will also be the key feature of these models. Most headphones that advertise “noise cancelling” are often categorized as ANC headphones. You want a model that has credible noise-cancelling performance and can block out a large percentage of ambient sound; anywhere above 70% is great. Keep in mind that ANC technology can compress sound, which may affect audio performance when turned on, but there are models that limit these disruptions to produce full, crisp results.
Battery life is just as important, as several factors (e.g. ANC, Bluetooth, volume) are known to drain the power quickly. If you’re going the over- or on-ear route, seek out wireless cans that hold anywhere between 15 to 30 hours. Should true wireless earbuds pique your interest most, aim for something with a minimum of 6 hours, not including the bundled charging case, which should store about double the playtime.
You’ll want to keep the design in mind as well. Over-ear headphones are known for having the best noise cancellation, but there are also some on-ear and in-ear models that get the job done.
How we test the best cheap noise cancelling headphones
When creating our list of the top cheap noise cancelling headphones, we rate each model based on several traits. Audio performance, battery life, Bluetooth range, call quality, comfort and fit, and the effectiveness of the noise cancellation are all accounted for. We factor special features into the equation, too.
Our reviewers wear each pair of headphones for 2 hours at a time over the course of a week. Tom’s Guide also employs a thorough review process that compares products with similar fit, features, and price to determine the best options.
Active noise cancellation is tested in numerous environments where ambient sounds are produced at high levels. This includes airplanes, city parks, convenience shops, offices, public transportation, and at home. Any headphones programmed with a transparency mode are also tested to determine how well the listener can hear their surroundings.
For audio performance, we listen to songs across a number of genres, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, while evaluating volume, clarity, and fullness. Movies, podcasts, and video games are considered, when necessary.
After testing is completed, we rate the headphones based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). If a product hits nearly every mark, it receives our Editors' Choice badge.