In a world of noisy planes, screaming children and loud talkers, the best present you can give (or receive) is the gift of peace and quiet. A pair of good, active noise-cancelling headphones is just what the doctor ordered.
The Bose QuietComfort 35 II and Sony WH-1000XM3 are the two most coveted models in the category. Having pitted the two against each other in a recent face-off, we crowned Bose as the ANC champion. Granted, Sony’s boom-blasters are an incredible feat in sound engineering and worth the listen.
Note that Bose has just introduced the new Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700, which promises even better noise-cancellation (complete with 11 levels), support for AR apps and a sleeker design for $399. We'll keep you posted on our review. If you're looking for something cheaper, the Jabra Elite 85h headphones are a great $299 alternative.
Anyone who wants something even more affordable should consider bargain options, such as the Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 and Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC listed on our best noise-cancelling headphones under $200 page. Both of these devices offer great bang-for-the-buck performance.
Whether it's elite-sounding headphones to enjoy your Spotify playlists in peace, or portable cans to shut out the world, there's something out there for every music lover. Here are the best noise-cancelling headphones money can buy.
And if you’re curious to check out more cans for every use case and budget, take a look at our best headphones page. There’s also our best truly wireless earbuds roundup for those who want something more portable.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
1. Bose QuietComfort 35 II
The best noise-cancelling headphones overallRating: 4.5/5 stars
Size and Weight: 7.1 x 6.7 x 3.2 inches, 8.2 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 20 hours (NC on); 40 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Champion noise-cancelling technology; crisp, wide sound; lightweight, comfy design; stable connectivity; can listen in wired mode with ANC on
Cons: Google Assistant integration could be improved; same design as last-gen model
The QuietComfort 35 II lets you go wireless while still enjoying Bose's superior active noise-cancellation tech. Screaming babies, subway cars and planes are no match for these premium cans, which are plenty light and comfy for enjoying the 20 hours of playtime on a charge. The controls are a cinch to use and the sound quality is top-notch among Bluetooth headphones. And if that wasn’t enough, Bose has added a dedicated Google Assistant button, so that you can quickly inquire about the weather, a new restaurant or last night’s game.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort 35 II review.
2. Sony WH-1000XM3
Class-leading sound in a deluxe packageRating: 4.5/5 stars
Size and Weight: 10.4 x 7.3 x 2.9 inches, 9 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 30 hours (NC on); 38 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30ft. (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Unbeatable sound; superior noise cancelling; lengthy battery life; touch controls; companion app with sound customization options
Cons: Design feels less premium than previous version; not the best for phone calls
Advanced noise cancellation combined with intelligible features and a ton of sound-optimization features make the Sony WH1000xM3 a superior upgrade over its predecessor. The all-new HD Noise Cancelling Processor QN1 improves noise neutralization and audio processing while achieving exceptional high-fidelity sound. Comfort is another area where these sound-silencers excel, taking on a lighter and more slender form than previous versions, for better wearability. Battery life remains a series highlight, and the addition of USB-C charging definitely ups the ante, rewarding listeners with 5 hours of use on a 10-minute charge.
Read our full Sony WH-1000xM3 review.
Jabra Elite 85h. Credit: Jabra
3. Jabra Elite 85h
Feature-laden headphones with powerful battery lifeRating: 4/5 stars
Size and Weight: 7.6 x 8.8 x 3.2 inches, 10.4 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 36 hours (NC On); 41 hours (NC Off) | Bluetooth Range: 33 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Class-leading battery life; adaptive noise cancellation; personalized sound; supports the most digital assistants
Cons: Heavy; listening modes cause distortion
Eight built-in mics, rain-proof aesthetics, three onboard digital assistants, and the highest-rated battery for noise cancellation – the Jabra Elite 85h stands out as the most ambitious wireless headphones available. The spec sheet is loaded with intuitive features, from ambient listening modes, to on-ear detection that controls call management and music. The audio is warm and customizable via Jabra’s mobile app. Jabra’s Smart Active Noise Cancellation technology is also well-engineered, scanning your environment to filter out background noises and enhance sound output.
Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 (Credit: Plantronics)
4. Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2
Best noise-cancelling headphone valueRating: 4/5 stars
Size and Weight: 9 x 8.1 x 7.8 inches, 10.9 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 24 hours (NC On); 180 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 35 ft. (10.6 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Strong battery life;vibrant sound; intelligible features; pairs and connects to two devices at once
Cons: Overemphasized bass; moderate noise cancellation
The Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2's Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) technology can put a serious kibosh on an otherwise noisy situation. The headphones lack the annoying white hiss that many competing headsets use to keep the outside world at bay. As if that's not enough, the cans also offer a whopping 24 hours of quiet, coupled with warm, rich audio and easy-to-use, integrated smart controls.
Read our full Plantronics BackBeat Pro 2 SE review.
Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
5. Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC
Solid performance at a mid-range priceRating: 4/5 stars
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: 30ft. (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Neutral-sounding mids and highs; Relaxed fit; simple controls; NFC support
Cons: Mediocre battery; noise cancellation could be stronger
Thanks to their minimalistic design, comfortable fit, and clean, precise audio quality, the Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC headphones are the clear-cut winner against similarly-priced cans. While the NoiseGuard technology isn’t as dynamic as what you’ll find in Bose or Sony’s cans, the HD 4.50 ensures a quiet commute on the road and doesn’t affect the sound profile.
Read our full Sennheiser HD 4.50 BTNC review.
Bowers & Wilkins PX
6. Bowers & Wilkins PX
A noise-canceller for luxury audiophilesRating: 4/5 stars
Size and Weight: 7.87 x 6.89 x 2.95 inches, 11.82 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 22 hours (NC on); 29 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 33 ft. (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Beautiful design; adjustable ANC; smart features; USB-C charging
Cons: On the heavy side; pricey
The Bowers & Wilkins PX headphones are the company's first wireless cans to feature active noise-cancellation technology and offer smart sensors for automatic pause and play. The PX headphones also have a companion app that allows quiet-seeking music lovers the option of adjusting ANC modes and the amount of ambient noise the cans let in. The PX's premium price tag nets you remarkable audio quality, up to 22 hours of battery life, and a pair of headphones just as pretty as they are sturdy.
Read our full Bowers & Wilkins PX review.
Bose QuietComfort 20
7. Bose QuietComfort 20i
Best noise-cancelling earphones overallRating: 4/5 stars
Size and Weight: 7.8 x 5 x 2.4 inches, 1.6 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 16 hours (NC on) | Bluetooth Range: None | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Excellent noise cancelling; extremely comfortable; ambient listening mode;plays audio when battery dies
Cons: Not the best-sounding Bose earphones; bulky in-line mic and battery module
Bose extends its industry-leading noise-cancelling technology to these premium in-ears, which do an amazing job of silencing background fracas, while maintaining a balanced sound signature. NC mode is powered through the integrated, rechargeable battery pack that provides up to 16 hours of use. The buds also feature an Aware mode, to pipe in surrounding noise without stopping the music. Bose’s patented StayHear tips come bundled with the package as well, and rest comfortably on the ear; the wings provide a secure fit for added stability and noise isolation as well.
Read our full Bose QuietComfort 20i review.
Microsoft Surface Headphones (Credit: Microsoft)
8. Microsoft Surface Headphones
Ultramodern design with adaptive noise cancellationRating: 4/5 stars
Size and Weight: 8 x 7.68 x 1.89 inches, 10.2 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 15 hours (NC On) | Bluetooth Range: 35 ft. (10.6 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Adjustable ANC levels; impressive sound; intuitive controls; pairs with 10 devices simultaneously
Cons: Battery life lower than the competition;Cortana app needed for most features
Riding on the success of the Surface brand, Microsoft has expanded its reach into the audio space with the Surface Headphones. Engineered in-house by the Surface team, these active noise-cancelling cans borrow much of the same design elements as the product's computing brethren, while bringing forth dynamic sound and unique controls. The result is a stylish set of cans with solid audio performance and surprisingly potent active noise cancellation.
Read our full Microsoft Surface Headphones review.
9. Sony WH-1000xM2
A last-gen model with next-gen soundRating: 4/5 stars
Size and Weight: 9.81 x 7.29 x 2.92 inches, 9.7 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 28 hours (NC on); 38 hours (NC off) | Bluetooth Range: 30 ft. (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Booming sound signature; similar battery life as successor; reliable noise cancelling; Sound customization via mobile app
Cons: Touch controls are finicky; price is still high
Dynamic active noise-cancelling technology and sound quality packed into a comfy, business-class design, the Sony WH-1000xM2 delivers one of the most personalized listening experiences yet. Two modes are programmed into these cans – Ambient and Noise Cancellation – each highly efficient at drowning out environmental noise. Long battery life and smart features like Google Assistant are also highlights. However, the real sonic kicker lies in Sony’s Connect App, which grants users the luxury of adjusting the sound profile to their liking.
Read our full Sony WH-1000xM2 review.
10. TaoTronics TT-BH046
Best noise-cancelling under $100Rating: 4/5 stars
Size and Weight: 6.9 x 7.9 x 2.2 inches, 7.6 ounces | Battery Life (Rated): 30 hours (NC On) | Bluetooth Range: 30 feet (10 meters) | Digital Assistant Support: Yes
Pros: Strong bass response; effective noise cancellation; stable battery life; simple controls
Cons: No EQ settings; Headband feels too snug
These budget noise-cancellers offer incredible value based on audio performance alone. TaoTronics’ 40-mm drivers produce crisp vocals and heavy bass; the additional aux cable improves frequency response for clearer sonics. The company’s Hybrid Active Noise Cancelling technology performs well, eliminating the majority of background noises when blasting music indoors or out. Battery life might be its most unsung feature, generating between 28 to 30 hours with ANC on, which is perfect for about a week of listening.
Read our full TaoTronics TT-BH046 review.
Credit: Tom’s Guide