The best cheap noise-cancelling headphones show that active noise cancelation (ANC) can be yours for a reasonable price. Premium capability made affordable? What’s not to like about that?
Although it’s worth remembering that not all ANC implementations are the same, and that most may not be up to to the standard of the tested modles included in our guide to the best noise-cancelling headphones. However, it certainly is possible to find low-cost headphones or earbuds that effectively reduce the noise of your surroundings, leaving you to enjoy your music without distractions.
Each of our best picks balance effective ANC and great sound for less. Read on to find out our picks of the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones, based on our testing.
The quick list
These Cleer Audio noise-canceling headphones gave us 50 hours and 15 minutes of ANC playback time from a single charge in our testing. ANC effective and they deliver a bass forward sound in a foldable design.
These Soundcore Space One headphones are a great budget option with effective ANC, strong battery life, and come stacked with plenty of useful features. We're not sure how they do it at the price.
Best for style
Best for style
Available in four color options, the Urbanista Miami are perhaps the most stylish pair of cheap noise-canceling headphones you can buy, but they're more than just a pretty face.
Best for bass
Best for bass
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. Battery life lasts for around 40 hours with ANC enabled which blocks out around 80% of ambient sound.
Best streaming support at the price
These come with acceptable noise cancelation and high-quality streaming via LDAC. Sound is punchy with the low end dominating most tracks, and battery life generates up to 40 hours of playtime.
The best cheap noise-cancelling headphones to buy right now
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Best overall cheap ANC headphones
The Cleer Enduro ANC offers an almost irresistible combination of affordability, audio richness, active noise cancelation and battery life. During our testing we got more than 50 hours of battery life when listening at mid-volume with ANC enabled, which is strong and the most affordable model to get anywhere close to the 60-hour offered by the Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless flagship.
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 there's a bundled 3.5mm cable for Hi-Res Audio support. And, unlike the identically-priced Urbanista Miami (below), the Enduro ANC can fold up for easier carrying.
Read our full Cleer Enduro ANC review.
Best value cheap noise-cancelling headphones
The Soundcore Space One boast a variety of premium features, including adaptive active noise cancellation, Bluetooth 5.3 with LDAC codec support, customizable sound, multipoint technology, and some of the strongest quick charging out there. Lengthy playtimes, personalized listening modes, and safe volume settings add to the lengthy list of features.
Our reviewer found that the Space One had deep bass, but felt that Anker had tweaked the sound profile to balance mids and highs, and that listening with ANC on upticks the low end. Complementing the Space One’s dynamic sound quality is adaptive ANC that can be personalized and used in different ways. There is Adaptive Noise Cancelling for adjusting performance to your surrounding noise levels or Customize Noise Cancelling for setting noise neutralization to 1 of 5 levels. These are a great budget option available in jet black, latte cream and sky blue colorways and a possible best value contender at the $99 price.
Read the full Anker Soundcore Space One review.
Best cheap noise-cancelling headphones for style
The Urbanista Miami is perhaps the most stylish pair of cheap noise-canceling 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.
Best cheap noise-cancelling headphones for bass
Don’t sleep on JBL’s mid-range noise-canceling 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.
Best cheap noise-cancelling headphones for streaming
Despite earning a lower score than its predecessor, Anker’s latest noise-cancelling headphones are the better value. The Life Q35 is a great option that comes with acceptable noise cancelation and lossless streaming via LDAC codec support. Sound is punchy with the low end dominating most tracks, but it’s the instrumental separation on orchestral recordings that showcase the headphones’ sonic capabilities. Using the Soundcore app expands sound customization by allowing users to choose from over 22 presets that were engineered by some of the industry’s most popular audio engineers. Battery life is the Life Q35’s greatest strength, generating up to 40 hours of playtime, which can extend to 60 hours when ANC is off.
Bass does become overly aggressive when listening to modern tracks and the smart controls could have been better programmed, but these headphones still offer plenty of value for the price.
Read our full Anker Soundcore Life Q35 review.
Best cheap noise-cancelling in-ear headphones
The PistonBuds Pro are a win for budget-conscious consumers who desire outstanding ANC and sound in a stylish, affordable package. Are they going to replace your AirPods Pro? No, but they are easily one of the best AirPods alternatives that can be had for a third of the price.
Okay, battery life isn’t anything to write home about, nor is call quality. But these shortcomings are forgivable when factoring in the audio and noise cancelation. At $69, the Piston Buds Pro are very satisfying.
Read our full 1More PistonBuds Pro review.
Sennheiser’s third attempt at a true wireless mid-ranger is their most successful. The CX Plus improves on the original by adding ANC and Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX Adaptive codec support for high-quality wireless streaming. Not only do these buds do a better job with noise neutralization than their premium sibling, the Momentum True Wireless 2, but also deliver similar audio performance; fantastic clarity and well-balanced frequency range are guaranteed. Connectivity is some of the strongest in the category, extending range to 60 feet for more free-roaming listening. The intelligible controls deserve praise as well.
A redesign and a few more features could have placed the CX Plus in the same company as the some of the best noise-canceling earbuds like the AirPods Pro and Sony WF-1000XM4. Shortcomings aside, these are still a must have for anyone seeking ANC on a budget, and can regularly be found discounted at online retailers.
Read our full Sennheiser CX Plus review.
The Edifier W240TN are a fine-looking and sounding pair of wireless earbuds. They're pretty well featured, although not everything works quite as well as we'd like. For an ANC model at the price, though, performance is strong and you get detailed sonics thanks to the dual dynamic drivers that deliver a wide and compelling sound, and effective noise cancelation.
We weren't sold on call quality or wind resistance when on the move, but these sorts of compromises are to be expected for wireless earbuds this affordable. Battery life is very respectable as is connectivity, and the overall comfort and craftsmanship make them well worth their asking price.
Read the full Edifier W240TN review.
The popular Beats Studio Buds have been updated with the Studio Buds+. They cost $20 more, but the new versions have plenty going for them. They retain the iconic design of the original with one of the neatest designs around, but add improved ANC performance, stronger transparency mode, and hands-free Siri support. While the increase in battery life looks like a winner, it's pretty standard compared to today's rivals, making this next-gen version feel a little outclassed by price rivals that have stronger feature sets and more engaging sound.
Although Apple-owned Beats still hasn't manged to integrate some of the neat audio personalisation features associated with its AirPods, even with a new custom chip on board, ANC performance works well at silencing the outside world. It was juts as effective at silencing fellow exercisers at the gym as it was a blocking out the sound of my neighbour's power tools.
As with the previous Studio Buds, Android users are are catered for thanks to the platform-agnostic chip that enables features such as fast pairing on non-iOS devices.
Read our full Beats Studio Buds+ 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.
- Also check out the JLab Epic Air Sport ANC 2
How to choose the best cheap noise-canceling headphones for you
5 things to consider before you buy
The term cheap often has negative connotations, but as we’ve learned through our testing, there are plenty of cheap noise-canceling headphones that are just as good, if not better than some of the industry’s more premium offerings.
1. Active vs. passive noise cancelation: The first item to check off the list when shopping for the best noise-canceling headphones is active noise cancelation, which shouldn’t be confused with passive noise cancelation. What are the differences?
Active noise canceling (ANC) headphones use an 'active' combination of hardware (microphones) and firmware to make external sounds or noises sound quieter when you’re listening to your favorite music or podcasts, say. Unlike passive noise isolation, which simply muffles those sounds by forming a seal around your ear with headphone ear cups or inside the ear canal with in-ear tips, active noise cancelation listens out for background sounds and uses clever audio trickery to “cancel” out these potentially disruptive sounds. For a more in-depth explanation see ANC explained.
2. Battery life: Noise-canceling headphones have a reputation for sucking up lots of power, so you’ll want a pair that holds a charge long enough to get you through a long business flight or weekly commutes. Thanks to the arrival of Sennheiser's Momentum 4 over-ear headphones battery life standards have increased up to 60 hours, although more typical figures are anywhere between 15 to 30 hours. Noise-canceling wireless earbuds are usually rated for 4.5 to 8 hours.
3. Sound quality: ANC technology can compress sound and reduce dynamics, which may affect audio performance when turned on. In some cases, you’ll notice a background hiss when listening to music. However, there are noise-canceling headphones out there that limit these disruptions to deliver full, crisp sound.
4. Design: The look, build and feel of a pair of headphones is massively important when selecting the best noise-canceling headphones, so consider how it looks and feels and whether the style is right for you. The type of headphone is also important when it comes to the most effective noise canceling models. Over-ear headphones tend to give the best noise cancelation, though some of the more recent wireless on-ear and in-ear models are proving to be just as effective.
5. Pricing considerations: Obviously, price is a big consideration when looking for the best noise-canceling headphones. Although there are always exceptions, big-name brands will typically command a bit extra, but generally speaking, the less you spend on a pair of headphones the greater the chance that sound and features will be compromised. Going for a budget option isn't always the best choice, as any money you save on your purchase won't do you much good if you're constantly needing to recharge your audio gear, or the sound quality is poor.
As the saying goes: timing is everything; and right now many of our favorite models are being discounted at online retailers, meaning you can bag a bargain for even less. Bookmark our best tech deals pages to keep on top of the best deals.
How we test the best cheap noise canceling headphones
We've judged the best cheap noise-canceling headphones on several factors: audio performance, battery life, Bluetooth range, call quality, comfort and fit, and the effectiveness of the noise cancelation. We also weigh special features, such as included apps, and how easy they are to use.
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.
ANC, meanwhile, is tested in both indoor and outdoor environments where ambient sounds are produced at high levels. This includes airplanes, city parks, convenience shops, offices, and public transportation. ANC headphones programmed with transparency modes are also tested thoroughly to determine how well the listener can hear their surroundings.
For sound quality, we listen to many different sample tracks and span as many music genres as possible, including hip-hop, rock, jazz, classical and R&B, while evaluating volume, clarity and fullness. Find out what we listen for during our testing process and how to get the best headphone sound for you.
And now that more streaming music services are offering high-resolution audio, be sure to read our audio codec FAQ for all you need to know about FLAC files, MP3s and everything in between.
Once we complete our testing, we rate headphones based on our five-point system (1 = worst, 5 = best). If a product hits nearly every mark, it’s awarded an Editor's Choice badge.
Contributions from: Alex Bracetti