The best noise-cancelling headphones in 2024

Best noise-canceling headphones: Quick List

The best noise-canceling headphones are a must-have for all forms of public transport. Whether you're traveling on a flight or a train commute to and from work, throwing a pair of noise-canceling headphones into a bag has become an essential addition on any trip

ANC headphones have gone from strength-to-strength over the past couple of years, with many new models improving their audio performances compared to their predecessors. The pick of the best models below represent the greatest ANC headphones we've seen (and heard). 

Over-ear headphones often have superior noise-canceling performance as the earcups form a seal around the ears, although as our guide to the best noise-canceling earbuds shows, wireless in-ears are becoming increasingly more effective, and are even more portable.

Don't forget, you'll find lots more info in our in-depth standalone reviews, covering design and comfort, features, ANC performance, and sound quality with all kinds of media, as well as how well they handle calls. Just follow the link at the end of each product summary or tap the product title to find out more.

Read on to discover our pick of the best noise-canceling headphones you can buy right now based on our testing.

The Quick List

About the author

Portrait studio shot Lee Dunkley
Lee Dunkley

Hi, I'm Lee and I cover all things audio for Tom's Guide, including maintaining buying guides on the best noise-canceling headphones, best headphones, best wireless earbuds, and best audiophile headphones (to name a few). One of my earliest audio memories was listening to my favorite music on a pair of headphones. That's more than 30 years ago now, and although today's popular headphones are wireless and incorporate noise-canceling tech, my music-first approach to assessing sound quality is the same. With over 20 years of listening and writing about the finest audio products in the world, I've listened to hundreds of headphones and am perfectly positioned to find the best-sounding model for your budget.

Best noise-canceling headphones you can buy right now

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Best noise-canceling headphones overall

Bose QC Ultra Headphones worn by reviewer Alex BracettiEditor's Choice

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best-ever over-ear headphones for noise-canceling

Specifications

Size and weight: 7.7 x 2.0 x 5.5 inches; 8.96 ounces
Battery life (rated): 24 hours (18 hours w/ Immersive Audio)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive
Special features: Immersive audio

Reasons to buy

+
Best-ever ANC
+
Effective Immersive Audio experience
+
Intuitive controls
+
Modernized design

Reasons to avoid

-
High cost compared to most rivals
-
Middling battery life for a flagship design

The Bose QuietComfort Ultra Headphones are the best ANC headphones overall. As the replacement for the Bose 700, the company has raised the bar yet again for active noise-canceling headphones, effectively silencing outside world around you. The new model throws in Immersive Audio tech and plenty of extras including Bluetooth 5.3 with multipoint connectivity, aptX Adaptive support, and touch volume control. This all comes in an all-new modern and lightweight design that's comfortable enough to be worn for hours.

There are multiple levels of noise cancelation to balance the level of quiet with Aware mode (transparency) to suit your surroundings. Battery life has been extended to give up to 24 hours, while changes made to the controls and design make usability more practical and seamless. While the Bose 700 headphones are a great alternative option to consider (and can regularly be found discounted in early best headphone deals), the QC Ultra raise the game and are as close to perfect as you’re going to get in the noise-canceling headphones category.

Best value noise-canceling headphones

The Cleer Enduro ANC placed on a deskbest value awards badge

(Image credit: Future)
The best value noise-canceling headphones overall

Specifications

Size and weight: 7 x 6.6 x 3 inches, 10.6 ounces
Battery life (rated): 60 hours (ANC on)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive
Special features: Customizable EQ, foldable

Reasons to buy

+
Class-leading battery life
+
Bass-rich sound
+
Effective ANC

Reasons to avoid

-
ANC mics pick up wind noise
-
Comfort wanes over time

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 and they can even fold up for easy carrying.

Best balance of elite sound and ANC overall

Sony XM5 headphones in ecru (off white) placed outdoors on a garden table

Best balance of elite sound and noise-canceling performance

Specifications

Weight: 8.8 ounces
Battery life (rated): 30 hours (ANC on); 40 hours (ANC off)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC, LDAC
Special features: 360 Reality Audio, customizable EQ

Reasons to buy

+
Articulate and engaging sound
+
Great control options
+
Impressive noise-cancelation

Reasons to avoid

-
Redesign and eco credentials ups the price
-
Gets hot around the ears during longer listening

Sony has been steadily closing the noise-canceling gap on Bose, and the Sony WH-1000XM5 headphones come closer than ever to beating Bose in terms of its ANC performance. In terms of its noise cancelling tech, the Sony doubles its processing power over its predecessor to control eight microphones, and the result in our testing is near-seamless ANC. 

It's difficult to fault the sound quality from Sony's flagship headphones. During our testing we found that they sounded superb. Everything from the touch controls to the ability to tweak the EQ via the Sony Headphones Connect app is well thought out and seamlessly integrated. The 30-hour battery life (with ANC) is excellent, and call quality has also been improved greatly over its predecessor, making them one of the most versatile options and the top ranking model in the best headphones round up overall.  

Best battery life

Tom's Guide Awards 2023 winners

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best-ever battery life and great sound for less

Specifications

Size & weight: 7 x 7.67 x 1.82 inches; 10.3 ounces
Battery life (rated): Up to 60 hours (with ANC)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive
Special features: Customizable EQ

Reasons to buy

+
Spectacular battery life
+
Great sound
+
Effective noise-canceling performance 
+
Reliable touch controls
+
Robust design

Reasons to avoid

-
Earpads may make ears hot
-
Flaky connectivity issues with Smart Control app

Although the revamped design of Sennheiser's fourth generation Momentum Wireless headphones don't stand out quite like their classic-looking predecessor, the 60-hour battery life is a real crowd pleaser and make these the one to beat. Add in the easy-going Sennheiser sound and effective noise canceling, and the Momentum 4 are one the most practical wireless headphones we've seen, perfectly built for a life on the road rather than tethered to a power socket needing regular battery top ups. 

Sennheiser's smooth house sound handles a wide range of music content, from pounding beats to more mellow tunes with aplomb. It has Bluetooth 5.2 and aptX Adaptive support, and there's a supplied 3.5mm cable for audiophile wired connections. ANC performance is effective, and auto Wind Noise Reduction is very impressive when stood on a windy train platform on daily work commutes.

Best noise-canceling headphone under $99

Review listing image for Anker Soundcore Space One in blue

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Great all-round performance for $99

Specifications

Size and weight: 6.38 x 3.62 x 7.32 inches; 9.1 ounces
Battery life (rated): 40 hours (ANC on); 55 hours (ANC off)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC, LDAC
Special features: App support with ambient sound control, EQ, safe volume, and wind noise reduction

Reasons to buy

+
Vibrant, customizable sound
+
Effective ANC
+
Stylish design
+
Long battery life

Reasons to avoid

-
Weak call quality
-
Very cumbersome
-
Outdated control scheme

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 Canceling for adjusting performance to your surrounding noise levels or Customize Noise Canceling 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.

Best for iOS

AirPods Max worn on head

(Image credit: Shutterstock)
The best noise-canceling headphones for iOS

Specifications

Size and weight: 7.4 x 6.6 x 3.3 inches; 13.6 ounces
Battery life (rated): 20 hours (ANC on)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC
Special features: Spatial Audio; Audio Sharing; Siri

Reasons to buy

+
Luxury design
+
Excellent noise cancellation
+
Spatial audio sounds great

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
No aux jack

Although there’s only one level of active noise cancellation on the ultra-premium AirPods Max, it works like a charm. The cans do a great job of blocking out ambient sounds, especially at the lower end of the frequency spectrum. It’s almost as good as Bose’s ANC, which is a fine showing for Apple’s first pair of over-ears.

Elsewhere, the AirPods Max sound great, especially with the surround-sound spatial audio feature switched on, and their design standards and build quality are so high you can almost forget that these headphones cost $549. That’s a lot more than the Sony and Bose headphones higher up the list, so this is a luxury purpose, but can very much be a worthwhile one.

Best Bose noise-canceling headphones for travel

Bose QuietComfort Headphones with the packing box

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Best value noise-canceling headphones for travel

Specifications

Size and weight: 6.18 x 3.15 x 7.68 inches; 8.32 ounces
Battery life (rated): Up to 24 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 with SBC, AAC
Special features: Always-on ANC

Reasons to buy

+
Bose top-tier noise cancelation
+
Updated sound profile
+
Comfy design
+
Better battery life than predecessors

Reasons to avoid

-
ANC can’t be turned off
-
No spatial audio mode
-
Lacks motion and touch controls

As the more affordable Bose noise-canceling option, the QuietComfort Headphones were quietly ushered in to replace the QC45 in October 2023. The new version looks similar and boasts many of the same hallmarks including companion app support with personalization, excellent active noise cancellation, and great comfort. 

While we loved the strong always-on noise-canceling performance of the QC45 which was highly effective at blocking out close to 90% of unwanted sounds, QC Headphones wearers get the same effective level of noise cancelation but can now customize ANC performance by creating multiple modes with set noise control levels. You can also enable the Wind Block feature to increase wind resistance when ANC is on. Along with an uptick in sound quality, battery life has also been given a boost. A full charge generates 24 hours of ANC playtime, which is only 2 hours more than the QC45, but greatly appreciated.

Luxury design and features for audiophiles

Focal Bathy's head aloft outside against a blue sky

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Luxury over-ears with solid noise canceling

Specifications

Size and weight: 9.4 x 8.25 x 2.75 inches; 12.3 ounces
Battery life (rated): Up to 30 hours
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.1 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive
Special features: 24-bit/192kHz-capable DAC

Reasons to buy

+
Spacious, high-quality sound
+
Long battery life
+
Gorgeous design and easily portable

Reasons to avoid

-
One of the pricier ANC headphones out there

Although not the strongest noise canceling out there, the Focal Bathys offer ingenious versatility: they're a superb, high-performance headphone that's perfectly suited to critical audiophile listening at home, while also practical and conveniently wireless to enable owners to enjoy them on the go. The price may initially seem high, but when you weigh up flagship features like Focal’s dynamic drivers, integrated DAC with full hi-res audio support, and top-tier audio performance, $699 feels like something of a bargain.

The combination of Focal’s M-dome speaker drivers and support for Hi-Res Audio ensures the Bathys sound spectacular. Recordings were deeply layered during our listening sessions, giving instruments plenty of room to breathe, and the onboard DAC is awesome for uncompressed 24-bit sound when connected to lossless sources such as Apple Music and Tidal. Fidelity is increased and there’s a greater degree of tightness in the delivery. 

Best for spatial audio

Sonos Ace headphones on man's head

(Image credit: Future)
Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio spatial audio support

Specifications

Size and weight: 7.52 x 6.3 x 3.35 inches; 11.4 ounces
Battery life (rated): 30 hours (with ANC)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.4 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive and aptX Lossless
Special features: Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio support with Dolby head tracking

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent sound and noise canceling performance
+
Attractive design
+
Long battery life
+
Strong eco credentials
+
Integrates with Sonos Arc soundbar

Reasons to avoid

-
No lossless audio support over Wi-Fi
-
Lacks smart integrating with Sonos ecosystem

The Sonos Ace are the company's first pair of noise-canceling headphones. While I've been impressed by their sound and ANC performance, what sees them rank here is their impressive spatial audio support. Sonos has been a strong supporter of spatial audio content, and its Era 300 is one of the few speakers I've encountered that maximizes the listening experience. 

The Sonos Ace headphones support Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio content, meaning that they're compatible with spatial audio mixes on the best music streaming services. They are an excellent-sounding model and have accurate Dolby head tracking to help you make the most of the immersive listening experience. Even with spatial audio turned off, these headphones produce a wide, spacious sound that's more involving than most. Bass is nicely extended, and voices have some of the best clarity we've heard from a pair of noise-canceling headphones.

Best mid-range for travel

Anker Soundcore Space Q45 headphones placed in reviewer's hand with outdoors Florida scene in background

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)
Practical travel headphones at a mid-range price

Specifications

Size & weight: 6.3 x 3.4 x 7.4 inches; 10.3 ounces
Battery life (rated): Up to 50 hours (ANC on); up to 65 hours (ANC off)
Connectivity: Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC, LDAC
Special features: Ambient Sound, Safe Volume, Sound Effects, Sound Mode, Wind Noise Reduction

Reasons to buy

+
Big sound with plenty of bass
+
Lengthy battery life
+
Loaded with special features
+
Effective ANC

Reasons to avoid

-
Call quality could benefit from better wind resistance
-
No Find My Headphones function

Like the Cleer Enduro ANC, Anker's Soundcore Space Q45 are quite the bargain with a remarkable set of features and effective ANC performance. They offer remarkable battery life, quality ANC, and superb sound powered by upmarket specs and special features. Sound quality has a liveliness that pulls listeners to the front row of the performance on whatever music you're listening to. The sonic soundstage is wide and immersive, and have a ramped up low end, rich mids and crisp highs. 

Anker engineered the Space Q45 with a versatile Ambient Sound mode that features dual settings for both Noise Cancellation and Transparency settings. And they all work well when used in proper situations. These headphone are not without some flaws, but nevertheless they have compelling sound and noise neutralization for half the price of Bose and Sony’s flagship models and are worth tracking down.

Specs compared

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 ConnectivityWeightBattery life (rated)
Bose QuietComfort Ultra HeadphonesBluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, and aptX Adaptive8.96 ounces24 hours (ANC on)
Cleer Enduro ANCBluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive10.6 ounces60 hours (ANC on)
Sony WH-1000XM5Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC, LDAC8.8 ounces30 hours (ANC on)
Sennheiser Momentum 4 WirelessBluetooth 5.2 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive10.3 ounces60 hours (ANC on)
Anker Soundcore Space OneBluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC, LDAC9.1 ounces40 hours (ANC on)
Apple AirPods MaxBluetooth 5.0 with SBC, AAC13.6 ounces20 hours (ANC on)
Bose QuietComfort HeadphonesBluetooth 5.1 with SBC, AAC8.32 ounces24 hours (ANC on)
Focal BathysBluetooth 5.1 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive12.3 ounces30 hours (ANC on)
Sonos AceBluetooth 5.4 with SBC, AAC, aptX Adaptive and aptX Lossless11.4 ounces30 hours (ANC on)
Anker Soundcore Space Q45Bluetooth 5.3 with SBC, AAC, LDAC10.3 ounces50 hours (ANC on)

Also tested...

As Tom's Guide's audio experts, we test a lot of noise-cancelling headphones but some models don't make it into a buying guide. That's not to say that they're not great performers, just that they're beaten by rival models with a stronger set of features or performance. The picks in this guide are the very best we've tested and have all been given full reviews. But with more models to choose from than ever, we want to make sure that you consider these also tested options. These alternatives have been through our rigorous testing processes but didn't quite make the grade to rank among the best of the best.

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e:

Bowers & Wilkins Px7 S2e: An 'evolved' version of the company's entry-level headphones, these feel just as good as their predecessor and look identical. They take inspiration and learnings from the company's Px8 flagship headphones together with a re-tuned acoustic performance and 24-bit digital signal processing (DSP).

In my review, I particularly liked the bass kick they brought to my music, which had a bit more energy than many of their price rivals. The rest of the frequency range felt nicely judged, and noise canceling was effective but not the strong enough to out-class similarly priced models in this list. 

Bose 700:

Bose 700: Superseded by the Bose QC Ultra Headphones awarded the best noise-canceling headphones overall, the 700s were the previous top-ranking model, and maintained that position for more than three years. They are no longer listed on the Bose website, but the 700s continue to be available via online retailers where they can be found discounted. Despite being an older model, these stand up well to rivals and boast 10 levels of ANC that works flawlessly to silence the majority of external sounds. Most importantly, the 700s achieve this without compromising sound quality, allowing listeners to enjoy clean, well-balanced sound reproduction, although the slightly deficient lower frequencies may leave bass fiends feeling short changed. Bose’s companion app lets you adjust the EQ for personalized audio, though.

Read the full Bose 700 review

Yamaha YH-L700:

Yamaha YH-L700: These are an excellent-sounding pair of noise-canceling headphones that have a better 3D sound experience than the AirPods Max. They're equipped with accurate head-tracking technology and multiple well-engineered listening modes for different content. Even with spatial audio turned off, these headphones produce spacious sound with full bass presence, delivering rich lows, palpable mids, and crisp highs. And though Yamaha’s ANC won’t match what Apple, Bose, or Sony offers, it’s still effective to enjoy premium sound in most environments.

You just have to live with its large, heavy design and uneven battery life, which fluctuates when listening with 3D enabled.

Read the full Yamaha YH-L700 review

How to choose

5 things to consider when choosing the best ANC headphones and earbuds for you

The first item to check off the list when shopping for the best noise-canceling headphones is active noise cancellation, which shouldn’t be confused with passive noise cancellation. What are the differences?

1. Active vs. passive noise cancellation: When it comes to active noise canceling (ANC) headphones, these use an 'active' combination of hardware (microphones) and firmware to make external sounds or noises sound quieter when you’re listening to your favorite media such as music, videos, or podcasts. Unlike passive noise isolation, which simply blocks sounds out by forming a seal with headphone ear cups around the ears, or in-ear tips inside the ear canal, active noise cancellation listens out for background sounds and uses clever audio trickery to “cancel” these potentially disruptive noises out. 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 cancellation, 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 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

The best reviews criteria carried out by audio experts

With more than 30 years experience in testing and reviewing consumer audio products for all kinds of media outlets and big-name brands around the world, the Tom's Guide audio team follows a rigorous test regime when it comes to determining the best products for recommendation in our buying guides. 

To help you separate the wheat from the chaff when shopping for headphones, Tom's Guide evaluates the following criteria: design, comfort, features, performance and value. We employ a rigorous review process, comparing products with similar fit, features and pricing.

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 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. 

Find out how we test for more information on our reviewing procedures.

More from Tom's Guide

Lee Dunkley
Audio Editor

As a former editor of the U.K.'s Hi-Fi Choice magazine, Lee is passionate about all kinds of audio tech and has been providing sound advice to enable consumers to make informed buying decisions since he joined Which? magazine as a product tester in the 1990s. Lee covers all things audio for Tom's Guide, including headphones, wireless speakers and soundbars and loves to connect and share the mindfulness benefits that listening to music in the very best quality can bring.