With the best noise-cancelling earbuds you can block out the sound of the world around you. They're discreet to wear and easily transportable, while having unbelievably powerful active noise cancelation technology that makes distracting external sounds fade into the background.
Although not all models perform the same, each of the wireless earbuds tested here achieve a useful reduction in external noise using sophisticated noise-canceling tech to enable the wearer to focus on their favorite music or podcast, or simply relax in a pool of hush while the world carries on around them.
We test dozens of earbuds and headphones each month, assessing each of them for sound quality, battery life, comfort, and features. We're constantly amazed at the strides new arrivals are making in terms of their performance and features, and as such this list of the best noise-canceling earbuds is constantly being updated.
With models spanning $60 to $300 there really is something for everyone in our round up of the best noise-canceling earbuds we've tested. Read on to find out which of our best picks are right for you.
The quick list
Bose brings its world-class noise canceling capabilities to these second-gen earbuds. They may be pricey, but they offer unrivaled ANC, better sound, and great call quality.
Noise canceling is one of the CX Plus’ biggest selling points, but you also get Sennheiser's flagship sound in a mid-range pair of earbuds, making them an attractive all-rounder at a great price.
Best battery life
Best battery life
Sony's next-gen WH-1000XM5 wireless earbuds build on the strengths of their predecessor with strong ANC, outstanding sound, and one of the best user experiences around.
Best for iOS
Apple's AirPods Pro 2 take performance to the next level for iOS users with a raft of personalized audio enhancements and battery life has been improved, too.
Best entry-level Sony
Big-brand experience for less
The Sony WF-C700N may be an entry-level set of ANC wireless earbuds, but they have many similar features and a brand experience as you get with the company's flagship WF-1000XM4.
Best-ever Galaxy Buds
Samsung’s ANC holds its own against the category best and blocks out close to 90% of ambient noise. The updated design also provides improved comfort and noise isolation.
In the third generation of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 battery life is good, and comfort levels are so high our reviewer commented that they can be worn for hour after hour.
Read more below
If you want outstanding ANC and sound in a stylish, affordable package then look no further. These are a strong performer for a third of the price of pair of the AirPods Pro.
These are best noise-cancelling earbuds you can buy right now
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Below are full write-ups for each of the best noise-canceling earbuds on our list. We've tested each entry on the list extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.
Best noise-canceling earbuds overall
Released in September 2022, the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 went straight to the top of our buying guide for their outstanding noise canceling capabilities. They perform even better than the original Earbuds that are still available. These are a remarkable follow-up that delivers better sound, great call quality, and unrivaled ANC. Proprietary technologies like ActiveSense and CustomTune balance sound and noise neutralization extremely well.
Bose’s redesign also makes these buds less of an eyesore compared to the original, and only the high price and mediocre battery life count against them. CustomTune automatically calibrates ANC and the sound frequency profile to the unique properties of your ear and optimal performance that's right for you. Lastly, a recent firmware update brings aptX Adaptive and aptX Lossless support to Bose's flagship earbuds, making them compatible with high-performance audio codecs increasingly supported by the best Android phones.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 review.
Best value noise-canceling earbuds
The Sennheiser CX Plus improved on the noise cancellation capabilities of its predecessors, and blissfully blocks out loud noises produced by landscaping tools (e.g., hedge trimmer, lawnmower) when working in the backyard. Other distractions like airplanes flying over the house, bird chirping, and even the sound from a portable speaker didn’t affect my workflow either. Indoors was just as rewarding, keeping chatter around the kitchen table silent and my toddler’s incessant crying outside of the play area to a minimum.
Audiophiles and music lovers will swoon over the CX Plus’ sound quality. Clarity and depth are fantastic, and frequency range is handled superbly to feed your ears a well-balanced dose of deep lows, rich mids, and detailed highs. At $180, the Sennheiser CX Plus face stiff competition, but they can regularly be found discounted for for less.
Read our full Sennheiser CX Plus review.
Best battery life
Sony's XM-series earbuds go from strength to strength with each new generation. As the latest flagship, the WF-1000XM5 wireless earbuds are smaller and lighter, yet they're equipped with some of the strongest features and performance we've ever seen from a pair of 'buds. They have some of the most dynamic and engaging sound we've heard, and their noise-canceling performance easily matches that of the Bose QuietComfort Earbuds 2 or Apple AirPods Pro 2.
Battery life hasn't been stepped up over the outgoing XM4 predecessor. But at 8 hours with ANC enabled, these top-tier Sony wireless earbuds still outperform close rivals and have some of the highest battery life of any set of more recently launched earbuds. There's LDAC support for higher-quality music, adaptive listening mode, Google and Alexa digital assistant support, and full EQ customization. Call quality is greatly improved, thanks to a new noise reduction engine with AI that's able to make voices clear even in noisy surroundings. Wind noise was kept to a minimum too, thanks to the mesh on the feed forward microphone helping to reduce its influence during calls. Ultimately, these are Sony's best ever and the best wireless earbuds package around right now.
Read the full Sony WF-1000XM5 review.
Best Apple noise-canceling earbuds
Apple's next-gen AirPods Pro 2 have arrived, bringing significant upgrades to the popular original to take performance to the next level. Externally, they look pretty similar to the first generation but battery life has been increased to offer 6 hours on a single charge from the earbuds and a further 30 hours from the wireless charging case. Not only are the earbuds IPX4-rated, but now too is the case itself.
Designed for iPhone owners looking for a more tailored listening experience, these are the pinnacle of Apple technology. On the audio front, Apple has included a new H2 chip with custom amp and driver that delivers better lower and higher frequencies, and you can use the iPhone's TrueDepth camera to create a personalized spatial audio sound to listen to some of the best Dolby Atmos sound in any pair of earbuds. Noise cancellation is double what the last pair of AirPods Pro offered, and it is among the best we’ve yet to see, period.
Read the full Apple AirPods Pro 2 review.
Best entry-level Sony
The Sony WF-C700N may be an entry-level set of ANC wireless earbuds, but they have many similar features and a brand experience as you get with the company's flagship WF-1000XM4. Despite the budget price tag, the adaptive ANC technology works particularly well. It learns your behavior and tweaks noise neutralization to your environment, while the 20 levels of ambient listening is boon for everyone who needs to maintain a level of awareness while wearing earbuds. These are IPX4 water resistance, too, which gives them the same level of protection as Apple's AirPods Pro 2.
When it comes to sound balance with music, you're in good hands. During our tests, the Sony’s punchy low end handled complex bass-filled tracks with ease, while the Headphones Connect app provided plenty of sound customization via EQ and DSEE to boost fidelity on lo-fi recordings. Upgrades to battery life and the overall performance make these buds a sweet pickup for brand enthusiasts.
Read the full Sony WF-C700N review.
Best Galaxy earbuds
Editor's note: Since our review, a firmware update enables 360-degree recording with Galaxy phones.
Samsung’s ANC holds its own against the category best and blocks out close to 90% of ambient noise. The updated design also provides improved comfort and noise isolation. Each earbud houses three mics to block out external sounds at the highest level and soften wind presence, which the mic array does extremely well in combination with the wind shield.
It’s disappointing to see Samsung’s noise-canceling models provide short ANC playtime. Sound alone makes the Galaxy Buds 2 Pro worth the investment, though, giving you a high quality audio experience and compelling 3D sound with precise head tracking. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are a stellar option to consider and have excellent mic quality for calls too.
Read our full Samsung Buds 2 Pro review.
Best for comfort
In the third generation of the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 it has shrunk the earbuds, and tidied them up while it’s at it, and managed to hold the price down to a level most realistic rivals compete at. Battery life is good, and comfort levels are so high our reviewer commented that they can be worn for hour after hour. Control options are both extensive and reliable, and the app is great. Noise-cancellation, especially where wind is concerned, is competitive. And the sound is a combination of fanatical attention to detail, a naturalistic approach to rhythms and tempos, and a very pleasant unity of tonality.
The Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 get almost everything right — some listeners will want more assertive low frequencies, and some listeners may well want to pair their earbuds with two devices at once — which means means that some listeners may be disappointed. But for the rest of us seeking the best sound quality from a pair of wireless earbuds, though, the TW3s are one more option to add to our shortlist and deserve to be given your full attention.
Read the full Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 3 review.
Best budget noise-canceling earbuds option
The 1More 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.
They're comfortable to wear and the touch controls execute intended commands without a hitch. Audio quality is gratifying with a balanced and clear sound that has an emphasized low end. There are two ANC settings – Strong and Wind Resistance (WNR) — each engineered for a different purpose. Okay, battery life isn’t anything to write home about, and nor is call quality, but these shortcomings are forgivable when factoring in ANC performance these buds deliver, especially at the $69 price.
Read our full 1More PistonBuds Pro review.
Best ANC earbuds with a secure fit for exercisers
Beats Fit Pro are designed for those with active lifestyles and rank top in our best sports earbuds for their secure fit even when carrying out demanding activities. They have great noise canceling performance thanks to the use of Apple's H1 chipset, and integrate plenty of iOS features like automatic switching, audio sharing, and FindMy support to locate misplaced buds. Adding wingtips is a huge plus for exercisers, ensuring the buds remain locked on the ears when moving around. AirPods Pro features like active noise cancellation and Spatial Audio for 3D-like sound are on board and perform at high levels.
Android users end up losing out on several iOS-exclusive features like “Hey Siri” voice activation and head-tracking. The Eartip Fit Test also isn’t as accurate as the AirPods Pro’s version, granted the wingtips and bundled ear tips in different sizes should accommodate all ear shapes.
Read our full Beats Fit Pro review.
Frequently asked questions
What is ANC?
ANC explained: Active noise cancellation (ANC) models employ built-in mics to pick up ambient sounds around the wearer. An identical but inverted audio signal of the noise is played back to the listener through the headphones. Listeners aren't aware of this happening of course, as the inverted (or out of phase) signal effectively 'cancels out' the noise of the surroundings for the headphone wearer. The process removes the external sounds, which results in a significant reduction in the level of background noise at the very least.
For more information check out our complete guide to active noise-canceling.
Is ANC worth it?
Do noise-canceling earbuds actually work?
In most cases, noise-canceling earbuds are very effective at reducing ambient sounds. There are limits, though, and some designs are less effective at silencing certain types of sounds than others. The process is fast but it can’t physically occur in real time, so ANC works best with consistent low-frequency sounds as opposed to higher-pitched, inconsistent sounds like human speech. Vehicle engines and droning air conditioners are easy to cancel out, but the shorter wavelength of high-frequency sounds, like a sudden blast from a car horn, makes it tougher for the ANC’s anti-noise waves to perfectly mask these bursts.
Even so, all sounds will be at least a little quieter when you’re wearing noise-canceling headphones, and many sounds can be completely silenced even on low-cost pairs or earbuds. Check out our explainer on active noise cancellation for more information.
How to choose the best noise-canceling earbuds for you
5 things to consider before you buy the best noise-canceling earbuds
The first item to check off the list when shopping for the best noise-canceling earbuds is their active noise cancellation performance, which shouldn’t be confused with passive noise cancellation. What are the differences?
1. Active vs. passive noise cancellation: ANC uses advanced circuitry and microphones to pick up noise signals and create inverse waves that cancel out these sonic disruptions, whereas PNC physically isolates high-pitched sounds through the headphone design and materials. Most headphones advertised with noise cancellation are categorized under ANC.
2. Battery life: Noise-canceling earbuds 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. Noise-canceling wireless earbuds are usually rated for 4.5 to 8 hours, but with included charging cases the total possible playback time might be much more competitive.
Think about how long and how often you’d want to wear your earbuds for on lengthy trips. A longer “per charge” battery life is better, but if you only want some entertainment on short commutes then it not quite so important, as you’ll probably be storing the buds in their case more regularly.
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, the best noise-canceling earbuds limit these disruptions to deliver full, crisp sound.
4. Design: The look, build and feel of a pair of in-ear 'buds is massively important when selecting the best noise-canceling earbuds, so consider how they look and feel and whether the style is right for you. In our best noise-canceling headphones round up we mention that over-ear headphones tend to give the best noise cancellation, but some of the more recent wireless 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 earbuds. 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 by online retailers, meaning you can bag a bargain for even less. Bookmark our best headphone deals page to keep track on the latest price drops.
How we test noise-canceling earbuds
We've judged the best noise-canceling earbuds on several factors: audio performance, battery life, Bluetooth range, call quality, comfort and fit, and the effectiveness of the noise cancellation. We also weigh special features, such as included apps, and how easy they are to use.
During the testing phase, our reviewers wear each pair of headphones for 2 hours at a time throughout the course of a week, to test comfort over time.
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.
Finally, we’ll rate noise-canceling earbuds on our five-point system, with 1 being the worst and 5 the best. If a pair is particularly excellent, with a robust range of qualities, we may award it an Editor's Choice badge.
Contributions from Alex Bracetti, Simon Lucas, Nick Pino
Find out how we test for more information on our reviewing procedures.