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Top 10 Best Noise Cancelling Headphones in 2021

Experts at OwlRatings’ have handpicked the following ten noise-cancelling headphones from a sea of headphones. The list includes models from many high-end brands as well as ones from emerging brands so that everyone can find a perfect fit without having to spend money beyond their budget constraints. You will find headphones that are best for comfort, traveling, casual use, and every other category.

Reasons to look for a good noise cancelling headphone

Noise-cancelling headphones keep all the disturbance and commotion out of your ears and let you immerse yourself in a world of music. Feeling the beat of the music that you are listening to is one of the most euphoric feelings ever experienced and no one wants unwanted noises distorting the sound quality.

Most models have Active Noise Cancelling (ANC) Technology which uses the microphone to pick up low-frequency noises and deactivates them before they reach your ear. The headset creates a sound wave that is phase-inverted by 180 degrees to ambient noises. This cancels out their effect and gives you an isolated soundstage with the best audio experience ever.

So, if you are looking for headphones that elevate the entire sound experience for you then you need noise-cancelling headphones. Furthermore, since these headphones actively sought out the irritating sounds in the background and help you remain calm and collected even in a crowded subway, these headphones are especially ideal for people with sound sensitivity.

Many people can develop headaches, or even worse migraines, because of loud noise. If you are one of these people, then noise-cancelling headphones are probably better for you than regular headphones.

Best overall

Bose QuietComfort 35 II noise cancelling headphone

Bose QuietComfort 35 II noise cancelling headphone

Best noise-cancelling headphones overall for the price

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Read our full review here

Bose’s QuietComfort 35 II Headphones can make you feel as if you are the only person on a bustling street in the middle of New York Times Square. It clears out all the distractions so that you can focus only on your playlist. Whether it’s the sirens, people’s conversation, or announcements, it uses ANC technology to remove them all as soon as you wear the headphones.

Whether you are into hip-hop, pop, jazz, rock, or even country music, the headphones deliver one of the best audio performances. The notes are clear, clean, and distinctive. The music has the perfect audio fidelity and has an even better sound quality.

The unit possesses two modes; wired and active. The former is ideal if you are looking for sufficient sound isolation and audio performance but if you are seeking an immersive and isolated soundstage with a rich, vibrant and crisp note, then you need to switch on the active mode. It works at its full potential and produces loud music without you increasing the volume above comfortable levels.

The headphones are made from glass-filled nylon and sleek leather covering so that the unit provides ultimate comfort. The unit also features virtual google assistance, navigation buttons on the ear cups, and an official mobile application to make things easier.

Best under $200

Sony WH-1000XM3 noise cancelling headphone

Sony WH-1000XM3 noise cancelling headphone

Best noise-cancelling headphones under $200

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Read our full review here

Sony WH-1000XM3 Headphones features customizable audio options, noise-cancelling modes, Bluetooth, NFC connectivity, and an extremely powerful and robust QN1 processor. The processor keeps the background noises at bay and helps in audio processing to give you an optimal audio experience.

The unit has two modes; NC and Ambient. NC mode cancels every disturbing noise around you, irrespective of how loud they are whereas the ambient mode lets you keep an ear out for announcements or other important cues. If you are traveling in local transport then it is better to use the latter mode so that you can still be aware of your surroundings.

Every type of music genre as well as audiobooks and podcasts sounds phenomenal on the headphones. It adapts to the notes of each audio and brings out the best levels of bass, treble, and mids. The reverberation is also perfect; it provides the optimal resonance which is enjoyable and pleasant.

The ear cups and headset are padded so that when you wear the headphones, you do not feel any external pressure. Although, while inspecting the quality, we noticed that the outer layer is sensitive to scratches and stains so you would have to take extra care to ensure it stays safe and protected.

Best premium

Bose 700 noise cancelling headphone

Bose 700 noise cancelling headphone

Best premium noise-cancelling headphones if price doesn’t matter

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Read our full review here

Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 are perfect for people who want a lightweight, user-friendly and inexpensive headphone which delivers exceptional audio quality. The unit has 11 different levels of changeable noise cancellation which gives you better control over the level of noise you want to let in.

With ANC technology and the padded ear cups, the noise cancellation becomes flawless.  Moreover, the sound quality is just as amazing! The bass is well balanced with the treble and mids so that you get a warm, inviting, and deep audio quality which sounds pristine and out of this world.

Although there is one slight disadvantage –the sound level is not as loud as many of the competitors’ models. However, they are accurate at delivering a large and accurate soundstage.

Weighing only 9 ounces, the unit barely puts any pressure over your head. However, due to the cushioned ear muff, your ears might start sweating if you continuously wear them for longer hours, especially during summer times.

The headphones also have an impressive playtime of 20 hours. In addition to this, the recharging time is short. You can get approximately 3.5 hours of activity if you charge it for only 15 minutes.

Best for studying

Vankyo C751 Active noise cancelling headphone

Vankyo C751 Active noise cancelling headphone

Best noise-cancelling headphones for school use

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Read our full review here

Vankyo’s C751 headphones are one of the comfiest headphones that we have tried on! The headband is adjustable and has a sufficient amount of padding which sits nicely over your head and does not cause external stress to the crown of your head. The cushioned ear cups are just as perfect and encircle your ears firmly.

The ANC technology works efficiently to provide you with an isolated soundstage so that you can get the best possible audio experience without turning the volume above considerable levels and damaging your ears.

One of the most notable features is turbocharging. It speeds up the charging process and completely charges the device in only two hours. Once it is fully charged, you can use it for approximately 30 hours continuously. So, if you travel, then these headphones might work for you. They are lightweight, comfortable, and have an exceptional battery life that can last you throughout your trip.

The only thing that we didn’t like about these headphones was that the controls on the ear cups were too small. They should have been a bit bigger so you can easily find and distinguish each one of them.

Best under $50

Mpow H19 IPO noise cancelling headphone

Mpow H19 IPO noise cancelling headphone

Best noice-cancelling headphones under $50

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Read our full review here

Mpow’s H19 IPO Headphones are perfect for you if you are looking for a set that you can take with you for traveling. This particular unit is comfortable to wear, lightweight, and the best thing is that they offer a playtime of almost 30 to 35 hours!

The ANC technology fades away all the background noise so that you can enjoy an isolated soundstage. However, if you do not activate the ANC, even then the headphones do a pretty good job at blocking out all the external noises.

The powerful 40mm large-aperture drivers further enhance sound isolation. They also ensure that the audio is rich, deep, and crystal clear. The highs are powerful, the mids are vibrant and the lows are crisp. No matter how crowded a certain place is, you will always be able to divulge yourself in a world of your own with these headphones.

The ear cups are heavily padded with soft memory protein so that they can sit softly yet firmly over your ears. Moreover, they can swivel in 90 degrees. The headband is just as soft and comfortable as the ear cups. They are also lightweight and you will barely notice them over your head.

One of the reasons why we think this one will suit all adventurers is because of its impressive battery time. But even more than that, we loved its recharging time! With only 10 minutes of charging, you can use the headphones for over two hours which is very convenient when you are on the road and have a limited electrical supply.

Best affordable

JLAB Audio Neon noise cancelling headphone

JLAB Audio Neon noise cancelling headphone

Best cheap & affordable noise-cancelling phones on a budget

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Read our full review here

JLab Neon Noise Cancelling Headphones are compact, lightweight, and probably one of the best headphones you can purchase if you are under a budget constraint. The foldable headphones offer a bright, clear, and crisp audio quality and amazing sound-isolating properties.

The headphones are available in a wired form and a Bluetooth form so you can choose one which seems more appropriate to you. One of the first things that you will notice as soon as you try the headphones on is the silence. The unit massively reduces the level of ambient noises around you and allows you to focus. However, if the sounds are close to you or very loud; like announcements at airports, train stations, etc, then you might be able to hear bits and pieces of conversations and announcements.

The sound quality was satisfactory. The music sounded lively and vibrant but the conversational audios felt a bit muddy and not as natural as we expected. The unit also possesses 40mm neodynamic drivers that help to enhance the sound quality and focuses mostly on the treble and bass of audio.

The ear cups can rotate in 80 degrees and fit perfectly over the ears. The headband is also just as soft and can also be adjusted over the head. Lastly, the battery time is 13 hours and it uses a lithium-ion battery for power.

Best for sleeping

Sony WHCH710N noise cancelling headphone

Sony WHCH710N noise cancelling headphone

Best noice-cancelling headphones for using while sleeping

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Read our full review here

Sony’s WHCH710N Noise Cancelling Headphones have all the right features which ensure that all ambient noises are canceled out. The dual noise sensor technology creates the optimal isolated soundstage.

The padded ear cups and the ANC technology further enhances the sound cancellation properties.

The sound quality of the unit is enjoyable. However, the music is more focused on bass than on mids and highs so it might result in a muddy quality of audios. However, if you are the kind of person that enjoys exaggerated bass in their music then this headset is perfect for you.

The headphones have a comfortable design. The ear cups are round and padded so that they can fit firmly over your ear without causing any external pressure. The headband is also as comfortable if not more. Lastly, you can play music and audiobooks for almost 35 hours before the unit will die down! So, if you are traveling or if you simply forget to charge your gadgets then these headphones will work perfectly for you.

However, as mentioned above, the audio quality is a bit uneven and might not be suitable for you if you are looking for a high-quality rich audio performance but they can work well for casual everyday use.

Best under $100

Srhythm NC25 noise cancelling headphone

Srhythm NC25 noise cancelling headphone

Best noice-cancelling headphones under $100

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Read our full review here

Srhythm’s NC25 Noise Cancelling Headphones are for the ones who value audio performance over everything else. The headphones feature ANC technology, long playtime, swiveling ear-cups, Bluetooth V4.1+, and a built-in efficient microphone. 

The ANC technology helps to clear out 85% of background noises. Whether you have the function on or not, you will feel the sound isolation as soon as you put on the headphones. Although, when you switch on the ANC, you will notice a significant positive change in the volume level and also a drastic decrease in noise level.

The audio sounds super clear irrespective of the genre you are listening to. Furthermore, even if you have increased the volume to the fullest, you will rarely detect any distortion in the audio. The audio remains balanced throughout.

The headset is comfortable tow ears with cushioned ear cups and a plush headband. The controls on the ear cups are easy to use. Moreover, the unit also has a microphone that has effective coverage. The Bluetooth range is approximately 10 meters so you do not have to worry about carrying your phone or MP3 with you all the time. The quality of the call as well as the signal is impressive.

Last but not the least, the playtime is 15 hours whereas the charging takes only two hours. So, if you are looking for a multiple-purpose headphone then this one is the best option.

Best with microphone

Mpow H12 IPO noise cancelling headphone

Mpow H12 IPO noise cancelling headphone

Best noice-cancelling headphones with a microphone

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Read our full review here

The wireless Mpow’s H12 IPO Noise Cancelling Headphones have a sturdy construction, ANC technology, padded ear cups and headband, Bluetooth connectivity, microphone, and so many other features which makes it one of the best headsets for instrument audios.

The unit has an ANC algorithm that works to perfection. It cancels out all the ambient noises and delivers you an immersive soundstage. The noises fade away as soon as you put the headphones on. However, the experience becomes elevated when you switch on the ANC button.

Though we enjoyed the audiobooks and podcasts on the headphones. We didn’t like the way the songs sounded on this one. The audios have pronounced mids with an average level of bass. Hence, while the audio feels lively, vibrant, and clear, it does lack a bit of reverberation that one needs to enjoy music.  So, if you only listen to instrumentals or audiobooks on your headphones then you would like this one for sure.

The unit allows a continuous playback time of 30 hours on normal mode, while on ANC mode it lasts for 20 hours. Nevertheless, the playtime is much better than most headphones in the market. Furthermore, it only takes two hours to charge!

These headphones are lightweight, comfortable, and convenient. Also, with smooth and padded ear cups and an extremely soft headband, you would barely feel the headphones over your head!

Best for work

Sony MDRZX110NC noise cancelling headphone

Sony MDRZX110NC noise cancelling headphone

Best noice-cancelling headphones for using while working

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Read our full review here

Sony’s MDRZX110NC Headphones feature a 1.18 inches’ neodymium driver that delivers exceptional performance. The unit eliminates almost 90% of all surrounding and background noises as soon as you put on the headphones.

The sound quality is satisfactory. It is not something out of this world but it is sufficient enough if you are looking for casual headphones that you can wear while watching Netflix or listening to songs or audiobooks. The bass and treble are more prominent in the audio. Though this might be great for bass-lovers, others might find the sound quality a bit hollow.

To enable the ANC feature, you have to insert an AA battery in the right ear cup. You will notice a significant richness in the sound quality. The bass becomes richer and the reverberation becomes more enjoyable. Moreover, the low-ends become less sharp and you can practically feel them through the beats.

When it comes to comfort, we must admit that they do feel light and snug on the head. The padded ear cups and headband are heavily padded so they sit softly over your ears and head. The headband is also adjustable lengthwise so that it can be used by anyone without inconvenience.

What to look for in a good noise cancelling headphones

Design

One of the first factors that you need to evaluate in a headphone is its design. Can the headband be adjusted according to preference? What around the ear cups? Does the unit have a foldable design so that you can easily take it with you while traveling? Are the ear cups and headband padded? How easy is it to click and use the controls on the cups?

You need to ask yourself all of these questions before purchasing the unit. These questions will allow you to navigate through the thousands of models and find one which suits you best.

Padded ear cups and headband not only provide comfort but also enhances the overall noise cancellation properties. You need a set that is convenient and does not complicate using the headphones.

Wired or wireless headphones

Next, you need to decide if you want wired headphones or wireless headphones.

  • Wired headphones

These headphones are relatively less expensive than wired headphones. So if you are on a budget constraint then go for these. Furthermore, these have much better sound quality than wireless ones. These receive analog signals and can handle much more data than Bluetooth. So, if you host podcasts then go for wired headphones.

Besides, these are much more compatible than wireless ones. The input is 3.5mm in diameter so it can fit in any audio source which has the same diameter for the input port. Lastly, they do not require any charging! You just have a plug the headphones into your mobile or other audio sources and that’s it.

The only disadvantage of these headphones is the cable. It gets in the way sometimes and if handled too harshly, it might get damaged and your headphones will stop functioning.

  • Wireless headphones

The biggest advantage of wireless headphones is that you do not have to deal with cables. You can plenty of space to move around and you do not feel restricted to your audio source. You can leave your phone on charging and do your work without the cable getting in the way.

These headphones also equip several special features that wired sets do not. One such feature is virtual assistance. Furthermore, they can easily connect to Bluetooth. The sound quality is just as amazing as that of a wired set. However, the only difference is that Bluetooth can only handle information through its signals.

Unfortunately, wireless headphones are a lot more expensive than wired ones. The reason is that they use various soundproofing and noise-canceling equipment which is expensive. Also, you would have to keep track of the unit’s battery life.

Although, the preference is totally up to you. Most people do not even notice a change in sound quality between both of the headphones.

The proficiency of noise-cancelling properties

You need to critically judge the noise cancellation properties. While some headphones provide exceptional features, others don’t. As you might have noticed from the above reviews, some headphones can block out ambient noises as soon as you put your headphones on

If you are noise sensitive, then buy headphones that have active noise canceling (ANC) technology. The technology works meticulously to block out all sound triggers as soon as you put on the headphones.

Sound quality

Think about the genre of music that you mostly listen to. Headphones tend to emphasize or distort different parts of the sound spectrum. There are many models which were engineered specifically to target and satisfy the needs of bass-lovers. These headphones usually are bass and treble oriented.

Likewise, various headphone models are more ideal for audiobooks, podcasts, and instrumental. These usually have an average reverberation but the audio quality is crystal clear and crisp.

If you are shopping physically, it is best to try them on and judge how the music feels to your ears. However, if you are shopping online, read reviews as well as check return policies so that you can easily send the unit away in case something goes south.

FAQ

What is the difference between active noise canceling and passive noise cancelling?

Active noise canceling eliminates almost all of the ambient noises around you. These use special technologies and techniques to do so. On the other hand, passive headphones provide average noise-canceling properties and do not use any high-end technologies.

Is noise cancelling bad for you?

No, they are not bad for you. It’s the opposite; they are beneficial for you. Loud noises can cause stress, irritation, and even migraines for some people. Noise-canceling headphones work to remove all of the disturbance from your surrounding so that you can relax and focus.

Is it bad to sleep with noise cancelling headphones?

No, it is not. It is safe to sleep with your headphones on if you are comfortable enough. Moreover, these are considered as an alternative to earplugs. It reduces ambient noises and helps you get a peaceful sleep even in the most crowded room. The only difference between the two is the size; headphones are much large and heftier as compared to earplugs.

Do noise cancelling headphones work tinnitus?

Yes, they can minimize the impact of tinnitus. As discussed above, noise-canceling headphones eliminate all of the loud noises that might trigger tinnitus. So, if you suffer from tinnitus or sound sensitivity opt for these headphones rather than the typical ones.

Final verdict

Noise-cancelling headphones are much better than regular ones. They are lightweight, compact, small in size, and gives you the ultimate audio experience. Most of the models reduce the background noises as soon as you wear them, even if you are not streaming any audio. However, when you enable the ANC feature, then it takes the audio experience to a whole new dimension.

Selecting headphones, especially online, can be tricky. This is why we discussed in detail the factors you need to look out for. If you keep each of the points in your mind while shopping for the unit, then we are sure you will find the perfect match for yourself.

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