I test headphones for a living, and these are my favorite noise cancelers under $200

Sennheiser Accentum worn be reviewer
(Image credit: Future)

As one of the strongest mid-priced headphone launches of 2023, the Sennheiser Accentum rank best value in the best over-ear headphones right now. Of course, we've also seen some admirable new headphone additions in recent months from the likes of Bose showing us that it's still the king of the best noise canceling headphones. Plus, we even saw inexpensive gems like the 1More SonoFlow SE bringing remarkably strong performance and features at a value price.   

Despite my admiration for other recent releases though, the Accentum are my favorite. Sennheiser spoiled us with the introduction of the first model in the new range, and has proved so popular that the maker unveiled an Accentum Plus version at CES 2024 with aptX Adaptive codec support and a protective carry case.

Priced at $179 / £159 / AU$299, the Accentum are the budget alternative to the company's flagship Sennheiser Momentum 4 Wireless, and beat the more established Sony WH-CH720N when we compared both mid-priced models in our face-off. After several weeks of continuous testing, I’m even more convinced that the Accentum are an audiophile bargain. 

Our audio editor, Lee Dunkley, recently voted them one of the best cheap headphones for travel, and they're one of my favorite wireless headphones right now. Here’s why.

Sennheiser Accentum: Upscale sound for less

Sennheiser Accentum headphones held up in front of a painting

(Image credit: Future)

Today’s mid-range headphones are coming close to matching their high-end siblings in terms of sonic prowess. The WH-CH720N are an excellent example, powered by similar high-level sound technologies found on Sony's flagship series models. Well, the Accentum do the exact same, giving Sennheiser fans big-brand audio at a more attainable price point. 

The drivers on this model are smaller than the Momentum 4 (37mm compared to 42mm). However, they’re particularly dynamic and produce signature Sennheiser sound. The warm soundstage with rich bass notes gives music a lively presence. Frequencies are well balanced, meaning you’ll enjoy a beautiful mix of crisp mids and striking highs as well. The midrange demonstrates terrific clarity to experience precise vocal range. I had the option of personalizing sound using the 5-band EQ via companion app, which also has a Bass Boost preset for ramping up the low end, though I was satisfied with the default sound signature. 

Sennheiser’s proprietary sound features were on point. Sound Check automatically adjusted the EQ to my hearing and brought out the nuances in recordings, while giving bass and treble generous boosts. Sound Zones was just as effective for optimizing audio based on locations. The inclusion of aptX HD resulted in high-quality audio signal handling over Bluetooth and lower latency.

Sennheiser Accentum: Premium ANC and features

Sennheiser Accentum worn by reviewer testing ANC

(Image credit: Future)

The Momentum 4 are fantastic sound suppressors that rank among the best noise-canceling headphones. I wouldn’t place the Accentum among the elite, but their noise reduction and voice calling are much greater than their price suggests. Sennheiser’s mic array successfully targets and silences most low and high frequencies. ANC mode kept common household distractions (e.g., kitchen appliances, loud TVs, my energetic toddler) silent during office hours and minimized outdoor fracas during afternoon walks. Few blaring sounds (e.g., sirens, whistles) were audible from several yards away, but didn’t compromise the soundstage.

Transparency mode was reliable for increasing situational awareness. Using the headphones indoors allowed me to communicate with the missus from across the room and stay alert to my child’s activities while browsing through work emails. Serviceability was greater outside, accurately capturing vocals to hear conversations clearly from several feet away, along with oncoming traffic when crossing the street at night.

The Accentum’s two built-in mics and dedicated wind-reduction mode came in handy on voice calls, producing loud and clear-sounding conversations that weren’t affected by gusty conditions.

Beyond the adaptive ANC modes are several other popular features found on luxury headphones including aptX HD, Bass Boost, customizable EQ, Sound Control, and Sound Zones. These account for much of the Accentum’s extended functionality, though you also get one-tap Google Fast Pair to pair to Android devices seamlessly and multipoint technology for connecting to two media devices simultaneously.

Sennheiser Accentum: Better battery life than many luxury ANC headphones

Sennheiser Accentum connected to a USB-C charging cable

(Image credit: Future)

A full charge provides the Accentum with 50 hours of ANC use. That’s nearly 2 weeks of moderate use (2.5 hours daily). I was shocked by how well the battery held up after running different EQ settings and GPS-enabled features for several days. A 10-minute quick charge gets you up to 5 hours of listening time.

These aren’t the first inexpensive ANC headphones to generate ridiculously long playtimes. The Cleer Enduro ANC last up to 60 hours on a full charge, while the 1More SonoFlow SE lasts up to 50 hours with ANC and 70 hours without. Both these models rank in our best cheap noise-canceling headphones buying guide.

Sennheiser Accentum: A great value noise-canceling headphone deal

Typically, great noise-canceling headphones don’t come cheap. But the Accentum deliver outstanding sound and ANC performance, long battery life and a wide feature set for roughly half the cost of the next model up.

That already makes the Accentum well worth their full MSRP ($179 / £159 / AU$299), but we've already seen them discounted for less, which makes them even more attractive and a bargain worth grabbing. Make sure you bookmark our best headphone deals page for all the latest price drops.

More from Tom's Guide

Alex Bracetti

A lifestyle journalist with an affinity for consumer products, Alex has over a decade of experience and has worked with popular publications such as Complex, Thrillist, Men’s Health, Gear Patrol, AskMen, and Hoop Magazine. He currently focuses on audio, reviewing the most coveted headphones in the market for both Tom’s Guide and Laptop Magazine.

With contributions from
  • NoOne.Specific
    Looking for a recommendation for something that has some water resistance. IP65? Looking at the latest Soundcore units or these. Something in this price range.

    Willing to sacrifice a little sound quality for the water resistance. Wear them most days and it rains a lot on the west coast. 😄