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Best cheap noise-cancelling headphones in 2021

Best cheap noise cancelling headphones
(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

The best cheap noise-cancelling headphones have a tough task on their hands. Or tips. Active noise-cancelling (ANC) is a hardware-reliant feature that unavoidably pushes production costs up, which in turn raises the prices of the headphones that feature it. To offer both ANC and a low price? That’s a big ask.

Fortunately, these headphones succeed. Some even display a level of noise-cancelling effectiveness that can rival the absolute best noise-cancelling headphones out there. Some compromises may have been made to keep costs down, but we’ve tested all these models ourselves, and can fill you in on why they’re the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones you can buy.

What are the best cheap noise-cancelling headphones?

The Sennheiser HD 4.5 BTNC currently stands as our favorite pair of cheap noise-cancelling headphones, thanks to its powerful ANC and high sound quality. Most models in the category usually take a hit in the audio department when having ANC enabled, but not these cans, as Sennheiser’s soundstage remains unaffected whether the feature is turned on or off. It boasts a clean, luxe design that should fare well with executive types too.

Then there's the Urbanista Miami, which actually beats the HD 4.5 BTNC on several metrics. That includes battery life, as the Miami can exceed 40 hours of ANC playback. 

Coming in third is the Sony WF-1000XM3, the best ANC true wireless earbuds to date. These tiny sound-silencers offer an incredible 1-2 punch, blending remarkable sonics with noise neutralization in a tiny package. 

The best cheap noise cancelling headphones (under $200) right now

Best cheap noise cancelling headphones: Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

1. Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC

The best noise-cancelling headphones under $200 overall

Size and Weight: 10.2 x 7.1 x 3.9 inches, 8.4 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 19 hours (NC on), 25 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: : Yes

Sennheiser sound
Attractive and comfortable design
User-friendly controls
Strong ANC performance
Good call quality
ANC doesn’t perform well on airplanes

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.

Best cheap noise-cancelling headphones: Urbanista Miami

(Image credit: Future)

2. Urbanista Miami

Cheap noise-cancelling headphones that last longer

Size: 8.1 x 6.6 x 3.5 inches | Weight: 10.9 ounces | Battery life: 40 hours (ANC on); 50 hours (ANC off) | Bluetooth range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Outstanding battery life
ANC and transparency modes
High audio quality
Tight fit
Weak wind resistance

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, so definitely consider picking these up if you’re a regular traveller.

See our full Urbanista Miami review.

Best cheap noise cancelling headphones: Sony WF-1000XM3

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

3. Sony WF-1000XM3

The best noise-cancelling wireless earbuds

Size and Weight: 0.9 x 0.9 x 1.2 inches, 0.3 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 6 hours (NC on), 8 hours (NC off), 24 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Stellar sonics
Outstanding noise cancellation
Premium design
Excellent battery life across the board
Compatible with Sony Connect app
Wonky touch controls

Sony headphones are becoming noise-cancelling staples, and just recently, the company launched its own game-changing product in the true wireless category: the WF-1000XM3. 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.

JLab Epic Air Sport ANC review

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

4. JLab Epic Air Sport ANC

The best cheap noise-cancelling earbuds for fitness

Size and Weight: 2.4 x 1.7 x 0.9 inches, 0.3 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 11 hours (with ANC on), 15 hours (with ANC off), 70 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Very cheap
Adjustable sound
Sporty, stable design
Long battery life
Finicky touch controls

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.

Best cheap noise cancelling headphones: Anker Soundcore Life Q30

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

5. Anker Soundcore Life Q30

Best for noise-cancelling value

Size and Weight: 7.8 x 7.09 x 3.07 inches, 9 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 40 hours (ANC off), 60 hours (ANC off) | Bluetooth Range: 50 feet (15 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Best-in-class battery life
Strong audio
Multiple ANC modes
Lots of features
Big and heavy

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.

(Image credit: Sony)

6. Sony WH-CH710N

A Bose alternative with Sony sound and smart noise reduction

Size and Weight: 7.84 x 2.09 x 9.02 inches, 7.87 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 35 hours | Bluetooth Range: 100 feet (33 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Lengthy battery life
Energetic soundstage
Smart noise cancellation
Works in passive mode
AINC not as effective as ANC

The Sony CH710N bringS together many of the brand’s beloved hallmarks (e.g. bass-forward signature, bountiful battery life) and welcome unique features such as Artificial Intelligence Noise Cancellation to the party. Listening to music rewards you with deep bass and crisp-sounding mids, along with 35 hours of uninterrupted playtime. You can also use these in wired mode to preserve power. 

While the CH710N’s smart noise reduction sufficiently minimizes background clatter, the technology is a step down from the active noise cancellation featured in Sony’s flagship headset, the WH-1000XM4. You’ll be able to drown out chatty neighbors and loud televisions. Power tools and washing machines, not so much. For the sub-luxury price, we also felt Sony could have done a better job constructing these cans, as the plastic frame isn’t aesthetically pleasing.

Best cheap noise cancelling headphones: Nura NuraLoop

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

7. Nura NuraLoop

Capable and customizable noise-cancellers

Size and Weight: TBD, 0.88 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 16 hours (NC on) | Bluetooth Range: 32 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Excellent and customizable ANC and audio
Comfortable and secure fit
Can be used wirelessly or with an aux cable
Proprietary charging cable
Sensitive touch controls

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.

best cheap noise cancelling headphones: Plantronics BackBeat Go 810

(Image credit: Plantronics)

8. Plantronics BackBeat Go 810

Bold sound with modest noise cancellation

Size and Weight: 8.1 x 2.2 x 1.65 inches, 10.24 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 22 hours (NC on), 28 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (9 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Loud, powerful sound
Companion app with plenty of features
Great battery life
Acts buggy at times
Both ANC modes produce a crackling noise in the background

Plantronics' ANC model is a solid entry-level option for music lovers who want dependable noise cancellation and the same audio performance as the BackBeat Pro 2 SE. The lows are prominent and responsive, giving bass-heavy content some extra oomph. It’s cool to see these cans support the Plantronics app as well, giving users the option to enhance sound for music and voice output on phone calls. Another brand hallmark that remains intact is strong battery life, as the BackBeat Go 810 gives listeners 22 hours with ANC mode on and 28 hours in standard mode.

Two ANC modes (Low and High) are programmed into these cans and work differently to combat different levels of ambient noise. Low is designed for closed settings like offices to hush watercooler chatter, while High is reserved for rowdier environments, though you’ll want to be selective of which mode to choose since the mics let in a lot of external sounds. Bluetooth and the controls can also act up at times, but we believe that the last software update Plantronics released took care of these two issues.

See our full Plantronics BackBeat Go 810 review.

Best cheap noise cancelling headphones: Sony WF-SP800N

(Image credit: Regan Coule/Tom's Guide)

9. Sony WF-SP800N

Solid workout buds with noise cancellation

Size and Weight: 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5 inches, 0.5 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 9 hours, 18 hours (with charging case) | Bluetooth range: 90 feet (27 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Wide, customizable sound
Strong battery life (on a single charge)
Modest active noise cancellation
Lacks several Sony signature features
Lots of bugs in the system

The WF-SP800N is a superior upgrade that outperforms its predecessor, the WF-SP700N, in numerous areas, including audio, battery life, and most importantly, noise cancellation. Music sounds lively, as Sony’s bass-forward signature feeds your ears impactful lows that play nicely with mids and highs to produce warm, well-rounded sound. Access to the Sony Headphones app opens the lane to personalize sound by customizing the EQ or selecting from different music presets.

ANC is a step down from the WF-1000XM3, but still serviceable for blocking out distractions at the gym. The adjustable Ambient Mode setting also lets you control the level of ambient sound entering the earbuds, so you can be better aware of your surroundings; it’s a great feature for outdoor runners. We’re just a bit disappointed these buds are missing some key Sony features, including NFC and the QN1 processor that optimizes sound and noise cancellation.

Read our full Sony WF-SP800N review.

Best cheap noise cancelling headphones: Anker Soundcore Life Q20

(Image credit: Anker)

10. Anker Soundcore Life Q20

Reliable noise-cancelling headphones for less

Size and Weight: 7.7 x 7.1 x 3.1 inches, 9.3 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 40 hours (ANC on), 60 hours (Standard Mode) | Bluetooth Range: 50 feet (15.4 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes

Remarkable battery life
Booming sound
Fairly decent ANC
Proximate ambient noises are audible
Wired mode ruins sound

The Life Q20 is further proof that you can score a nice pair of cheap, noise-cancelling headphones for less than a Benjamin., even with noise cancellation serving as its third-best feature. Audio is the Life Q20’s main attraction with custom 40mm drivers that produce rich sound; bass is punchy and doesn’t muffle the mid-range or vocals. Battery life is up there as well, generating up to 40 hours of playtime on a full charge, which can be extended up to 60 hours when ANC is off. 

Anker’s headphones have better-than-average noise cancellation that realistically blocks out 70% of environmental sounds (Anker claims 90%). Although, the feature struggles to filter out proximate noises such as keyboard clatter and neighborly chatter. You’ll also want to refrain from using the included aux cable since it hinders audio performance. Nonetheless, it’s impressive for such a dirt-cheap set of headphones.

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.